Pickup Trucks Have A Long Way To Go On This Critical Crash Test

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Only three out of eleven pickup trucks score “Good” on an important crash test. How did yours do?

The Insurance Institute For Highway Safety (IIHS) has just released its latest crash test results for pickup trucks.  Among the eleven models tested, only three earned a score above Marginal. Only one, the Honda Ridgeline, earns a Top Safety Pick award, and none earn the industry’s highest safety award, the IIHS Top Safety Pick Plus designation.

 – Related Story: See How Far The Ford F-150 Has Come On Crash Tests Since 2001. You Will Be Shocked.

This most recent round of testing adds the important small frontal overlap crash test done on the passenger side of the vehicle. Three years ago, IIHS discovered that some automakers, notably Toyota, were only reinforcing the driver’s side of the structure to withstand the devastating forces that act upon a vehicle in this specific frontal crash. The RAV4 was the test vehicle back then and it earned the best possible score of “Good” on the driver’s side when tested, but in the debut IIHS test of a vehicle on the passenger side, the RAV4 scored “Poor,” the lowest grade. As the most recent testing shows, Toyota’s Tundra still has different results on each side tested.

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The small frontal overlap test is unique to IIHS and the hardest crash test conducted in the United States on which to score Good. NHTSA, our government’s testing agency, does not perform a test like this. NHTSA tests are also performed at lower speeds than the IIHS crash tests. The small frontal overlap test simulates a vehicle striking an immovable object like a utility pole, or another oncoming vehicle with just a small fraction of the front structure. This type of crash is known by those who investigate fatal crashes to be particularly deadly. Since only a small part of the structure can cope with the crash forces, the occupants are often harmed more so than in a crash where half or all of the front of the vehicle is involved.

Of the vehicles tested in this new round, the Ford F-150 scored best. The Nissan Titan and  Ram also earn an overall score of Good on the passenger side small front overlap test. IIHS allows a vehicle to score Acceptable on the small frontal overlap test and still earn an overall Top Safety Pick score, and Honda’s Ridgeline is the only pickup in America that earns this overall score.

“We commend Ford, Nissan, and Ram for providing state-of-the-art crash protection for both drivers and front passengers of their large pickup models,” says David Zuby, IIHS chief research officer. “As a group, however, the pickup class still has a lot of work to do.” Zuby’s comments make sense when one considers that small affordable cars like the 2019 Hyundai Elantra earn a score of Good on every crash test conducted and earn the Top Safety Pick Plus designation. Pickup trucks look safe, but the results of independent testing reveal that overall they have a long way to go before that is the reality.

Images and chart courtesy of IIHS.