The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety’s car and light truck safety tests are the gold standard for the industry. The IIHS recently tested eight 2017 model small pickups. The only ones that got low scores were two made by Nissan.
The Nissan Frontier King Cab and Frontier Crew Cab each received poor grades for the “lower leg & foot” crash results category. The Crew Cab also received a poor grade for “structure.” Each truck was rated “marginal” overall. None of the other trucks received such a low rating.
At the other end of the spectrum the Toyota Motor Corp. (NYSE: TM) Tacoma Double Cab and Tacoma Access Cab, and General Motors Co.’s (NYSE: GM) Chevrolet Colorado Crew Cab and GMC Canyon Crew Cab, all received overall ratings of “good,” the highest grade possible. The Chevrolet Colorado Extended Cab and GMC Canyon Extended Cab received “average” ratings.
The research firm described its methodology:
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.
The news is a blow to Nissan, which has watched sales of the Frontier fall sharply. Its sales for the first seven months of 2017 were 50,097, down 18.9%. Sales for August were worse at 4,637, down 51.4%. The small pickup sector is one of the most competitive in the U.S. auto industry. It is hard for Nissan to post very strong sales numbers if the Frontier’s sales keep crashing.
In describing the Nissan crash tests, the IIHS reported:
The Frontier’s structure, however, allowed considerable intrusion into the occupant compartment, compromising driver survival space. The footwell was pushed back toward the dummy’s legs nearly 17 inches in the crew-cab test and 14 inches in the extended-cab test. In a real-world crash like this, the driver would likely sustain serious injuries to the lower legs and left foot.
Anyone looking at the test results while in the market to buy a small pickup would have to pause before even considering the Nissan models.