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

When it comes to small SUVs and safety, the Toyota RAV4 is ranked second among the 23 small SUVs compared, while the Volkswagen Tiguan is ranked 20th.

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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 25, 2021

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Things to remember...

  • The IIHS conducts research that helps prospective vehicle buyers make informed decisions concerning the safety level of vehicles
  • The IIHS ranks similar vehicle makes and models together based on the factors of crashworthiness, crash avoidance and mitigation, and child seat anchors (LATCH)
  • The Toyota RAV4 has been awarded the IIHS’s Top Safety Pick+ for its high scores, while the Volkswagen Tiguan did not score high enough for crashworthiness to be eligible for any of the organization’s awards
  • The Toyota RAV4 is ranked second among the 23 small SUVs compared, while the Volkswagen Tiguan is ranked twentieth

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) is responsible for research intended to reduce the dangers of auto accidents. The primary sources for their findings are as follows:

  • insurance data
  • legal material
  • tests of actual vehicles and roads

Because of the research they conduct and the determinations of safety ratings for particular makes and models that they reach, people looking to purchase a vehicle are empowered to make informed decisions that keep themselves and their families as safe as possible.

Compare car insurance quotes to see how much a vehicle’s safety factors could save you in premiums. Enter your zip code into our free rate tool above to get started.

Overview of Safety Ratings

  • Crashworthiness – A rating based on the results of five tests that measure a vehicle’s ability to protect its occupants in the case of impact.
  • Crash avoidance and mitigation – A rating based on two tests that measure a vehicle’s capabilities for both preventing accidents and for lessening the impact in the case of an accident.
  • Child seat anchors (LATCH) – One test is conducted on the child safety device to measure the anchor’s ease of use; it is important to note, however, that many experts have found the safety level questionable.

The IIHS conducts eight tests in all within these three categories listed above. Every vehicle make tested is assigned one of the following grades for each test except front crash prevention (one of the two crash avoidance and mitigation tests):

  • Good
  • Average
  • Marginal
  • Poor

The grades available for the front crash prevention test are as follows:

  • Superior
  • Advanced
  • Basic
  • N/A


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2017 Top Safety Pick+ or 2017 Top Safety Pick

The IIHS ranks all vehicles according to the results of the eight tests. Similar makes are then compared. Small SUVs are listed side-by-side to see how they compare with regards to each of the eight tests.

The Top Safety Pick+ is awarded each year to vehicles rated good in all five crashworthiness tests, either superior or advanced in front crash prevention, and either good or acceptable for headlights (the second crash avoidance and mitigation test).

The Top Safety Pick is awarded to vehicles that accomplish all the above characteristics except for the headlight requirement. Although ranked below the Top Safety Pick+ makes, they are also considered safe vehicles.

Safety Ratings for Toyota & Volkswagen SUVs


The Toyota RAV4 received a good rating for all five crashworthiness tests for the driver’s side. However, it received a poor rating on the test for the small overlap front on the passenger’s side.

Nevertheless, the positive results for the driver’s side are worth the most weight concerning a vehicle’s overall safety. Therefore, the Toyota RAV4 received a good rating for all crashworthiness tests on the driver’s side:

  • Small overlap front
  • Moderate overlap front
  • Side
  • Roof strength
  • Head restraints & seats

In addition to its high ratings for the driver’s side crashworthiness tests, the Toyota RAV4 received a superior rating for front crash protection and an acceptable rating for headlights.

The Toyota RAV4 has received the 2017 Top Safety Pick+ award. Additionally, it received a good rating for its LATCH.


The Volkswagen Tiguan received a marginal rating on its small overlap front test on the driver’s side.

Although it received a good rating in the other four crashworthiness tests, one marginal crashworthiness rating for the driver’s side disqualifies it from either of the Top Safety Pick awards and places it near the bottom of the small SUVs compared.

The Volkswagen Tiguan does not have a rating available for front crash prevention. It received merely acceptable ratings for both its headlights and LATCH. These factors also contribute to the make being near the bottom of the small SUVs ranked.

Is Toyota’s safety rating on small SUV’s better than Volkswagen’s?

The short answer to this question is an unquestionable yes. The Toyota RAV4 is ranked second among all 23 small SUVs compared, while Volkswagen Tiguan is ranked twentieth.

The Toyota model has been awarded the IIHS’s highest honor—the 2017 Top Safety Pick+, while the Volkswagen model was disqualified from either of the organization’s awards because of its insufficient rating on crashworthiness.

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