Top-selling Midsize Pickups Can’t Earn Best Safety Rating, but Honda Ridgeline Does

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Only one mid-size pickup can earn the Top Safety Pick Plus score and it is at the bottom of the sales rankings.

We hate to say “we told you so,” but when BestRide’s staff put together its list of best vehicles tested of the year for 2016 the Honda Ridgeline was neck and neck with the Hyundai Genesis. What we did not know at the time was that the outstanding Ridgeline was also the safest truck in its segment, and not by a small margin.

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To earn the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety’s (IIHS) Top Safety Pick Plus rating a vehicle must score “Good” on all its crash tests. Only the Toyota Tacoma can match the Ridgeline in this regard. Both cab configurations of the Tacoma scored Good on every one of the five crash tests, including the tricky small frontal overlap test. The Chevy Colorado GMC Canyon Crew Cab trucks scored well on the crash tests, but the Access Cab fell short on the small frontal overlap test. The Nissan Frontier scored a very low “Marginal” on its small frontal overlap test.

In the past, crash testing was the end of the story, but those days are long gone. Active safety is the focus now. Technologies like forward collision prevention with automatic emergency braking have been proven to reduce crashes by as much as 40% in real world testing. None of the trucks in the recent test offer this technology. Not even as an option. We find this surprising, particularly for Toyota who runs ads for its RAV4 and Corolla, which offers the technology standard. Toyota’s adverts are basically “safety shaming” messages. They brag that their vehicles have the important technology on every trim at no added cost and then show a competitor, like a Honda, that do not. The Ridgeline does offer the technology and it is rated “Superior” by IIHS. The Colorado and Canyon offer a warning system, but it does not help them since the bar is now set at “Advanced Active Safety.”

Headlights are also a problem for this group. IIHS built a state-of-the-art inside test facility and developed unique test standards using volunteers to gauge headlight effectiveness. None of the eight models tested by IIHS in this round have headlights that are rated higher than “Poor.” By contrast, the Honda Ridgeline offers “Good” rated headlights.