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A new midsize pickup crash test revealed most earn good ratings while Toyota Tacoma was marginal after crashing a heavier barrier into them.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety conducted the test on crew cab variants of the Chevy Colorado, GMC Canyon, Honda Ridgeline, Nissan Frontier, Ford Ranger and the Toyota Tacoma.

Each of these trucks were struck with a 4,200-pound barrier traveling at 37 MPH. This is meant to simulate an SUV striking the side of the truck. The prior test was a 3,300-pound barrier traveling at 31 MPH.

Which one aced the midsize pickup crash test?

Overall, the IIHS says the midsize pickups did pretty well as a group.

The Chevy Colorado, GMC Canyon and Honda Ridgeline all earned good ratings.

Both the Nissan Frontier and the Ford Ranger were rated as acceptable.

Finally, the Toyota Tacoma was rated as marginal.

“Overall, this was a solid performance from these vehicles,” said IIHS Senior Research Engineer Becky Mueller, whose work formed the foundation for the new evaluation. “Their high ride height means that the barrier we use to represent a striking vehicle hits the strong door sill structures directly. This likely prevented excessive intrusion into the occupant compartment, except in the case of the Tacoma.”

According to their tests, the Nissan Frontier’s structure and safety cage, a cage built into the pickups to prevent injuries to the occupants, held up the best while the Ford Ranger’s occupant compartment was also “maintained relatively well.”

The IIHS notes the rear passenger dummies’ head “struck the C-pillar through the side curtain airbag in both acceptable-rated vehicles.”

For the Tacoma, while the test measurements showed minimal risk for most injuries, the structure and safety cage were not maintained well during the crash. Specifically, the striking barrier crumpled the door sill and the B-pillar, pushing that pillar to within a few inches of the center of the driver seat.

“That alone pushed the overall rating down to marginal,” Mueller said. “We weight structural performance very heavily because it is tied so closely with survivability.”

The bottom line

These crash tests sometimes causes worry among new vehicle shoppers that their choice of pickup isn’t safe any longer. The thing to remember is this test didn’t exist when some of these trucks were being engineered. For example, the current generation Toyota Tacoma came out in 2016, and this test was conducted in 2022 on that old model.

The right approach when reading about these crash tests is to add to a pros and cons list when shopping for a new pickup. One test shouldn’t determine whether or not you buy a truck.

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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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