Small Trucks Pickup Poor Crash Test Ratings

Edward Niedermeyer
by Edward Niedermeyer

With full-sized pickups taking a hosing, manufacturers may be looking towards smaller trucks to stem the bleeding. But a recent test of five compact pickups by the Insurance Institute For Highway Safety (IIHS) shows that they don't share the crash safety advantages of their full-sized brethren.The IIHS' first-ever side-impact test of compact pickups shows that all but the barely-compact Tacoma (which scored a "good") offer sub-standard side protection in crashes. The Dodge Dakota/Mitsubishi Raider, Nissan Frontier and Ranger/B-series earned "marginal" ratings, while the Chevy Colorado rated a dead-last "poor." The IIHS says that side-impacts are the second most common type of fatal crash, accounting for 9k deaths last year. Accordingly, the Institutes say that small pickups have the highest rates of driver deaths in accidents "of any vehicles on the road, including minicars," and that the small trucks "aren't good choices for people looking for safe transportation…until they improve." Still, some of the improvements that the IIHS recommends (stability control, side airbags) will soon become standard on some of these trucks, and optional on others. But if you think a compact pickup is any safer than say, a compact car, this might just be your wake-up call.

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4 of 24 comments
  • Raymond Hieber Raymond Hieber on Jul 24, 2008

    I have yet to see a Mitsubishi Dakota in the wild... how long have those been out now? I see older Mitsu trucks from time to time. I'd personally not want the side airbags no matter test result. I'll take special care to avoid t-bones, just like when driving a car with side airbags.

  • Dimwit Dimwit on Jul 25, 2008

    These things are all over the road. Anyone have the Real World crash test data for the Ranger? How does it stand up to the IIHS ratings? It's not like there's not enough data, right? I hate people pushing stats to further their agendas.

  • Golden2husky Golden2husky on Jul 25, 2008

    I wouldn't expect the lab tests and the "Real World" data to match precisely. Lab test remove the variables that are present in the real world, which from a scientific basis, is required in order to accurately compare performance of one vehicle to another. Thats why both sources of data should be considered when you do your research. Driver behavior is a major factor in how a class of vehicle performs. Insurance loss data is a good source of how likely a given vehicle is to be involved in a crash and typical cost of repair, injury rates, etc, provided you operate the vehicle in the same manner as the group as a whole. Drive a Vette like your typical Volvo 240 owner and you are not likely to be collecting that tree in your driver door at 60 mph, so the real world death rate for this Vette driver is not going to have much, uh, impact. Statistics can be presented in almost any way you want in order to bolster your case.

  • Shaker Shaker on Jul 26, 2008

    There are A LOT of Colorados out there with no side airbags, and it's quite possible to purchase a new one without them, so the test is valid.