By on January 24, 2018

2019 Ram 1500

Truly, this is a momentous year for trucks. Not one, not two, but three completely revamped or wholly new domestic pickups greeted us in Detroit last week, ready to capitalize on America’s unyielding hunger for vehicles that can haul, tow, ford, climb, traverse, and commute daily with a single occupant.

While we haven’t yet had an opportunity to put the 2019 Ram 1500, Chevrolet Silverado 1500, or Ford Ranger through their paces, we’d hope to find an increase in refinement and capability in returning models. Over at the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, however, there’s a different testing regimen planned. Let’s just say it’s a hard-hitting one.

And if Ram or Chevy wants to get into the IIHS’ good books, those trucks had best perform better than their so-so predecessors.

Following testing of 2018 model year large pickups, IIHS data shows that, like in previous years, certain deficiencies prevent some of the country’s top-selling vehicles from earning a Top Safety Pick designation, let alone a Top Safety Pick +. The only pickup to earn a second-from-top rating is the slow-selling, oddball Honda Ridgeline.

Blame the addition of headlight performance to the evaluator’s clipboard for the depressed scores, as well as the need for easy-to-use child seat anchors. No pickup on the market scores top marks in the latter category, but headlights remain the more serious offender. Only the unibody Honda’s peepers pass the vision test.

2019 Silverado Work Truck features a “CHEVROLET” graphic across the grille and tailgate, blacked-out trim and 17-inch steel wheels for maximum durability. The interior features durable vinyl or cloth seats and 7-inch color touch screen.

The 2018 Ram 1500, on the other hand, scores a second-from-bottom “marginal” for its headlights, be it in crew cab or extended cab guise, and that grade reflects optional equipment. Child latch, roof strength, and small overlap testing also earns it a marginal rating.

Unlike its Fiat Chrysler competitor, the 2018 Silverado 1500’s roof is plenty strong in rollover situations. Unfortunately, its headlights can’t rise above “poor” — nor can its child latches, though the extended cab model upgrades the latch rating to marginal. And the dreaded small overlap test? That hard-to-pass impact places the crew cab model in the same category as the Ram. (Extended cab Silverados rate an “acceptable” in this field.)

If you’re thinking Ford’s preening F-150, which scored highly in all crash tests, allows drivers to see far down the road while not blinding oncoming motorists, well, no dice. IIHS testing shows the F-150’s headlights are terrible, too. Will the Ranger follow suit?

Having left my measuring tape at home, I wasn’t able to judge just exactly how high the 2019 Silverado’s headlights sit while poking around on the show floor in Detroit. Still, just looking at their altitude inspires thoughts of mountaineering and bottled oxygen. If either Chevy or Ram want a safety award to splash across advertisements, those headlights can’t be the obnoxious units from yesteryear. As well, both models need serious upgrades in front crashworthiness to prevent footwell intrusion.

It will be interesting to see if past models’ poor performance nagged the engineers developing these new rigs.

[Image: Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, General Motors]

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36 Comments on “2018 Pickup Crash Ratings Show What the New Crop of Trucks Needs to Get Right...”


  • avatar
    Sub-600

    “…inspires thoughts of mountaineering and bottled oxygen.” The Sherpa Edition Silverado? Replete with the likeness of Tenzing Norgay stitched into the headrests.

    • 0 avatar
      Felix Hoenikker

      I just finished reading Into Thin Air. Everest climbers wished they had a Silverado when climbing that mountain, but lack of roads aside, I doubt that it run past Camp 2 at 22,000 feet let alone to 29,000+ at the summit. Better to die on foot than degrade yourself with bottled oxygen and a Silverado.

  • avatar
    TybeeJim

    Say what they will about the effectiveness of trucks headlights but if you ever driven on a 2 lane at night with one these jacked up behemoths coming at you or behind with their brights on, you’d know that there is something very wrong with IIHS’s standards.

