Popular Midsize Pickup Trucks Earn Passing Grades in Updated IIHS Side Test

Trucks no longer fall behind in modern safety measures. These popular midsize pickup trucks from brands like Toyota and Ford were the subject of an updated Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) crash test. While three of the pickup trucks passed, three others needed some improvement.

Tests are constantly changing when it comes to the IIHS, but for a good reason. While all automakers want to receive high scores on the IIHS tests, that isn’t always the case with new or harder crash tests. On the recently updated IIHS side crash test, many of the popular midsize pickup trucks on the market performed well.

These trucks are the 2022 Chevrolet Colorado, 2022 GMC Canyon, and the 2022 Honda Ridgeline, configured with crew cabs; all received Good ratings. Good is the highest rating, followed by Acceptable, Marginal, and Poor. The Nissan Frontier crew cab and the Ford Ranger crew cab came in with an Acceptable score. One of the most popular midsize pickup trucks on the market right now, the Toyota Tacoma, only received a Marginal score.

IIHS Senior Research Engineer Becky Mueller said, “Overall, this was a solid performance from these vehicles.” The ride height of the trucks made a difference in the outcome of the test. “Their high ride height means that the barrier we use to represent a striking vehicle hits the strong door sill structures directly. This likely prevented excessive intrusion into the occupant compartment, except in the case of the Tacoma,” Mueller noted.

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In the case of the Colorado, Canyon, and Ridgeline, the structure and safety cages of the trucks held up well. This likely would help protect the driver and passengers from a side impact. However, one area of the test proved to be too much, even for the safest trucks. A test dummy removed from the trucks after the side test indicated there was the possibility of a pelvic fracture for the driver.

Out of all six popular midsize pickup trucks, the 2022 Nissan Frontier had the highest score for the overall structure and safety cage. Ford’s Ranger protected the driver and minimized the risk of injury. In both the Frontier and the Ranger, the crash dummy in the back seat struck the C-pillar, even with the side curtain airbag.

In the case of the Toyota Tacoma, the IIHS noted a minimal risk of injury. However, the structure and safety cage did not maintain protection during the crash. During impact, the barrier crumpled the door and B-pillar, which pushed the pillar into the driver’s seat. “That alone pushed the overall rating down to marginal. We weight structural performance very heavily because it is tied so closely with survivability,” Mueller commented.

This updated IIHS side crash test is meant to save lives

Popular midsize pickup trucks performed well on a new IIHS test
A Ford Ranger during IIHS testing | YouTube via IIHS

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety modified the side crash test after research showed these crashes were a significant cause of fatalities on the road. In fact, side impact crashes accounted for more than 25% of passenger vehicle fatalities.

In the new test, a 4,200-pound barrier strikes the test vehicle at 37 mph. The old test used a 3,300-pound barrier traveling at 31 mph. In 2023, vehicles will need a good or acceptable rating to receive the Top Safety Pick award, and a good rating will be required for the Top Safety Pick Plus award.

While these popular midsize pickup trucks are still safe vehicles, you can read about crash testing on the IIHS website. Most automakers directly address the shortcomings noted by the IIHS, which means a safer car, truck, or SUV is in the works.

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