The all-new 2013 Toyota RAV4 has a problem with crashes. No, it's not that it's so boring that it puts its drivers to sleep behind the wheel, it's that despite some safety improvements made this year, it still flunked one pesky crash test.
Specifically, the latest RAV4 received the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety's lowest ranking, "poor", on what's called the overlap test, a new test where only a small portion of the front of the vehicle is involved.
Toyota initially bowed out of a May test of 13 small crossovers, saying they needed to make more improvements to the SUV. But when the test was finally done in June, the RAV4 still got the "poor" ranking.
The results weren't pretty. From the IIHS:
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.
Ouch. This ranking comes after Toyota already made safety changes to RAV4s built after April — those models were given better control the stability of the steering column and to provide extra padding under the footwell carpeting.
Granted, this has been a tough test to pass for small crossovers. As the New York Times reports, a test of 13 vehicles in May resulted in a "good" ranking only for the Subaru Forester and an "acceptable" ranking only for the Mitsubishi Outlander Sport. The 11 others ranked either poor or marginal. See those results here.
Does this mean the RAV4 is an unsafe murder-mobile that will cause the fiery death for you and your precious, precious children? Not at all, actually. The RAV4 is still quite safe, according to the IIHS. It remains a "Top Safety Pick" for for good ratings in the institute's four other tests.
But if you have to have the safest SUV around, at least, according to the IIHS, go with the Forester. For now, anyway.