Large Pickups Fail in Crash Tests


Three popular large pickups give poor protection in side collisions, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. The insurance group tested the trucks made popular by construction workers and suburbanites barely passed even when they were tested with optional side safety equipment.

The three offenders are the 2009 Chevrolet Silverado 1500, Dodge Ram 1500, and Nissan Titan. The Titan and Silverado tied for last place with the mark of poor; the Ram, which is equipped with side air bags, earned a score of marginal. The collision test was performed with a barrier, mimicking the front of an SUV or pickup truck, moving 31 mph into the side of the vehicles. David Zuby, the institute’s vice president, said the three performed even worse than some of the cars they’ve evaluated. “The size, weight, and height of these large pickups should help them ace the side tests just like the other large pickups we’ve tested,” Zuby said. “Not these three.”

Zuby added that passenger vehicles are usually vulnerable to side impacts due to the passengers’ bodies being in line with the front of oncoming vehicles. However, even with higher seating in the pickups, passengers are vulnerable. IIHS says the Silverado’s low mark is due to poor side structure and no side torso air bags. While the side curtain air bag, which is optional, works to protect the head, the upper body is still unprotected.

Spokespeople from GM, Chrysler, and Nissan were quick to come to the defense of their precious gas guzzlers. GM said that, while they pay attention to the IIHS test, one single test does not determine the safety of their vehicle. Chrysler says they have equipped their vehicle with side curtain and front airbags, as well as added anti-rollover electronic stability control. Chrysler also has said their engineers review “third-party test programs.”

This is bad news for two of Detroit’s struggling Big Three.