• Safety: Most Midsize Pickups Are Rated Poorly, Toyota Tacoma is Best of the Bunch (IIHS)

    2017 toyota tacoma iihs crash safety rating
    2017 Toyota Tacoma : IIHS small overlap crash test

    The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) recently completed a thorough evaluation of most midsize pickup trucks currently on sale in 2017. The 2017 Toyota Tacoma performed better than its competitors. The institute tested eight trucks it total: four extended cabs and four crew cabs. The results were fairly surprising. Not a single midsize truck they tested earned the top safety ratings: IIHS Top Safety Pick or IIHS Top Safety Pick+. Four out of the eight trucks earned a Good over all rating. What gives?

    One of the main reasons for no top safety ratings among the midsizers is the a lack of automated emergency braking systems. The 2017 Chevy Colorado and GMC Canyon offer a collision warning system, but the truck does not apply the brakes in an emergency. This also means that none of them have an adaptive cruise control system.

    If automated braking is important to you, you should wait until the 2018 Toyota Tacoma comes out this fall. It will have Toyota’s latest TSS technology.

    (Credit: IIHS.org)

    All of the pickups the IIHS tested had a Poor headlight rating. The institute began to test headlight effectiveness last year. It’s worth noting that crew cab model performed slightly better than their smaller (extended cab) counterparts. Not all trucks are created equal.

    If you are wondering why the Nissan Frontier (crew and king cab) performed poorly in the IIHS small overlap crash test. It’s because this particular crash test was put into practice just a few years ago, many years after the current Nissan Frontier was designed and developed. It’s another reason for Nissan to upgrade the aging midsize truck platform.

    Check out this IIHS crash testing and performance overview of all midsize pickups trucks, and take a look at the individual truck crash tests below.

    When watching the following small overlap crash tests, take note of the top view. It’s interesting to see how the cab and bed are moving in relation to each other during the crash.

    2017 Toyota Tacoma

    2017 Chevy Colorado

    2017 Nissan Frontier

    Andre Smirnov
    Andre Smirnov
    Andre Smirnov is an Automotive Enthusiast, Producer, Reviewer, Videographer, Writer, Software Engineer, Husband, Father, and Friend.

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    61 thoughts on “Safety: Most Midsize Pickups Are Rated Poorly, Toyota Tacoma is Best of the Bunch (IIHS)

    1. Automated emergency braking is great. But these are trucks who haul up to 8000 lbs.
      They also need Automated emergency automatic engine brakes.

      1. Interesting. I know the Ford HDs has that cruise control that has automated braking. I wonder if the diesel used the engine to brake automatically as well as the friction brakes.
        TFL, do you know?

    2. Toyota’s “safety sense” is great, because they are making it standard on ALL of their cars.

      Even the 15,00 little econobox Yaris has automated emergency braking and more. Amazing value!

      I don’t know if the automated emergency brakes use automatic engine brakes to slow down in an emergency as well as the regular brakes. But if their trucks don’t do that, what’s the point when loaded? Otherwise, it won’t be able to stop.

    3. That huge hybrid bus I rode yesterday automatically used the electric motors as well as automatically engine braked when the bus driver hit the brakes. But of course, it doesn’t have “automated” emergency sensors to brake for itself. The driver had to hit the brakes.

      1. Oh, I certainly noticed that automatic combination of

        1. air brakes
        2. electric regenerative brakes
        3. automatic diesel engine brakes

        really stopped that huge thing quick.

        1. I guess the ideal would be a high speed four wheel drive or all wheel drive that had automated emergency braking, and a tow/haul mode that used all four wheels to automatically engine brake . And then combine that with four electric motors in each wheel that could independently and automatically use regenerative braking.
          That would be your only hope in a big sudden emergency where you had to bring a 30,000 lb load to a stop that quickly.
          I guess we have a very long way to go in the auto industry..

          1. All that stopping relies on the tires. You are limited to the point at which the tires break traction. Current foundation brakes often hit this point. Ever had the ABS kick-in during a hard stop on dry pavement? You’ve hit the limit of the vehicles braking ability.
            If greater braking force was required, increasing the braking power available from the current foundation brakes would be a much easier and simpler way to do it. No fancy “automatic engine brakes,” electric motors or fairy dust needed.

        1. You didn’t know that already, Daniel? Everyone with a brain knows that and doesn’t car. Its a comment section of a blog. Welcome to blogging.

