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

Things to remember...

  • Even though Toyota received the Top Safety Pick+ award, it had some lower scores than other small size SUVs
  • Trim can make a difference in the score a vehicle receives because of all of the different options available
  • Insuring a Top Safety Pick+ and a Top Safety Pick should cost about the same, but both will cost less to insure than a vehicle without any Insurance Institute for Highway Safety awards

For years, The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) has made sure they are using the most accurate tests possible. They want to be sure they are actually showing people what would happen to a vehicle in a real-life collision.

If they are able to put the vehicle through rigorous crash tests, they will be able to have an accurate idea of what will happen to the vehicle if a driver actually wrecks the car.

Since the IIHS is able to see what will happen to the cars in the event of a collision, they can accurately rate all of the parts of the car that are good and bad.

The institution makes sure they are always updating and making their tests better so they will have a chance to be as accurate as possible. All vehicles go through the same tests and if a vehicle is not able to be rated on one or more aspects, the IIHS always takes note of that.

Compare car insurance quotes today using our free rate tool to find the best rate for the car insurance you need. The safety ratings of the vehicles you’re considering will make a difference in your premium.

Table of Contents

Toyota and Hyundai during the Tests


Overall, the Toyota RAV4 and the Hyundai Tucson performed better than other small size SUVs. They were able to take awards from the IIHS.

The RAV4 received the Top Safety Pick+. The Hyundai Tucson received the Top Safety Pick.

The Tucson scored all good scores and acceptable scores. The RAV4 had all good scores except for one poor score and one acceptable score. The scores range from good to poor in the following order:

  • good
  • acceptable
  • marginal
  • poor

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Crash Tests

The point of doing a crash test is so the IIHS is able to see what will happen if the car is actually in a test. During this test, the RAV4 and the Tucson were put through several collisions.

They were tested on their small overlap on the front, moderate overlap, side, roof strength and seats. The restraints are also tested at the time of the seats.

The Tucson received a “good” on every test with optional equipment. The RAV4 received “good” on every test except for the passenger-side small overlap front. It scored a “poor” on this test.

Avoiding a Crash

Both of the models tested received the exact same scores for their avoidance and mitigation. First, the headlights of each vehicle were tested. They received “acceptable” scores because they did not have the reach that was required for the “good” score. Their headlights were similar.

The crash avoidance test simulates a situation where the auto brake would need to be applied. In this test, the vehicles are tested based on the warning system they have, a 12-mph collision and a 25-mph collision. The warning system worked in both vehicles.

They were both able to avoid a collision in the 12- and 25-mph tests.


Since the LATCH system is standard on all vehicles, it would not make sense for the IIHS to test whether the system was effective or not. Instead, the institute tests the vehicles to see how easy it is for parents to use the LATCH system.

The Institute realizes that if a LATCH system is easier for parents to use, they will be more likely to be using it correctly.

The RAV4 scored a “good” score for its LATCH system. There were no issues with the placement of the anchors and they could not have been mistaken for different equipment within the seat or the floor of the car.

The Tucson did not score as high. It only received an “acceptable” score because it had other equipment that people could have thought was the LATCH system. Both small SUVs had the same number of full LATCH system seats as well as seats with the anchor in them only.

Receiving Awards

To get an award from the IIHS, the vehicles need to score “good” on the majority of their crashworthiness tests. They cannot score anything below acceptable on the LATCH tests and the mitigation tests.

Vehicles can receive these awards with optional equipment, but the IIHS will note that when they list the information on the vehicle.

The RAV4, despite receiving a “poor” rating for the passenger front overlap, received the Top Safety Pick+ award.

It had an overall better score than most small size SUVs. The Hyundai Tucson also had higher scores than most other SUVs, but it only received the Top Safety Pick award.

Overall, the RAV4 is a safer vehicle for people who want a small size SUV as long as they are not riding in the passenger seat. The Tucson may be a better pick for those who want more stable scores throughout, but since the RAV4’s score was higher, it is a safer vehicle.

Even with a “poor” rating, the IIHS sees it as the second safest small SUV for the model year.

Safety Is Important

The safety of a vehicle is important because it will protect you if you are in a crash. It is also important because it can help you save money. While the savings may seem marginal, they can add up over the years.

Savings are better for small size SUVs that receive a Top Safety Pick+ or Top Safety Pick recipient. A safety rating may seem like the only thing you would want in a car when you are shopping for insurance and vehicles, but it is not the only factor you should consider.

You may also want to consider the following:

  • the way a car feels to drive
  • how much room it has for the things you need
  • the reputation of the manufacturer

The right choice for a vehicle is different for everyone so don’t limit yourself based on the vehicle safety ratings.

Compare car insurance quotes for free by entering your zip code into our rate tool below.


  1. http://www.iihs.org/iihs/about-us
  2. http://www.iihs.org/iihs/ratings/v/class-summary/small-suvs
  3. http://www.iihs.org/iihs/ratings/vehicle/v/toyota/rav4-4-door-suv/2018
  4. http://www.iihs.org/iihs/ratings/vehicle/v/hyundai/tucson-4-door-suv/2017
  5. https://www.hyundaiusa.com/tucson/comparison.aspx
  6. https://www.toyota.com/rav4/

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