The results are surprising and shocking.
Here's the good news: The Mitsubishi L200 pickup truck, also known as the Triton in other overseas markets, is not sold in the US alongside the Japanese automaker's current lineup consisting of the Outlander, Outlander Sport, Eclipse Cross, and Mirage. The bad news: it is Chile's best-selling pickup and also very popular for mining companies. And it's a possible death trap.
According to the Latin NCAP, the new car assessment program for South America and the Caribbean, the latest version of the Mitsubishi L200 achieved zero stars for the Adult Occupant Protection test. It did slightly better having earned only two stars for Child Occupant Protection. But there appears to be one key reason why it so utterly failed these tests: it lacks airbags, seatbelt reminders, and electronic stability control.
The test results proved there's a high risk of life-threatening injuries from a crash at speeds of only 39.7 mph. Imagine what could happen to drivers and other occupants at higher speeds. Another disturbing finding was that the L200 "showed an unstable structure and footwell rupture" during that relatively low-speed crash test.
As a result of these disturbing findings, Mitsubishi has committed to increasing standard safety equipment for the L200 throughout Latin America beginning in trucks produced starting in February 2020. Driver and front passenger airbags and passenger seatbelts with pre-tensioners and load limiters will all be added.
But here's where the Latin NCAP reports is particularly damning: it "believes it is totally unacceptable for Mitsubishi and some Mitsubishi importers in Latin America to be offering the L200 with zero-star safety levels and misleading customers by saying 'airbags are not needed as the structure is robust' (statement from a salesman to a Latin NCAP at the time of buying the car as a mystery shopper)."
The report's authors didn't stop there.
"The ethics of Mitsubishi and its importers in Latin America should be seriously questioned for putting people's lives at risk and misinforming consumers in such a sensitive topic as safety. It is of deep concern that Mitsubishi apparently discriminates against Latin American consumers as they do in terms of basic safety equipment."
The case of the Mitsubishi L200 proves why independent crash testing is a must. In America, there's the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. Consumer Reports, though it does not conduct major crash tests, does provide fair assessments of all new vehicles. That "no airbags are necessary because of a robust structure" nonsense is simply unacceptable.