When the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety tested a batch of SUVs in its small overlap frontal crash test earlier this year, it held off on putting the Toyota RAV4 in the blender because the new, 2013 model was due to arrive shortly after the test. The new crossover might be better than it was before, but it could still only manage a rating of "Poor" in the test that has been a bugbear for a number of manufacturers.

Among other issues, the IIHS noted that the steering column moved seven inches to the right causing the crash test dummy to practically miss the airbag, the dummy's left foot was trapped in deformed sheetmetal and the dummy's head hit the instrument panel.

The 2013 RAV4 earned the Top Safety Pick rating by scoring well in the Institute's four other tests. A good score in this particular test would have earned it the Top Safety Pick+ rating that is so far only claimed by the 2014 Subaru Forester and 2013 Mitsubishi Outlander Sport in the SUV category. There's a press release below with more details and a video of the test.



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The Toyota RAV4 earns a poor rating for protecting people in small overlap frontal crashes.

The Toyota RAV4 earns a poor rating for protecting people in small overlap front crashes. The small SUV was redesigned for the 2013 model year, but the changes weren't enough to lift the RAV4's performance in the Institute's challenging test. A combination of poor structure and inadequate control of the dummy's movement prevented the RAV4 from earning a better rating.

ARLINGTON, Va., July 11, 2013 - The 2013 Toyota RAV4, a small SUV, earns a poor rating for performance in the IIHS small overlap front crash test.

Toyota redesigned the RAV4 for the 2013 model year. The automaker made additional changes to models built after April to better control the stability of the steering column and to provide extra padding under the footwell carpeting.

The changes, however, weren't enough to lift the RAV4's performance in the small overlap test. A combination of poor structure and inadequate control of the dummy's movement prevented the RAV4 from earning better than a poor rating overall.

The driver's space was seriously compromised by intruding structure, and the dummy's left foot was trapped by crushed and buckled sheet metal in the footwell. Injury measures on the dummy indicated a high risk of injury to the lower left leg. The dummy's head barely contacted the frontal airbag before sliding off the left side as the steering column moved more than 7 inches to the right, resulting in little airbag cushioning for the chest. Additionally, the safety belt allowed excessive forward movement of the dummy's head and torso, contributing to the head hitting the instrument panel.

IIHS in May released results for 13 other small SUVs but delayed testing the RAV4 because Toyota was making changes to the redesigned model. If design changes are imminent, the Institute delays tests to ensure that IIHS ratings don't soon become obsolete. The practice also encourages automakers to improve designs more quickly.

In the earlier tests of small SUVs, only the Subaru Forester and Mitsubishi Outlander Sport earned a good or acceptable rating for occupant protection in a small overlap crash and qualified for the IIHS TOP SAFETY PICK+ designation. Eleven other small SUVs are rated marginal or poor (see full ratings here).

"This is a challenging test," says Institute President Adrian Lund. "Most manufacturers are going to need to make significant changes to their vehicles in order to improve protection in these kinds of serious frontal crashes."

The Institute added the small overlap test to its lineup of vehicle safety evaluations last year. It replicates what happens when the front corner of a vehicle strikes another vehicle or an object like a tree or a utility pole. In the test, 25 percent of a vehicle's front end on the driver side strikes a 5-foot-tall rigid barrier at 40 mph. A 50th percentile male Hybrid III dummy is belted in the driver seat.

The 2013 RAV4 previously earned the TOP SAFETY PICK award for good ratings in the Institute's four other tests - moderate overlap front, side, rollover and rear.


