The Toyota RAV4 is a top-selling compact crossover and does well on most safety tests. However, one critical test that has just been added by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) and the RAV4 scored Poor.
That test is the important small frontal overlap test. This test simulates the vehicle striking a tree, utility pole, or another vehicle with just 25% of the front of the vehicle. IIHS feels that this test is so important it requires a score of Good on the driver's side to earn the Top Safety Pick designation, which the 2018 RAV4 does earn. However, since the test is new to the requirements this year, IIHS does not require a Good score on the passenger side to earn that title.
The RAV4's design is now growing quite old in car years. It was introduced five years ago in 2013 in its current form. When tested for the driver's side small frontal overlap crash, the current RAV4 did not earn a score of Good. So Toyota beefed up the structure to reinforce the RAV4 for safety and to pass the test that is required for the top score. Sadly, Toyota only reinforced the driver's side and did not add that level of safety to the passenger side.
When IIHS conducted the passenger side small frontal overlap test on RAV4 in July of 2016, IIHS engineers noted that the structure had an "asymmetrical design." The lack of structural enhancements on the passenger's side were visible to the naked eye.
Torque News reached out to IIHS' Russ Rader to ask if a new test of the RAV4 was pending and he told us it was not. He explained, " The RAV4 was redesigned for the 2013 model year. Although Toyota reinforced the structure in later model years on the driver side to improve protection in small overlap frontal crashes, no changes were made to the passenger side. We expect a redesign of the RAV4 in the next year. IIHS would likely conduct a new passenger-side test of the redesigned model then."