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

In terms of small SUVs, the safest pick between the Toyota RAV4 and the Ford Escape is the Toyota. Safety features can lower auto insurance rates by up to 8%.

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Leslie Kasperowicz holds a BA in Social Sciences from the University of Winnipeg. She spent several years as a Farmers Insurance CSR, gaining a solid understanding of insurance products including home, life, auto, and commercial and working directly with insurance customers to understand their needs. She has since used that knowledge in her more than ten years as a writer, largely in the insuranc...

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Dan Walker graduated with a BS in Administrative Management in 2005 and has been working in his family’s insurance agency, FCI Agency, for 15 years (BBB A+). He is licensed as an agent to write property and casualty insurance, including home, auto, umbrella, and dwelling fire insurance. He’s also been featured on sites like and Safeco. He reviews content, ensuring that ex...

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Reviewed by Daniel Walker
Licensed Auto Insurance Agent

UPDATED: Nov 3, 2021

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Things to remember...

  • Toyota’s small SUV is a top safety pick plus
  • Ford’s small SUV did not receive a safety award from the IIHS
  • You can also check with the NHTSA for additional safety tests and ratings

Small SUVs appeal to numerous drivers for various reasons.

  • It’s bigger than a sedan without being a gas-guzzling beast
  • It provides ample trunk space when you’re able to fold down the rear seats
  • It’s enjoyable to drive

Many consumers in the market for a small SUV have a small family, a family pet, or they simply love to travel or spend time with their sports equipment in the outdoors.

Whatever your reason for preferring a small SUV to a large SUV or smaller sedan, safety features should be high on your list of priorities.

Comparing the Toyota to the Ford in the small SUV category is not uncommon. Consumers want to know what’s safer, which has the best features, and which one might be the best value for the money they’re spending on it.

It’s also helpful knowing that a vehicle on the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety’s (IIHS) Top Safety Pick list is less expensive to insure.

It’s savings all around when you choose a vehicle from this list and begin comparing insurance rates. Enter your zip code above to get started comparing.

What is a safety rating for a vehicle?

Many consumers know the IIHS and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) are the two biggest companies in the country that provides vehicle safety information to consumers.

The NHTSA provides their own long list of safety rules and features, but it’s the IIHS that focuses on some of the most important safety features consumers care about on the interior of the vehicle.

The three categories the IIHS tests are the following:

  • Crashworthiness
  • Crash avoidance and mitigation
  • LATCH for child seats

Each of these three categories is broken down into a few subcategories and tested together. Crash tests help the IIHS provide letter grades to each category and subcategory so consumers know where to begin looking for a small SUV in terms of safety.

The IIHS assigns the following grades:

  • “G” for good
  • “A” for acceptable
  • “M” for marginal
  • “P” for poor

Getting a poor rating is a problem for all vehicles, but it’s not always in categories drivers are overly concerned with. For example, a “P” rating in the child safety latch category might not matter to someone without kids.


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Toyota’s Small SUV Rating

The 2018 Toyota RAV4 is the only Toyota on the list of small SUVs in the Toyota family, and it has an excellent rating. It’s a 2017 IIHS Top Safety Pick+ winner, which means it is one of the safest small SUVs on the road.

It received a “G” rating in all but the headlights and the small overlap front passenger side area. The headlights received an “A” rating, which is still excellent.

The “P” rating the Toyota received in the passenger-side small overlap category is marginally overshadowed by the “G” rating it received on the driver’s side, but it’s still something consumers want to be made aware of.

In terms of front crash prevention. The RAV4 received perfect marks and a superior rating from the IIHS.

Ford’s Small SUV Rating

The 2018 Ford Escape is on the list of small SUVs many people consider driving, especially since Ford gave this small SUV a complete overhaul a few model years prior. It’s sleeker and more enjoyable to drive now, but the vehicle didn’t make any IIHS top safety pick lists.

It’s not an unsafe vehicle, it just didn’t receive top marks in many areas.

The small overlap in the front received an “A” rating along with the headlights, and the latch for the child safety seat received an unimpressive “M” rating because of the difficulty of use.

The front crash prevention was another factor in the lack of safety awards. It received the lowest rating of basic. Every other category was awarded a “G” rating.

Toyota Is Safer

In terms of small SUVs, the safest pick is Toyota.

Toyota far exceeds the safety rating of the Ford in this specific category, and that means more savings on insurance premiums and a safer drive for you and your family.

Both vehicles are priced similarly, so the deciding factor often comes down to which vehicle has more to offer in terms of savings elsewhere, and it’s Toyota’s RAV4.

In addition to choosing a small SUV with top safety ratings, you can choose a few other methods of savings when it’s time to shop for insurance. You can pay your premium upfront rather than monthly for discounts as well as the absence of monthly fees.

You should also ask each company you’re comparing rates with to provide you with a list of different discounts available for you and your personal stage in life.

Don’t forget to mention your Toyota is a top safety pick if you want to get a bigger discount. If you choose the Ford, you’re going to miss out on this discount, but you might still get a few breaks elsewhere.

Just ask insurance companies what they can offer. Enter your zip code into our free comparison tool below to find the best rate for the coverage you’re looking for.

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