2018 Pickup Crash Ratings Show What the New Crop of Trucks Needs to Get Right

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems

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.

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]

Steph Willems
Steph Willems

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  • Ernest Ernest on Jan 25, 2018

    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.

    • Compaq Deskpro Compaq Deskpro on Jan 25, 2018

      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.

  • 064462 064462 on Jan 25, 2018

    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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