February 16, 2009
Just how safe is your pickup truck?
Bigger is better, when it comes to crashes. A basic tenet of physics that for years has sold big, burly pickups as the "safer" alternative to mid-size sedans. But, as the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety discovered, many of today's full-size pickups flunk the side impact crash test, a feat those wimpy sedans manage with ease.
So just how safe is yours?
The Chevy Silverado 1500, GMC Sierra 1500, Dodge Ram 1500 and Nissan Titan all received a whooping in the latest round IIHS test, earning a "poor" rating for side impact crashes and only an "acceptable" rating for rear impacts. Even when equipped with their optional side-impact airbags, the Chevy, GMC, Dodge and Nissan earned a "marginal" rating, despite having a weight and height advantage over mid-size sedans.
Weak cab design and the lack of torso protection were common problems for all four models. The Silverado and Sierra fared worst of all; without side torso airbags, the crash dummies registered enough force at the chest level to fracture ribs and traumatize internal organs in a real-world crash. Both trucks were redesigned in 2007, the new IIHS rating applies to GMC Sierra 1500 and Chevy Silverado 1500 models produced since 2007.
It's not all bad news however; the Honda Ridgeline, Ford F-150 and Toyota Tundras did very well, earning top marks in front, rear and side-impact tests. All three offer standard side airbags with torso and head protection and crashworthy cab structures.
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