Which Is The Safest Full-Size Pickup Truck? 11 Models Compared

Safety is a major concern of many in the market for vehicles. And for people shopping for trucks, it’s no different. If you can have the added safety features, why wouldn’t you want them? Especially with so many people using trucks nowadays for lots more than just towing or work. Often, they are carrying even more precious cargo around, such as their children. So, when the IIHS came out with its new safety rankings for full-size pickups, we were excited to dig into them.

For 2020 Full-size pickups, the IIHS ranks them in this order from most safe to least:

  1. Ram 1500 Crew Cab
  2. Ram 1500 Extended Cab
  3. Ford F-150 Crew Cab
  4. Honda Ridgeline
  5. 2019 Nissan Titan Crew Cab
  6. Chevrolet Silverado 1500 Crew Cab
  7. GMC Sierra 1500 Crew Cab
  8. Ford F-150 Extended Cab
  9. Toyota Tundra Extended Cab
  10. 2019 Nissan Titan Extended Cab
  11. Toyota Tundra Crew Cab

The reasoning for these rankings will be dived into and we’ll try to see which trucks made sure to put safety first. We will also look at trucks from the prior year for all of those interested in that information as well.

Who determines how safe a vehicle is? That is usually trusted to the IIHS, or the Insurance Institute for Highway safety. They have been doing this a long time and are known for having the most reliable results.

Here is a list of all tests that they use to rate the safety of a vehicle. They are as follows:

  • Small Front Overlap Crash Test
  • LATCH (child seat anchors) ease of use
  • Moderate Overlap Crash Test
  • Headlights
  • Side Crash Test
  • Front Crash Prevention
  • Roof Strength
  • Head Restraints and Seats

When the IIHS tests one of these categories, they rate it one of four ways: good, acceptable, marginal, or poor. Good is the rating that companies strive for and the poor is what they aim to avoid.

All those categories are judged that way, except for one. The Front Crash Prevention system can be judged as superior, advanced, basic, or available. Those are in descending order of desirability. Now that you know how to understand that rankings and tests, we can dive into the safest full-size pickup trucks of 2020. We’ll mention anything that’s less than the optimal result from every category for each truck.

2019-2020 Most Safe Full-Size Trucks

Ram 1500 Crew Cab

This beautiful truck earned the best rating it could in every category except for LATCH ease of use. A score that high was going to be hard to beat and cemented this truck as the safest truck. Well done, Dodge. It is worth mentioning that the headlights may be less safe depending on which trim level you purchase.

Tests Where a Score Lower than “Good” was Received:

LATCH ease of use: Marginal

Ram 1500 Extended Cab

Once again, we have another Ram. Dodge really set a high standard of safety this year, and consumers will love the feeling of riding in the safest trucks. The only way this truck differed from its crew cab sibling was in the category’s headlights and LATCH ease of use.

Tests Where a Score Lower than “Good” was Received:

LATCH ease of use: Acceptable

Headlights: Marginal

Ford F-150 Crew Cab

Coming in third place is Ford with an awesome F-150 Crew Cab. It did great in all the critical tests but missed out in two sections where all the trucks performed about the same.

Tests Where a Score Lower than “Good” was Received:

Headlights: Poor

LATCH ease of use: Marginal

Honda Ridgeline

Honda came in strong this year. They did well in all the major categories. Once again, the safety of their headlights will vary depending on what trim level is purchased.

Tests Where a Score Lower than “Good” was Received:

Small overlap front: passenger side: Acceptable

LATCH ease of use: Acceptable

Nisan Titan Crew Cab

Rounding out the top 5 is Nisan. They did great in the basic categories of safety. Their score for the test of front crash prevention: vehicle-to-vehicle is not out yet, so we don’t have all their data.

Tests Where a Score Lower than “Good” was Received:

Headlights: Marginal

LATCH ease of use: Acceptable

Chevy Silverado 1500 Crew Cab

Chevy made a pretty good showing this year, but they faltered in one basic category.

Tests Where a Score Lower than “Good” was Received:

Small overlap front: passenger side: Marginal

LATCH ease of use: Marginal

Headlights: Poor

GMC Sierra 1500 Crew Cab

In seventh place, this GMC ended up with identical tests as its Chevy counterpart.

Tests Where a Score Lower than “Good” was Received:

Small overlap front: passenger side: Marginal

Headlights: Poor

LATCH ease of use: Marginal

Ford F-150 Extended Cab

This truck had a high scoring across most of the sections. It is still awaiting a test for a small overlap front: passenger side.

Tests Where a Score Lower than “Good” was Received:

Headlights: Poor

LATCH ease of use: Marginal

Toyota Tundra Extended Cab

This truck is also missing one of its tests, so we don’t have the full picture of its rating. As it stands now though, it scored well in most things besides one basic test.

Tests Where a Score Lower than “Good” was Received:

Small overlap front: driver-side: Acceptable

Headlights: Marginal

LATCH ease of use: Marginal

Nissan Titan Extended Cab

This truck comes in second to last. It is important to note that there is no data available on multiple tests for this truck. So, things may change once this arrives. The tests that are missing are LATCH ease of use, roof, front crash prevention: vehicle-to-vehicle, and small overlap front: passenger side.

