Update 1: Retested 2010 Toyota Tundra Scores Five-Star Safety Rating


Update #1 August-05-2009 03:50 PM PDT:
Here's Toyota's response to our inquiry about safety upgrades and changes to the Tundra for 2010 that helped it reach a five-star rating in NHTSA's frontal crash testing:

"There were no major structural [frame] changes," Toyota spokesman Greg Thome told this afternoon. "There was the addition of driver and passenger knee airbags, plus a re-calibration of the seat belt and steering column energy management. Along with these hardware changes, we also tuned the software calibrations as well."

Can new five-star head-on crash-test ratings from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration help the Toyota Tundra full-size pickup truck regain sales traction with consumers and remove a marketing weakness that the Detroit Three have taken advantage of?

Toyota was surprised in 2007 when the all-new Tundra rated only four out of five stars for driver and front passenger safety (in all cab configurations) while its Detroit competitors — the Chevrolet Silverado 1500, Ford F-150, GMC Sierra 1500 and Dodge Ram 1500 — earned perfect five-star scores. Toyota's internal testing had indicated the Tundra should have also earned five stars.

A five-star score indicates that the chances of suffering serious injuries areless than 10 percent, while a four-star score means the chances are 11 percentto 20 percent.

The lower safety rating gave Chrysler, GM and Ford an opportunity to exploit the Tundra's federally measured safety gap in their marketing and promotional efforts, as they each launched all-new light-duty pickups during the past three years, even as the Tundra quietly earned the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety's 2008 Top Safety Pick award — the first time a pickup had been recognized with this honor. The 2009 Ford F-150 later earned the same IIHS award.

Spokespeople from Toyota reaffirmed the 2010 Tundra's minor exterior and interior updates, plus its brand-new 4.6-liter V-8 engine (please see our comprehensive road test), but had nothing to add, nor any knowledge about any structural changes to the 2010 Tundra's frame or other safety enhancements that could have given the truck improved crashworthiness.

The new five-star crash-test ratings have been earned by the 2010 Double Cab and Crew Max models equipped with side airbags. The regular cab hasn't been tested yet. Pictures on NHTSA's website show the brand-new 2010 Tundras tested.

Year-over-year of the Tundra are off more than 50 percent, as Toyota's big pickup has struggled with several other glitches since its launch and has been hurt by a tremendous drop in interest from casual truck shoppers hurt by the recession and stung by last year's spike in fuel prices.


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