The worst performers were the crew-cab versions of the Chevrolet Silverado and Nissan Titan, which were both rated as “poor” when tested without side-impact airbags. The Titan showed a slight improvement with a “marginal” rating when equipped with optional side airbags, but the Silverado retained its poor rating even with the optional side airbags equipped. Importantly, the Silverado results also apply to its sibling, the GMC Sierra.
Another model near the bottom of the pile was the Dodge Ram 1500 pickup, which despite coming with standard side-impact airbags still scored only a marginal rating.
The side-impact evaluations are based on performance in a crash test in which the side of a vehicle is struck by a barrier moving at 31 mph. The barrier represents the front end of a pickup or SUV, and vehicles are awarded with either good, acceptable, marginal, or poor ratings. All of the full-sized pickups tested got good scores in frontal-impact crashes, which are conducted at 40mph.
Full-size pickups, due to their advantages of size, weight and height, should do a good job of protecting occupants in side crashes, but the low scores of this trio show that they have all missed the mark. Other models, including the Honda Ridgeline, Toyota Tundra, and the Ford F-150, all earned a rating of “good” in the side-impact crash tests, laying to rest any argument that pickup trucks are more susceptible to low scores in the IIHS tests.