Four out of eight small pickup trucks evaluated by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety earn good ratings for occupant protection in all five IIHS crashworthiness evaluations, but the lack of an automatic emergency braking system and poor-rated headlights mean these pickups fall short of qualifying for either of the Institute’s safety awards.

IIHS engineers evaluated two body styles —crew cab and extended cab— of each pickup including the Toyota Tacoma, Chevrolet Colorado, GMC Canyon and the Nissan Frontier. 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 second-row seats. The Institute tests the two most popular versions of pickups because their performance can vary by body style. The ratings in this round of evaluations apply to 2017 models.

To assess crashworthiness, the Institute rates vehicles good, acceptable, marginal or poor, based on performance in five tests: moderate overlap front, small overlap front, side, roof strength and head restraints. IIHS also rates the performance of front crash prevention systems and headlights.

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

The small overlap test is the most challenging of the IIHS crashworthiness evaluations. Added in 2012, the test replicates what happens when a vehicle runs off the road and hits a tree or pole or clips another vehicle that has crossed the center line.

The Toyota Tacoma crew cab, which Toyota calls the Double Cab, was the top performer in the small overlap test. The Tacoma crew cab earns a good rating, with good individual ratings for structure, restraints and kinematics, and all injury measures but the lower leg and foot, in which it earns acceptable.

The Tacoma crew cab is the only small pickup to earn a good rating for structure in the small overlap test. Results for the extended cab, which Toyota calls the Access Cab, were similar, with the exception of an acceptable rating for structure due to some additional occupant compartment intrusion. Toyota re-engineered the Tacoma for the 2016 model year.

Toyota says the 2018 model Tacoma will have a standard autobrake system with pedestrian detection and upgraded headlights that include high-beam assist, which automatically switches between high beams and low beams depending on the presence of other vehicles.

To learn more about the test check out the video below:

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