Toyota's 2015 RAV4 has an important safety change
Although it is only in its second year of production, the current generation of the Toyota RAV4 has been undergoing important changes few know about, and which Toyota hasn’t highlighted. When it was released back in 2013, the RAV4 was tested by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). The small frontal overlap test was relatively new at that time, but not so new that Toyota should have had any trouble with it. However, when tested by IIHS the RAV4 received a score of “Poor” on this test that simulates hitting a telephone pole with the front corner of the vehicle. Toyota took action and redesigned the crash structure.
For the 2015 model year, Toyota made changes under the skin to the front structure of the RAV4. When re-tested by IIHS the RAV4 aced its small frontal overlap test, and every other crash test. It scored “Good” across the board. Commenting on the small frontal overlap test result IIHS said in its full report “…the crash test indicates that the driver’s survival space was maintained very well…the risk of injury to the dummy’s legs and feet was low…the front and side airbags worked well together to keep the head form coming close to any stiff structure or outside objects that could cause injury.”
Although Toyota’s changes to the RAV4 to ace all its crash tests is laudable and earns the Top Safety Pick designation, it is not enough for the vehicle to earn the Top Safety Pick+ rating. For the + to be added a vehicle needs to have forward crash prevention that is either advanced or superior in its design. The 2015 RAV4 does not offer any forward crash prevention system. That will change in 2016 when the RAV4 will get the new low-cost, but technically advanced Toyota Safety System. Presumably the RAV4 will then qualify for the top safety designation in the US market.
The reason this story is newsworthy, beyond its interest to RAV4 shoppers and buyers, is that Toyota is the industry leader in safe vehicles. In this model year, Toyota had the most vehicles for which the Top Safety Pick + rating was earned. Of course, those tests are only predictors of safety. However, Toyota also had the most vehicles in which no driver was killed in the most recent study by IIHS. Toyota’s changes to the top-selling RAV4 show that when Toyota does launch a product that does not meet its standards for excellence, it moves to make it better as soon as possible rather than wait for the next redesign cycle.