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2019 Audi E-Tron becomes first electric car to earn IIHS Top Safety Pick Plus

The IIHS has lots of Top Safety Pick+ models, but this is the first battery-electric one.

Audi has made history as the brand behind the first electric vehicle to earn a Top Safety Pick+ from the IIHS. Not Tesla, not Chevrolet, but Audi.

The Audi E-Tron electric SUV is the recipient of the insurance industry-funded safety group's highest honor. According to the IIHS, the electric car aced each of the group's crash tests and scored top marks in supplemental areas. To qualify for a Top Safety Pick+, a vehicle needs to earn a Good rating in all six crash tests. That includes the tougher passenger-side small-overlap front test, which is often tricky for a lot of new cars.

With the top marks in the crash tests, the IIHS then moved to test the E-Tron's front-crash prevention system, which is standard on the electric SUV, and it avoided a crash at 25 mph. In the 12 mph test, the SUV didn't avoid the crash, but it did reduce its impact speed by an average of 11 mph. The results earned the top mark of Superior in this category.

The final area is often the part where a particular vehicle misses out on not only a Top Safety Pick+, but a regular Top Safety Pick award, as well. Headlights remain an area where the IIHS has monitored minimal changes in recent years, especially in entry-level vehicles. The Audi E-Tron, being a luxury crossover, comes with one set of headlights as standard: static LED projectors with high-beam assist. They earned a Good rating, which is the top rating in this category. An Acceptable headlight rating will do for a regular Top Safety Pick, but to earn that coveted plus sign, the headlights need a Good rating. The E-Tron did just that.

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