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Pickup trucks are among the most popular vehicles out there. So just how safe are they? For years safety organizations like the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) have been warning people that the passenger seat of vehicles is especially deadly. In response, car manufacturers have worked hard to enhance the safety of the passenger seat in vehicles. Yet even with these safety improvements, the passenger seat in these small 2022 pickup trucks is pretty dangerous. Let’s look at their safety ratings.

Black 2023 GMC Canyon Denali
2023 GMC Canyon | GMC

The safest 2022 pickup trucks should have safe passenger seats

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety says that frontal crashes are the most common type of crash to end in fatalities. Years ago, things were even worse, but safety organizations have been setting standards for car manufacturers to meet, and it’s helped improve the safety of the front seats. 

Still, things aren’t perfect. The IIHS conducts a test called the small overlap frontal test on both the driver and passenger side of vehicles. It began doing the driver side in 2012 in addition to a moderate overlap test. It says, “The test is designed to replicate what happens when the front left corner of a vehicle collides with another vehicle or an object like a tree or utility pole.” In particular, it measures how well the seat belt and airbags do. 

The 2022 Toyota Tacoma is almost 1 of the safest pickup trucks but it has a marginal safety rating

Overall, the 2022 Toyota Tacoma is a pretty good pickup truck. It has a good driver side small overlap test as well as moderate overlap front test. Yet its passenger side small overlap crash test is only marginal. It’s worth noting that one of its headlight ratings is also just marginal, so you’ll want to pay attention to which Tacoma you buy if you decide to purchase this pickup truck anyway.

The 2022 Chevy Colorado doesn’t have a great passenger side small overlap crash test rating

The 2022 Chevy Colorado is another small pickup truck that doesn’t have a great passenger side small overlap crash test rating. However, unlike the Tacoma which has largely other good ratings, the Colorado is lacking in several areas. In addition to a marginal passenger side small overlap crash test rating, it also has only poor headlights available as well as poor seat belt reminders.

The 2022 GMC Canyon doesn’t have a safe passenger seat

It’s not a surprise that the 2022 GMC Canyon also has a marginal passenger side small overlap crash test rating. That’s because it’s the twin of the Chevy Colorado. It also has poor headlights. Its seat belt reminders weren’t tested, so there’s no available rating.

How does the IIHS test small pickup trucks?

To conduct this test, the IIHS simulates what happens when a vehicle traveling at 40 mph hits a 5-foot tall rigid barrier. Specifically, the front left 25% of the vehicle hits the barrier in the driver side test. Once the IIHS started including this test in their ratings, car manufacturers began making the driver side of vehicles safer. 

Unfortunately, the safety measure they took didn’t always carry over to the passenger side. In 2017, the IIHS added the small overlap passenger side test to try to encourage car manufacturers to make the passenger seat safer as well. Although things have gotten better, they’re often still not quite as safe as the driver seat.

If you want a small pickup truck, the 2022 Hyundai Santa Cruz has good safety ratings across the board. In fact, it’s an IIHS Top Safety Pick. However, this is the only pickup truck with a good passenger side rating, so if safety is important to you, the Santa Cruz is a great option.


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