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Full-size pickup truck safety: These 2021 rankings may surprise you

full-size pickup truck safety

2021 Ram 1500 Limited (Image courtesy of Stellantis North America)

When people are looking for a new truck, they often pour over payload and towing numbers, bemoaning the different numbers for different trims. Then, they look at reliability ratings. But how about safety? Since pickup trucks are the new family hauler, pickup truck safety should also be top of mind.

So, we took a look at the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) and National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) crash test ratings to compare all the trucks in the full-size segment. What we found surprised us.

There is only one full-size truck to get a Top Safety Pick from IIHS, and get this, it’s the 2021 Ram 1500. While the Ram truck has been notorious for reliability issues in previous generations, the redesigned model is really starting to shine with better dependability and now the best crash test scores.

There are a couple other takeaways from this data, and the first isn’t visible just by looking at this table. The Nissan Titan was redesigned for 2020, and its IIHS results actually dropped in one area: the small overlap front passenger test. It went from Good to Acceptable.

The second shocker? Toyota Tundra. What the heck? While this truck usually gets high marks for reliability, it’s getting downright awful scores in crash tests. IMHO, any vehicle that gets Poor anything should be automatically redesigned. And Marginal rankings for driver safety? No thank you.

Sure, this is the oldest full-size truck right now, but still. That 2022 redesign can’t come soon enough.

Finally, we need to mention one caveat: the 2021 Ford F-150 hasn’t been tested by either IIHS or NHTSA yet since it’s an all-new model. We expect it will mirror the Ram 1500 scores, and if it doesn’t get a Top Safety Pick Award, we’d be surprised. So, stay tuned. We’ll update this article when we get the info.

 2021 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 Crew2021 Ford F-150 Crew2021 GMC Sierra 1500 Crew2021 Nissan Titan Crew2021 Ram 1500 Crew2021 Toyota Tundra Crew
IIHS Small Overlap Front DriverGn/aGGGM
IIHS Small Overlap Front PassengerMn/aMAGP
IIHS Moderate Overlap FrontGn/aGGGG
IIHS Roof StrengthGGGGGA
IIHS Head Restraints & SeatsGn/aGGGG
IIHS HeadlightsPn/aPPG/MM
IIHS Front Crash Prevention (vehicle-to-vehicle)Superiorn/aSuperiorSuperiorSuperiorSuperior
IIHS Front Crash Prevention (vehicle-to-pedestrian)n/an/an/aSuperiorAdvancedn/a
NHTSA Overall Rating4 Starsn/a4 Stars4 Stars5 Stars4 Stars
NHTSA Frontal Crash4 Starsn/a4 Stars4 Stars4 Stars4 Stars
NHTSA Side Crash5 Starsn/a5 Stars5 Stars5 Stars5 Stars
NHTSA Rollover4 Starsn/a4 Stars3 Stars4 Stars3 Stars

* Note: In the above IIHS scores, G = Good, A = Acceptable, M = Marginal and P = Poor, with G being the highest ranking and P being the lowest. Also note, when discussing crash prevention, Superior is better than Advanced.

The bottom line on full-size pickup truck safety

While capability will likely be the primary driver in a truck purchase – especially for those who tow – safety ratings should be high on your priority list as well. The more you care, the more automakers will care and the safer all trucks will become.

Related posts:

Consumer Reports 2021 least reliable full-size trucks; GM dominates?

Are Ram 1500 pickups reliable?

Is the Toyota Tundra reliable?

Jill Ciminillo

Jill Ciminillo is a syndicated automotive writer. Jill also manages the “Drive, She Said” blog for ChicagoNow and posts reviews to DriveChicago. She is the president emeritus of the Midwest Automotive Media Association and has the distinction of being the first female president for that organization. She also serves as a judge for the Automotive Heritage Foundation Journalism Awards. Previously, Jill has been the automotive editor for the Sinclair Broadcast Group, the Chicago Sun-Times News Group and Pioneer Press Newspapers.

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  1. Miles February 11, 2021

    Ok now I will have to take a look at the Ram… surprised by this.

    1. Jill Ciminillo February 12, 2021

      Right? We were surprised too. We’ll be curious to see how the Ford F-150 rates when it gets tested.


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