Mid-size trucks perform well in side impact tests
Nearly a quarter of all accidents related death that occur on roads in the United States result from side impact events. The IIHS recently updated its test procedures for this type of accident to better reflect the reality of our SUV-laden roads. The Institute has just released its test results for the current crop of mid-size pickup trucks, with five of the six nameplates tested scoring good or acceptable. The Toyota Tacoma was the only model not to receive these honors, receiving a marginal rating. Here’s how it all fell apart.
The previous iteration of the IIHS side crash test saw a 3,300-pound barrier slammed into a test vehicle at a speed of 31 mph. After realizing that the test no longer reflected the forces involved in actual side collisions, the IIHS reworked the procedure. The test now features a much taller 4,200-pound barrier, which is meant to better represent the size of the midsize SUVs that dot our pavements. This barrier is also accelerated to 37 mph in the new tests, which, combined with the added weight, results in a significant increase in crash force.
The Chevrolet Colorado, GMC Canyon and Honda Ridgeline the models all received good marks in side impact tests. The structure of these vehicles held up quite well after being hit by the barrier, although sensor data showed potential for pelvic fractures in all three trucks. The Nissan Frontier and the Ford Ranger received acceptable marks, although this is not the fault of their structure or their security cells. In fact, the Frontier security cell was the best of them all. Unfortunately, the rear occupants of the Frontier and Ranger were able to come into contact with the C-pillar despite the presence of curtain airbags. As a result, both vehicles received marginal ratings for rear occupant head protection.
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The structure and safety cell of the Toyota Tacoma were not as well maintained as those of its competitors in the segment. In fact, the impact creased the door sill and the B-pillar to the point where the B-pillar was moved a few inches from the center of the driver’s seat. This alone caused the IIHS to give the Tacoma a marginal rating, as structural elements are heavily weighted in the institute’s overall rating system. It should be noted that the data showed minimal risk of injury despite the Tacoma’s structural shortcomings.
“Overall, this was a strong showing from these vehicles,” IIHS senior research engineer Becky Mueller said in a statement. “Their high ride height means that the barrier we use to represent a hard-hitting vehicle hits the solid door sill structures directly. This likely prevented excessive cabin intrusion, except in the case of the Tacoma.
The IIHS does not currently include this updated side impact test in its annual award criteria. That said, 2023 will see this adjusted, with vehicles requiring a rating of at least good or acceptable to receive an IIHS safety pick. In order to earn the coveted IIHS Top Safety Pick+ award, that rating must be in the correct category. This means that all of these trucks except the Tacoma have a chance of receiving at least some sort of reward in the future.
The Tacoma isn’t the only vehicle struggling, with the sedan segment looking rather disappointing. The Nissan Altima, Toyota Camry and Chevy Malibu all received poor grades during their 2022 side impact test cycle. Hopefully automakers are ready to address these safety issues in the future, especially as they continue to produce SUVs at unparalleled rates .