The Ford F-150 and Toyota Tundra have earned the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety's 2011 Top Safety Pick award after missing the honor last year.
For the first time, IIHS tested full-size pickup trucks using a new roof-strength test, where a metal plate is pushed against one side of a vehicle’s roof at a constant speed. To earn the Institute's highest rating of Good, the roof must withstand a force that’s four times the vehicle's weight before reaching 5 inches of crush.
To earn the Top Safety Pick status, a vehicle also must receive the top score of Good in frontal-offset, side-impact and rear crash tests. An electronic stability system must be optional.
In the latest tests, the Tundra's roof withstood a force of 4.5 times its weight. The F-150's roof withstood a force equal to 4.7 times the vehicle's weight.
The Nissan Titan earned an Acceptable rating for roof strength with a score of 3.56, while the Chevy Silverado 1500 and Ram 1500 received Marginal ratings for scores of 3.13 and 2.97, respectively.
How did Ford and Toyota do so well in the roof-strength test? In Ford's case, the company re-engineered the 2009-2011 F-150's roof with high-strength steel. High-strength tubes run from the base of the A-pillar to the top of the greenhouse, forming a safety cage around the truck’s occupants. Toyota also bolstered the Tundra's roof when the second-generation debuted in 2007.
The Ram, Silverado and Titan are also still smarting from IIHS' low scores for side impact testing in 2009.