The Nissan Frontier has the strongest roof and the Chevrolet Colorado the weakest among five 2010 small pickup trucks the Institute recently evaluated for occupant protection in rollover crashes. The Frontier, which also is sold as the Suzuki Equator, is the only pickup in the group to earn the highest rating of good. The Ford Ranger is rated acceptable while the Dodge Dakota, Toyota Tacoma, and Colorado, which also is sold as the GMC Canyon, earn the second lowest rating of marginal.
The rating system is based on Institute research showing that occupants in rollover crashes benefit from stronger roofs (see Status Report special issue: roof strength, March 24, 2009). Vehicles that earn good ratings must have roofs that are more than twice as strong as the minimum required by the current federal safety standard. As a group, small pickups aren't performing as well as small cars or small SUVs.
"It's harder to find a small pickup truck that performs well in all of our crashworthiness evaluations," says Institute senior vice president David Zuby. In fact, no small pickup earns the Institute's Top Safety Pick award.
The Institute also conducted new side impact tests of small pickups. Earning good ratings are the Frontier with standard front and rear head curtain airbags and the Ranger with standard front-seat mounted combination head and torso airbags. Also rated good is the Tacoma. In contrast, the Colorado is rated poor for side protection.