The group said its ldquooverlap front testrdquo replicates what happens when a vehicle runs off the road and hits a tree or pole or clips another vehicle that crosses the center line of a roadway Photo courtesy of IIHS

The group said its “overlap front test” replicates what happens when a vehicle runs off the road and hits a tree or pole or clips another vehicle that crosses the center line of a roadway. (Photo courtesy of IIHS)

Seven pickups put to the overlap crash test

IIHS says only 3 out of 7 large pickup models earn “acceptable” or higher occupant protection rating in its small overlap front crash test.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) recently put seven large 2016 model-year pickup trucks featuring two body styles – crew cab and extended cab – through a series of small overlap front crash tests and found that only three out of the seven earned an “acceptable” or higher rating for occupant protection.

The group said its “overlap front test” replicates what happens when a vehicle runs off the road and hits a tree or pole or clips another vehicle that crosses the center line of a roadway.

Raul Arbelaez, VP of IIHS’s vehicle research center, said that Ford’s F-150 is the only large pickup in the latest test group to earn the group’s top rating in the test; joining the F-150 SuperCrew in earning a 2016 Top Safety Pick award when equipped with Ford's optional basic-rated forward collision warning system.

"Ford is leading the way among large pickup manufacturers when it comes to protecting people in a range of crashes and offering technology to warn drivers of imminent frontal crashes," he noted in a statement.

Arbelaez added that Ford’s F-150 extended cab, known as the “SuperCab,” initially lacked structural countermeasures that helped its crew cab model – known as the “SuperCrew” – earn a top rating of “good” in small overlap tests last year.

Yet he noted that Ford improved its 2016 model F-150 SuperCab to clinch a “good” rating in the small overlap crash test this year; an improvement from the 2015 model's “marginal” rating.

"We commend Ford for taking last year's test results to heart and upgrading protection for SuperCab occupants in small overlap crashes," Arbelaez emphasized.

Across the board, IIHS said that the large pickup models it tested from Ford, Toyota, Chevrolet, GMC and Ram Trucks, all earned “good” ratings in the moderate overlap front test, side test and head restraint evaluations.

But differences in performance occurred during the small overlap tests, especially between extended-cab and crew-cab versions:

  • The Chevrolet Silverado 1500 Double Cab and its GMC Sierra twin, along with the Toyota Tundra Double Cab both earn an acceptable rating for occupant protection in a small overlap crash, while extensive occupant compartment intrusion in the Ram 1500 Quad Cab resulted in a poor rating for that vehicle.
  • Yet he story is different for the larger crew cabs, IIHS noted. The Chevrolet Silverado 1500 Crew Cab and its GMC Sierra twin, plus the Toyota Tundra CrewMax, only earned “marginal” rating in the small overlap front test due to considerable intrusion into the occupant compartment that compromised survival space for the driver.
  • The worst-performing pickups in the small overlap test are the Ram 1500 Crew Cab and the Ram 1500 Quad Cab, with both earning an overall rating of “marginal” and a “poor” rating for structure.
  • The force of the crash pushed the door-hinge pillar, instrument panel and steering column back toward the driver dummy, while in the Ram Crew Cab test, the dummy's head contacted the front airbag but rolled around the left side as the steering column moved to the right, allowing the head to approach the intruding windshield pillar.
  • All of the pickups except the F-150 had moderate to severe intrusion into the driver footwell area during the small overlap test. The footrest/left toepan, brake pedal, parking brake and/or lower dashboard were shoved against the dummy's lower legs. Measures taken from the crash test dummy in all but the F-150 indicated a likelihood of serious lower leg, ankle and foot injuries.

"Drivers in those pickups would need help freeing their legs from the wreckage following a small overlap crash,” Arbelaez said.

But IIHS also noted that in the case of roof strength, most of the pickups performed well, with four earning “good” ratings for occupant protection in a rollover crash: the F-150, both Chevrolet Silverado models (including their Sierra brethren) and the Tundra Double Cab. The Tundra CrewMax garnered an “acceptable” rating while the Ram 1500s are rated marginal, the group added.

Keeping the roof from collapsing when a vehicle rolls over is particularly important in pickups because 44% of occupant deaths in pickups are in rollovers, IIHS pointed out, while stronger roofs can prevent occupants, especially those who aren't using safety belts, from being ejected through windows, windshields or doors that have broken or opened.

IIHS added that it plans to test the redesigned 2016 Nissan Titan and new Honda Ridgeline later this year.

To date, the 2015 Titan Crew Cab is rated “good” in the moderate overlap front test, “acceptable” for roof strength and “good” for head restraints, the group said.

The Ridgeline, last sold as a 2014 model, earned “good” ratings in the moderate overlap front, side, roof strength test and head restraint evaluations, IIHS noted.

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