What’s the Safest Truck? Most Pickups Perform Poorly in Small Overlap Crash Tests

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) has evaluated the current crop of half-ton pickup trucks and only three out of seven managed at least an acceptable rating in the tough small overlap front crash test. 

The IIHS tested two body styles of each pickup, crew cabs and extended cabs, and the Ford F-150 SuperCab is the only truck to come out of the tests with a Top Safety Pick rating. The 2015 Ford F-150 SuperCrew is also a Top Safety Pick. Both trucks aced the small overlap test and are the only two to receive the highest possible rating in the tough crash test.

The small overlap test is designed to replicate what happens when the front corner of a vehicle collides with another vehicle or an object like a tree or utility pole.

The Chevy Silverado and GMC Sierra double cab along with the Toyota Tundra double cab all scored an “acceptable” rating in the small overlap test by maintaining the driver’s space reasonably well overall.

The last four trucks, the Silverado and Sierra Crew Cab and Ram 1500 quad cab and crew cab, all scored an overall “marginal” rating in the small overlap test, while both Rams are the only trucks tested to score a “poor” for structure.

In the Rams, the crash pushed the door-hinge pillar, instrument panel and steering column toward the dummy, while the dummy’s head rolled off the front airbag and came close to hitting the intruding windshield pillar. Overall, there was extensive intrusion into the occupant compartment, which caused the poor rating for structure.

Intrusion into the driver footwell was moderate to severe in every truck except for the F-150, which means the footrest, brake pedal, parking brake and lower dashboard were shoved towards the driver. In the worst performers, the Rams, there was a maximum intrusion of 16 to 17 inches.

“Drivers in these pickups would need help freeing their legs from the wreckage following a small overlap crash. We encourage manufacturers to redesign their pickups to resist intrusion in the lower occupant compartment to safeguard people from serious leg and foot injuries that might require months of rehabilitation,” Raul Arbelaez, vice-president of the Institute’s Vehicle Research Center, says.

In the moderate overlap front test, side test and head restraint tests, every truck managed a good rating, though that wasn’t the case for roof strength. The F-150, both Silverado body styles and the Tundra quad cab nabbed a good rating, the Tundra crewmax was rated acceptable, while both Rams rated marginal.

To qualify the trucks for the Top Safety Pick designation, the front-collision prevention system in the F-150s was rated “basic.” The Silverado and Sierra also get a basic rating for front-collision prevention.

Plans to test the 2016 Nissan Titan and Honda Ridgeline are in the works for later on this year.

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