The open secret about the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s crash test ratings is this: because some tests (and qualities) are weighted more heavily than others, it’s possible for a car or truck to get a five-star overall rating without scoring five stars on every individual test. The 2013 Cadillac ATS, unsurprisingly, earned five overall stars, but augmented that win by scoring five stars in each and every test.
NHTSA’s overall rating is a weighted total of four individual tests, including frontal crash, side barrier and side pole crashes, and a rollover test. The testing is boiled down to three ratings–front, side, and rollover–which is distilled further to one rating. The ATS scored a perfect five stars on every one: the driver and passenger were equally safe in a frontal barrier crash and side barrier crash, the driver was five-star safe in a situation where he/she broadsides a pole, and the calculated risk of rolling the car in an emergency maneuver is about 10 percent, low enough for a five-star rollover rating.
Credit also the 2013 ATS’ on-board safety tech, which NHTSA has already said carries more weight in safety and crash testing. The ATS has the obvious electronic stability control (standard on all cars sold in the U.S. after 2012), but also has optional forward collision warning and lane departure warning systems on board. The car also features front, side torso/pelvis, knee (driver), and side curtain airbags for both front and rear seats. NHTSA says that its perfect score extends to both rear-wheel-drive and all-wheel-drive ATS models.
The 2013 Cadillac ATS is on sale nationwide now.