The general perception is that pickups must be safer than cars or small SUVs due to their bigger size. But that’s not always the case.
Testing of certain types of impacts shows that pickups actually still lag behind industry standards.
Mindful of this, manufacturers have been working hard to resolve the problem.
One of the crash tests that exposed vulnerabilities for pickups was the Passenger Small-Overlap Crash Test carried out by the IIHS (Insurance Institute for Highway Safety), and which focuses on a frontal collision with only a 25% impact zone. The weak spot in these types of accidents is the front passenger side of the vehicle. Many manufacturers’ products simply provided better protection to the driver than to the front passenger.
It appears that manufacturers have taken note of the issue and endeavoured to remedy the problem. The best performance in the recent IIHS test of pickups was recorded by the Ford F-150, the Nissan Titan and the RAM 1500.
"We commend Ford, Nissan and Ram for providing state-of-the-art crash protection for both drivers and front passengers of their large pickup models. As a group, however, the pickup class still has a lot of work to do."
- IIHS research chief David Zuby
The three models received the highest possible score from IIHS in testing for passenger small-overlap crashes. Ironically, the Honda Ridgeline was the model that received the highest overall score from the IIHS, even if it did less well on the Passenger Small-Overlap Crash Test.
Unsurprisingly, the worst performer in the IIHS test was also the oldest big pickup on the market, the Toyota Tundra. Another model that’s due for an update, the midsize Nissan Frontier, also did poorly in protecting front passengers. That model’s current generation is over 10 years old.