After undergoing National Highway Traffic Safety Administration-mandated crash testing, the 2012 Mitsubishi i-MiEV electric car achieved a four-star rating. Not bad. The only thing is, though, that it did so with a major structural caveat that could endanger rear-seat occupants.
In side-impact testing, the Mitsubishi i-MiEV earned just two stars out of five possible. On the government’s website, it says: “Due to the intrusion of the left rear door during the side impact test, the interior door panel struck the torso of the rear passenger dummy, causing a high lower spine acceleration. High lower spine accelerations, in excess of 82 g’s, indicate a higher likelihood of thoracic injury.”
That doesn’t sound particularly healthy to us. Electric cars have a lot of heft to them—the i-MiEV weighs some 500 pounds more than the non-electric version of the Mitsubishi i not sold in the U.S., reaching a total of 2,400 pounds. But even though it was structurally bulked up to meet U.S. and European crash-test standards, most of its added weight went to batteries.
But doesn’t mean all electric cars make compromises. The 2012 Nissan Leaf earned an overall five-star rating, suffering one-star deductions for frontal and rollover tests. The 2012 Chevrolet Volt also scores a five-star rating with only one star docked for frontal crash protection. It should be noted that the Volt is also more than 1,000 pounds heavier than the Mitsubishi i-MiEV.
In frontal crash testing, the 2012 Mitsubishi i-MiEV scored four stars, and it also scored four stars in rollover protection. In side-impact testing, the driver’s door came through basically unscathed with a five-star rating, while the rear seat rating had just a two-star rating, averaging for three stars.
With a 112-mpge rating, the Mitsubishi i-MiEV has a lot going for it if you’re in the need for a simple city car or a beach town runabout—take note, Florida and Southern California. But if safety is your top priority and you’re in the market for an electric Mitsubishi, we recommend letting your groceries ride in the back seat instead of any passengers.