2007 Tundra Falls Short in NHTSA Frontal Crash Test Rating
By: Mike LevinePosted: 03-16-07 18:36 PT
© 2007 PickupTruck.com

Page: [1] [2]

Update #4: 05-16-07 10:50 PT

In a phone call this morning with Toyota spokesperson Sam Butto, Butto tells PickupTruck.com that, "[Toyota] has looked at the testing done by NHTSA for both the Regular Cab and Crew Max and we've not been able to find any deviation between NHTSA and the internal tests we did. We accept that NHTSA has given both trucks a four star rating."

"But we're satisfied with the current truck's safety. There's only a minimal difference between a five star and a four star rating, and the Tundra received the highest rating from IIHS recently. Some people think IIHS has a tougher test [than NHTSA]," adds Butto.

Toyota engineers continue to probe what factors contributed to the less than perfect rating by closely looking at NHTSA's crash data and the Tundra's build, but a conclusion hasn't been reached yet.

"We don't have final information from Japan about the discrepancy, where it might be, or its cause," says Butto.

Asked about what steps Toyota might take with the current Tundra platform to improve the NHTSA score to a five before the next version of the Tundra is released, Butto says, "There's nothing specific we're going to do with the current truck (yet) but we're always looking to continuously improve the safety of all our products."

Finally, Butto helped clear up information about the 'missing' Double Cab test.

"NHTSA has never crash tested the Double Cab. [NHTSA's] position is the Regular Cab is similar enough to the Double Cab, so they don't need to test it separately."

Update #3: 05-15-07 20:21 PT

Once may be a fluke but twice starts a pattern.

NHTSA has completed a second round of crash testing with the 2007 Toyota Tundra, and has scored the Crew Max version with the same four star driver and passenger safety ratings the Regular Cab received back in March (see below).

A score of five stars is the best a vehicle can achieve in NHTSA testing. The 2007 Chevrolet Silverado, 2007 Dodge Ram, and 2007 Ford F-150 each earned five stars for driver and passenger safety in their NHTSA tests. Toyota's competitors are already using the original crash test results to emphasize the safety of their pickups over the Tundra.

This disappointing news for Toyota comes only a few weeks after the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) gave the Tundra its highest crash test rating.

After reviewing the results (charted below) you can see a dramatic difference in passenger head injury scores between the Crew Max and Regular Cab. Where lower scores are better, the Crew Max scored a 677 while the Regular Cab received a grade of 486 - an almost 40% variation.

It's still unknown whether the Double Cab has completed its tests, as scores published by NHTSA for the D-Cab are identical to the Regular Cab results and there are no pictures or video of a D-Cab test. Calls to NHTSA for comment have not been returned.

Update #2: 03-20-07 11:00 PT

In a phone call this morning with Toyota spokesman Bill Kwong, Kwong tells PickupTruck.com that, "We're surprised with the results from the NHTSA tests. During our internal testing, which was all done according to NHTSA criteria, we consistently showed (simulated) ratings of five stars from the get go for the Tundra. Right now our engineering team is reviewing the results but it's going to take several weeks to sort out. When we finish (reviewing the data) we'll determine what we might need to fix to make it right."

Interestingly, Kwong states that the NHTSA website is incorrect in reporting frontal crash test results for the Double Cab Tundra. According to Kwong, only Regular Cab testing has been completed while D-Cab testing, along with the Crew Max four door, hasn't happened yet. Toyota has requested that NHTSA remove the four star rating for the D-Cab Tundra from safercar.gov.

Beginning in September 2007, all new vehicles sold in the US will be required to display their NHTSA crash test rating.

Update #1: 03-17-07 13:30 PT

Added video of the Toyota Tundra regular cab frontal crash test plus comparative graphs showing the NHTSA scores of the 2007 regular cab full size pickups relative to each other.

Although it's not shown in the comparative graphs, the 2007 Nissan Titan was given a five star frontal crash test rating for driver safety and four stars for passenger safety. The same score was achieved in both King Cab and Crew Cab versions.

In what may turn out to be a significant marketing and sales blow to the biggest vehicle launch in Toyota's history, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has released its frontal impact crash test ratings for the new 2007 Tundra full size pickup - only four out of five stars for driver and passenger safety. NHTSA tested the Regular and Double Cab versions of the Tundra, with the same four star results.

In the same test, the all new 2007 Chevrolet Silverado scored five out of five stars, matching the same five star scores previously earned by the current Ford F-150 and Dodge Ram 1500 pickups for driver and front passenger safety in a frontal impact.

NHTSA conducts its frontal crash tests by crashing vehicles into a fixed barrier at 35 miles per hour, the equivalent of a head-on collision between two similar vehicles, each moving at 35 mph. Using crash test dummies, instruments measure the force of impact to each dummy's head, neck, chest, pelvis, legs and feet. Frontal star ratings indicate the chance of a serious head and chest injury to the driver and right front seat passenger. A serious injury is one requiring immediate hospitalization and may be life threatening. Four out of five stars represents an 11% to 20% chance of serious injury. A five star rating indicates serious injury is reduced to 10% or less in a frontal crash.

Toyota has vociferously stated the new Tundra is ready to go head to head with the half-ton pickups offered by the Detroit Three, including expectations for receiving five star safety ratings (page 4, first paragraph).

The NHTSA crash test results are likely to put Toyota's truck team into a deep defensive posture as the Tundra tries to prove itself an equal to the incumbents, and Ford, General Motors, and Chrysler pounce on any perceived weakness in the new truck's armor.

Page: [1] [2]