          Question is, what took you an entire year to figure that out? So again, what is your drug history?

            1. They are all the same, Daniel. This is your intervention. Are you going to owe up to your drug history? Denial is the first thing you have to overcome.

    4. Let’s see how the Bollinger does in that test…

      Prediction – Light fender damage, with a huge cleanup in the passenger compartment to remove the mush that used to be a vehicle occupant.

      1. So Daniel, after the meds kick in think about what you are saying. Are you admitting Bollinger is coming? Don’t ever buy a motorcycle, get on a bus, or buy an 80’s sports car or get into Big Green, otherwise you may become mush. On the flip side, what if Bollinger gets top safety pick with no massive engine up front. Oh and stay away from Vans too Daniel, remember mush right, that can happen in that case as well.

        1. You are correct. Built tough does not mean built safe. The Bollinger is built tough. That’s how I would scratch build my 4×4.

          But it doesn’t compare to the brilliantly engineered vehicles that received poor ratings above. The ones that placed marginal or good deserve a standing ovation

    5. Disappointing results for the GM extended cabs. Not acceptable for such a new design. I know that the clamshell door design has inherent weaknesses, but Toyota figured it out so what gives GM?

      1. And that is only 40 mph. Imagine 70 mph, or 70 mph and hitting an oncoming vehicle.
        That’s why self driving cars are so important, and that’s why you drunks on this site should be put in jail.

        1. Self driving cars? So I can hit a wall at 70MPH when someone hacks the thing because the automaker never bothered securing the thing?

          No thanks. Ill keep my steering wheel.

    6. Not sure how to explain what the Canyon does when the forward collision warning goes off, but it does do something to the brakes. I can feel it in the break pedal like it pre primes the system to ready it for an harder stop

      1. The GM’s do pre-pressurize the breaks. It is called brake assist, and pre-pressurizes the brakes through the brake booster so you get full emergency braking force with less required push of the pedal for a faster response time and shorter stopping distance.

      1. Yes, the Ridgeline was the only pickup to get Top Safety Pick +, the top trims anyway. I think they classified it in with the full-size trucks.

        The 2018 Ridgeline will be the same as the 2017 tested, as no material changes have occurred between the model years.

        1. Longboat – – –

          L: “Yes, the Ridgeline was the only pickup to get Top Safety Pick +, the top trims anyway. I think they classified it in with the full-size trucks.”

          Yes, you are correct. IIHS actually did that, which is complete nonsense:

          Which means, of course, — something we always suspected — that IIHS doesn’t have the faintest clue about what a full-size pick is! (^_^).
          It is more likely that they too just don’t know where to put the Ridgeline, so they stuck with “full-size” in an act of ignorance.
          And that is even more peculiar, since, as “The Original Jay S” points out: it is ~450 lighter than the bottom of the MID-SIZE class; tows less than average mid-size; and has a smaller bed and hauling capacity than a full-size….

          Yup: meets all the characteristics of a beefed-up Honda Pilot SUV, — with the back end substituted by a composite bed…


          1. CORRECTION – – –

            “..full-size pick is!” should be “..full-size pickup is!”


          2. @Bernie – Ridgeline towing….”tows less than the average mid-size” – do you have specs on what the average mid-size pickup truck tows? Remember, there are a LOT of trucks out there spec’ed to tow much less than their advertised numbers, UNLESS you pay up for the extra tow package. For example, the number one midsize truck, the Tacoma, is spec’ed to tow 3500lbs, unless you get the tow package. Want to tow more than 5000lbs? Make sure you have a weight-distributing hitch, as per those other trucks’ mfr recommendations! Mobody should be towing more than 5000lbs with a mid-size anyway, IMHO.

            Remember, the Ridgeline has more payload capacity than most RAM full-size half-ton trucks! Always check the sticker on the door post!

            Btw, I believe the Ridgeline is at least 15 inches longer than the Pilot.

            1. Longboat – – –

              L: “@Bernie – Ridgeline towing….”tows less than the average mid-size” – do you have specs on what the average mid-size pickup truck tows?”

              Good correction, and bad statement on my part. I meant ”tows less than the average mid-size equipped for towing”. As you point out, not all mid-size pickups are, and you need to select that package. There was no point factoring in tow ratings for vehicles not intended to do so.