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  • 142 Comments
      ss1591
      • 1 Year Ago
      That looks like the worst crushed front I have ever seen! Toyota brings new meaning to "what a feeling"!
      rcavaretti
      • 1 Year Ago
      Compaction to the firewall. Not good.
      nassau
      • 1 Year Ago
      Don't worry the Toyota acolytes will blame all this on older American drivers and then all will be fine.
      BlackDog
      • 1 Year Ago
      Ouch!
      Annika
      • 1 Year Ago
      Oh man, I wouldn't want to be in that car!
      360_AD
      • 1 Year Ago
      Beige strikes again. Or rather, it never left the "oh what a feeling" brand.
      • 1 Year Ago
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        graphikzking
        • 1 Year Ago
        The CR-V was even rated acceptable in this test? They barely got "marginal". I wouldn't call that super safe by any stretch.
          graphikzking
          • 1 Year Ago
          @graphikzking
          The absolute ONLY different in the test was the Lower Leg/Foot. All other aspects were identical. Both: Poor Structure safety cage BOTH Head/chest/thigh good BOTH Restraints Good. http://www.iihs.org/ratings/rating.aspx?id=1809&seriesid=307 http://www.iihs.org/ratings/rating.aspx?id=1839&seriesid=403 The Rav4 is actually better for rollover since it has a higher curb weight, lower center of gravity and higher crush resistance. :)
        • 1 Year Ago
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        acurasucks
        • 1 Year Ago
        Kinda hard to get this much damage when most honda ends just suck... My lugnut has more torque than most hondas...
        Bill
        • 1 Year Ago
        lol, go watch the small overlap test, it doesn't look any better, although its rated "marginal" it actually looks worse than toyotas LOL, I mean the driver side door is almost completely removed from the impact, driver him self still missed the air bag hitting head on dash, only thing you cant see is what happened to the lower half of the dummy, but either way, the CRV doesn't look any better.
        npier598
        • 1 Year Ago
        careful there... the CRV didn't do much better than the RAV4 in the small overlap test: http://www.iihs.org/ratings/rating.aspx?id=1809&seriesid=307
        • 1 Year Ago
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      Street King
      • 1 Year Ago
      LOL @ IIHS. You guys DO KNOW that this is a big scam run by insurance companies as a sole reason to charge more for insurance RIGHT? Whats next, the piano falling out of airplane crash test? Give me a freaking break.
        Chris Bangle
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Street King
        It is about money, but it's not about insurance premiums. Injuries cost insurance companies a lot of money, especially since a lot of car accident injuries that seem minor lead to chronic neck and back issues. Deaths cost insurance companies even more. IIHS crash testing is one of the few times where a business's profitability is in the best interest of its customers. The less injuries and deaths, the more money retained from collecting premiums.
        piggybox
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Street King
        I don't see how it's a scam. If people see this result and change their mind buying safer cars, isn't it good for both sides?
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Street King
        [blocked]
        m_2012
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Street King
        Damn, I wish schools would go year long. It would keep these kids off of here more.
        Tourian
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Street King
        I get what you are saying, but somehow I do not think you would be saying this if it were the Mitsubishi that had failed and the Toyota passing with flying colors.
        TheU
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Street King
        Is it a scam because in this test Toyota failed? Are other vehicles that have performed better part of the scam as well?
        m_2012
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Street King
        You do know this test reflects the majority of accidents and the reason for the most injuries and deaths. Please educate yourself on the subject before ignorantly stating your opinion. How does making cars safer result in higher insurance? Unsafe people result in higher insurance rates. I bet you are part of that group.
          Street King
          • 1 Year Ago
          @m_2012
          Trust me, I am NOT a Toyota guy. These IIHS tests are well known to be used SOLEY as a means of raising premiums on certain vehicles. ITS WHY THEY DO IT. Safety? LMFAO.... They sell guns at Walmart. Safety he says....LOL
          • 1 Year Ago
          @m_2012
          [blocked]
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Street King
        [blocked]
          dukeisduke
          • 1 Year Ago
          It is true that the IIHS is an insurance industry-funded group (they were founded in 1959 by three major insurers). http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/IIHS http://personalinsure.about.com/od/prevention/a/Common-Questions-About-The-Insurance-Institute-For-Highway-Safety.htm
      Muttons
      • 1 Year Ago
      I don't normally come to the defense of Toyota but honestly, the IIHS practice of coming up with new tests and then testing vehicles on them whose manufacturers had no knowledge of said test when the vehicle was engineered is ridiculous. It's not newsworthy. It's like putting up a headline that American 5th graders all failed the new federally mandated calculus tests that they were told about the day before taking them.
        GR
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Muttons
        Then please explain how Subaru, Honda, Suzuki, Mitsubishi, Volvo, etc. did better? If you read my post, you will learn that the Suzuki Kizashi which was introduced and unchanged since 2009, got the highest rating while the Camry and Prius V got the lowest for this same crash test in the midsize segment. Did Suzuki somehow know about this test beforehand and design their car to pass this test over 4 years before IIHS implemented it? How is it that the Kizashi and others that got a good score did fine when Toyota did not? The answer is simple: better engineering for safety. Don't be an apologist for inferior safety, especially for such a popular and wealthy auto maker.
          makasay
          • 1 Year Ago
          @GR
          I agree with everything in your post, but you have to remember Audi, BMW and Mercedes all have models that have failed this test. It's not just Toyota.
          GR
          • 1 Year Ago
          @GR
