Disappointed by poor crash-test results, Toyota is engineering mid-cycle updates for at least three models to improve their performance in the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety's new small-overlap crash test. The Toyota Camry, Prius V, and RAV4 were all rated "Poor" in the new test.
The small-overlap test is a new part of IIHS's testing regimen that simulates a driver hitting a small object like a tree or pole. Only 25 percent of the car impacts the test barrier, which has proven problematic for many cars in IIHS testing -- when the Volkswagen CC was put through the test, its driver's door sheared off its hinges. Only cars that score Good or Acceptable on the small-overlap test receive IIHS' newest top honor, Top Safety Pick+. The 2013 Toyota Camry, 2013 Toyota Prius V, and 2013 Toyota RAV4 are all rated Top Safety Picks, but lack the prestigious "Plus" and scored "Poor" in the small-overlap evaluation.
Toyota says it will soon have new parts to update the RAV4 crossover so it performs better in the small-overlap test, and that those upgrades can also be applied to other models. The company hinted that the changes may involve strengthening structural components.
"We are now implementing some design countermeasures to improve our small overlap results," Toyota's CEO of North American manufacturing Osamu Nagata told Automotive News. "As soon as designs are ready and parts are fixed, we'll have running changes for any vehicle, not only the RAV4."
A total of 21 Toyota, Lexus, and Scion models were named 2013 Toyota Safety Picks by the IIHS. So far, however, the 2014 Scion tC is the automaker's only car to be named a Top Safety Pick+ after it scored Acceptable in the small-overlap test. Many automakers have redesigned their vehicles in order to pass the IIHS' more demanding small-overlap test; the 2014 Honda Odyssey, for instance,received additional bracing and was recently named a Top Safety Pick+.
The IIHS will crash-test the new 2014 Toyota Corolla later this month.
Source: Automotive News