IIHS side crash test of 2004-2006 Toyota PriusEnlarge Photo
It's almost sold out in some areas, the solar sunroof is smashing sales projections, and now the 2010 Toyota Prius had added a further laurel to its overflowing cap: The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety has awarded the 2010 Prius its "Top Safety Pick" designation.
That award goes to vehicles that do the best job of protecting their occupants in front, rear, and side crashes. The frontal offset crash simulates an accident at 40 miles per hour, the side test mimics an SUV slamming in at 31 mph, and the rear-ender is at 20 mph.
The IIHS ratings are increasingly important, and have gained traction in recent years as the Institute has mounted a skillful PR campaign. Video showing red smears on the heads of crash-test dummies after test cars are T-boned in the simulations is routinely run on nightly national news shows.
It's worth pointing out, though, that the 2010 Toyota Prius is hardly alone in receiving this award. Its fellow dedicated hybrid, the 2010 Honda Insight, was named a top safety pick by the IIHS as well--as was the 2010 Kia Soul.
Of 27 small cars tested by the IIHS, 10 received the top rating.
2010 Toyota PriusEnlarge Photo