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· Registered
77 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 · ... 14-04.html

Looks real good considering that it does not include side or curtain air bags in the test. I bet adding those would have gotten 5's for side impact tests.

BTW, interesting that they classify the Prius as a "Compact" car. Looks like they used that label instead of "Light/Medium" since the class size is determined by the weight of the car. The Prius, at 2943 lbs., is the 2nd heaviest in that class size.


· Premium Member
2,439 Posts
nate said:
If I watch closely at the "Click for side crash test movie" link at, I'm pretty sure I see the curtain air bags deploying. I had to pause it just right to see it because it goes so fast, but they are there. If so, then the 4 stars are as good as it gets for '04.

Nate ... sage/40185

From: "leangreenhybridmachine" <[email protected]>
Date: Fri Apr 2, 2004 11:34 am
Subject: NHTSA Crash Test - Response to Side Airbag Questions



Sent: Thursday, April 01, 2004 3:39 PM
To: Test, Crash
Subject: Just Released Prius Results

Dear NHTSA Crash Test folks,

Thanks for your great work.

Having recently purchased a 2004 Prius that has all the optional
safety features, I had hoped to see this car get all 5s. I'm a little
disappointed to see that a new, completely re-engineered car like
this should receive ratings that are not much different than other,
earlier design, mid-size cars.

Question: Was the 2004 Prius tested on a car that had the optional
side and head airbags or was it on a basic car that lacks certain
optional safety features?

The 2004 Prius is advertised as having both front and rear, side and
head airbags. In your listing of safety features, the, "Side Airbag -
Rear" field has no information in it. Is that a mistake on your part
or does Prius advertising need to be adjusted a bit?

The Prius literature talks about having two-stage airbags. Is this
not considered to be an, "Advanced Airbag Feature"? (that field is
also empty).


We do not test vehicles with optional safety equipment unless the
manufacturer requests (and funds) an additional test. If you see two
of the same vehicles listed for one year with one marked "w/ SAB",
you can be assured this was the case. We test with only the bare
minimum safety equipment so that we can be assured all persons
purchasing that vehicle will be afforded the protection we have
tested with.

Though we cannot explicitly comment on how much extra protection
these particular airbags would provide, vehicles with side air bags
are doing very well in NCAP side impact. Every car with a side air
bag for the driver (in a normally seated, fully belted position), has
rated 3 Stars or better. The passenger cars that received 5 Stars for
the driver, all had side air bags. On the other hand, we have noticed
that cars can use the side structure and interior, energy-absorbing
padding also to do well in NCAP side impact. Please be aware that
side air bags may be harmful to children who are not restrained

Obviously the advertising fails to mention that you need to pay more
for the airbagss i.e., they are optional! And don't be disappointed
by the smattering of 4 star ratings for this car. It is very small
and it is a little more difficult to score well on these tests in
small cars. Our advice is always just to look for a vehicle that
received 4 or 5 stars in every category, which this vehicle did.

Dual stage and advanced airbags are not the same thing. Basically,
and advanced airbag will detect "who" is sitting in the seat it is
about to deploy in and deploy in a way that it attempts to avoid
harming passengers such as small females and children. Dual stage
simply means that there are two "levels" of airbag, a high and a low.
If you are in a low speed crash only the first "level" would inflate
so as not to introduce too much extra energy into the crash dynamics.

Basically, it is trying not to go "overboard"... there can be such a
thing as "too much" in this situation. This will explain in detail
the differences: ... #questions

Thank you for your continued interest in our program.



· Registered
83 Posts
I just discovered this article on the results from crash tests in Europe by "Euro NCAP" [European New Car Assessment Programme]:

The Toyota Prius, the first hybrid car ever to have been tested by Euro NCAP, passed the stringent crash tests with flying colours. Its 34 points equalled the highest score ever awarded in its class and ensured a maximum 5-star rating.


The high level of standard safety equipment - all of which contributes to that 5-star result - includes eight airbags, a dual-stage seatbelt warning system which is unique to Toyota vehicles, a knee protection panel and even a fascia-mounted starting button.

Besides being a strong performer in the field of passive safety, Prius is equipped with active safety features not to be found in any other car on the market. This unique combination puts Prius at the top of the D-segment in terms of overall safety.
It is interesting that they say the standard safety equipment includes 8 airbags. Does this mean the side and curtain airbags are standard on the European version?

By the way, you can also read about the test results directly at the Euro NCAP website: ... =3&id2=193 The only real downside seemed to be the protection afforded to pedestrians if one hits them (kind of nice to see that the European crash tests look at this important feature!)...It got only 2 out of 4 stars, although 1 or 2 stars seems to be pretty much par for the course, with just a few cars receiving 3 stars.
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