About 100 vehicles have received a safety award from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) for 2017, but you’ll be hard-pressed to find a small pickup on the list. In a recent round of testing, the agency examined eight small trucks and found a few key shortcomings.
IIHS rated the crew cab and extended cab versions of four different models: the Toyota Tacoma, Chevrolet Colorado, GMC Canyon, and the Nissan Frontier. These trucks all offered nothing but Poor-rated headlights, preventing them from earning a Top Safety Pick or Top Safety Pick+ award.
On the bright side, half of the pickups performed well in all five crash categories, including the difficult small overlap test. The Tacoma crew cab and extended cab, Chevrolet Colorado crew cab, and GMC Canyon crew cab each earned overall “Good” ratings in the small overlap, which replicates what happens when the front corner of a car hits a tree, pole, or another vehicle at 40 mph. The Tacoma crew cab made the best showing with “Good” sub-ratings for structure, restraints and kinematics, and all injury measures except the lower leg and foot category, in which it received an “Acceptable” score. This model was the only vehicle to receive a “Good” rating in the structure subcategory by preserving survival space for the dummy in a crash.
Extended cab Colorados and Canyons performed slightly worse than their crew cab counterparts, earning an “Acceptable” rating in the small overlap examination. Both the Nissan Frontier crew cab and extended cab were deemed “Marginal,” as the structure allowed considerable intrusion into the occupant compartment during a crash. IIHS concluded drivers were likely to suffer serious injuries in a real-world crash under the same conditions.
Another category IIHS takes into consideration when doling out awards is front crash prevention technology. Only the Colorado and Canyon offer this tech, but both are rated “Basic” and are limited to front collision warning with no automatic emergency braking (AEB) capability. For 2018, the Tacoma is set to receive a standard AEB system with pedestrian detection as well as upgraded headlights.
The 2017 Honda Ridgeline, categorized as a large pickup by IIHS, earned a Top Safety Pick+ award. It nabbed “Good” marks in all crash categories as well as a “Good” headlight rating and “Superior” front crash prevention score.