What's the Safest Half-Ton Pickup Truck for 2018?

CARS.COM — Half-ton pickup trucks like the Ford F-150, Chevrolet Silverado 1500 and Ram 1500 are currently at the top of the U.S. sales charts, making safety ratings an increasingly important factor for truck shoppers. Meanwhile, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety is making its tests progressively tougher in an effort to make vehicles safer. How do half-ton pickup trucks stack up?

Related: IIHS Toughens Up Crash-Test Standards for 2018

Trucks are currently rated by IIHS in five crash tests: Small overlap front, driver side; moderate overlap front; side; roof strength; and head restraints and seats. Additionally, IIHS tests headlights and front crash prevention technology.

No pickup currently qualifies for the IIHS' highest rating of Top Safety Pick Plus, as it requires scoring acceptable or good in a sixth crash test: the passenger-side small overlap front crash test — and no truck has yet been rated for that. In addition to that score, the truck must earn a score of good on all other crash tests, receive an advanced or superior rating for front crash prevention and a good rating for headlights.

The second highest rating, Top Safety Pick, requires the same scores with the exception of headlight rating. An acceptable rating is, well, acceptable to earn that distinction. As of this writing, only one 2018 model-year truck of any size is a Top Safety Pick: the Honda Ridgeline. Interestingly, the IIHS considers it a "large pickup truck" in the same category as the F-150s and Ram 1500s of the world, but it isn't as large as half-ton trucks nor does it have the same capabilities, so for our purposes it won't be considered here.

There are also two caveats to this. First: Cab style matters. Extended- and crew-cab styles are tested separately. No results for regular-cab trucks are available. Second: Front crash prevention technology is usually optional equipment, so you'll likely pay more to get all the safety features.

Keeping that in mind, here are the four safest half-ton trucks you can buy right now:

  • 2018 Ford F-150, extended- (SuperCab) and crew-cab (SuperCrew) models. The 2017 F-150 was a Top Safety Pick, and the 2018 carries over the same crash-test scores. Front crash prevention in the 2018 version is rated superior with optional equipment, but its headlights are only rated poor.
  • 2018 Nissan Titan, crew-cab models. Not to be confused with the "tweener" Titan XD model, the 2018 Titan half-ton improved its scores over the 2017 model. It performed better than the F-150 in headlight testing with a marginal rating but offers no front crash prevention technology. There are currently no IIHS results for extended-cab models.
  • 2018 GMC Sierra 1500, extended-cab models. The Sierra 1500 earned scores of good on all crash tests except for the small overlap front, where it was rated acceptable. Crew-cab models rated marginal in the same test. The Sierra 1500's headlights were rated acceptable but only for certain higher trim levels, and its optional front crash prevention was rated basic. Interestingly, the mechanical "twin" 2018 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 extended cab is rated slightly worse because of a poor headlight score.
  • 2018 Toyota Tundra, extended-cab models. The Tundra scored acceptable in the small overlap front test and good in the other four crash tests, but only rated marginal for headlights. Crew-cab models rated marginal in the small overlap front and only acceptable in roof-strength testing. Notably, the Tundra is the only truck to offer any sort of front crash prevention technology as standard equipment; it's only rated basic, however.

If you're looking for a half-ton pickup truck, safety may be lower on your shopping list than payload capacity or tow rating, but it should matter. You can use the IIHS website to dig deeper into cab configuration and the optional equipment used to calculate its ratings.

Finally, as 2019 models start to hit dealerships, it's important to note that the Ram 1500, Chevrolet Silverado 1500 and GMC Sierra 1500 are all redesigned for 2019, although we've only seen the Ram and Chevrolet revealed thus far. These trucks haven't been crash-tested yet, so it's likely that this list will look different once that happens.

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