Toyota's seen a lot of scrutiny in recent months for its numerous safety-related recalls. But it should also be commended for earning top marks for occupant protection. In the latest round of crash-testing, two new 2011-model-year Toyota vehicles earned the Top Safety Pick designation from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS): the 2011 Toyota Sienna minivan and 2011 Toyota Avalon sedan.
In order to be named a Top Safety Pick, vehicles must achieve top 'good' ratings in frontal, side, and rear crash protection, as well as the new rollover (roof crush) test. They must also include electronic stability control.
Although the Sienna's test results earned it nothing but top ratings—even in all subcategories—the Avalon's top rating wasn't completely perfect. The few exceptions—in the 'acceptable,' rather than 'good' category—were right leg protection (potential injuries to the knee) in the frontal crash, and torso (potential rib fractures) in the side test. The IIHS points to a low risk of injuries in other body regions.
The Sienna is the only minivan to have earned the IIHS Top Safety Pick designation since the Institute phased in the rollover portion. In the new test, the Sienna was able to withstand a force of 4.12 times its weight—far better than the current federal minimum standard of 1.5 times. In the same test, the Avalon was able to take an also-impressive 4.07 times its weight.
Also tested in this group was the 2010 Lexus RX (including the RX 350 and RX 400h). Like the Sienna, the 2010 RX achieved top 'good' ratings in all subcategories, and managed an even more impressive 4.27 times its weight in that new roof-crush test.
2011 Toyota AvalonEnlarge Photo
2010 Lexus RX 350Enlarge Photo