If you thought Toyota’s new 2024 Grand Highlander was simply a stretched version of the regular Highlander, there’s new proof it isn’t. While the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety rates the Highlander as a Top Safety Pick+, its highest honor for occupant protection, the Grand Highlander failed to secure either that or the agency’s second-tier Top Safety Pick award in recent testing.
Either honor requires a vehicle to earn top marks in three frontal collision tests and a side impact evaluation. While the Grand Highlander did so in three of the evaluations, it fell short in the driver-side small overlap frontal crash. Meant to recreate a collision with a tree or pole, this test has the vehicle traveling at 40 mph into a rigid barrier that covers 25% of the width of the vehicle with a crash-test dummy the size of an average adult male in the driver’s seat.
In this test, IIHS said the safety cage protecting the driver was “somewhat compromised,” indicating the body shell deformed to an undesirable degree. The agency also noted that the dummy’s head slipped off the left side of the front airbag toward the gap between it and the side curtain airbag, which could lead to the driver’s head striking the A-pillar in a real-world crash. The regular Highlander experienced no such problems in this test.