WTF NHTSA? Toyota Tundra Crash Test Results Shenanigans

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When the 2nd generation Toyota Tundra debuted in 2007, Toyota was quite confident that the Tundra would be the safest pickup in it’s class. With standard ESC, side airbags, and Toyota’s latest and greatest crash test technology, Toyota had every reason to be confident.

Then NHTSA’s results (that’s National Highway Transportation and Safety Administration) came out. 4 stars. Toyota was devastated.

Time passed and the IIHS (that’s Insurance Institute for Highway Safety) issued their first ever Top-Pick rating to a pickup when they declared the 2007 Tundra to be the safest truck in it’s class.

IIHS crash test of 2007 Toyota Tundra

IIHS crash test of 2007 Toyota Tundra

NHTSA said 4 stars, IIHS said top pick – and anyone shopping for a Tundra was (understandably) confused.

However, yesterday NHTSA released the results of a “re-test” of the 2010 Tundra and guess what – it got 5 stars. Great news right? Except the structure of the 2010 TUNDRA DIDN’T CHANGE!

Evidently, (no one at Toyota could confirm this but everyone we spoke to said there were no changes) the 2010 Tundra is the same truck structurally as the 2007 Tundra. No significant frame changes have occurred since 2007 (at least that anyone is aware of). There were no changes anywhere really, other than the addition of a knee airbag and some exterior add-ons.

Could a knee airbag account for the change from a 4 star rating to a 5 star rating? Perhaps. Only it’s worth pointing out that NHTSA literature (pdf) states that the star rating “indicates a belted person’s chances of incurring a serious head and chest injury in the event of a crash.”

Hard to see how a knee airbag would help to prevent a head and/or chest injury…which is why we say WTF NHTSA?!

Possible explanations for these inconsistent results:

  • The test data was bordering between 4 stars and 5 stars and minor variations moved the rating upwards from last time.
  • The Tundra(s) crash-tested in 2007 all had some sort of structural problem. This is highly unlikely considering that multiple vehicles are usually tested for this very reason.
  • The testing equipment was installed incorrectly and/or malfunctioned.
  • The data was corrupted somehow.
  • The Tundra really has changed since 2007 and no one anywhere knows anything about it.
  • Someone at NHTSA decided to give Toyota a lower score in order to help out GM, Chrysler, and Ford.

Of all of these possible explanations, the most likely is the first one. Still, that explanation doesn’t jive with the IIHS “Top Pick” safetfy rating.

Clearly, something is screwed up somewhere. NHTSA, we’re looking in your direction…

[Shout out to Mike Levine at for bringing this to light first.]

Filed Under: Tundra News


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  1. mk says:

    I know, it must be that new 2 bar front grille in the 2010 tundra being thicker plastic vs. the old designed 3 bar front grille being thinner plastic strips. I think not? From the pics, it looks fine for occupants in the crash test.

  2. Lauren says:

    I love how you conveniently miss the explanation: Toyota paid off someone at NHTSA for the 2010 testing. Oh no, it is ALWAYS the fault of the American companies! No way Toyota’s deep pocket book could cause a rating change!


  3. TC8 says:

    I can see that pay off now.

    Toyota: Hey NHTSA I’ll give you 2 benjamins if you give me 5 stars.
    NHTSA: 2 full benjamins woohoo, done. Another benjamin and I’ll give you a first ever 6 stars. How about it?
    Toyota: No 6 stars is too many, 5 will do.

    Relax Lauren I think that last comment by Jason was a joke.

  4. Mickey says:

    Lauren simply go back to school…. You have no knowledge of this subject and it shows…… Deep pockets look what Uncle Sam did for your american companies. Bailed out. Now they tried to get americans to buy american cars and help get the economy going by giving the american people cash for clunkers. Now Lauren can you explain why Toyota and Honda lead in these sales? What not an American made car on here…. Well you have to have quality not Uncle Sam. So I can see why you are bias about paying someone off.

  5. Mickey says:

    Thanks Jason great subject matter. It definitely gives a person the WTF category. Like you I agree. This is why I don’t care for half these so call magazines that come out like C/R. Where a truck can beat others in single category but overall loses. Integrity is loss by NHTSA by coming out with this ranking.

  6. mk says:

    Now, now, let’s all play nice. 4 out of 5 is good enough for me. I really could care less about safety ratings. For me, it is creature comforts, handling, power, purchase price, looks, and resell value. Besides, it has always irked me everytime I bought a chevy silverado prior to 2007 when I bought a toyota tundra that is finally full size and actually made in the USA unlike all my past chevy trucks being made in Mexico and Canada.

  7. Jeremy the Flying monkey says:

    In 2007 the test was done on a Monday after a long weekend of binge drinking. The truck stood up well but the crash was too loud and gave the testers headaches.
    “Bob, looks like a 5 to me”
    “Man, that was too freakin’ loud, 4”
    “Yea, you’re right, 4. Do you have some Asprin?”

    AND, to reply to our troll, Several weeks ago the point was made that the Tundra is the MOST American truck on the new car lots. I appreciate our Mexican and Canadian neighbors but I really rather employ American’s to make my AMERICAN truck.

  8. Jeremy – LOL – that’s probably what happened.

  9. hank says:

    What’s with the bailout talk, not everyone received a bailout. Ford passed on the assistance and produced a positive earning in the last quarter. Remember when Consumer Reports automaticly gave the Tundra the best rating possible the withdrew it. Could it be the same with these tests? Maybe the IISH was paid off.

  10. TXTee says:

    Hahaha MK and I are so alike when it comes to the whole safety thing…..Spoken just as I would have said it.

  11. Mickey says:

    Hank how about taking some of that hot air you have and go for a ride in a ballon. Yes Ford didn’t received any bailout but Ford asked to have some money put on the side which took tax payer dollars off some other project just to put it on hold not to use until Ford got their crap together.

  12. Mickey says:

    I’m glad you’re talking about that Consumer reports magazine edition there Hank. This is the same mag that puts the Tundra on top of all seperate categories but yet they fail to recommend the 4×4 truck but also downplayed the 2wd truck. This was the same mag which didn’t test the GM 4×4 truck but then highly recommend that one. Now Hank how is that? This is the same mags you told me this is what you go by. Nothing like talking out of both sides of the mouth there Hank. So how can the magazine be worthy of any weight when it shows definite bias to one manufacturer?

  13. Hank – You are correct – Ford didn’t receive a bailout. I think the comment was directed at GM and Chrysler. Mickey is correct in stating that while Ford didn’t receive funds, they did receive $5.9 billion in loans in June:

  14. Mickey says:

    Hank how can you have a vehicle made on a SUV frame vice a truck frame be the best trcuk out there. Not to mention the short bed and worst mpg’s available. How many people actually use an Avalanche like a truck? Like you stated baja? That’s C/R for you. Now as you stated I will take your words and put them here. Maybe Ford didn’t pay as much as GM to get those honors from C/R. This is exactly what you stated that a manufacturer paid off whatever company doing the results or comparisons. I don’t consider the Avalanche much less the ridgeline a truck. This is exactly what GM had to do because of the poor mpg’s. This is one of the reasons why GM got into a bailout. Now that you mention automatically given out why aren’t you complaining about the GM 4×4? C/R didn’t test it but it was the best truck last year. I CAN’T HEAR YOU Hank! Something caught in your throat?

  15. TXTee says:

    *Crickets chirping…..*

  16. Jeremy the Dark Dork Overlord says:


    Ignore the trolls.

    Silence is Golden, Duct Tape is Silver!

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