2020 Toyota Tacoma Scores An IIHS Top Safety Pick Rating Thanks To Updated Headlights

The standard halogen lamps on SR, SR5 models still fall short, however

The best-selling midsize truck is also one of the safest.

Safety isn’t just a trend in cars — new midsize and full-size trucks are getting safer each year as well. Take the Toyota Tacoma: It’s the best-selling midsize truck in the U.S., and it also performed relatively well in recent crash testing. However, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) held the Tacoma and most if its rivals back from its Top Safety Pick rating due to poor headlight illumination in their newest testing regimen. Now, the 2020 Toyota Tacoma managed to grab a Top Safety Pick nod thanks to its updated LED headlight design.

[Infographics: Insurance Institute for Highway Safety]

Better headlight ratings

The Tacoma’s new LED headlight and running light assemblies are available on the TRD Sport and TRD Off-Road as an optional package, while they come as standard equipment on the TRD Pro and Limited trims. In IIHS testing, the lights scored a “Good” rating, offering adequate lighting on straightaways and on curves.

The halogen lamps on SR and SR5 models as well as TRD Sport and TRD Off-Road trims without the LED lighting package, scored a “Marginal” rating, or one step above the worst possible. Here, both low beams and high beams failed to hit optimal targets, meaning they offer too little illumination in most conditions. However, the 2020 Tacoma does have high-beam assist which helps compensate for some of the shortfall.

2020 Toyota Tacoma crash tests

Crash testing

The 2020 Toyota Tacoma still performed well in crash testing, as this model year is just a light refresh. The passenger-side small frontal overlap test is the only area where it scored less than a “Good” rating. It managed an “Acceptable” rating instead, which puts the Tacoma on par with the new Ford Ranger and the Honda Ridgeline, but ahead of the Chevrolet Colorado, GMC Canyon and the aging Nissan Frontier.

On crash prevention technology, the Tacoma also scored well. Toyota Safety Sense P comes standard across the range. That system includes pre-collision braking with pedestrian detection, lane departure warning and radar cruise control. Specifically, the emergency braking helps keep the Tacoma ahead of its older competition like the Chevy Colorado and Nissan Frontier.

Check out the video below to see how some other trucks performed: