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Ford, Honda trucks perform best in latest IIHS crash tests

Toyota Tundra nets poorest scores in industry's toughest crash tests.

Insurance Institute for Highway Safety

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety has released its latest round of crash-test findings, and the non-profit organization has determined that most pickup trucks lack top-shelf protection for passengers. But some models definitely perform far better than others.

Of 11 crew-cab trucks tested, only the 2019 Ford F-150 earned the top available score of "Good" across all crash tests, yet even it failed to win the organization's coveted "Top Safety Pick" award. Those laurels went solely to the 2019 Honda Ridgeline, the quirky midsize unibody pickup, despite the fact that it only earned a passenger-side score of "Acceptable." Why? The availability of headlights that earn a "Good" rating on the IIHS' tests. The Toyota Tacoma would've managed the same feat as its Honda rival, but it was undone by its illumination.

Of the four small and seven large pickups tested by the IIHS, five of the trucks earned "Marginal" ratings, two earned "Marginal" scores and just three trucks earned "Good" passenger-side ratings. The 2019 Toyota Tundra was the only pickup truck tested to earn a "Poor" rating overall, with the organization calling its performance "seriously compromised by intruding structure." The full-size Toyota's pack-trailing performance can likely be traced to its age -- it's the oldest full-size pickup on the market by many years, having its genesis in the 2007 model year.

Roadshow reached out to Toyota for a statement regarding its vehicles' performance, and representatives offered the following statement:

We put the needs of our customers first and the quality, safety and reliability of our vehicles is a top priority and -- with continuous improvement being at the heart of everything we do -- we'll continue to look for ways to improve in an effort to exceed customers' expectations -- particularly in new testing such as IIHS' passenger-side front small overlap for pickup trucks.

The IIHS' battery of tests, which include the challenging passenger-side small overlap front crash, is widely acknowledged as a tougher standard of crashworthiness than the federal government's own simulations administered by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. The small-overlap test involves crashing about 25 percent of a vehicle's front end into a barrier at 40 mph, replicating a crash involving a tree or a power pole.

Among the other pickups tested this round? The Chevrolet Colorado and GMC Canyon twins, the Nissan Frontier, the Ram 1500 and Nissan Titan -- you can see all of their results below.

Midsize Pickups

Chevrolet Colorado:

  • Passenger-side: Marginal
  • Driver-side: Good

GMC Canyon:

  • Passenger-side: Marginal
  • Driver-side: Good

Honda Ridgeline:

  • Passenger-side: Acceptable
  • Driver-side: Good

Nissan Frontier:

  • Passenger-side: Marginal
  • Driver-side: Marginal

Toyota Tacoma:

  • Passenger-side: Acceptable
  • Driver-side: Good

Full-size Pickups   

Chevrolet Silverado 1500:

  • Passenger-side: Marginal
  • Driver-side: Good

GMC Sierra 1500:

  • Passenger-side: Marginal
  • Driver-side: Good

Toyota Tundra:

  • Passenger-side: Poor
  • Driver-side: Marginal

Even without the Top Safety Pick recommendation because of apparent headlamp shortfall, the IIHS' scores can be seen as sweet revenge for Ford. Its arch rivals, the new 2019 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 and GMC Sierra 1500 failed to perform as well in crash testing, netting out with "Marginal" ratings. 

Why is that sweet revenge? General Motors has made a big deal out of poking fun of the strength and safety of Ford's aluminum-bodied truck in various ad campaigns, yet the F-Series outpointed its trucks in these tests. Given the fierce, back-and-forth nature of pickup truck marketing, we wouldn't be surprised to see Ford return fire with its own IIHS-centered advertising in short order.