Four small pickups earn ‘good’ crash-test ratings

Keith Laing
Detroit News Washington Bureau

Washington — Four small pickups – including the 2017 Chevrolet Colorado Crew Cab and the GMC Canyon Crew Cab – earned “good” overall ratings in crash-testing by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. However, the Extended Cab versions of those General Motors Co. pickups earned only “acceptable” ratings for protecting drivers and passengers.

However, the lack of automatic emergency braking systems — and “poor”-rated headlights —prevented any of the eight small 2017 pickups that were tested from qualifying for the institute’s Top Safety Pick awards. The IIHS represents the insurance industry.

Testers found the structure and safety cage of the Chevy Colorado Crew Cab resisted intrusion and preserved survival space for the driver.

Engineers evaluated two body styles of each pickup: crew cab and extended cab. Crew cabs have four full doors and two full rows of seating. Extended cabs have two full front doors, two smaller rear doors and compact rear seating.

In results released Wednesday, the group said the Toyota Tacoma crew cab, known as the Double Cab, was the top performer in the most punishing crash test — the small-overlap front test — that replicates what happens when the front driver-side corner of a vehicle hits a tree or utility pole, or collides with another vehicle.

The extended cab version of the Tacoma, which Toyota calls the Access Cab, also placed in the top four pickups that received “good” overall ratings. It received similar grades as the Double Cab, with the exception of an acceptable rating that was given to the pickup for structure due to “additional occupant compartment intrusion” that was found by testers.

The dummy's position in relation to the door frame, steering wheel, and instrument panel after the crash test indicates that the driver's survival space was maintained reasonably well in crash-testing of the 2017 Chevrolet Colorado Crew Cab.

Two small pickups that were tested — the Nissan Frontier King Cab and the Frontier Crew Cab — earned only “marginal” overall ratings.

“This group of small pickups performed better in the small-overlap front test than many of their larger pickup cousins,” David Zuby, IIHS executive vice president and chief research officer, said in a statement. “The exception was the Nissan Frontier, which hasn’t had a structural redesign since the 2005 model year.”

The Colorado and the Canyon were redesigned for 2015 after a two-year absence from the market. Beginning with the 2017 models, the A-pillar, lower door-hinge pillar and door sill were reinforced to improved protection in the small-overlap crash tests. Testers found that the structure and safety cage of the Crew Cab version largely resisted intrusion and preserved survival space for the driver. They found more intrusion into the driver’s footwell area when the Extended Cab version was tested.

All eight of the pickups had headlights that were rated as “poor.”

“Headlights are basic but vital safety equipment. Drivers shouldn’t have to give up the ability to see the road at night when they choose a small pickup,” Zuby said.

IIHS said last year that seven of 11 large and small pickup models tested then earned “poor” ratings in headlight tests conducted by the group.

(202) 662-8735

Twitter: @Keith_Laing


Overall ratings for testing that represents a vehicle hitting a utility pole on the front driver’s side:

Toyota Tacoma Double Cab: Good

Chevrolet Colorado Crew Cab: Good

GMC Canyon Crew Cab: Good

Toyota Tacoma Access Cab: Good

Chevrolet Colorado Extended Cab: Acceptable

GMC Canyon Extended Cab: Acceptable

Nissan Frontier King Cab: Marginal

Nissan Frontier Crew Cab: Marginal

Source: IIHS