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Driving a midsize truck can have its advantages, but now some disadvantages are emerging. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety recently conducted crash tests for Crew Cab versions of this pickup segment. Those tests showed that four of the five 2023 midsize trucks tested scored poorly for rear-seat passenger safety.

How does the IIHS determine its safety scores?

2024 Nissan Frontier on an elevation off-road
2024 Nissan Frontier midsize pickup | Nissan

While some of these models scored better in the previous year’s testing, this year, the IIHS added a new test called moderate overlap front crash. It is this new test that lowered scores of previous years. Of the five trucks tested, only the 2023 Nissan Frontier did well for all IIHS tests, receiving an Acceptable rating.

Below it was the 2023 Ford Ranger that received a Marginal overall score. But in the rear seat safety category, it got a Poor rating. The Chevrolet Colorado, Toyota Tacoma, and Jeep Gladiator received Poor overall scores.

The rating factor is broken down into several criteria, including how well the structure of the vehicle withstood the crash, impact ratings from sensors arranged around the test dummy’s body, and how well the dummy was restrained during the crash. As you can see from the IIHS chart below, front-seat passengers fared well in all of the tests for all five trucks.

How are the IIHS safety tests conducted?

IIHS safety ratings chart with color ratings for several categories
IIHS safety ratings chart for 2023 midsize pickup trucks | IIHS

This new test involves the subject vehicle launched to 40 mph along a 600 ft stretch. At impact, 40% of damage to the front is recorded by vehicle and dummy sensors, with cameras recording the action. 

Issues with the truck impact for rear passengers of the Colorado, Gladiator, and Tacoma were moderate or likely neck and chest injuries. For the Ranger, moderate chest injuries were recorded. It also caused one of the rear dummies to slip under its seat belt. And rear passengers’ heads almost hit the back of the front seats for the Colorado, Frontier, Ranger, and Tacoma. 

Did any pickup trucks receive a Good safety rating?

2024 Ford Ranger truck on dirt path
2024 Ford Ranger midsize truck | Ford

Overall, 2023 IIHS tests have seen the lowest ratings for all vehicles in these tests than in 2022. Only the 2023 Ford Explorer, Ford Mustang Mach-E, Subaru Ascent, Tesla Model Y, Ford Escape, and Volvo XC40 received a high rating. Again, this is a reflection of the new test added this year. Last year, no midsize trucks received a Good safety rating, which is the same for this year. 

So truckmakers need to improve rear seat passenger safety much as they have done for front seat occupants. That’s the point of these tests, to keep manufacturers moving forward with safety. 


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