"We commend Ford, Nissan and Ram for providing state-of-the-art crash protection for both drivers and front passengers of their large pickup models," David Zuby, IIHS chief research officer, said in a statement. "As a group, however, the pickup class still has a lot of work to do."
Small-overlap crashes account for about 25 percent of the serious driver injuries and deaths that occur in frontal impacts, IIHS says. The test, introduced in 2012, involves 25 percent of a vehicle's front end on the driver side striking a 5-foot-tall barrier at 40 mph.
Vehicles are given "good," "acceptable," "marginal" or "poor" ratings.
Many automakers initially struggled with the driver-side tests but have increasingly added features to improve performance. Ford in 2015, for example, added steel horns — known by most engineers as wheel blockers — onto the frame of some F-150 versions to redirect the energy of the collision away from the passenger cabin. The automaker later spread the wheel blockers across all F-150s.
For the redesigned 2019 Ram 1500, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles incorporated what it calls a "splayed" frame, spreading the leading elements of the frame outward on each side of the pickup — and protecting the wheel in the process.
IIHS said the Tundra's dummy received the most damage during testing, indicating a right lower leg injury would be likely in the event of a real-world crash. Right hip injuries also would be possible. Maximum intrusion into the Tundra's structure was 15 inches, vs. only 5 inches for the F-150.
The dummy in the F-150, by comparison, showed no signs of potential injuries.
The Tundra, along with the Nissan Frontier, are the only pickups to not earn a "good" rating in driver-side or passenger-side tests.
IIHS noted that they are the oldest in the group, with the Tundra's basic structure dating to the 2007 model year and the Frontier's to the 2005 model year.