Toyota's Tacoma Rear Side-Impact Safety Test Results are In and they're Lacking Compared to Other Small Pickups


In the updated side crash test, six small pickups in crew cab configuration were tested by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). The Chevrolet Colorado and GMC Canyon received good ratings, while the Nissan Frontier and Ford Ranger were considered acceptable. However, the Toyota Tacoma was only rated as marginal. All pickups had a high ride height to minimize damage from the impact.


"Since their ride height is significantly higher, the barrier used to striking vehicles hit the door sill structures directly," said IIHS Senior Research Engineer Becky Mueller. "This prevented extensive intrusion into the occupant compartment, except for in cases with a Tacoma."

The safety cages of the good-rated Colorado, Canyon, and Ridgeline held up relatively well in our crash tests, contributing to a minimal risk of most injury. But it’s not all rosy because injury measurements taken from the dummies indicated a possibility of a pelvic fracture for the driver of the Colorado, the Canyon, and especially the Ridgeline.

Out of the three vehicles, the Frontier had the best results in terms of safety and impact. The Ranger's cabin also did well in protecting passengers from injury. However, the dummies placed in the backseat hit their heads on the C-pillar when airbags deployed.

The Toyota Tacoma had a different outcome. Although the measurements showed a minimal risk of injuries, its safety cage and structure did not do well under impact. The striking barrier crumpled the door sill and B-pillar, pushing it close to the driver's seat.

Mueller explained that the poor rating was due largely in part to the structure's performance, which is closely tied to survivability.

IIHS updated the side test after researching that many real-world side impacts are more harsh than what wasevaluated initially. The new test uses a heavier barrier (4,200 lb/1,905 kg) traveling at a faster speed (37 mph/60 kph) to simulate the striking vehicle. The original evaluation featured a 3,300-lb(1,497-kg) barrier traveling at 31 mph (50 kph). All six pickups had good ratings in the original side test.

The updated test will not be counted in the IIHS award criteria until 2023. To earn the low-tier Top Safety Pick award, a good or acceptable rating will be required from then on. To earn the higher tier Top Safety Pick+ award, only a good rating is necessary.