The requirements to earn a five-star safety rating are tougher than ever before, but the new Toyota Yaris has made the grade.
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The 2021 Toyota Yaris has been awarded a five-star crash safety rating when measured against new, tougher criteria.

An Australian-specification right-hand-drive version of the 2021 Toyota Yaris has been tested by European authorities, and validated by the Australasian New Car Assessment Program (ANCAP).

The new-generation Toyota Yaris is the first car in its class equipped with twin centre airbags, which are designed to protect front seat occupants from bumping their heads in a severe side impact.

Unlike the single centre airbag in the 2021 Isuzu D-Max, whose five-star crash test score was also announced today, the new Toyota Yaris has two centre airbags, with one embedded in each front seat cushion.

Centre airbag protection is one of the new criteria for 2020 that makes it tougher for new models to earn a five-star safety rating.

In addition to offering sufficient protection to occupants during a crash, modern vehicles are also now tested for how they can help avoid a crash in the first place.

This includes testing of autonomous emergency braking, lane-keeping assistance, blind zone warning and rear cross-traffic alert systems in a controlled environment.

The Isuzu D-Max ute and Toyota Yaris hatch were the first vehicles globally to be assessed against the new, tougher criteria.

The test data showed the 2021 Toyota Yaris scored 86 per cent for adult occupant protection (eclipsing the five-star threshold of 80 per cent), 81 per cent for child occupant protection (eclipsing the five-star threshold of 80 per cent), 78 per cent for pedestrian and cyclist protection (eclipsing the five-star threshold of 60 per cent), and 85 per cent for safety assistance technology (eclipsing the five-star threshold of 70 per cent).

A statement from ANCAP said the upgraded frontal offset test “presents new challenges for vehicles, whether small or large”.

“The test incorporates a moving barrier representing an oncoming vehicle,” says ANCAP. “In this test, protection of the Toyota Yaris driver’s chest and legs was assessed as marginal. All other critical body regions for occupants of the Yaris … were rated as either good or adequate.”

The upgraded frontal offset test also evaluates a vehicle’s ability to mitigate the risk of serious injury to occupants in other vehicles. Known as a ‘vehicle compatibility’ test, the “modest weight and benign front structure of the Toyota Yaris did not pose a high risk to the occupants of the oncoming vehicle,” said ANCAP.

Meanwhile, ANCAP has also expanded testing of crash prevention technology, and the new Yaris was among the first assessed against new criteria.

ANCAP has been conducting local testing of basic autonomous emergency braking (AEB) systems – such as those that prevent rear-end crashes with other vehicles or impacts with cyclists and pedestrians – since 2018.

However, the expanded range of AEB test scenarios introduced from the start of 2020 rewards more sophisticated systems which can intervene in more complex scenarios such as turning across the path of another vehicle, and avoiding pedestrian strikes when turning into a side street.

“The Yaris introduces some of the most sophisticated passive and active safety systems – including dual centre airbags and AEB with Turn Assistance which are features that are being seen for the first time in 2020,” said ANCAP director of communications and advocacy, Rhianne Robson.

“While COVID-19 has resulted in a slight delay to testing and release of our first 2020 ratings, these ratings re-establish market and consumer expectations for 5 stars regardless of market segment or intended use,” said Mrs Robson.

“With the new challenges set by ANCAP from 2020, it is extremely pleasing to see manufacturers achieve good results against these increasing standards, and take responsibility by prioritising safety to provide their customers with the safest vehicles they can.”