2019 Toyota RAV4 Misses IIHS Top Safety Pick Because Of Its Headlights

2019 models scored "Marginal", while older models managed a better "Acceptable" rating

Headlights are still causing headaches for automakers.

The 2019 Toyota RAV4 took on a major redesign for its new generation, but that may have cost one of the U.S. markets most coveted awards for safety.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety’s Top Safety Pick designation is not just a mark of a safe car. In brand marketing, it’s also a powerful tool to sell new models. However, as more vehicles ace the traditional crash tests, so too does the IIHS make the tests more sophisticated. One of the latest stumbling blocks for automakers is the headlight test.

According to the latest round of recently published testing, the 2019 Toyota RAV4 managed to score a “Good” on all crash tests. That’s the best possible rating, ahead of “Acceptable”, “Marginal” and “Poor”. It’s also a major improvement on the last RAV4, which scored a “Poor” on the passenger small overlap frontal crash test since the test was introduced five years ago.

The headlight tests

However, headlights continue to deny the RAV4 a Top Safety Pick nomination. In order to score either Top Safety Pick or Top Safety Pick+, the car must have Acceptable or better headlights. The 2019 Toyota RAV4 scored a “Marginal” rating. The IIHS tests the low beams and high beams along a range of curves and straightaway conditions, and score based on the “optimal” illumination at a set distance for each test.

The IIHS said of the RAV4’s headlight tests, “On the straightaway, [low beam] visibility was good on the right side of the road and fair on the left side. On curves, visibility was fair on the sharp right and left curves and inadequate on the gradual right and gradual left curves.” The RAV4 showed poorer results on the driver’s side high beam test on the straightaway than the other tests. “On the straightaway, [high beam] visibility was good on the right side and inadequate on the left side. On curves, visibility was inadequate in all 4 tests.”

Among the RAV4’s competition, the Subaru Forester and Mazda CX-5 scored top marks. Each earned the IIHS’ Top Safety Pick+ rating. The Honda CR-V is also a 2019 Top Safety Pick, but its Acceptable headlight rating held it back from the top award. The Chevrolet Equinox also missed Top Safety Pick due to its Marginal headlights, as did the Kia Sportage and Jeep Compass. Passenger-side crash test ratings have not been published for the Nissan Rogue, so it isn’t on the Top Safety Pick list at time of writing.