NHTSA Crash Tests

Each year, as part of the New Car Assessment Program (NCAP), the government buys brand new cars right off the lots and crashes them. Why? To compare how well different vehicles protect front-seat passengers in a head-on collision. Results are given in a one-to-five star rating, with five stars indicating the most protection, and one star, the least.

Federal law requires all passenger cars to pass a 30 mph frontal crash test. NCAP tests are conducted at 35 mph to make the differences between vehicles more apparent. The tests are equivalent to a vehicle moving at 70 mph striking an identical parked vehicle.

During the test, instrumented dummies wearing safety belts measure the force of impact to the chest, head, and leg. These readings are the basis of the star rating. Reminder: Crash test ratings are only meaningful when comparing vehicles in the same weight class. Search the NHTSA Database for crash test results on the following:

  • Cars
  • Trucks
  • Vans
  • SUVs
  • Airbags


updated 12/13/16