              L: “Want to tow more than 5000lbs? Make sure you have a weight-distributing hitch, as per those other trucks’ mfr recommendations! Mobody [sic] should be towing more than 5000lbs with a mid-size anyway, IMHO.”

              That’s not a bad Rule-o’-Thumb. But sometimes you don’t have a good alternative, and need to “get the job done”. We know that hauling even as low as 4500 lbs CAN cause some sideways instability using TALL trailers with mid-size trucks, WITHOUT a WDH, as TFL has shown:
              However, if the trailer were a flat-bed, hauling 7500 lbs. of concrete blocs, the results might have been more comparable WITH a WDH, — assuming the full-size sample truck was a plain 1/2 ton, not the Raptor.

              L: “Remember, the Ridgeline has more payload capacity than most RAM full-size half-ton trucks!”

              Actually, you can’t generalize: it all depends on how a customer configures the Ram for his needs, and there are about sixty (60!) configurations, — with load capacities varying from 1388 lbs to greater than 1850 lbs, with most above 1500. Check “Car And Driver” spec data.

              L: “Btw, I believe the Ridgeline is at least 15 inches longer than the Pilot.”

              Yes, Honda lengthened and strengthened the “pseudo-frame”** of its Pilot to make the Ridgeline, — a vehicle now longer overall by 15 inches with a wheel base increased by 14 inches.

              ** a boxed, frame-like structure made of sheet metal, but integrated with the body.


            2. @Bernie — yes, I was generalizing on the RAM half-ton payload capacities. I was going by several of the newer RAM half-tons we have in fleet service at work. They have very few options, so I suspected they would have higher payload capacities. They were between 1438 and 148x (have to go look again).

              The Ridgeline’s payload varies from 1584 for a nicely equipped truck, to a low of 1447lbs for a fully-loaded 2wd rig. The fully-loaded AWD rig has 1499lb capacity.

      2. The ridgeline is a full sized trucks, not a mid sizer.


        2010 F150-79″

        It isnt midsize.

    7. I’m not surprised by this. I see guys on Tacomaworld all the time posting pics of totaled trucks from crashes they walked away from with no injuries. All of them swear they will never buy anything but another Tacoma. Knock the rear drums all you want but the truck is a capable and safe truck. Was the Ridgeline tested?

      1. And soon, Toyota will prevent the crash altogether with its Safety Sense automated braking.
        Se, we told ya that the automakers are charging too much for not well enough built vehicles. We need to demand better cheaper faster, rather than prettier, fancier and stupider.

      2. Moondog, I think they classified the Ridgeline in with the full-size trucks, for whatever reason. Maybe they go by overall width?

        1. She me of the logic used in classifying these vehicles makes no sense. I ask this because I would bet the Honda fared well too.

    8. In the vid the gentleman said for 2017 gm made improvements to the crew cab to improve its crash worthiness? Were the pre 2017 colorado and canyon’s unsafe? did they learn and copy ford and put wheel blockers on the crew cab? Are the GM midsize made out of aluminum or are they steel? Why did the 2017 extend cab GM’s due so bad in the crash test? Why didn’t Gm add what they added on the crew cab to the extended cab? Why did a truck designed after the small overlap test due so poorly?

    9. I consider it damn unforgivable that pickup trucks fare so poorly in passenger protection in collision and general accidents. They *really* need to do better than that. Part of it needs to be prevention of accidents, but if you cannot prevent an accident from happening, you should be able to emerge from the vehicle and live to tell about it. This is bullshit.

    10. General Observations – – –

      1) I would like to see the actual numerical scores from IIHS, to see just how large the differences are between, say, GOOD and ACCEPTABLE and POOR. Why does not IIHS reveal its testing procedures, analyses, measurements right up front? Here people are getting all upset about the ratings (e.g., “Car Nut Tacoma”), but if it comes out that a 1% numerical difference separates GOOD from ACCEPTABLE, than what’s the big deal?

      2) IIHS has set itself up as THE testing agency for the insurance industry, AND, its results are used by the government to mandate safety equipment based on those results (e.g., seat belts; air bags[a]; ABS; and now DSC [dynamic stability control]; and soon auto-braking, and even lighting requirements.) That’s a lot of de-facto power granted to one agency, to tell us what we need. So, who is in charge of reviewing THEIR methods and conclusions??

