Two Trucks Aced the IIHS’ Tougher-to-Earn 2023 Top Safety Pick+ Testing

The Rivian R1T scored top marks, as did one full-size truck

2023 Rivian R1T side crash test - featured
(Images: Insurance Institute for Highway Safety)

Rivian secured a “Good” rating in a new side crash test, but it took some work to get there.

Each year, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety has been toughening their battery of crash tests and frontal crash prevention system evaluations. 2023 is no exception, as the organization fully implemented an updated side crash test and further scrutinized nighttime vehicle-to-pedestrian detection performance.

With the tougher tests, several vehicles either dropped down to the standard Top Safety Pick rating or aren’t in the running at all, at least for now. In this first round of up-to-date results, the Rivian R1T and the Toyota Tundra both managed the coveted Top Safety Pick+ rating.

No other trucks are in the Top Safety Pick brackets right now, though it’s worth noting that the IIHS has not tested all 2023 model trucks just yet. So, we’ll have to wait and see results for the 2023 Ford F-150 and Chevrolet Silverado 1500, for example.

However, the 2023 Toyota Tacoma does have updated test results, scoring a “Marginal” in the new side impact test. As a result, it doesn’t earn a Top Safety Pick rating at all (it hasn’t had one since 2019). While even the previous-generation Chevrolet Colorado did score a “Good” rating in the new side test, it only got a Marginal in the updated, passenger-side small frontal overlap crash test, which again disqualifies a truck from the Top Safety Pick award.

The IIHS posted a summary graphic of what it takes to win each Top Safety Pick award:

Rivian made a design change to ace the new side impact test

In its full report, the IIHS noted it conducted two side crash tests for the Rivian R1T. In the first, the rear passenger dummy’s head struck the C-pillar, which the organization says resulted in an elevated head injury risk. However, Rivian went back and modified the C-pillar trim around the problem area to prevent this from happening in models built after November 2022. It also launched a service campaign to retrofit earlier vehicles.

When the IIHS tested it again, the dummy’s head still hit the C-pillar, but its data suggests the risk of head injury in that injury was low, and gave the truck a clean bill of health for the updated side impact test (while the truck has a Good overall rating, the IIHS marked rear head protection as Acceptable).

What’s coming up for 2024?

In its announcement covering 48 vehicles that did make the Top Safety Pick list so far this year, the IIHS noted further changes for 2024. Vehicles will have to score a Good rating in the side crash test without exception (rather than getting by with an acceptable rating, as 2023 models can).

For Top Safety Pick+, vehicles will have to earn a Good rating on the moderate overlap front test (where the last-generation Colorado struggled). The new test incorporates an additional dummy on the second row and is meant to encourage automakers to improve rear passneger safety, as they have for front-seat passengers in recent years. A Good rating in the original test will continue to qualify vehicles for Top Safety Pick next year.