A few months after going on sale, the 2012 Toyota Prius Plug-in hybrid has been given an official crash-test rating by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).
Unlike the 5-star rated, five-door Prius liftback it is based on however, the 2012 Toyota Prius Plug-in Hybrid only managed a 4-star overall rating.
Similar to its sibling, the $32,000 plug-in car fared best in the side-impact crash test, where it received a 5-star rating.
In all other tests, including frontal crash and rollover, it was awarded four stars.
The 2012 Toyota Prius and 2012 Toyota Prius Plug-in Hybrid share the same body, safety features and the majority of components, so why the disparity between the tests?
We asked Toyota.
“The 2012 Prius Plug-in has received a 4-star overall safety rating from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) while the 2012 Prius carries NHTSA’s 5-star rating,” we were told.
“The disparity in ratings for what appear to be vehicles with identical unibody structures may be attributed to the additional weight carried by the Plug-in model, and how that weight influenced the methodology of the NHTSA test,” a Toyota spokesman said.
“The increased mass of the Prius Plug-in model (about 120 lbs.) helps the vehicle carry additional energy into the barriers that are part of NHTSA tests. Importantly, all of the occupant seating positions of the Plug-in model receive the same safety ratings as the regular Prius model,” he added.
The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) has yet to release its own safety ratings for the 2012 Prius Plug-in Hybrid, although we would expect it to in the near future.