2013 Toyota RAV4 Flunks Small Overlap Crash Test

2013 Toyota RAV4 Flunks Small Overlap Crash Test

Last May, the 2013 Toyota RAV4 compact crossover was named a “Top Safety Pick” by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. It’s a misleading title, but who is to blame?

The vehicle earns that rating without enduring the IIHS’ latest addition to its gauntlet of crash tests. It doesn’t need to. What’s especially frustrating is the possibility that uninformed consumers might see a label that says “Top Safety Pick” and think the car is, in fact, at the top of its peers. Not so.

Just like automaker retail sites that show an asterisk to hint at hidden costs like vehicle delivery and dealer fees, it’s hard not to wonder if the IIHS  rating should come with a similar warning sign. The RAV4 fared poorly, but it’s one of several otherwise high-scoring vehicles to be slapped with “poor” small overlap ratings.

SEE ALSO: 2013 Toyota RAV4 Named IIHS Top Safety Pick – Video

“The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety periodically develops new, more severe or specialized tests that go beyond federal requirements. With the small overlap test, the institute has raised the bar again, and we are responding to the challenge. We are looking at a range of solutions to achieve greater crash performance in this area,” Toyota spokesperson Cindy Knight said.

Part of the problem with the IIHS introducing a new test is that automakers might not be able to adjust vehicle designed easily to meet the new standards. Fast fixes mean tacking on more weight, which harms fuel economy and increases production costs.

“We are pleased that Toyota RAV4 remains an IIHS Top Safety Pick, and that Toyota has a total of 21 Toyota, Lexus and Scion models named 2013 IIHS “Top Safety Picks”, including the Camry, Corolla, and the Prius Family – more than any other automaker,” Knight said.

SEE ALSO: Small SUVs Fare Poorly in IIHS Small Overlap Crash Test

The IIHS rates 13 vehicles under its “small SUV” category and two of those spaces are taken by the Subaru Forester to distinguish the 2014 model. Of those 13, half were given “poor” ratings. Most of those that escaped the worst possible mark we branded “marginal,” which is only one step better. The Outlander Sport managed an “acceptable” rating and Subaru’s Foresters both got top-mark “good” ratings.

This presents a problem because vehicles get away with what sounds like a glowing endorsement while utterly failing in certain areas.

In order to be named a “Top Safety Pick” the IIHS requires that vehicles “receive good ratings in the moderate overlap front, side, rollover and rear tests, regardless of their ratings in the small overlap front test.” Top Safety Pick Plus ratings, on the other hand, require a “good” rating on four of five categories, with no less than an “acceptable” rating for the fifth.

Get the Flash Player to see this player.

  • Phil

    Small overlap? What’s next 1 inch overlap? Or set the car on fire and see if everyone inside will survive?

  • It’s not like the IIHS is a legitimate safety organization. It’s unfortunate actually that so many of the masses have been brainwashed into thinking so and don’t realise it’s the “Greenpeace” of auto safety legitimacy and also a shill of the Insurance industry since it is after all a lobbying group for that industry. They have tried to represent themselves as if they are the NTHSA and a lot of the gullible public have bought the act.

  • Elripster

    Scary. That well represents a glancing blow of an almost avoided head on.

  • DKB

    Like a Consumer Digest “Best Buy,” which is intended to dupe people into thinking it’s a Consumer Reports “Best Buy.” Every car is a best buy in Consumer Digest. So what the heck are these tests anyway?

  • jsrlnd

    If you drive your car into an immovable object like that, you were probably dead to start with, or deserve to be. Such immovable objects along roadways are buffered with collision barriers. Colliding with another vehicle is not like hitting an immovable object. However, this test does set a repeatable baseline for argument’s sake.

  • jsrlnd

    Not really. How many immovable, rigid structures come barreling down the road at you? It’s more like hitting a bridge pier that they forgot to put the crash barriers around. Just try to find one of those on your roads…

  • Mr.X

    That’s true, if you hit a bridge pier at least you’ll be stopping dead.

    If you’re unlucky enough to be hit by a 6000 lb or 7000 lb pickup or SUV then you’re little 3500 lb RAV4 is going to be sent backwards by the impact, after stopping dead first. It would be much safer to hit a solid bridge pier than it is to collide head-on with one of those big pickups/suv’s. And don’t even imagine the raised bumper height of a lifted pickup, the bumpers are often at top-of-hood or head-level of small car passengers.

  • disqus_gVpP5DZrGo

    I think the small overlap is important. Most auto accidents is when you crash into another car or a object that is smaller than the entire front of the car (a pole, tree etc). If a car has a poor overlap test, then I wouldn’t called that a safe car!

    “The test is designed to replicate what happens when the front corner of a vehicle collides with another vehicle or an object like a tree or utility pole. This crash test is a challenge for some safety belt and airbag designs because occupants move both forward and toward the side of the vehicle.”

    ~ IIHS

  • anon

    I have seen small overlap wrecks like jeep vs prius. Prius stopped left turn lane and jeep oncomming straight lane at 55. The gentleman in the prius was deceased on impact and the prius was toast. Im surprised it took them this long test such impacts. I think its a great test and I think all should have to pass it because it is one area vehicles are lacking and all it takes is a glance at a cell phone to slightly be in the wrong lane and cause such a wreck.