Midsize Pickups Struggling With Rear-Seat Safety, Too

People sitting in the back of a compact car or midsize SUV are significantly more at risk of suffering injuries in a collision than those in the front row, but the same observation can also be made with pickups.

That’s what the U.S. Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) found after putting five midsize models to the test recently.

None of the crew cab pickups managed to earn a good overall rating. The Nissan Frontier was rated “acceptable,” the Ford Ranger got a “marginal” rating, and the Chevrolet Colorado, Jeep Gladiator and Toyota Tacoma were all rated “poor.”

It’s worth pointing out that the IIHS tested the outgoing Ranger, Colorado and Tacoma instead of the next-generation models (only the Colorado would have been available for testing).

“Our updated moderate overlap front crash test proved to be challenging for small pickups,” said IIHS President David Harkey. “A common problem was that the rear passenger dummy's head came dangerously close to the front seatback, and in many cases, dummy measurements indicated a risk of neck or chest injuries. All these things tell us that the rear seat belts need improvement.”

In the Ranger, for instance, the rear dummy (which is the size of a small woman or 12-year-old child) submarined beneath the lap belt, causing it to ride up from the ideal position on the pelvis onto the abdomen, increasing the risk of internal injuries.

The Gladiator, meanwhile, doesn’t have rear side curtain airbags because of its removeable doors, which makes rear-seat passengers more vulnerable in the event of a lateral impact.

The IIHS last year updated its moderate overlap front crash test (where half of the vehicle’s front end strikes an obstacle) after research showed that in newer models the risk of a fatal injury is now higher for belted occupants in the rear than for those in front. 

That being said, whether we’re talking about cars, SUVs or pickups, the IIHS reminds us that the back seat remains the safest place for young children, who can be injured by an inflating front airbag.

Watch: All-New 2024 Ford Ranger Makes North American Debut

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