At Toyota's request, its compact crossover wasn't put through the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety's tough new small front overlap test, and now we know why. The 2013 RAV4 failed the crash, which is meant to simulate a vehicle's front corner hitting another vehicle, a tree or a pole. The IIHS gave it a Poor rating due to "a combination of poor structure and inadequate control of the dummy's movement," the agency said in a statement.
Toyota redesigned the RAV4 for 2013, and along with new exterior styling and more interior features, the automaker also made changes to better stabilize the steering column and added extra padding to the foot well. They apparently had little to no effect on mitigating the crash.
"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 foot well," IIHS said in its results. The agency also reported that the dummy's head barely contacted the front airbag before sliding off, due to excessive steering column movement. The dummy's head also hit the instrument panel, IIHS reported.
It's not all bad news for the RAV4, however, and it has plenty of company. IIHS performed the test on 13 compact SUVs and 11 scored Marginal or Poor . Only the new-for- 2014 Subaru Forester and 2013 Mitsubishi Outlander Sport came out ahead of the pack, earning Good and Acceptable scores respectively on the test and garnering its highest overall safety rating, Top Safety Pick+. Despite earning a Poor in this specific test, the 2013 RAV4 remains an IIHS Top Safety Pick , thanks to its Good ratings in the agency's moderate overlap front, side, rollover and rear crash tests. Toyota says it's working on improving its score in the new test.
"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," said Cindy Knight, Toyota's public affairs manager.