Mixed Ratings for Pickup Trucks in IIHS Tests, but Ford Outperforms All

Mixed Ratings for Pickup Trucks in IIHS Tests, but Ford Outperforms All
Image: FCA Group
April 13, 2016

How safe are you in your pickup truck? Well, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) it depends on what kind of truck you're driving and what kind of crash you get into.

Many of the large pickup trucks scored well in moderate overlap front test, side test and head restraint evaluations, but didn't fare well in the small overlap front crash test or rollover test. The Ford F-150 SuperCab is the only large pickup that scored well enough for a Top Safety Pick award.

In the latest round of testing, the IIHS evaluated two body styles for each 2016 model-year pickup – crew cab and extended cab. Crew cabs have four full doors and two full rows of seating. Extended cabs are slightly smaller, with two smaller rear doors and compact second-row seats.

The previous model of the Ford F-150 SuperCab lacked the structural countermeasures that helped the larger model, the SuperCrew earn the top rating of "good" in the small overlap test. Ford improved the SuperCab for 2016 and it earned a "good" rating in the complicated test, which replicates what happens when a vehicle runs off the road and hits a tree or pole at 40 mph.

Lower Scores for Other Trucks

For Chevrolet and Toyota, decent scores in the small overlap test for one size didn't necessarily mean decent scores for the other. The Silverado 1500 Double Cab and the Toyota Tundra Double Cab both earned an "acceptable" rating because survival space for the driver was maintained reasonably well overall. The larger crew cabs, Silverado 1500 Crew Cab and the Tundra CrewMax, earned a "marginal" rating because both had considerable intrusion that compromised the survivial space of the driver.

Ratings for both of the Silverado pickups extend to their GMC Sierra 1500 twins.

Dodge trucks have the unfortunate distinction of earning the worst scores in the test. For both the Ram 1500 Crew Cab and the Ram 1500 Quad Cab, the force of the crash pushed the door-hinge pillar, instrument panel and steering column back toward the driver dummy. In the Ram Crew Cab test, the dummy's head contacted the front airbag but rolled around the left side as the steering column moved to the right, allowing the head to approach the intruding windshield pillar.

All of the pickups except the F-150 had some kind of intrusion into the driver footwell during the test. In the Dodge trucks, maximum intrusion reached 16-17 inches. Measures taken from the crash test dummy in all but the F-150 indicated a likelihood of serious lower leg, ankle and foot injuries.

Some Trucks Struggle with Roof Strength

Of those tested, four pickups -- the F-150, both Silverados and Tundra Double Cab -- earned "good" ratings for occupant protection in rollover crash. The Tundra CrewMax is rated "acceptable", and both of the Ram 1500s are rated "marginal".

According to the IIHS, 44 percent of occupant deaths in pickups are in rollovers, making roof strength especially important.

The IIHS says,

Stronger roofs crush less, reducing the risk that people will be injured by contact with the roof itself. Stronger roofs also can prevent occupants, especially those who aren't using safety belts, from being ejected through windows, windshields or doors that have broken or opened. Pickup truck occupants are the least likely to buckle up among all vehicle occupants. In 2014, 77 percent of pickup occupants were observed using belts, compared with 89 percent of people in vans and SUVs and 88 percent in cars.

Vehicles that earn a basic rating for front crash prevention plus good ratings in the small overlap front, moderate overlap front, side, roof strength and head restraint evaluations qualify for Top Safety Pick. To qualify for Top Safety Pick+, a vehicle must earn good ratings in the five crashworthiness tests and an advanced or superior rating for front crash prevention.