The Toyota Tacoma double cab, Tacoma access cab, Chevrolet Colorado crew cab and GMC Canyon crew cab earned top marks in a small-overlap front crash test of eight midsize pickups by the Insurance institute for Highway Safety.
The Colorado and Canyon extended cab both earned "acceptable" marks, while the Nissan Frontier king cab and crew cab — the oldest vehicles tested — earned "marginal" ratings. IIHS said it tested two body styles of each pickup because results can differ between cab designs.
Although four of the eight pickups earned "good" ratings, none of the vehicles qualify for either of IIHS's Top Safety Pick awards because they have poorly rated headlights and don't have an automatic emergency braking system.
"This group of small pickups performed better in the small overlap front test than many of their larger pickup cousins," David Zuby, IIHS 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."
Small-overlap crashes account for about 25 percent of the serious driver injuries and deaths that occur in frontal impacts, IIHS says. The test involves 25 percent of a vehicle's front end on the driver side striking a 5-foot-tall barrier at 40 mph.
It was introduced in 2012.
The vehicles are graded with either "good," "acceptable," "marginal" or "poor" ratings in seven categories.
Toyota redesigned the Tacoma in 2016. The crew cab (which it calls the double cab) performed the best in the IIHS test.
The only category in which it did not earn a "good" mark was in the lower leg and foot area, where it earned an "acceptable" mark. It was also the only pickup in the group to earn a "good" structure rating.
The extended cab (called the access cab) earned an "acceptable" mark for structure due to "additional occupant compartment intrusion" during the crash, IIHS said.
GM re-introduced the Colorado and Canyon for the 2015 model year after cutting the models two years prior. The 2017 model-year vehicles included improvements to the A-pillar, lower door-hinge pillar and door sill, all of which were reinforced to protect passengers in front overlap crashes.
Both GM vehicles' crew cabs earned top marks in every category besides "structure," where they were marked "acceptable." The extended cab versions of both vehicles earned "acceptable" marks overall after the test showed intrusion into the lower leg and foot area, prompting "poor" marks.
Both pickups are available with front crash prevention with an optional forward collision warning system.
The oldest design of any vehicles tested belonged to the Nissan Frontier king and crew cabs, which haven't been redesigned since 2005. However, the automaker earlier this year lengthened the vehicles' side curtain airbags to improve passenger protection in small overlap front crashes.
Those airbags helped in the IIHS test, but the organization said its test dummies' legs were pushed back nearly 17 inches in the crew cab and 14 inches in the extended car, which would cause serious injuries for humans.
Headlights for all eight pickups were rated "poor." IIHS started rating headlights last year to encourage improvements to nighttime visibility and reductions in glare.
"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.
The article "Toyota, Chevy and GMC midsize pickups earn top IIHS safety ratings" originally appeared on autonews.com