Prius and Insight Hybrids Earn Top Safety Awards

The Honda Insight and Toyota Prius received the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety’s “Top Safety Pick” award based on front, side, and rear crash testing. The rating dispels the myth that high fuel efficiency always requires a compromise in terms safety.

To earn the Insurance Institute’s “Top Safety Pick,” a vehicle has to earn good ratings in all three tests—and must offer electronic stability control, which comes standard on all Prius models and on the Insight EX model. It’s available as on option on the less expensive Insight LX.

Honda Insight frontal crash test

Honda Insight frontal crash test

The Toyota Prius, a midsize sedan with a combined city/highway rating of 50 mpg, is the most fuel-efficient car on the market today. The Honda Insight has an average efficiency rating of 41 mpg.

The insurance group’s side test simulates a collision with an SUV or pickup truck moving at 31 mph. The frontal test mimics 40 mph crashes with vehicles of the same weight as the test car. The IIHS also simulates a stationary vehicle being rear-ended by a vehicle going 20 mph. Side crash test results apply no matter what size vehicles you are comparing, but front impact results are meaningful only when comparing models of about the same weight.

In the Prius’s front crash test, the driver dummy’s head hit the pillar between the front and back windows, but the impact was relatively low. The dummy’s head suffered slightly more of an impact when it hit the steering wheel through the air bag. In the Insight’s frontal test, the side curtain air bag prevented the dummy’s head from hitting any stiff structures, although there was a slight risk of rib fractures in the side impact test.

Small Cars Score Big for Safety

The IIHS gave top safety designations to 10 out of the 27 small cars that were tested. Other small cars with the top safety rating are the 2010 Kia Soul, 2009 Subaru Impreza, 2009 Scion xB, four-door 2009 Honda Civic, 2009 Mitsubishi Lancer, 2009 Volkswagen Rabbit, 2010 Toyota Corolla and two-door 2009 Ford Focus. In past testing, the Toyota Yaris, Honda Fit and Smart ForTwo performed poorly in frontal crash tests with mid-sized vehicles.

“The latest results show that consumers who want good fuel economy can also get a high level of safety,” said institute spokesman Russ Rader. “Because there are so many small cars that test well, there’s no reason to settle for a small car with less-than-stellar safety ratings.”


  • Shines

    Economical, efficient, reliable and safe – good combination…

  • RKRB

    Thanks to all the engineers and designers from all these companies who made this possible.

  • ex-EV1 driver

    And thanks to the management and financial branches of Toyota and Honda who enabled the time and financial budget to actually finish the job of making these cars safe as well as ecological!
    Are you listenening GM, Chrysler, and Ford?

  • sean t

    If a 5 star Insight hits a 5 star Hummer, what will happen to the people inside the Insight? The number of unnecessarily big cars have to be reduced. How? More tax? More registration fee for heavier cars?

  • K*s*king

    While this is good news, neither car earned 5 star crash ratings, described by NHTSA as 5 star in every category. The fusion, altima and camry have higher marks.

  • cindy

    Well this article is miss leading.

    Yes they are safe however the issue is small accidents

    Most hybrids ie prius has a very very cheap front end

    Almost tinfoil to make it light. So even a small hit will crumple the car.

    Sure you will be safe but the car is totaled going very slow speeds

    the prius got the worst score for the most costly damage hitting something going 10 mpg it was in the thousands.

    Also the other comment is right 5 stars in a small car means nothing if you are hit by a 5 star large car.

  • Scott Z

    This is good news. No question. Those of you asking about “what if a hummer hits you” seem to just want to throw a red herring in the ring to blur the issue. The cars are designed very well and in the real world offer a high level of safety. Sure you could find other vhichles that will make you safer but the differences are often negligable.

    I have friends in the army. They love telling me how unsafe the hummer is in all sorts of situations. The size of your care as very little to with keeping you safe. It is the engineering that goes into things like driver cages and crumple zones. That is what these test are designed to evaluate.

    If you think the size of your car keeps you safe then perhaps a new tractor trailer truck is for you.

  • ed kunkel

    We have been hit by 18 wheelers twice. nothing smaller and safer than a big volvo should be allowed on the highways and carriage ways until the trucks are off.

  • shanthan madadi

    I am buying a prius which have a front acciedent history, They repaired it, but i have some question do that effect any more probles to the vechiel.. is it a bust buy ..

  • miniwheatfreak

    We had a Honda Civic hybrid that was hit from the back. It was repaired, but then one year after this it was hit again on the back. It was totaled and the insurance company refused to pay. So I would be very cautious about buying a hybrid that had been in an accident. We have a Prius now, hoping and praying that we won’t be hit again because we don’t know if it will be the same as the Civic. Hopefully not…