      3) Subjective Comment: AT the end of the IIHS overview video, the IIHS nerdnik says, about lighting at 2:28 minutes, “Drivers shouldn’t have to give up seeing the road at night when they choose a small pickup truck” (!)
      That is a purely SUBJECTIVE comment, and does cast suspicion on other biases, prejudices, and lack of OBJECTIVE measures within IIHS! It is not only not acceptable (IMO), it suggest a binary sate, in which you cannot see ANYTHING of the road if you drive small pickup, whereas you can if you drive something else. This whole thing reminds me of the unrealistic prejudices and nonsensical evaluations that Consumer Reports is infamous for with regard to pickup trucks and SUV’s. A glaring example is the report on the 2016 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited (anyone who really knows Jeeps would have to be scraped off the ceiling after watching this):


      [a] I strongly object to airbags as one of the more error-prone and dumbest inventions ever foisted on the driving public.
      “Airbags, airbags, airbags. I am getting tired of this defective technology. I mean, why would anyone want to be “saved” in a 10-mph accident by having essentially a stick of dynamite blast a 200-mph canvas bag with associated shrapnel into your face and body? There are, and always have been, other restraint choices:
      1) Rapid-deploy netting that comes down from inside the roof of the vehicle and surrounds ALL the occupants instantly. This would also allow restraint in secondary collisions, something which the once-only airbags CAN NOT PROVIDE. And many accidents are complex, involving multiple “hits”, flips, and roll-overs;
      2) A 5-point racing-style harness with neck restraint**, that also prevents “tunneling”*** and neck damage. The same virtue with regard to secondary collisions applies;
      3) Cage seats, which offer a semi-enclosed cocoon to prevent any body motion. And again, the same virtue with regard to secondary collisions applies.

      What, you say that people will not use 2)? Well, then the vehicle won’t start. Very simple.

      How many NASCAR or Formula 1 cars have airbags for their drivers? None.
      And they have to sustain collisions that may come from triple-digit speeds!
      ** similar to the “HANS” devise used in race cars.
      *** sliding under the airbag with your knees thereby crushing the dashboard and instruments.


      1. Wow- that hill-climb was hard to watch, and that whiny ass b-zitch do the review needs to harden up a bit.

    11. Safety is improving drastically and many airbags will only deploy at higher speeds but manufacturers have been allowed to be lazy. We should have smart airbags that deploy according to speed levels and impact intensity . I had a friend killed in a car without an airbag in a low speed crash. Had he had an airbag perhaps the fence post he hit would not have come through the windshield and gone through his head. I’m for airbags but not ones like Takata filled with shrapnel. Takata should have been denied bankruptcy protections and told to get back to work and pay off your debts for killing so many innocent people.

      We are picking on headlights now for one simple reason, cars are getting so safe until there is little else to pick on. I agree wholeheartedly that headlights suck in this day and time. Case in point, look at the 2014 GMC and Chevy fullsize trucks. I was in front of my dad last year when visiting him. We were coming back from a restaurant on our way home back to his house. I called him to tell him he was driving with his running lights on and he needed to turn his headlights on. He said they were on son. I couldn’t believe how dime they were. Within weeks after that GM recalled them for that very issue. The lights they replaced were barely brighter and dad cannot drive at night with them. There are better lights out there for sure but these manufacturers, including Toyota, are skimping to save a couple of bucks per bulb. This is a shame. My 40s officially came to an end on Thursday and I do not see at night as well as I used to. Of all of our cars my Yukon XL has by far the worst dim headlights. Brights are OK but I can’t run them all the time. My Tacoma lights need to be improved too.

      1. Moondog – – –

        M: “I had a friend killed in a car without an airbag in a low speed crash. Had he had an airbag perhaps the fence post he hit would not have come through the windshield and gone through his head.”

        I am sorry to read of the loss of your friend, especially in such a violent and brutal way. But please explain to me how either an airbag, or any other body-restraint device, would stop a fence post from coming through windshield to impale someone.

        With regard to headlights: My, my, however did we get along on roadways at night in the 1920’s and 1930’s? I wonder if it ever occurred to IIHS that maybe we are driving too fast for conditions nowadays?
        I for one am REALLY annoyed by these modern “projector” lamps that send a blazing pencil-thin beam down the roadway ahead for the next 5 miles (OK, exaggeration); but when that oncoming car goes over a bump or rise in the pavement, you get the full blast of the noonday sun in you eyes, — from which it takes 5-10 seconds to recover, — while you’re moving at speed! How safe is that?

