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Tougher Trucks: ‘Solid performance’ from small trucks in updated IIHS side-impact test, institute says

Toronto, Ontario — Small pickups had their turn with the IIHS’s updated side-impact crash test recently, as the institute reported Thursday that five of the six trucks tested earned “good” or “acceptable” ratings after facing a larger, faster impact than in previous tests.

The performance of this small pool of pickups shows a marked improvement in comparison to the smaller cars that recently faced the updated side-impact test, the results of which were referred to by the IIHS as a “mixed bag.”

In this most recent test, the Chevrolet Colorado crew cab, GMC Canyon crew cab and Honda Ridgeline crew cab received ratings of “good,” while the Nissan Frontier crew cab and Ford Ranger crew cab were rated as “acceptable.”

The only underperforming model in the test was the Toyota Tacoma crew cab which received a rating of “marginal.”

The three “good” rated trucks were commended for their overall structure and safety cages, though measurements taken from their respective test dummies “indicated a possibility of a pelvic fracture for the driver of the Colorado, the Canyon and especially the Ridgeline,” according to the IIHS’s press release.

The Nissan Frontier and Ford Ranger models were both penalized for the fact that their test dummies’ heads struck the C-pillar despite the presence of side curtain airbags.

Apart from this, the Frontier was considered to have the most durable body of the six trucks tested, while the Ranger’s occupant compartment was also recognized for having “maintained relatively well,” according to the release.

Despite faring relatively well in terms of measurements taken from its crash dummy, the Toyota Tacoma was penalized for poor performance from its structure and safety cage. The impact from the striking barrier crumpled the door sill and B-pillar, pushing the B-pillar to within a few inches of the center of the driver seat.

“That alone pushed the overall rating down to marginal,” said senior research engineer with the IIHS, Becky Mueller. “We weight structural performance very heavily because it is tied so closely with survivability.”

Concerning the entire class of pickups, Mueller said “Overall, this was a solid performance from these vehicles. Their high ride height means that the barrier we use to represent a striking vehicle hits the strong door sill structures directly. This likely prevented excessive intrusion into the occupant compartment, except in the case of the Tacoma.”

The new version of the IIHS’s side-impact crash test uses a heavier striking barrier, up from 3,300 to 4,200 lbs., to better simulate the weight of a modern midsize SUV, travelling at a higher rate of speed, up from 50km/h to 60.

All six of the trucks tested earned “good” ratings in the original version of the test.

As it stands, this new test will not have any bearing on eligibility for the IIHS Top Safety Pick awards, however, starting in 2023, a good or acceptable rating will be required for the lower-tier Top Safety Pick award and a good rating will be needed for the higher-tier Top Safety Pick+, according to the institute.

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