Chevrolet's all-electric Bolt EV received a Top Safety Pick award from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety when it debuted for the 2017 model year, but newer models no longer qualify for this coveted title.
The Bolt received a "Poor" rating for both of its available headlight configurations along with a "Marginal" rating for ease of use of its LATCH anchors and an "Acceptable" score in the small overlap test on its passenger side. While the scores themselves do not differ from its performance when tested in 2017, they're no longer adequate to earn a vehicle a Top Safety Pick nod.
Chevrolet offers the Bolt exclusively with HID projector headlights, with and without automatic high-beam assist. While the model with automatic high beams received extra credit for this feature, the IIHS said in a statement that the Bolt misses out on the Top Safety Pick nod because because its headlights cause too much glare.
With the prevalence of LED lighting in newer cars, safety groups are putting pressure on automakers to offer LED headlights rather than HID because of their significantly better performance.
The Tesla Model 3, which is a serious competitor for Chevrolet's Bolt, received the Top Safety Pick+ designation from the IIHS thanks in part to its utilization of LED headlights, while the larger Model S sedan missed out in part due to its HID lighting. Audi's e-tron electric SUV is also an IIHS Top Safety Pick+.
Now several years into its model cycle, the Bolt EV is due for some updates, and we expect Chevrolet will address the lighting issue, at minimum by offering an optional LED package.