Tests Where a Score Lower than “Good” was Received:

Headlights: Marginal

Toyota Tundra CrewMax

Coming in the last place is Toyota with its CrewMax. The truck earned a wide range of ratings throughout the categories that were tested.

Tests Where a Score Lower than “Good” was Received:

Small overlap front: passenger-side: Poor

Small overlap front: driver-side: Marginal

Roof: Acceptable

LATCH ease of use: Acceptable

Headlights: Marginal

2018-2019 Safest Full-Size Trucks

2019 Ram 1500 Crew Cab

The 2019 Ram was at the top of its list as well. It received the highest rating possible in all the major crash tests performed. The passenger-side small front overlap test was a new test this year and Ram aced it right out of the gate. This test was not used by any other pickups for this year though.

Tests Where a Score Lower than “Good” was Received:

Headlights: Marginal

LATCH ease of use: Marginal

2019 Ford F-150 Super Crew

Ford comes in higher near the top of the list in 2019 than 2020. This beautiful truck aced nailed the crash tests. Remember though, that the small front overlap passenger-side was not tested for any trucks this year besides the Dodge above. Surprisingly, Ford scored poor for their headlights.

Tests Where a Score Lower than “Good” was Received:

Headlights: Poor

LATCH ease of use: Marginal

Ford F-150 SuperCab

This Ford received an identical score to the one above it. They are built in much the same way; the major difference is that one is bigger in size.

Tests Where a Score Lower than “Good” was Received:

Headlights: Poor

LATCH ease of use: Marginal

2019 Nissan Titan Crew Cab (Gas)

This Titan did a remarkable job in the tests performed, except there was one problem. They didn’t even have a front crash protection system. This is probably a red flag for many consumers comparing the various models.

Tests Where a Score Lower than “Good” was Received:

Headlights: Marginal

LATCH ease of use: Acceptable

Front Crash Protection: Not Available

2019 Toyota Tundra DoubleCab

This truck is like a dinosaur in terms of the truck world. It hasn’t been redesigned since 2007. It did well in the crash tests, besides the front overlap assessment.

Tests Where a Score Lower than “Good” was Received:

Small Overlap Front: Acceptable

LATCH ease of use: Marginal

Headlights: Marginal

2018 GMC Sierra 1500 DoubleCab

Next is an awesome looking GMC. It did great on all the crash tests except for the overlap assessment. This also only scored Basic for Front Crash Prevention which is notable.

Tests Where a Score Lower than “Good” was Received:

Small Overlap Front: Acceptable

LATCH ease of use: Marginal

Headlights: Acceptable

Front Crash Prevention: Basic

2018 Chevy Silverado 1500 Extended Cab

This truck is very similar to the previous one, being that they are both ultimately GM products. It faltered in the headlight test, which may be a concern to consumers.

Tests Where a Score Lower than “Good” was Received:

Small Overlap Front: Acceptable

Front Crash Prevention: Basic

Headlights: Poor

LATCH ease of use: Marginal

2018 GMC Sierra 1500 Crew Cab

This smaller version of the other GMC received a lower score on both the LATCH test and the front overlap exam. Surprising, but that’s what these tests are for.

Tests Where a Score Lower than “Good” was Received:

Small Overlap Front: Marginal

LATCH ease of use: Poor

Headlights: Acceptable

Front Crash Prevention: Basic

2018 Chevy Silverado 1500 Crew Cab

This model receives a nasty poor rating for the headlights and the LATCH system. Chevy did step up their game in the next year so it’s good they learned from these failures.

Tests Where a Score Lower than “Good” was Received:

Small Overlap Front: Acceptable

LATCH ease of use: Poor

Headlights: Poor

Front Crash Prevention: Basic

Toyota Tundra CrewMax

This truck here was the only one out of all the others that did not score perfectly on the roof test. It also did a little bit worse than its larger version in the overlap exam. It did though ace the front crash prevention system test.

Tests Where a Score Lower than “Good” was Received:

Small Overlap Front: Marginal

Roof Strength: Acceptable

Headlights: Marginal

LATCH ease of use: Acceptable

2018 Ram 1500 Quad Cab

Rounding out the list is this older Ram. Ram did eventually fix tons of their problems with the newer trucks, but this one is worth being aware of the issues it has. Not only was it the worst truck safety-wise, but by a pretty good margin.

Tests Where a Score Lower than “Good” was Received:

Small Overlap Front: Marginal

Roof Strength: Marginal

LATCH ease of use: Marginal

Headlights: Marginal

Front Crash Prevention: Not Available

What These Tests Mean

These trucks had many options installed on them. These tests were considered the best-case scenario for each of these models. Whether the model at the dealership you look at has all the options is unknown. It’s wise to visit the IIHS website and investigate the results deeper to understand more.

Cars vs Pickups in Safety

Are trucks safer than cars? Well, they are much bigger. Consider a wreck between a Smart car and a full-size truck. Which one would you rather be in? But the IIHS does not designate any of these vehicles as top safety picks. Cars are given more safety features, maybe to make up for their smaller size. It’s also worth remembering that trucks can roll over because of their stance and other factors. This is not as likely in a car.

Wrap up

Technology is advancing rapidly. Consumers and manufacturers are more concerned about safety than ever and are delivering valuable features that can be lifesavers. It’s always wise to be in the know about how your next purchase will fare, so make sure to visit the IIHS and look for yourself at how they’re performing.

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