Crash-Test Ratings: How Do Pickups Stack Up?

Although not typically the top consideration when purchasing a new half-ton or mid-size pickup truck, crash-test ratings should be an important factor. While the federal government conducts crash-testing and issues ratings through the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the insurance industry-sponsored Insurance Institute for Highway Safety seems to do the most thorough crash-testing.

In 2016, IIHS toughened its requirements for earning Top Safety Pick Plus, its top award, and started testing and rating headlight technology as well, encouraging automakers to up their illumination game in the name of nighttime driving safety.

IIHS crash-tests vehicles across five crashworthiness categories: front small overlap, front moderate overlap, side impact, roof strength, and head restraints and seats. Based on the results, cars receive one of four ratings: good, acceptable, marginal and poor. Headlights receive the same ratings, and IIHS also tests a car’s available front crash prevention system, resulting in basic, advanced or superior ratings.

IIHS recognizes top-rated vehicles with Top Safety Pick or Top Safety Pick Plus designations. To qualify as a Top Safety Pick, a car must earn a rating of good in all five crashworthiness tests and receive an advanced or superior rating for front crash prevention. To qualify as a Top Safety Pick Plus, a car must meet the Top Safety Pick requirements and get an acceptable or good headlight rating.

IIHS conducts testing all year long, but we thought it might be a good time to recap the results for the pickups it has tested so far.

The only 2017 model mid-size pickup to be completely tested so far is the Honda Ridgeline, which IIHS classifies as a large pickup. Due to its available Honda Sensing technology and top ratings for crashworthiness and headlights, model-year 2017 Ridgelines received a Top Safety Pick Plus award. And while model-year 2016 Ford F-150 SuperCrews received a Top Safety Pick award, 2017 models do not because of IIHS’ tougher requirements. Both model years received the same ratings, which fall short of the new requirements for 2017.

We also should note that when it decided to test each truck in more than one cab configuration.

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