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Old 02-05-2010, 08:22 AM   #1
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Default Small trucks perform poorly in latest IIHS crash test

Pickup trucks are often associated with strength and might, but the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety’s latest round of testing proves that isn’t necessarily the case with smaller trucks. The IIHS put 5 compact trucks through a battery of safety tests, with all parties involved failing to achieve the Institute’s highest rating.

Of the 5 trucks tested, only Nissan’s Frontier managed to earn the IIHS’ highest rating of ‘good’ for rollover protection. The Ford Ranger was ranked as ‘acceptable’ while the Dodge Dakota, Toyota Tacoma and Chevrolet Colorado all earned a rating of ‘marginal’ – the IIHS’ second lowest rating.
In order to achieve the IIHS’ highest rating in rollover protection, a vehicle must withstand 4 times its weight before the roof crushes five inches. The current national regulations only require a vehicle to withstand 1.5 times the vehicle’s weight. The worst performing truck – the Chevy Colorado – withstood 2.9 times its weight.

The Institute also conducted side impact tests on the trucks, with the Frontier, Ranger and Tacoma all earning ratings of good. The Colorado was ranked as poor, the Institute’s lowest rating. However, the Colorado managed to outperform the Dakota, as the Dakota’s side air bags failed to inflate altogether. Chrysler says it has discovered the defect that prevented the air bags from deploying and the IIHS has agreed to retest the Dakota in the coming weeks.

“As a group, small pickups aren’t performing as well as small cars or small SUVs in all of the Institute’s safety tests. None of the ones we tested is a top-notch performer across the board. In fact, no small pickup earns our Top Safety Pick award,” Institute senior vice president David Zuby said in a statement.

The Frontier would have earned the IIHS’ top rating had it not been for a rating of acceptable in rear crash protection. A vehicle must earn ratings of good in all test to earn the title of Top Safety Pick
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Old 02-05-2010, 08:24 AM   #2
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2010 Nissan Frontier: Only Small Pickup With Strong Roof Safety

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) has rated five small and mid-size pickups and found that roof-crush protection isn't so good overall.

The only truck of the five tested to earn the top rating of 'good'—just barely—was the 2010 Nissan Frontier (also sold, structurally similar, as the 2010 Suzuki Equator).

In order to earn that 'good' rating, the roof must be more than twice as strong as the current federal minimum. Safety advocates have long argued that the current minimum doesn't adequately protect occupants, especially in rollovers; finally in April 2009 the federal government rolled out a new standard—not in full effect until 2016—that effectively doubles the standard for vehicles under 6,000 pounds and introduces new standards for heavier ones. Most of these small pickups are built on aged designs, and most of them will likely be completely redesigned by then.

Good roof-crush test results are especially important for small pickups as they have a higher chance of rollover than most cars, crossovers, and even SUVs. According to the IIHS, nearly 10,000 people are killed annually in accidents that involve rollover, and roofs that collapse can not only lead to more injuries but also to a greater chance of ejection from the vehicle when occupants aren't properly belted in. Nearly half of all fatalities in pickup crashes were in trucks that rolled over.

Electronic stability control has in recent years helped reduce the chances of rollover, especially in single-vehicle incidents, and side airbags have helped protect those who do roll.

In the roof-crush test, a metal plate is pushed against one corner of the roof at constant speed. IIHS ratings correspond to the level of deformation corresponding to a particular force. For instance, a 'good' rating requires that the roof must withstand four times the vehicle weight before crushing five inches.

Angular Front Exterior View - 2010 Dodge Dakota 2WD Crew Cab ST
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2010 Chevrolet Colorado
Enlarge Photo
010 Toyota Tacoma

For this latest batch of trucks, the Nissan Frontier withstood more than four times its weight before reaching five inches of crush, while the 2010 Ford Ranger, 2010 Dodge Dakota, and 2010 Toyota Tacoma each took a bit more than three times their respective weights. The 2010 Chevrolet Colorado (and likely its near-twin, the 2010 GMC Canyon) was in last place, with just 2.86 times its weight.

The 2010 Dodge Dakota also fared poorly in a side test, in which its curtain side airbags failed to deploy. The IIHS notes that side airbags remain optional—not standard—on the 2010 Dodge Dakota, and it's one of few passenger vehicles to not include the feature on every spec.

Institute senior vice president David Zuby assesses that the 2010 Nissan Frontier is "really good for front side and rollover crash protection." He continues to say, "If Nissan were to upgrade the seat design, Frontier could be a Top Safety Pick." Currently the Frontier achieves an 'acceptable' score in the IIHS's seat-based rear impact test.

"As a group, small pickups aren't performing as well as small cars or small SUVs in all of the Institute's safety tests. None of the ones we tested is a top-notch performer across the board. In fact, no small pickup earns our Top Safety Pick award," said Zuby, in a release accompanying the results.
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Old 02-05-2010, 10:51 AM   #3
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I wouldn't limit it to small trucks. This year when I drove across Nebraska and Colorado through a snow storm I saw about 12 pickups and SUVs off the road, and all of them were on their side, roof, or had a crushed roof from rolling.
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