First Pickup Trucks Crash-Tested by NHTSA Under New 5-Star Safety Rating System

First Pickup Trucks Crash-Tested by NHTSA Under New 5-Star Safety Rating System

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.

[Source: NHTSA]


Is it time for Ram to panic?

My Tacoma is 5-star for frontal with my custom front bumper.

not according to the new ratings. there's more to it than just the bumper, custom or not.

Now lets Ford come in and get 5 starts in every catagory.

So let me guess. There is about 3 guys in the USA that would buy a paticular truck do to the "new" crash standards. And they all live in SanFran. News flash most guys by there trucks by passion not crash standards. Sorry about the 3 in sanfran but its the truth.

Here's the video of Ram's front crash test. Doesn't look bad at all. The new standards probably go a little overboard.

Any of these newer trucks are rated safer than my 03 F-150 Supercrew as that body style didn't fare so well in the crash tests, however it's not like I'm going to run scared and get rid of it! When Ford went to the new frame design is when it's safety ratings really went up!

@ Dan: I actually bought my truck with a large part of my decision being based on safety ratings. I knew my wife would be traveling in it, often without me. [sarcasm] And I'm not from SF! [/sarcasm]

@ Dan: We call those ridgeline owners... (AKA I bought a minivan with a bed because me and my life parter are moving to berkley next week)

Is that a 1/2 Ton Chevy with a 6ft bed in the top pic?

Now,what would happen in the real world !!!
I know of cars that had bad ratings, had better results in the real world than cars with 5 stars !!

ram tough doesnt sound right now. 1's and 2's with all the technology out there now is just rediculous. I dont buy just because of crash ratings but frontal crash ratings like that will sure sway me to a different pickup.
@ dan I actually like my family

@ dan I actually like my family

Got it. I guess I DISLIKE my family because we ride in a car most of the time, not a truck with 5 star crash test rating when we take long trips tht don't require a truck or large vehicle . Thanks for clearing that up.

My F150 is one of the biggest death traps (2001 Crew 4x4 Lariat) and my family and I take camping trips in it all the time, go to the beach, fishing, etc...beacuse I DISLIKE my family and all.

No, it is a crew cab, with a 5.8-ft bed; extendeds have the 6.6-ft bed. So far, the Ford F-150 as of 2011 has a crew cab with a 6.5 ft bed, the Ram Quad Cab (if you can call it a crew cab!) with a 6.4-ft bed, and the Nissan Titan with a 7-ft (odd!) bed. Oddly, the 2005-06 Toyota Tundra had a Double cab 6.1-ft bed standard. Most crews available with a bed 6-ft or greater will be the midsize Toyota Tacoma, Nissan Frontier, and Suzuki Equator.

Crash ratings get more and more stringent all the time. Even a three star rated vehicle is probably at least as safe as a 5-star vehicle from 5-10 years ago. My honest opinion is that any new vehicle that can be legally sold in America today is safe enough for me, so I tend to glance over safety ratings when buying a car.

@ Billy
I agree with you regarding the Ram Quad Cab. It's not a complete crew cab. I think the quad cab was made to replace the old club cab and have two front hinged doors rather than the "suicide doors". To be honest, I thought that they were only making the regular cab and the crew cab, but I just checked Ram's website and they still have three models (regular, quad, and crew cabs). The quad cab has 34 inches of rear seat legroom and the crew cab has almost 41 inches (still two inches shorter than the F-150 SuperCrew). Also the Ram crew cab has a 5'7" bed where the quad and regular cabs have a 6'4" bed.

ouchie...FIAT should fix this. Aren't their little euro cars safe?

@Ryan: Your insecurities are showing. I'd suggest you ask your girlfriend to hug you and tell you it'll all be okay, but you probably don't have one.

Tell ya what - why don't you go out and buy yourself a set of Truck Nuts and hang them from your tow hitch. That'll make you feel more manly fer sure!

Tacoma's 3 star frontal crash test results are disappointing, but the side impact scores seem pretty good. You mentioned difficulty with side-impact scores in the article - any info that I'm not seeing?

Also, anyone know what the new standards *mean.* The old standards said that 5 stars was a "less than 10%" chance of a serious injury. Since the new standard is tougher, I'm guessing that it means a lower percentage...but can't find anything on NHTSA site that tells me.

Wow! Those are extremely poor numbers. They should have added the F-150 to offset some of the disappointment other have created.

Good grief!

The old standards said that 5 stars was a "less than 10%" chance of a serious injury. Since the new standard is tougher, I'm guessing that it means a lower percentage...but can't find anything on NHTSA site that tells me.


Not exactly. The new ratings are supposed to be more accurate. For example, if you got a less than 10% injury risk rating in the past, in reality it should have been higher if it was tested more accurately.

I should say the injury risk MAY be higher. It could also be lower or stay the same. Their rating could stay the same if they are able to stand up to the more accurate test.

I'm all for more stringent testing, but I have to agree with some of the guys because crash testing isn't my primary filter for deciding which vehicle to buy.
It is something that I look at and I definately would stay away from a poorly rated vehicle.

Just think how these new trucks would be rated back in the 70's when they only came with seat belts. I wish the goverment would start making the states and the states the towns/cites enforce the laws of the road that way there would not be all this mandated safety garbage taking away space inside the vehicle and causing them to weigh more let alone the money it cost in the engineering of all these saftey items.
If they enforced the law the cities would have more revenue due to ticket writting, some people would not be allowed to drive,the roads would become safer and vehicles would be less expensive and fuel effecient.

the other Dave,

Cars back in the 70's were awful.

No thanks to more ticket writing. The entire traffic fine system has to do with bringing in money. It has nothing to do with safety. That’s why most of the people who seriously contest a traffic ticket either win or are offered an good plea bargain. They don’t want anyone “making waves“, that would cost them money.

