Pickup safety has always been a contentious topic as they haven’t always been subject to the same stringent government safety standards as passenger cars. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety however applies the same battery of testing to all vehicles, and now they’ve released their full crash test results for the top small pickup trucks from Toyota, GM and Nissan.
While the IIHS tests include the moderate overlap front, side, roof strength, front crash prevention systems and headlights the attention goes to the brutal small overlap test as it’s the most challenging of them all. Very realistic, it simulates what happens when a vehicle clips another vehicle in a partial head-on collision.
Starting with the newest entries to the game, the Chevrolet Colorado and GMC Canyon pickups have the newest design on the market and therefore should have the best chance of coming out on top here. Tested were both the extended-cab and crew-cab models here which have netted quite different results.
The Colorado and Canyon crew-cabs performed the best of the two models with a good rating in the small-overlap crash test. Though the cab overall performed well, the footwell allowed significant wheel intrusion which netted a poor rating for lower leg and foot protection.
Moving to the crew-cab Colorado and Canyon, this model only received an Acceptable rating on the crash tests, as the structural integrity is often less with this design due to the larger door opening that lacks a center vertical member between the doors.
It should be pointed out that even though the Colorado and Canyon were new in 2015, they received structural reinforcements in the A-pillar, lower door-hinge pillar and door sill starting in the 2017 model year specifically to perform better in this type of crash.
Nissan’s Frontier is the oldest small pickup truck on the market, designed well before the small-overlap test was instituted. Thus it’s no surprise that both the Frontier King Cab and the Frontier Crew Cab earn only a marginal rating in this test.
Though the side-curtain airbags were redesigned for the 2017 model year to protect a dummy’s head in this type of crash, the structure just doesn’t hold up well to the forces here, allowing major crush. The dash moved back some17-inches on the crew-cab and 14-inches on the extended-cab.
While the Toyota Tacoma’s overall architecture has been around just about as long as the Nissan’s, it received a significant refresh for the 2016 model year which included the addition of high-strength steels to the cab structure and reinforcements to pillars and lower door sills.
Thus, performing top of class was the Toyota Tacoma Double Cab. It achieved a good rating in the small-overlap crash, the overall cab structure performing well with acceptable footnote rating for leg and foot.
The Access Cab also earned a good rating in the small-overlap crash with an acceptable sub-rating for structure.
Nissan and Ford both are expected to have new entries on the market within the next couple of years which will prompt a new round of testing. A next-generation Nissan Frontier loosely based on the global Nissan Navara is due soon and Ford’s upcoming Ranger pickup also coming sometime next year.