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2011 Tacoma NHTSA Crash Test Results

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2011 Tacoma Crash Test Footage

Just published yesterday, NHTSA has announced the following crash test ratings for the 2011 Tacoma:

  • Frontal collision – 3 stars
  • Side collision (barrier) – 5 stars
  • Side collision (pole) – 4 stars
  • Rollover – 4 stars
  • Overall safety rating – 4 stars

If you’re shocked to see that the Tacoma only gets 3 stars, you’re not alone. The reason? The federal government has changed the standards for 2011 – and none of the new crash test ratings should be compared to the old ratings because they’re completely different.

New Crash Test Standards Mean Lower Scores

One of the complaints about the old crash test rating system is that almost all vehicles scored 4 or 5 stars, making it hard for consumers to figure out which vehicles really are safest. The new NHTSA crash test rules are much more stringent, making it harder for most manufacturers to maintain the same safety rating they had under the old rules.

The 2010 Tacoma, for instance, scored 5 stars in all frontal and side-impact tests under the 2010 rules. At that time, NHTSA said that anyone riding in a 5-star vehicle had less than a 10% chance of incurring serious injury. Under the new rules, a less-than-10% chance seems to equal 3 stars.

As the 5-Star Safety Ratings of vehicles improved, the agency [NHTSA] looked for new ways to encourage the continous advancement of vehicle safety…the additional testing and data that is reflected in the new ratings will better discriminate between the relative safety of vehicle models

Part of the reason that the new rules are tougher is that NHTSA is using both a “typical male” crash test dummy as well as an atypical petite female dummy in testing. Most car manufacturers designed their vehicles for the “typical male” because this dummy represented a large segment of the US population. With the new petite female dummy, NHTSA is grading manufacturers on more than just “typical” people.

One other reason NHTSA is using the petite female dummy is that it’s an excellent representation of teen children.

Overall, more stringent safety standards are a good thing. However, it’s likely that a lot of consumers will be surprised to see their vehicle’s safety scores drop from 5 to 3 (or even 2) overnight.