Several pickup trucks sold in the U.S. performed poorly in a passenger-side crash test, with an influential safety group saying the vehicle as a whole "has a lot of work to do."
Nonprofit Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, the research arm of the insurance industry, said Thursday it recently put pickups through a passenger-side small overlap front test, and that most struggled to maintain their structure.
Two trucks, Ford Motor Co.'s
F, + 2.00%
Titan earned a good rating. The two join Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV
FCAU, + 1.11%
Dodge Ram 1500, which earned a good rating in the test late last year.
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Honda Motor Co. Ltd.'s
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Ridgeline was the only pickup to qualify for the IIHS's top safety pick award. That was thanks to its good-rated headlights, which the other models lack, and superior-rated front crash prevention, but it only qualifies when equipped with those features, the IIHS said.
Another popular pickup, Toyota Motor Corp.
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Tacoma, also earned an "acceptable" rating in the passenger-side test, but it fell short of an award because of its headlights.
In total, IIHS has rated 11 crew cab pickups in the passenger-side test – four small and seven large. The Toyota Tundra, a large pickup, is the only poor rating, while five of the truck's rate margin, the IIHS said.
“We commend Ford, Nissan and Ram for providing state-of-the-art crash protection for both drivers and front passengers of their large pickup models, ”David Zuby, IIHS chief research officer, said in a statement. "As a group, however, the pickup class still has a lot of work to do."
Pickup trucks and, more recently, SUVs and compact SUVs are the most popular vehicle styles in the US, far outpacing sedans and other styles .
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Small overlap crashes occur when just the front corner of the vehicle strikes another vehicle or object such as a tree or utility pole, the IIHS said. The safety agency started rating vehicles for protection in a driver-side small overlap front crash in 2012. The Institute launched the passenger-side test two years ago to make sure occupants on both sides of the vehicle get equal protection, it said.  “Pickups took longer than other vehicle categories to meet the institute's challenge for driver-side small overlap protection, so it was surprise that they are lagging in the newer passenger-side evaluation,” it said. Today most pickups earn a good rating in the driver-side test, it said.
The Ford F-150 was the best performer in the passenger-side test as its structure held up well, the IIHS said.
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“The (Toyota) Tundra, in contrast, was seriously compromised by intruding structure,” it said.
Three General Motors Co.
GM, + 0.95%
trucks earned marginal ratings. A GM spokesperson said the company is focused on safety, and designs the vehicles to protect occupants "in a broad range of crashes."
"As part of our commitment to safety, we continue our efforts to develop and implement safety improvements. all our products, "the spokesperson said.
A Toyota spokesperson said the company is" proud "that several of its vehicles perform well in safety tests, and that safety and reliability of its vehicles are priority.
"Continue to look for ways to improve in an effort to exceed customers 'expectations – especially in IIHS' passenger-side front small overlap for pickup trucks," the spokesperson said.
The Tundra and the Nissan Frontier, which has a marginal rating in the passenger-side test, struggle with the driver-side small overlap test. and have a marginal rating for driver-side protection, the IIHS said.
They are also the ones with the oldest design, as the Frontier's basic structure dates back to the 2005 model year, while the Tundra's is from 2007, the IIHS said.