Why do the vehicle weights listed at the bottom of the crash test result pictures seem to be about half of what these trucks actually weigh?

"We’re still waiting for NHTSA’s NCAP scores for the 2011 Ford F-150, 2011 Ford Ranger and 2011 Toyota Tundra."
Why even bother with the Ranger? it'll be gone soon.
What was the problem with the Tacoma on side impact? The ratings chart doesn't reflect that.

I was in a wreck with a car with a bad safety rating 5 years ago and walked away uninjured.Now since all trucks had a 5 star test rating previously..I still think they are the safest vehicles on the road.I would feel perfectly safe in a front end collision in a Chrysler truck as in a GM truck.


Not all of the cars in the 70's were not awful,midsize(think Charger,Cordoba,MonteCarlo,Chevelle,T-Bird) and full size were safer than todays cars ! Remember they didnt have to use seat belts so thats why more injuries were reported !

I had my 1971 Dodge Charger S.E 440 Magnum in a crash last summer,a head on with a 2006 Ford F-150 ! I was doing 30-35 mph at the time of impact,the Ford about the same..My Charger is perfect today,the Ford is in the junk yard with the front end crushed ,the Ford's engine is pushed into the firewall,block cracked ect..The passenger was injured taked away in an ambulance ,mostly hurt by the airbags,the driver had a broken hand,bone sticking out,broken nose..most likely the airbag that broke his hand.I had a bloody lip,small bruises.

My Charger,suffered a cracked radiator,bent grill,funny enough..the crumple zone in my 71 worked great,it pushed my fan into my radiator..then after the crash retracted and had its 6 inches between as normal.My bumper was bent ,hood,bent a bit,and small dents on the front of the hood still opened and shut, ..dead straight head on hit ,He was drunk ,no lights on and in my lane at 1:30 am !!! I had the car fixed in 2 myself,couldnt wait for the insurance,got a cheque for repairs months later and now taking him to court,for the hell of it(my brother inlaw is an attorney)

To say cars of the 70's were not as safe as today is false..nobody wore safety belts years ago,they do today that is the major factor..But my Car is fixed now and the Ford would never be fixed,it was totalled !!

"What was the problem with the Tacoma on side impact? The ratings chart doesn't reflect that."

He said it had some diffculty with the side impact. Looking at the chart, Tacoma got 4 star side driver and 4 star side pole.

In contrast, both Ram and Doge got 5 stars side driver and 5 star passenger. Silverado got 5 star pole. Ram was terrible at the side pole as mentioned.




That Chevy and the IIHS test. They don't use stars. That was Chevy who added the side torso bag and went from a marginal in 2009 to acceptable rating in 2010 for side impact.

The 2009 and 2010 Ram did not have a side torso-bag and still has the marginal side rating from the IIHS.

Most vehicles that have side air bags have a side torso bag. Ram still does not have the side torso. Instead Ram offers a $2500 fishing rod holder.

Ram got 5 stars side rating here so I don't know if adding another side bag will help with their rating up front. The problem is mostly up front.

The problem is they got 2 and 3 stars up front for a 2 star rating overall. Since they tested with air bags I don't think the air bag is the problem.

Maybe the torso bag will help with the side pole but they did get a 1 which is the bottom of the barrel. So how can it really help?

If the Tundra or F-150 get 5 stars up front, you know it's not that the test is too hard, it's the truck.

Thing is, the Ram was designed before these tests were instigated, and that's why it doesn't perform well in them.

The one concern I have about the pole test is, the vehicle is sliding sideways into the pole. That means you've already lost control beforehand - either you were struck by something that knocked you sideways, or you lost traction (hydroplaning, ice, etc.).

Here's a video of the actual pole test (Mustang is the victim here):!

All the other tests involve at least one vehicle still under seemingly active control, meaning a vehicle headed forward or backward at the input of its driver (in the side-impact test, it's the simulation of being T-boned by another vehicle headed forward or backward at the impact speed). But the pole test assumes no active control of the primary vehicle, and there's no determination of how the vehicle got that way.

In the video, it's an intact Mustang that is sliding into the pole. That means nothing struck it to get it sideways... a side-impact could have already caused airbag deployment, and being forced into the pole would then be a secondary impact with possibly no subsequent airbag protection. And because the vehicle is on a dolly, it leaves out the abilities of the tires to regain enough friction to slow the vehicle down.

I just don't like this test as it's currently administered... there are too many variables left out.

Or maybe you're just making excuses.

@GM; Whos test to believe? This one or IIHS? Which gives plenty of technical information. See, the GMs did pretty poor there in frontal impact, while the Dodge was as safe or safer than the Tundra-frontal impact-and, better then a F-150, yet wasn't as good as either in the side impact, while both the Tundra and F-150 were the best there. But here the Ram does better in side impact. ??? Atleast the info is out to tell you about the structural integrity of the Nissan and GMs. Or lack of. Bout all I get outa this is don't slide into a pole. There are so many ways to test a truck for safety, what's next? The Gm rollover tests are probably STILL done with a lower profile tire to get their numbers. And the EXT CAB trucks with the suicide doors? Can't believe they still make those! Impratical! Lots more road noise! I had one, a 2006 Chevy ext cab 4x4 5.3 310 hp.

I believe the newest one that gave Ram 2 stars because it is more stringent and more accurate. The old tests made it so so easy everyone starting getting 5 stars when they didn't deserve it.

if ford is not testing soon maybe they need to fix the side impact in the king cab,,because of the b bar vibration in the cab if you shot the door ....

@Miath - I know you hate Fords, but why would you want to shoot one?

@ Mike

Looking at the Silverado, the Crew Cab and Extended Cab get different frontal ratings. What might cause this? Extra weight perhaps?

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