The 2014 Toyota Prius safety rating lost a star last month when the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) ran the car through a new set of crash tests. Previous models of America’s best-selling hybrid had a five-star safety rating, but the new tests reduce the rating of the 2014 model to just 4 four stars.
NHTSA updated its rating system in 2011 and stated at the time that previously tested vehicles might receive lower ratings with no changes to the vehicles themselves. The 2014 Toyota Prius safety rating lost a star because of the frontal barrier test. The test is conducted with a crash test dummy the size of an average adult male in the driver’s seat and an average adult female in the passenger seat. The car is driven into a fixed barrier at 35 mph.
The difference between the 2013 rating and the 2014 rating lies in the extent of injuries to the driver’s side crash test dummy (injuries to head, neck, chest, and legs measured). The passenger side dummy had no significant difference in injuries between the two ratings.
The side barrier crash test and side pole crash tests still receive five-star ratings. The Prius also retains its four-star rating in the rollover test.
The Toyota Prius was last redesigned in 2010. According to Toyota environmental communication manager Jana Hartline:
There have been no changes in the test standards and no changes in the car, other than minor reinforcement for small overlap crash test which we believe did not compromise integrity. We are not sure why it rated a 4 this time. We are looking at the test results and we are confident the new generation will move back to 5 stars.
A completely new design coming in 2015 will probably improve the safety rating and get the Toyota Prius back to five stars.
Watch the video of the 2014 Toyota Prius frontal crash test by NHTSA above.
Sources | Video: Crash Net, via Autoblog.