        And some technology-enthralled cars companies, like BMW and MB, want to use LASERS** as a replacement for HID and LED’s, which by themselves bad enough. Yes, the laser beams would be focused through a lens expander, but did ever get hit in the eyes with laser? I have. Not nice. Ask any pilot…

        ** And of course, that requires even more delightful, expensive, computer- and sensor-controlled technology: the lasers have to be “floating, — and be made to adjust “instantly” (yeah, right) when they “sense” an oncoming vehicle. Really? What about an oncoming vehicle at twilight without its lights on? What about an “oncoming” pedestrian or bicyclist?

        Is it possible that we are over-technologizing ourselves?


        1. Very simple, it would have moved the angle of the projectile just enough to miss the part of his head that the fence post hit because it was actually a low speed crash. But, as we know, it was his time and that cannot be changed.

        2. These “lasers” (quotes for Dr Evil Emphasis, not to imply they aren’t actually lasers) are actively controlled to actually black out an oncoming vehicle.
          As for the blinding you’ve experienced, it is probably a. due to the non-DOT HID and LED bulbs installed in may of them and b. from the false blindness caused by the bright dot on the clear outer lens. Dirt is the culprit.

          1. Agreed. Also, people are buying cheap aftermarket Chinese replacement headlights that have beams all over the place.

          2. Mr Knowitall – – –

            MK: “These “lasers” ….. are actively controlled to actually black out an oncoming vehicle.”

            Here is a little video that shows the BMW Laser lights: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-WvK5WC4ns0

            Since I have (had) two BMW’s, I am quite familiar with their R&D and progress on this super techno-crap throughout the years. The Laser lights, in their most advanced (optional) form, can successfully black out an oncoming vehicle that has its lights on: it cannot do what I specified in my comment above, or it would be “blacking out” on every vehicle in the opposing lane, even those that are parked, or just beginning to move: “What about an oncoming vehicle at twilight without its lights on?”

            This is one of those % success things: It will work with high % success under the ideal conditions shown in the video; it will work with low % success in alternating congested and widely spaced traffic (goes on and off like a strobe); and it will cause negative problems under poor intermittent weather, with rain and fog, or “false positives” generated by weather conditions. And the coupled IR “locator” actually directs the laser beam to blind pedestrians standing alongside the road, — which may disorient him/her so that he/she then steps into the road! See video.

            This will be the perfect German toy to foist on wealthy Americas: over-engineered, over-complex, and over-priced. BMW’s bean counters will be delighted….

            Again did anyone ever think to just use modest lighting, and then slow down at night? Or in rain? Or in fog**.

            ** Germans drive like maniacs in their ever present fogs of the Rhine and Neckar valleys (I know). They have a mandatory intense red light on the back of their bumpers, as though that really solves much. So, they choose to ignore weather: we do not.
            Hence, when an accident happens on the Autobahn at 100 km/hr, (62 MPH) when you drive close and can only see 20 feet ahead, IT IS BAD.


    12. As far as headlights go, many manufacturers are so concerned with aesthetics until that is the reason why we have such sorry lights. Those little bulbs that plug into the headlight space can only throw so much light. My new 1983 Monte Carlo, giant headlights and all, I got when I was a 15 year old kid had far better headlights than some of these cars today have. My dad’s 14 Sierra looks like he is driving at night with running lights, even at “low” speeds. The Tacoma has projector beam headlights and they work relatively well but the dims are just that, dim. So many people are replacing with LEDs but for projector beams that is the wrong way to go. HID is about all you can do with a projector beam.

      1. Please, for the love of GOD do not stick HID bulbs into a projector light. The geometry of the arc does not match the filament sufficiently close. In a big headlight you can get away with that, especially in the High beam, but in a projector assembly the light ends just about everywhere except where it needs to.
        And the (likely Fisher Guide) sealed beams in your Monte Carlo were nowhere as good as you want to remember.

    13. I give side impact wall a “G”. It was solid and it didn’t cave under pressure.

      There was talk about the manufacturers to give up extended cab pick ups that it is getting harder to make the cab solid enough with out that b piller. Extended cabs have been getting longer at point where it is as long as crew cab, what 20 years ago? Just a perspective.

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