The 2021 Nissan Titan full-size pickup truck took a step backward in crash test ratings, but took a step forward in preventing crashes, according to the latest findings by the IIHS released on Tuesday.
The nonprofit safety group funded by the insurance industry found that the Titan crew cab performed worse than its predecessor in the passenger-side small overlap test. The large truck was downgraded from a top "Good" result to an "Acceptable" rating, which the IIHS called "a rare step backward."
The test simulates what would happen if the front passenger side crashed into a fixed object such as a pole or car. The IIHS noted "increased intrusion into the front seat passenger's space," and the rating applied to the 2021 Titan extended cab as well. The Titan received top "Good" ratings in the five other crash tests.
The downgrade occurred after structural changes and equipment upgrades were made to the truck for 2020 models, including changes to the front frame structure, the B pillar where the front doors latch and rear doors hinge, and the lower sill. Passenger-side knee airbags were added, as well as additional driver and passenger front airbags.
The NHTSA also gave the 2021 Titan a below-average mark of three stars for its front passenger-side crash tests, but the truck earned a four-star front-crash rating, which is still below the top score of five stars.
The 2021 Chevrolet Silverado performed even worse than the Titan, with a "Marginal" rating on the passenger-side small-overlap test.
The good safety news for the 2021 Titan is that it comes standard with automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection, which allowed it to avoid crashes with other vehicles in 12-mph and 25-mph tests and avoid or slow to a near stop in all pedestrian crash tests. That's especially important for full-size trucks with blunt front ends that could cause an impact few pedestrians would walk away from. The IIHS praised the Titan's results in the "often challenging" 37-mph test that simulates an adult walking on the roadside in the same direction as the truck.
The ratings apply to both 2021 and 2020 models. The headlights didn't fare as well as in 2019 models in IIHS testing, earning a "Poor" rating this time around versus a "Marginal" rating in 2019.