Is Toyota’s safety rating on small SUVs better than Chevy’s?

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Things to remember...
  • Toyota RAV4 offers more standard safety equipment than the Chevy TRAX, which helps improve its overall safety rating
  • The Chevrolet TRAX received only a basic rating for crash avoidance, since most of the safety equipment that helps with this is optional and does not come standard
  • The Toyota RAV4 earned a Top Safety Pick+ award for 2017 from the IIHS


The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) conducts thorough safety tests for vehicles in real-life situations. They are a nonprofit, educational and scientific organization that work hard to reduce the number of losses from motor vehicle crashes.

These safety ratings are provided for the public so they can make informed decisions when shopping for a new vehicle. The IIHS is funded by insurance companies, but the crash tests they conduct are completely independent. Make sure to shop around to get the best rate for whichever car you choose with our free quote tool above!

Toyota vs. Chevy Safety Ratings Small SUVs

The Toyota RAV4 stands as Toyota’s only small SUV offering. The rest of their lineup is classified in the midsize to large range. The smallest SUV in Chevy’s lineup is the Chevrolet TRAX.

Both cars have been tested by the IIHS for safety and crashworthiness. Because the 2018 model of the TRAX has not yet been tested, this will compare the 2017 models of both vehicles.

Both the RAV4 and TRAX are fierce competitors in the small SUV market. They’re appealing to consumers because of their overall compact size, ability to perform in inclement weather (they both have all-wheel drive) and their handling is closer to that of a car.

Crashworthiness

The crashworthiness assessment evaluates how well different areas of the vehicle hold up during crash tests. It evaluates what happens to the dummy that’s positioned in the driver and passenger seats, and determines how well the structure of the car fares in a controlled crash test.

Chevrolet TRAX

The 2017 Chevrolet TRAX received a “good” rating in 5 out of 6 crashworthiness factors. These crashworthiness categories assess:

  • Small overlap front for the driver-side and passenger side
  • Moderate overlap front
  • Side Impact
  • Roof Strength
  • Head restraints and seats

The TRAX received a “good” rating for all of the above categories except for the passenger-side small overlap front, which received an “acceptable” rating, which is one step down from good in their ratings system.

While the tests performed indicated that the likelihood of injury from a crash of this nature would be low, the acceptable rating resulted from driver restraints, as the test dummy “started to roll around the right side because the seat belt allowed excessive forward excursion of the head and torso,” according to the issued report.

Toyota RAV4

The 2017 Toyota RAV4 received a “good” rating in 5 out of 6 crashworthiness factors as well. The one area where it received a lower rating of “poor” was in the assessment of the small overlap front for the passenger side.

During the crash test, the passenger door opened, which puts the passenger at risk for being ejected or thrown from the vehicle. The passenger’s space was also compromised significantly because of the intruding structure of the car.

However, in this situation, all of the airbags did deploy, preventing the dummy’s head from hitting any internal structures.

As a result of this test, it was found that injuries to the passenger’s lower legs would be possible because of the door opening, but the probability of injuries incurred anywhere else is low.

Crash Avoidance and Mitigation

This category determines how effective a vehicle is at avoiding a crash that is imminent, particularly in front of it as it’s driving.

The TRAX received a “basic” rating for this category. One point was awarded for having a forward collision warning option, but because auto braking is not available on either low or high speeds, no points were awarded for those areas.

In addition, the forward collision warning is part of optional equipment and is not available on all TRAX models. The RAV4, on the other hand, received a “superior” rating in this category.

The RAV4 received six points total in this category, 1 for having a forward collision warning, which is standard on all Toyota models, and it earned 2 points for the low-speed auto brake test, in which the vehicle avoided a collision at 12mph.

It earned 3 points for the high-speed auto brake test, as it avoided a crash at 25mph. It should be noted also that this safety equipment comes standard on all models of the RAV4 as part of Toyota’s Safety Sense program.

Child Seat Anchors (LATCH)

LATCH, which stands for Lower Anchors and Tethers for Children, assesses how easy it is for someone to install a car seat for children safely. It assesses whether or not the anchor points are easy to spot, access and use in order to safely install a child’s car seat without using seat belts.

The Chevy TRAX received an acceptable rating for this category, while the RAV4 earned a “good” rating.

The reasons for the Chevy’s lower rating include:

  • Other seat hardware could be confused for a child seat anchor
  • the lower anchors are too deep in the seat

This applied to the first and third positions of the backseat and excluded the middle seat.

The RAV4 earned the highest rating for LATCH anchors, as the testers found no problems with attaching a child’s car seat. The anchor points are not confusing to find, they are not too deep in the seat, and not too much force is needed to attach them.

Awards

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The 2017 Toyota RAV4 was awarded the Top Safety Pick+ recognition for 2017, while the Chevrolet TRAX did not earn any awards.

The Top Safety Pick+ award means the vehicle meets specific criteria, including a “good” rating in five crashworthiness factors, an advanced or superior rating for front crash prevention and it receives an acceptable or good headlight rating.

The favorable headlight rating is the + portion of the award name. The Chevrolet TRAX did not receive this award presumably because of their basic rating for front crash prevention.

Is Toyota safer than Chevy for small SUVs?

It appears it is, according to the results of the test rating. While the RAV4 struggled in the passenger front overlap tests, knowing that each RAV4 is equipped with forward collision warning and automatic braking as standard equipment gives it an advantage.

The same equipment is optional on the Chevy and must be purchased for an additional cost as part of a separate package.

Overall, the Toyota RAV4 earned higher safety ratings from the IIHS.

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