    • 0 avatar
      scott25

      You mean that proves that there’s something correct about the IIHS standards, the reason they’re scoring poor isn’t neccessarily due to their brightness, it’s due to the fact they blind other motorists, which is half the criteria of the test. Therefore there’s no surprises here RAM and the GM trucks have long been the worst offenders, along with Acura and the old Avenger/200.

      I don’t know what height they’re using to measure this though, car or crossover height, since the latter will become the more common driving position in a few years.

      • 0 avatar
        srh

        I don’t find oncoming truck headlights from an unmodified truck to be a problem.

        I suspect the issue is that many truck owners put on a leveling kit, raising the front of their truck 1-2 inches, and don’t re-calibrate their headlights. Thus even on standard they’re pointing more directly at your eyes.

        • 0 avatar
          bunkie

          Not to mention the LED lightbars that are so au courant among the doofus set…

          • 0 avatar
            dukeisduke

            Don’t get me started on those…

          • 0 avatar
            PrincipalDan

            RE: LED lightbars.

            I was passing one of the local “BHPH” lots this weekend and saw they had a Frontier crew cab 4×4 with the LED lightbar mounted on… wait for it… the edge of the hood right in front of the windshield.

            I also saw an Avenger with one of those LED bars mounted at the point where the windshield meets the roof.

          • 0 avatar
            Sub-600

            I’m gonna duct tape a 1/2 dozen of those atomic flashlights on the hood of my car. Maybe an atomic lantern on the roof to increase my visibility.

        • 0 avatar
          TwoBelugas

          level kits are not great but at least they retain the surface brightness of the halogens and the owner “could” adjust the light back down a bit.

          The worst offenders are the HID bulb crowd with the uncontrolled glare and much higher surface brightness of the light source.

    • 0 avatar
      Scoutdude

      The IIHS does not set any binding standards, it is an organization founded by insurance companies, mainly to drive decisions on the cost of insuring a particular vehicle, and secondarily to shame mfgs into making vehicles with lower bodily injury claim rates.

      The DOT is the one that sets binding standards on lighting and other vehicle systems.

      The IIHS is on your side in the case trying to shame the mfgs into producing lights that are not blinding to oncoming traffic while maintaining or improving the usefulness of the lights to the driver of said vehicle.

      • 0 avatar
        Lou_BC

        The IIHS may not set the standards but if they encourage insurance companies to jack up prices, that can be as effective as legislation.

        Shaming did work on Ford with the “deflection” bars that were only on the crewcab.

        • 0 avatar
          FalcoDog

          “The IIHS may not set the standards but if they encourage insurance companies to jack up prices, that can be as effective as legislation.”

          More effective I think

    • 0 avatar
      cbrworm

      They need to figure out a way to mount the headlights in the bumper and have the rest of what looks like the headlight assembly just be a diffused LED running light.

  • avatar
    cargogh

    I can’t wait to see the small overlap test just to watch that stupid fender point between the Chevy’s lights disappear.

  • avatar
    dukeisduke

    I love the stock headlights on my ’13 Tacoma. They’re bright enough even with stock bulbs, and they have a definite low beam cutoff. Whoever designed those did a great job.

    Now the ones on my wife’s ’08 Sienna? They’re pathetic. I think they were designed for looks, not effectiveness. They’re dim, and they don’t seem to have any discernible beam pattern, or low beam cutoff.

    • 0 avatar
      Lou_BC

      @dukeisduke – The lights on my ex’s 2010 Sienna aren’t all that great. I don’t mind the lights on my 2010 F150.
      The most common vehicle I see with burnt out lights are Chevy pickups.

      • 0 avatar
        dukeisduke

        Yeah, it’s the same lights (2007-2010). I think it’s just a very poor reflector design (as all the optics are in the reflector, and the lens is plain clear plastic).

  • avatar
    Scoutdude

    So I guess we will see if Jack puts his money where his mouth is this time. He claims to have chosen his Honda based on crash ratings, so I’d say this puts the Ram out of the running for his second pickup, or does it since he chose the lower performing Silverado over the Ford the last time he bought an “occasional use” pickup.

