Four Mid-Size Pickups Earn Good Safety Ratings From IIHS


The Insurance Institute of Highway Safety has completed testing of model-year 2017 mid-size pickup trucks, designated "small" pickups by the IIHS. IIHS tested crew- and extended-cab versions of the Chevrolet Colorado, GMC Canyon, Nissan Frontier and Toyota Tacoma. Of those eight pickups, four earned good ratings in all five of the institute's five crashworthiness tests: the Colorado crew cab, the Canyon crew cab, and the Tacoma crew and extended cabs.

IIHS assesses each vehicle on a four-level rating system — good, acceptable, marginal and poor — in five different crash tests: moderate overlap front, small overlap front, side, roof strength and head restraints, with overarching categories of overall and structure. None of the pickups earned Top Safety Pick or Top Safety Pick Plus designations — the institute's highest ratings. To qualify as a Top Safety Pick, a vehicle must receive a rating of good in all five crashworthiness tests and offer automatic emergency braking that gets an advanced or superior rating. To achieve Top Safety Pick Plus status, a vehicle must also get an average or good rating for its headlights.

The Colorado crew cab, the Canyon crew cab and the Tacoma crew (called Double Cab) and extended cabs (called Access Cab) all received an overall rating of good and good or acceptable for structure. The extended-cab versions of the Colorado and Canyon received only an acceptable rating in the overall and structure categories and poor ratings for lower leg and foot protection.

Not surprisingly, the aging Nissan Frontier, last upgraded in 2005, fared the worst. Both the crew-cab and extended-cab (called King Cab) versions got marginal overall ratings, with the crew cab receiving a poor score for structure.

Some may recall that earlier this year IIHS did a full review of half-ton pickup trucks (both crew- and extended-cab models), including the all-new 2017 Honda Ridgeline among the test vehicles. At the time, the Ridgeline was the only vehicle in the pickup truck class to receive the Top Safety Pick Plus designation. When comparing those scores with this current crop of mid-size pickups, there's nothing here to dethrone the Ridgeline from its top crash-test perch.

IIHS started testing headlight performance testing in 2016 to encourage manufacturers to provide better quality lighting options for all vehicles. So far for pickups, only a few top trim levels have headlight technology proficient enough to receive the IIHS good rating. The Ridgeline does offer top-level headlights on certain trim levels. None of the other tested mid-size pickups are offered with headlight options capable of receiving a similarly high rating.

Additionally, the automatic emergency braking system offered on top-level Colorados and Canyons received only a basic rating, keeping the pickups from earning a higher rating. Toyota has told IIHS the 2018 Tacoma will offer standard automatic emergency braking and upgraded headlights with high-beam assist, which dims high beams when the pickup is approaching other vehicles.

IIHS images


2017 Chevrolet Colorado Crew Cab


2017 Nissan Frontier Crew Cab


2017 Toyota Tacoma Double Cab




Latest expert reviews