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

When comparing small SUVs and safety, the Subaru Forester beats the Toyota RAV4. The RAV4 has a poor rating on the passenger side front overlap.

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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: Oct 28, 2021

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Things to remember...

  • Both Toyota and Subaru small SUVs are top-rated safety picks in 2018
  • Toyota has a better child LATCH rating than the other
  • The Subaru has a better small overlap rating in the passenger seat than the Toyota

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) provides a list of vehicles every model year for consumers to consider when shopping for safe vehicles. The list is designed to help buyers understand which vehicles are the safest on the road as well in every class.

The IIHS rates vehicles in several categories using a variety of tests, and they pick the best and safest vehicles in each category. When you purchase a vehicle that’s a Top Safety rated vehicle, you receive a discount with most auto insurance companies.

Most drivers state their number one priority when shopping for a small SUV is safety, which is why many want to know if Toyota or Subaru has a better safety rating with the IIHS.

Another important factor for many consumers is the affordability of the vehicle. Both brands are priced well, but consumers want to know which one is more affordable to insure.

It’s why you should shop around for auto insurance when you find a new vehicle to see which companies offer the best rates for the best coverage.

Compare car insurance quotes to find the coverage you need at the best rate. Enter your zip code into our free rate tool above to get started.

How does the IIHS rate vehicles for safety purposes?

The IIHS breaks down safety ratings into specific categories, and they rate the vehicles based on tests performed in each one. There’s crashworthiness, crash avoidance and mitigation, and child seat anchors.

Each of these categories is then rated and given a grade. The grades are G, A, M, and P, or Good, Acceptable, Marginal, and Poor.

Crashworthiness is then broken down into five parts:

  • small overlap front
  • moderate overlap front
  • side
  • roof
  • head restraints and seats

Crash avoidance and mitigation are broken down into two categories, which are front crash prevention and headlights.

Front crash prevention is not given a letter grade. It’s ranked using a high of superior and going down from there. Child seat anchor scores assess the ease of a vehicle’s LATCH, lower anchors, and tethers for children.


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Toyota’s Small SUV Safety Ratings

The current model is the Toyota RAV4. It’s the only small SUV in the Toyota family in the 2018 model year lineup. It’s a four-door SUV designed to fit five people. It received a G rating in all categories except the small overlap section.

The driver side received a G, but the passenger side received a P rating, which averages out to be Acceptable to Marginal rating overall. The headlights only received an A, but that’s a good rating.

As far as front crash prevention, the Toyota RAV4 receives the highest superior rating, which makes it a safe vehicle to drive.

Overall, the Toyota RAV4 was issued a 2017 Top Safety Pick+ rating with the IIHS.

That’s the highest possible rating, and it’s one every car wishes to receive on this list.

Subaru’s Small SUV Safety Ratings

Much like the Toyota, there is only one small SUV in the Subaru family in the 2018 model year lineup. It’s the Subaru Forester, and it’s another four-door SUV designed to fit a family of five comfortably.

The Forester received excellent ratings across the board, including G’s in everything but the passenger-side small overlap. This one received an M rating.

The headlights and the latch both received A ratings, and the Forester was given the highest level of superior in terms of front crash prevention.

The 2018 Subaru Forester is an IIHS 2017 Top Safety Pick+. This is the highest rating, and it’s a high honor for the Subaru family.

If you call your car insurance company to tell them you purchased this car, don’t forget to mention it’s a top safety pick with a plus addition so you can have the discount available for driving such a safe small SUV.

Is Toyota or Subaru better in the small SUV category?

If you look at the scores based on the ratings, the Subaru wins because it has no poor ratings. Toyota does have a poor rating on the passenger side front overlap.

However, some might argue that the Toyota wins even with the P rating on that small section since the Subaru has an M rating in the same category, and it has two A ratings in the headlights and LATCH categories.

The Toyota only has one A rating in the headlights and a top rating in the latch category. Both are excellent vehicles with high safety ratings, so it depends on what you’re looking for.

If you have small kids and want a latch that’s easy to use, you’ll want the Toyota. If you have an older child who sits in the front seat with you all the time, you’ll want the Subaru. It’s all perspective in this situation.

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Getting Better Rates for Your Small SUV

If you want to drive a safe small SUV, both the Toyota and the Subaru are excellent picks you cannot go wrong with.

If you want lower rates on either, don’t forget to mention to car insurance companies where you’re comparing rates that they’re both top safety picks.

It’s also helpful to ensure you have excellent credit so you come across as a more responsible driver. They’re both great SUVs, so you’re getting great rates, but you should still shop around for the best insurance policy. Compare quotes today by entering your zip code below.

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