Safety is an important factor for most people when shopping for a new SUV. Automakers realize this and strive to make their vehicles safer with each new generation. One automaker, Toyota, did so well that two of its SUVs recently earned top safety awards.
Which SUVs won the accolades? What makes these two dynamic SUVs so safe?
A tale of two Toyotas
The 2021 Toyota Venza, a conventional hybrid, and the 2021 Toyota RAV4 Prime, a plug-in hybrid, recently earned 2020 Top Safety Pick awards from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) when equipped with specific headlights. The SUVs share the same platform as the RAV4. They were both technically introduced for the 2021 model year, though there was a vehicle that used the Venza moniker that was discontinued in 2015.
It’s not an easy award to earn. To even qualify for Top Safety Pick, the vehicle must have good ratings in six crashworthiness tests. It also has to achieve advanced or superior marks for both the vehicle-to-vehicle and vehicle-to-pedestrian front-crash prevention. Finally, it must earn either acceptable or good ratings for its headlights on at least one trim.
The 2021 Toyota Venza
Between the compact RAV4 and the midsize Highlander sits the new Venza in the Toyota lineup. The new Venza is based on another SUV that Toyota sells outside the United States, the Harrier. Though consumers can get the Harrier with both traditional and hybrid powertrains abroad, the U.S. Venza is available only as a hybrid model.
A refreshing break from boxy SUVs, the two-row Venza offers a stylish alternative. It boasts 19-inch aluminum wheels, front and rear parking sensors, passive keyless entry, and other features standard. All-wheel-drive is also standard, a big bonus for the new Toyota SUV.
The Venza also offers a suite of driver-assist features standard across the lineup, according to Car and Driver. The suite includes adaptive cruise control, automated emergency braking with pedestrian detection, and lane-departure alerts with lane-keeping assist.
The Venza XLE and Limited models have LED projectors that received only an acceptable rating from IIHS for the Top Safety Pick award. The reflectors on the LE trim didn’t have good enough illumination on left curves to earn higher than an average rating.
The 2021 Toyota RAV4 Prime
The new 2021 Toyota RAV4 Prime is similar to the standard RAV4 and the RAV4 Hybrid. Like them, the Prime has plenty of room for two rows of passengers in a well-made cabin. It also offers a comfortable ride with nice acceleration and an all-electric driving range of 40 miles.
The Prime provides an impressive array of driver-assist and infotainment features. While its system control and graphics aren’t as good as those of some peers, they’re more than capable. Plus, the Prime gets great fuel economy.
Additionally, the 2021 Toyota RAV4 Prime offers an abundance of standard features, according to U.S. News. You get adaptive cruise control, automatic emergency braking, automatic high-beam headlights, blind-spot monitoring, and forward-collision warning. You also get lane departure alerts, lane keep assist, lane tracing assist, pedestrian detection, and more.
With the Premium package on the XSE trim, the Prime boasts curve-adaptive LED projector headlights, which earned a good rating for the Top Safety Pick award. However, the base trim received a poor rating for its LED projectors because of inadequate illumination through curves.
Both the Toyota RAV4 Prime and the Venza offer a front-crash prevention system standard that earned superior ratings in IIHS’s vehicle-to-vehicle and vehicle-to-pedestrian tests. Both SUVs avoided collisions at 12 to 25 mph in the vehicle-to-vehicle test. And both avoided hitting the crash test dummy in the vehicle-to-pedestrian test or slowed enough to reduce the force of impact in all three common pedestrian crash simulations.