Is Toyota’s safety rating for small trucks better than GMC’s?

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Things to remember...
  • Researching the safety ratings of small trucks, like the Toyota Tacoma and GMC Canyon, can help the buyer anticipate the change in cost of auto insurance
  • The IIHS/HDLI is a reliable source that can be used to determine which of these vehicles is safer than other
  • Although the Toyota Tacoma and GMC Canyon have very similar safety ratings, the Toyota Tacoma is technically the safer option

Safety is an extremely important issue to consider when shopping for a new vehicle.

You must think about any dangerous situations that the potential vehicle could be placed in and determine whether or not it would be able to handle these conditions while protecting all of the passengers.

You need to be sure that your chosen vehicle can endure severe weather or unpredictable terrains if you participate in off-roading.

Because car companies are aware that auto insurance costs can fluctuate depending on each vehicle’s safety rating, they often promote their vehicles in a way that makes them seem safer than they really are.

Thankfully, consumers can refer to the reliable safety ratings provided by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) and Highway Loss Data Institute (HDLI).

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IIHS/HDLI Safety Ratings

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The IIHS/HDLI uses its vehicle research center in order to perform very specific tests and evaluate each vehicle’s safety features. The vehicles that will be compared in this particular study include the Toyota Tacoma and the GMC Canyon.

The following safety ratings apply to both the access and double cab models for the Toyota Tacoma, as well as the extended cab models for the GMC Canyon.

These tests are designed to effectively evaluate the child seat anchors, crashworthiness, and crash avoidance and mitigation of each vehicle.

These tests are broken down even further into subcategories which can earn the following grades depending on the IIHS/HDLI’s findings:

  • good
  • acceptable
  • marginal
  • poor

Front crash prevention, which is a subcategory under crash avoidance and mitigation, is the only exception to this rating system because it receives basic, advanced, and superior ratings.

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– Crashworthiness

Most of the time, no one ever expects to get into a car crash, but crashworthiness depends on the vehicle’s ability to protect its passengers if it were to happen.

The front small overlap, head restraints and seats, roof strength, sides, and front moderate overlap are all things that the IIHS/HDLI tests in order to provide safety ratings for each vehicle’s crashworthiness.

The Toyota Tacoma managed to earn “good” ratings for all five of the crashworthiness subcategories. The GMC Canyon only fell short in the front small overlap and sides subcategories, earning “acceptable” ratings for both.

– Crash Avoidance & Mitigation

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Many modern vehicles offer safety features that help the vehicle to avoid collisions. Avoiding collisions also can help the driver to avoid any negative marks on their driving record and maintain cost-effective auto insurance.

In this category, the IIHS/HDLI focuses on headlights and front crash prevention.

Unfortunately, the Toyota Tacoma was not available for front crash prevention testing. The GMC Canyon, however, received the minimum “basic” rating with an indication that it was earned with optional equipment.

Under the headlights subcategory, both small trucks earned “poor” ratings.

– Child Seat Anchors

The only subcategory for child seat anchors is LATCH which stands for Lower Anchors and Tethers for Children.

Because federal regulations require most vehicles to have two rear seating positions with full LATCH, the IIHS/HDLI thoroughly evaluates each vehicle’s hardware to determine how efficiently child restraints and car seats can be installed.

The IIHS/HDLI focuses on how much force is necessary, how accessible the lower anchors are, the convenience of the clearance angle, and if there are any other pieces of hardware that might confuse the installer.

The GMC Canyon was not available for testing in this area, but the Toyota Tacoma managed to earn a “marginal” rating.

Top Safety Pick Awards

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All of the preceding safety ratings are used by the IIHS/HDLI to decide which vehicles, if any, are worthy of any of their Top Safety Pick awards.

These awards represent which vehicles the IIHS/HDLI would recommend as the safest, which could help consumers decide on a vehicle.

Unfortunately, neither the Toyota Tacoma nor the GMC Canyon managed to snag an award from the IIHS/HDLI. In fact, there aren’t any small pickup trucks that earned any of the 2017 Top Safety Pick awards.

Is the Toyota Tacoma or GMC Canyon safer?

Although both vehicles only differed slightly in the crashworthiness category, the Toyota Tacoma and GMC Canyon both lacked important safety features that weren’t even available for testing.

For the Toyota, it was the failure to provide any safety features for front crash prevention. Even though the GMC Canyon only earned the bare minimum rating, it still managed to offer some form of protection.

Sadly, GMC’s bare minimum safety rating didn’t carry over to the child seat anchors category, leaving no way to properly install child restraints.

Overall, the Toyota Tacoma just barely beats out the GMC Canyon because of its consistently “good” ratings for crashworthiness and “marginal” rating for child seat anchors.

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