Tesla Inc.’s Model 3 sedan was stripped of its Top Pick status by Consumer Reports, which cited the temporary loss of automatic emergency braking and other safety features.
The influential nonprofit consumer research organization said Thursday it removed the designation after Tesla ditched radar as a supplement to its camera-based sensors, a move that temporarily suspended several advanced safety systems.
“If a driver thinks their vehicle has a safety feature and it doesn’t, that fundamentally changes the safety profile of the vehicle,” David Friedman, vice president of advocacy for Consumer Reports, said in a statement.
Consumer Reports said its scoring of the Model 3 dropped by three points to 75 -- but it was still enough to retain its “recommended” status. Consumer Reports said Tesla didn’t respond to its request for comment.
The move comes as NHTSA stopped labeling certain Model 3 and Model Y sport-utility vehicles produced on or after April 27 as being equipped with features such as automated emergency brakes, forward collision warnings and lane departure warning systems.
Tesla this week said its Model 3 and Model Y vehicles built for North America will no longer be outfitted with radar starting this month. Instead, its Autopilot driver-assistance will rely mostly on camera vision, resulting in the disabling of some safety features during an unspecified transition period.
Electrek and TechCrunch both reported Thursday that Tesla has begun enabling the in-car monitoring system, telling customers in a software update that the cabin camera above the rearview mirror can detect and alert driver inattentiveness while Autopilot is engaged.
Tesla’s mainstay Model 3 earned its first Top Pick ranking from Consumer Reports last year, a designation the nonprofit bestows to only 10 cars, SUVs and trucks per year.