The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has released results for the first batch of pickup trucks crash-tested using the federal agency’s recently overhauled five-star New Car Assessment Program.
The four newly tested trucks were the 2011 Chevrolet Silverado 1500, 2011 GMC Sierra 1500, 2011 Ram 1500 and 2011 Toyota Tacoma.
The Chevy Silverado 1500 and GMC Sierra 1500 light-duty twins had the highest scores in the group. Because both trucks share the same platform, only the Silverado was tested by NHTSA, and its ratings were automatically assigned to the Sierra.
Overall, the Silverado and Sierra achieved a combined NCAP score of four stars. Regular cab, extended cab and crew-cab models were tested. Crew-cab testing included both conventional and Two Mode Hybrid gas-electric powertrains, NHTSA said.
NCAP’s combined vehicle score is calculated using the probabilities of injury that are used in determining frontal, side and rollover ratings, where:
- Five stars = Overall injury risk for this vehicle is much less than average
- Four stars = Overall injury risk for this vehicle is less than average to average
- Three stars = Overall injury risk for this vehicle is average to greater than average
- Two stars = Overall injury risk for this vehicle is greater than average
- One star = Overall injury risk for this vehicle is much greater than average
In frontal crash testing, the Silverado and Sierra regular and extended cab pickups received five stars for driver protection and four stars for passenger protection, while the crew cabs scored four stars in both driver and passenger safety.
The Silverado and Sierra received five-star scores for side-impact crash testing, including the tough new “pole test,” which simulates a 20-mph side-impact into a 10-inch-diameter pole or tree at a 75-degree angle just behind the A-pillar on the driver’s side.
Rollover ratings were four stars across the board for the Silverado and Sierra.
The Toyota Tacoma (the best-selling midsize truck in the U.S.) also received a combined NCAP score of four stars, but it had some difficulty with front and side-impact testing. Four-door Double Cab pickups were the only Tacoma configurations tested.
The Tacoma was awarded four stars for the driver and only two stars for the passenger in frontal crash testing. It scored four stars in the driver’s side and pole impact tests. In rollover testing, it received four stars.
Ram light-duty trucks scored three stars overall. Regular, Quad and crew-cab versions were tested.
The Rams scored three stars for driver protection and two stars for passenger protection in frontal crash tests. It scored five stars for standard side-impact tests, but in the pole test it scored only one star for the Quad and crew-cab configurations, indicating a greater than 40 percent chance of serious injury. The regular cab Ram wasn’t pole tested.
In rollover testing, the Ram received four stars for two-wheel-drive trucks and three stars for four-wheel-drive models.
We’re still waiting for NHTSA’s NCAP scores for the 2011 Ford F-150, 2011 Ford Ranger and 2011 Toyota Tundra.
Because NCAP methods have changed substantially, 2010 versus 2011 isn't a direct comparison. Still, when a few models see their ratings drop disproportionately, there must be a reason. NHTSA attributes it to any or all of the program's three main changes: the addition of the side-pole test, greater diversity in the size of crash-test dummies used to measure injury risk and the additional data they now collect.