Passengers in modern pickup trucks are at higher risk of injury or death than the drivers, according to new research by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.
A majority of two-row pickups “struggled to maintain their structure” in a new round of crash tests designed to gauge what happens when the front-right corner of the vehicle smashes something, IIHS said.
“Clearly as a class, they’re not offering state-of-the-art occupant protection” on the passenger side, IIHS chief research officer David Zuby said in an interview.
The Toyota Tundra had the worst performance on the new round of tests, earning a “poor” mark.
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Of the five pickups that had a “marginal” performance, four were General Motors vehicles – the Chevrolet Silverado 1500, Chevrolet Colorado, GMC Canyon and GMC Sierra 1500 – and the other was the Nissan Frontier.
Two had an “acceptable” rating: the Honda Ridgeline and the Toyota Tacoma. And three had a “good” score: the Ford F-150, Ram 1500 and Nissan Titan.
On the driver’s side, all but two pickups got a “good” score. Only the Tundra and Frontier received “marginal” ratings.
IIHS has been performing driver-side small overlap front crash tests since 2012, which is when the left corner collides with another vehicle or hits an object. But it only began testing the passenger side in 2017.
“We wanted to make sure the auto industry understood that both drivers and front passengers deserve the same amount of protection,” Zuby said.
That the Toyota Tundra had a “poor” performance is surprising for an automaker that typically prides itself on strong safety performance.
Zuby said it may be due to the fact that the Tundra is aging. Its last major redesign happened in 2014, and several of the other pickups have since been overhauled.
Follow USA TODAY reporter Nathan Bomey on Twitter @NathanBomey.