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Passengers beware 2022 Toyota Tacoma crash test reveals flaw

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A recent crash test of the 2022 Toyota Tacoma extended cab resulted in a not-so-happy ending for the front seat passenger. At least the gas tank doesn’t get punctured anymore.

The test, performed by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, revealed this particular cab configuration took care of one big problem, but other issues remain, leading to just a marginal rating.

What’s going on? Well, an earlier crash test revealed one of the rear leaf springs punctured the fuel tank resulting in a fire risk and an automatic downgrade in safety.

Toyota fixed this issue in model built in October 2021, but further testing revealed a new problem.

2022 Toyota Tacoma crash test reveals flaw

The relatively new passenger-side small overlap front crash test by the IIHS revealed the pickups door frame and dash intruded into the front passenger’s seating position contributing to higher injury risks. Specifically, the crash dummies showed a higher risk to the right leg and a moderate risk for the left leg. Though the front- and side-curtain airbags performed well, the dummy’s head also struck the grab handle on the A-pillar on the right side of the windshield according to the IIHS.

The truck did earn Good ratings in five other areas: the driver-side small overlap, moderate overlap front, original side, roof strength and head restraint tests.

You may be wondering why the extended cab did poorly and not the crew cab. The short answer: The Toyota Tacoma is old.

The longer answer: Manufacturers have largely adopted “wheel blockers” for this new test to stop the front tires from being pushed into the cabin and causing harm to legs like this test showed. These wheel blockers are often just a metal brace added to the frame behind the wheel.

With the newness of this test and the age of the current Tacoma, it is very likely Toyota simply chose to wait for the next-gen redesign of the Tacoma coming in 2023 to address safety concerns. Additionally, the current design may not allow for the addition of wheel blockers, so Toyota has to wait for the redesign to incorporate changes.

The bottom line

Fact is, the IIHS testing doesn’t mirror an automaker’s roll-out of new vehicles. You’ll see this play out often — like when the prior-generation Tundra failed at some of the newest IIHS tests when it hadn’t been fully redesigned since 2007.

Does it mean the truck somehow became less safe? Nope, it just means the testing has gotten better.

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Tim Esterdahl

Automotive Journalist Tim Esterdahl has been a lover of trucks and SUVs for years. He has covered the industry since 2011 and has pieces in many national magazines and newspapers. In his spare time, he is often found tinkering on his '62 C10 pickup, playing golf, going hunting and hanging out with his wife and kids in Nebraska.

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