          Yes, but Toyota's Camry, Prius V, and now the RAV4 all got a "Poor" rating on this test. The key factor is how popular these models are and their sales figures. It's true that other brands like MB, Audi, and BMW have some models with poor ratings, but their models per segment combined wouldn't even equate to the sales figures of each of these Toyota models.
        npier598
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Muttons
        It sure is newsworthy when every Toyota and Lexus (5 models now) put through the small overlap test have failed miserably (the RAV4 even being given extra time to make modifications). While I don't dispute it's a difficult test, plenty of other vehicles, including some that have been on the market for a while now, have aced it. IIHS isn't the problem. Toyota is.
        icon149
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Muttons
        I get the feeling some companies are much better at building cars to pass very specific crash test, vs building a car that is safe in a crash. I think changing the target is a really good way to figure out who builds safe cars, and who builds cars that can pass a very specific test or set of tests. Companies should be building safe cars not strategically reinforcing the body/passenger compartment to withstand a very specific impact. crashes in the real world are rarely exactly the same as the ones in the lab. too bad it will result in heavier more expensive cars though... double edged sword i guess.
          npier598
          • 1 Year Ago
          @icon149
          couldn't agree with you more. just like engineering a drivetrain to excel in the EPA mpg tests but not come close in everyday driving... I'm looking at you Ford and GM.
        Luc K
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Muttons
        Before saying that please research how this test was created by University research. This is absolutely a real world test that kills many drivers each year with 5 star rated vehicles. That caused the research in the first place and creation of this test. This test is now almost 2 years old btw. Note very few vehicles have been tested so far with this new test. I hope they make it mandatory.
      goatcars
      • 1 Year Ago
      Crash tests into fixed barriers are largely insignificant since most real world accidents happen with other vehicles involved. A good example of the public's misconceptions can be garnered by my neighbor. He purchased a Smart car for his 15 year old daughter, because it surprisingly had a great safety rating.....OK.....Now see what happens when it's hit by a Cadillac Escalade in the real world !!!!
        Luc K
        • 1 Year Ago
        @goatcars
        Yes but the reason for this small overlap tests was that University research found that there was a high amount of fatalities in 5 star safety rated cars. Two scenario's: you hit a tree with small overlap and second you hit another car on 2 lane road in opposite directions. University was clearly right there was a safety issue with top rated cars. Toyota yet has to achieve a better rating than poor for any single Toyota/Lexus tested so far (Prius V,Camry,ES all got poor ratings).
        • 1 Year Ago
        @goatcars
        [blocked]
          NightFlight
          • 1 Year Ago
          Life, not society. Autoblog, where in the hell is our edit button? We've been asking for one for at least five years now.
      Bill
      • 1 Year Ago
      the "problem" with this article though is they are all the same (with the minor exception of the forester in this regard) go watch the same crash test on the honda CRV, the Hyundai Tuscon, the ford escape, Nissan Rogue the any of them from the same class, they all did roughly the same, either poor or marginal, with about half of them missing the airbags completely as well, Christ the honda crv's driver door looks like its hanging on by a thread in the video, they all handled poorly. This crash is a absolute worst case scenario, head on crash at a high rate of speed with minimal surface area to slow the impact down... I would be hard to think up a worse crash without involving a 3rd vehicle / collision point. but either way, the point is the article fails to specifically mention that nearly every vehicle in this class sucks at this test, and instead by title head line etc makes it look like its only toyota who failed this test. Seems more like a "smear" add than a real news worthy article (and this is coming from someone who DOES NOT own a toyota, nore even an SUV lol) so I have no personal gripe with this either.
        Chris Bangle
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Bill
        There's was already an article when the rest of the small SUVs were tested. It's unfortunate for Toyota that the Rav4 wasn't tested at that time so it could get lumped in with all the other poor performers.
          Famsert
          • 1 Year Ago
          @Chris Bangle
          Actually look at the article describing the Buick Encore's result. It got its own article but the author (John Neff) somehow twisted the poor showing into a good thing. What's funny is that Autoblog had this headline when reporting on the Buick Encore which also scored POOR on the small overlap test: "2013 Buick Encore nets strong IIHS, NHTSA safety scores". One is written like a press release for Buick and one is an anti-Toyota rant. At least try to hide your bias Autoblog. What's even funnier is that it was the SAME author as this one... John Neff. http://www.autoblog.com/2013/06/05/2013-buick-encore-nets-strong-iihs-nhtsa-safety-scores/
      npier598
      • 1 Year Ago
      Toyota is so far gone. Cheap interiors, awful styling, sub-par handling, lazy engineering (as evidenced by the poor small overlap ratings for multiple models, including Lexus), and terrible TV ads to boot (e.g. Jan the dealership receptionist, ‘grounded to the ground’, etc.). The RAV4’s poor rating comes after Toyota asked for more time to get it right. Makes me wonder how a model built prior to April 2013 would have fared. What’s downright shameful is they’ll market the snot out of the Camry and RAV4 as being “Top Safety Picks” when in fact there are much safer options available (Accord, Forester). Kudos to the IIHS on the new small overlap test but they need to strip the Top Safety Pick title from any model with a poor rating.
        superchan7
        • 1 Year Ago
        @npier598
        Agreed. The ratings need to be adjusted for the new reality, so that manufacturers like Toyota get the pressure to improve.
        S.
        • 1 Year Ago
        @npier598
        It's sad how they've fallen. I owned an '86 MR2 from HS until I graduated college, loved the car. Very well built despite its age. But when it came time to replace it with something newer/bigger, Toyota wasn't even on my radar. Dollar for dollar, the competition had caught up and surpassed in amenities, fit & finish, warranty, and safety. Bought a Kizashi (Top Safety Pick +) and no regrets 6 months later - love the car as much as I did my MR2.
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