    • 0 avatar
      dal20402

      The 2018 Ram tested here is still the old model. He was talking about buying a 2019 Ram.

      • 0 avatar
        Lou_BC

        No guarantee that the 2019 Ram will pass the test.

      • 0 avatar
        Scoutdude

        He is talking about buying a new, lower trim level, truck this spring. Good luck on the new Ram launching in that time frame and even better luck finding a lower trim level in the new truck until after the normal 2019 model year starts, even if the truck is available by then.

    • 0 avatar
      rpn453

      I think Jack can be confident that, in a new Ram, he’ll come out of any serious collision with another vehicle in better shape than if he were in his Accord.

      He’ll just have to avoid rolling the thing at speed!

      • 0 avatar
        30-mile fetch

        This. Mass matters and a Ram with a “marginal” small overlap rating is going to come out ahead of a midsize sedan with a “good” rating in just about any conceivable vehicle-to-vehicle frontal collision. Avoid glancing blows with trees, though.

        Mass is also why I’d be more concerned about the marginal Ram roof strength rating. This is more likely to go turtle than the Accord and all that protective mass will then be doing its best to pancake the roof.

  • avatar
    APaGttH

    All the GM BoF platform headlights (Tahoe, Suburban, Yukon, Sierra, Silverado, etc. etc. etc.) SUCK. Absolutely suck. The headlights have sucked all the way back to GMT800.

  • avatar
    FalcoDog

    Off Topic but:

    That new Ram is very nice looking.

  • avatar
    dal20402

    One thing I’ve never understood about pickup headlights is why the manufacturers put the low beams up top. It seems to me that putting them in the lower position in designs where the headlights are stacked would be a cheap and effective fix for glare problems.

  • avatar
    ppxhbqt

    There’s no need to blame “the need for easy-to-use child seat anchors.” While the LATCH anchors are tested for ease of use, those results don’t in any way factor into the Top Safety Pick or Top Safety Pick + awards.

    • 0 avatar
      PrincipalDan

      Almost all child seat anchors are pain in the butt to use. I came very close to cutting the anchors straps on a car seat in my mother-in-law’s Torrent and going out and buying her a new seat.

      I always plan on moving, removing, or installing a new child seat to be a job that’s going to leave me sweaty and cussing.

  • avatar
    ernest

    With all due respect to the IIHS safety rating methodology, those of us that drive big pickups know one thing. If a distracted driver in a compact/midsize sedan or SUV crosses over the center line and smacks you, the combination of three tons and a full frame is gonna win. Every single time.

    I was at the Auto Show in Portland tonight and had a chance to look at all three new pickups. The Chevy looks better in person as long as the grill isn’t black. It’s actually an improvement over the prior gen with the right trim and color. The Ford looks like… well, a Ford truck. Why fix what isn’t broken? I’m conflicted on the Dodge. It’s attractive, but it’s going to take some getting used to.

    FCA won the food/bar prize- very nicely done. This was a pre-show fundraiser, so I actually had to break out a sports coat and tie… and still felt underdressed for the occasion.

    *First time I’ve seen two Mclaren’s in the same place at the same time. Seattle dealer brought them down for the event.

    • 0 avatar
      Compaq Deskpro

      The Boston Auto Show had a 918 Spyder, Bugatti Veyron, and Pagani Huayra, all parked next to each other. Forget about cars, that might have been the most wealth of any kind I’ve ever seen in one place.

      The Bugatti was a brand new Veyron, not grand sport, with “only” 1000 hp, for $900,000. I don’t know why, but I’m surprised such a high end car could be configured as a “base” model like this.

  • avatar
    064462

    I have to agree. I bought a 2017 Ford F250 XL single cab 4WD and the headlights suck compared to my 2010 Volvo XC 60 . I’m going to buy the LED Bulbs in the hope that I can see further down the road . It’s the only thing I don’t like about the truck .


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