The small-overlap test claims another victim

The new Nissan Titan half-ton did not fair well in the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety’s small-overlap front crash test. The pickup only scored a “Marginal,” one level up from the lowest ranking of “Poor.” Testing revealed the Titan’s driver space was not maintained, with 11 inches of intrusion into the lower footwell. Such results would have likely resulted in injuries to the left foot and right leg, the IIHS says.

In the video above, it’s clear to see the barrier push the front left tire into the base of the A-pillar, deforming it rearward into the driver’s foot well area. Intrusion into the upper section of the cabin, around the dashboard, measured 7.4 inches and the steering column was pushed 3.5 inches rearward toward the crash test dummy. Still, the IIHS only noted possible injuries to its legs.

The IIHS breaks down its scores, noting possible injury to each area of the body, along with rating the structure and safety cage of the vehicle. The structure ranked “Marginal,” while the head/neck, chest, hip/thigh, and restrains earned a score of “Good.” The lower leg and foot area scored the lowest rating of “Poor,” which combined with the “Marginal” rating of the structure and safety cage, led to an overall score of “Marginal.”

The 2017 Nissan Titan did well in all other crash testing. It scored a “Good” in the moderate overlap, side impact, roof strength test, and head restraints and seats. The rear seat LATCH system was rated an “Acceptable” in terms of ease-of-use. The Titan’s headlights didn’t fare so well, however, scoring a “Marginal.” It’s easier to give the Titan a pass on that rating though, as headlight evaluations are new to the IIHS’ testing regimen for 2017. The small-overlap crash test as been around since 2012.

So this begs the question – does this crash test result deter you from buying a Titan pickup? Let us know in the comments below.

Continue reading for more information.

Why It Matters

2017 Nissan Titan Falls Short on IIHS Small-Overlap Crash Test
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Setting my reserved, objective nature aside, it’s extremely hard for me to understand why the 2017 Titan did so poorly in this crash test. The small-overlap crash test has been around for nearly five years, giving automakers more than ample time to adjust engineering and design standards to meet the criteria. Automakers use CAD software and other tools to digitally simulate a crash test, allowing for corrections even before the first prototype is hand-built. This isn’t like the IIHS’ headlight test where automakers haven’t had time to design test-passing equipment. What gives, Nissan? Why wasn’t this caught internally, long before the IIHS got its hands on the truck?

Granted, Nissan isn’t the only automaker at fault. The instance with the new-for-2015 F-150 comes to mind. The extended cab trucks lacked a frame-mounted brace that kept the front tires from deforming the passenger compartment, much like what happened with the Titan. The F-150 extended cab scored a “Marginal,” while the F-150 Crew Cab scored a “Good” – all thanks to the small steel bar. Ford addressed the issue with installing the bars on all F-150 models for the 2016 model year.

Nissan might borrow Ford’s play, installing some sort of protection bar designed to deflect the wheel and tire from the passenger cell. If nothing is done, the Titan will remain the worst performing pickup in the small-overlap crash test. Nissan surely wouldn’t want that, as many customers rely heavily on crash test results as a determining metric for purchasing.

Of course, Nissan will fix the problem, but in order to do so, will cost time and resources that could have been used on other vehicle projects like the upcoming mid-size Frontier. It will also likely send shockwaves into the Titan’s manufacturing process, as adjustments will need to be made in accommodating the structural changes. This mistake will undoubtedly cost Nissan money, both in lost sales and in fixing the problem.

If and when Nissan announces its solution, we’ll bring you the news here at TopSpeed Trucks.

Press Release

The redesigned Nissan Titan failed to hold up in the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety’s small overlap front crash test, earning only a marginal rating.

The performance of the Titan crew cab contrasts with another large pickup that was redesigned for 2017, the Honda Ridgeline. The Ridgeline, which was included in the initial list of Top Safety Pick+ winners announced in December, is the only pickup so far to earn a 2017 award from IIHS and the third, after the Ford F-150 crew cab and extended cab, to achieve good ratings in all five of the Institute’s crashworthiness tests.

2017 Nissan Titan Falls Short on IIHS Small-Overlap Crash Test
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The small overlap test is the most difficult of the IIHS crashworthiness tests, but manufacturers have adjusted their designs to meet the challenge since the test was introduced in 2012. In most popular vehicle classes, the majority of vehicles now earn a good rating.

The test is meant to replicate what happens when the front, driver-side corner of a vehicle hits another vehicle or an object such as a tree or utility pole.

In the small overlap test of the Titan, the driver space wasn’t maintained well, with intrusion reaching 11 inches at the lower door hinge pillar. Measures taken from the driver dummy indicated that injuries to the left lower leg would be likely in a real-world crash of the same severity. Left foot and right lower leg injuries also would be possible.

2017 Nissan Titan Falls Short on IIHS Small-Overlap Crash Test
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The Titan earns good ratings in the other crashworthiness tests — moderate overlap front, side, roof strength and head restraints. It doesn’t have an available front crash prevention system, and both available headlight systems are rated marginal.

To qualify for 2017 Top Safety Pick+, a vehicle must earn good ratings in the five IIHS crashworthiness tests — small overlap front, moderate overlap front, side, roof strength and head restraints — as well as an advanced or superior rating for front crash prevention and an acceptable or good headlight rating.

2017 Nissan Titan Falls Short on IIHS Small-Overlap Crash Test
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The Ridgeline has an optional superior-rated front crash prevention system. It has good-rated headlights on its two most expensive trim levels. The base headlights are rated poor.

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