2024 Toyota Grand Highlander Disappoints in IIHS Crash-Testing

toyota-grand-highlander-2024-exterior-iihs-01 2024 Toyota Grand Highlander | IIHS photo

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.

Related: 2024 Toyota Grand Highlander Review: Do We Still Need the Regular Highlander?

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.

No Compromises

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.

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An Otherwise Good Performance

IIHS rates crash performance and headlight effectiveness on a scale of poor, marginal, acceptable or good. It divides pedestrian-detection systems into three categories: basic, advanced and superior. To qualify as a Top Safety Pick, a vehicle must earn good ratings in the three front crash evaluations and at least an acceptable in the side impact test. Its standard headlights also have to rate at least acceptable, and the vehicle must score advanced or superior in a daytime pedestrian-detection test. Earning the higher Top Safety Pick+ award requires a vehicle to rate good in the side impact test and earn an advanced or superior rating in an additional pedestrian-detection test performed at night.

The Grand Highlander’s acceptable rating in the small-overlap driver-side impact is the only thing holding the three-row SUV back from a Top Safety Pick+ accolade. In addition to its good performance in all other crash tests, the Grand Highlander’s headlights ranked acceptable, and the standard crash prevention system rated superior in both the daytime and nighttime pedestrian-detection evaluations.

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