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SAFETY | 9 out of 10
Like most products from the Toyota colossus, the 2012 Toyota Prius comes with a strong body structure fitted with a full set of safety features. Those include seven airbags, of which the seventh is a knee bag for the driver. And stability and traction control, anti-lock brakes, and newly mandated tire pressure monitors are all standard.
It's received respectable safety ratings, including a Top Safety Pick nod from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) and a mix of four- and five-star ratings from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), with a five-star overall rating. The NHTSA has updated its crash procedures since it tested the Prius in 2010, however, so beware of comparing those ratings to those on newly redesigned vehicles.
Optional safety equipment includes radar-based adaptive cruise control, a lane-departure warning system, and the Toyota "Safety Connect" system. Among other functions, the Safety Connect software automatically alerts emergency responders in the event of a crash. Toyota also offers its Intelligent Parking Assist, which steers the car into a parallel-parking space with the driver providing only acceleration and braking.
Rear vision is decent if not spectacular in the 2012 Prius, though the available rearview camera is a desirable option. The rearward view in the central mirror is horizontally split by the joint between the two windows in the tailgate, which adds another piece of visual information to what ought to require no more than a quick glance.
Safety isn't sacrificed to fuel efficiency in any way in the 2012 Toyota Prius, which offers more than its share of optional safety equipment.