IIHS finds midsize pickups safe-ish, but lacking in safety tech

Generally, the newer the truck, the better it performed, which is not great news for Nissan.

Andrew Krok Reviews Editor / Cars
Cars are Andrew's jam, as is strawberry. After spending years as a regular ol' car fanatic, he started working his way through the echelons of the automotive industry, starting out as social-media director of a small European-focused garage outside of Chicago. From there, he moved to the editorial side, penning several written features in Total 911 Magazine before becoming a full-time auto writer, first for a local Chicago outlet and then for CNET Cars.
Andrew Krok
2 min read

In order to qualify for the IIHS Top Safety Pick+ award, a vehicle must pass a battery of tests with flying colors. The latest group of midsize trucks fell short of that specific award, but most of them still proved pretty darn safe.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety tested four different mid-size pickup trucks -- the Chevrolet Colorado, GMC Canyon, Toyota Tacoma and Nissan Frontier. The IIHS tested both extended-cab (two full doors) and crew cab (four full doors) configurations for each model, for a total of eight tested trucks.

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At this point, you've got a lot more to worry about than your gas cap cover popping open.


Four variants picked up Good overall ratings -- the Tacoma Double Cab (crew cab), Tacoma Access Cab (extended cab), Colorado Crew Cab and Canyon Crew Cab. All four of these trucks achieved top marks in the IIHS' battery of crash tests, including the infamous small-overlap front crash test. Of those trucks, the Tacoma Double Cab was the top performer overall.

The extended-cab variants of the Colorado and Canyon both received overall ratings of Acceptable, due to a couple Acceptable crash-test ratings for each truck.

Bringing up the rear is the Nissan Frontier. The truck, now in its 12th model year without a major update, earned the second-worst Marginal rating for its crashworthiness, no matter the cab configuration. Strangely, while crew-cab configurations tended to test better than their extended-cab siblings, the Frontier Crew Cab actually performed worse than the Frontier with an extended cab.

Sounds like the top four are eligible for Top Safety Pick+, right? They are, but all four trucks fell short when it came to the two newest evaluations -- headlights and crash protection/prevention. All four received a Poor rating for headlight coverage, and the Tacoma is not available with any forward crash protection/prevention. In fact, every truck tested had bad headlights by IIHS standards.

In order to achieve Top Safety Pick+, a vehicle must have Acceptable or Good headlights, as well as a rating of Advanced or Superior for crash protection/prevention. The Colorado and Canyon only received a Basic rating for their forward collision warning systems.

So close, yet so far.