Report: Pickups Struggle in New IIHS Crash Test


By Aaron Bragman

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety released a new round of crash-test results for pickup trucks and found most of them lagging in passenger protection. The issue is IIHS' passenger-side small front overlap crash test, a newer test most trucks haven't been subjected to until now. The test simulates a front-end collision with a small outside portion of the truck's front end — basically, what happens if you swerve at the last second and only hit part of the oncoming object, like a car, tree or pole.

Related: Crash-Test Ratings: How Do Pickups Stack Up?

IIHS, which crash-tests vehicles to different standards than the U.S. government's National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, has been performing the driver-side small overlap front test since 2012 and added the passenger-side test to the list in 2017.

From highest to lowest, IIHS' scale is good, acceptable, marginal and poor. Coming out on top in these new results are the model-year 2019 Ford F-150 and Nissan Titan, both earning a good rating, joining the 2019 Ram 1500 that was tested previously. In fact, the new F-150 is the only pickup in IIHS' testing to earn a good rating across the board in every frontal and side crash and injury test, only missing IIHS' Top Safety Pick award due to poor headlight illumination. IIHS also said that the F-150 was the top performer in the new small overlap passenger-side test, with the least amount of structure intrusion into the passenger space. The 2019 Honda Ridgeline earns that Top Safety Pick award thanks to its headlight performance despite having only acceptable ratings in its overall passenger-side tests and two marginal ratings in other areas.

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GM's model-year 2019 trucks didn't fare quite as well, with the full-size Chevrolet Silverado 1500 and GMC Sierra 1500 and mid-size Chevrolet Colorado and GMC Canyon all earning a marginal rating in the passenger-side small front overlap test, with poor ratings for structure deformation. But the worst performing trucks in the test are the oldest designs: the Nissan Frontier and Toyota Tundra, both of which are still struggling to get the driver-side test results up to par (everyone else scores good in the driver-side small front overlap test). The Tundra scored worst in the field, rating a poor score in the new test. IIHS says that measurements of structure intrusion into the passenger's footwell in the Tundra's test would indicate likely foot and leg injuries to the passenger, with possible hip injuries as well.

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