IIHS Rollover Test and Pickup Safety

IIHS Roof Crush 3 II

By G.R. Whale

Ever wonder why one pickup truck costs more to insure than another of equal performance? Reasons are myriad, and the driver is by far the biggest variable, so the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety does objective testing that eliminates the driver and focuses on vehicle behavior in a crash. (It is developing tests to determine how well vehicles can avoid a crash, testing safety features like stability control, lane departure and blind spot warnings, collision mitigation braking and so on.)

The IIHS roof crush test is an important thing to look at when assessing a vehicle's safety prior to purchase. The test assigns a rating for a vehicle's occupant protection in a crash involving a rollover. According to IIHS' most recent data (found here), pickups have some of the highest fatality rates in solo rollover accidents. Categorized by vehicle type and size, minivans were the safest while "very large" (heavy-duty crew cabs) four-wheel-drive pickups were the worst. Small two-wheel-drive, large two- and four-wheel-drive and very large two-wheel-drive pickups filled out the top five vehicle types with the highest fatalities in single rollover crashes. Although they top the list, IIHS does not test HD pickups and has no plans to do so.

The rollover test involves a steel plate pressed at a constant speed against the roof/door line at approximately 30 degrees from horizontal. Force applied to the plate is measured as the roof is crushed 5 inches; peak force typically occurs around 2.5 inches of deflection just before a side window or windshield breaks. The peak force is divided by the vehicle weight that IIHS records with "typical engine, transmission and equipment options," and the resulting numerical value corresponds to a word grade: a Good rating means peak force divided by vehicle weight (IIHS "strength-to-weight ratio") is 4.0 or greater; Acceptable is 3.25 to 4; Marginal is 2.5 to 3.25; Poor is anything less than 2.5. The test hasn't changed for 40 years, although until 2013 the federal strength-to-weight requirement was only 1.5. It's been strengthened and is being phased in for 2013 models.

IIHS did test some recent (2004 to 2013 models) full-size pickups. Of these, crew cab versions of the Ford F-150, Toyota Tundra and Honda Ridgeline scored Good. The Nissan Titan received an Acceptable rating, and the Chevrolet Silverado 1500, GMC Sierra 1500 and Ram 1500 were rated Marginal.

IIHA Roof crush page II

An IIHS footnote about the Titan crew cab raises two issues. The IIHS states: "Rating applies only to crew cab models, except for 4wd Crew Cab long bed model. Rating of this model is Marginal." First, most of the vehicles tested were two-wheel drive and the majority of pickups sold are four-wheel drive. That means most pickups on the road do not fall in the "typical equipment" tested by the IIHS. Secondly, weight is critical to this rating system, so you might consider doing your own math.

If you use the peak force measured during the test and calculate with the gross vehicle weight rather than empty, it is possible the same truck would get a lower rating. Yes, payload is often ejected in a rollover but things like hitches, tool boxes, fuel tanks and secured cargo often stay in the truck — and five adults often account for a big portion of payload on crew cabs; that weight would drop some pickups one rank. Likewise, if a vehicle has shed some weight — say no spare and rear bumper, or a lighter flatbed, that could bump it up one rank.

Unless the frame rails are bending we don't believe the actual roof crush dynamics of the Titan crew cab differ if it has front drive or a longer bed; it's merely the added weight that changes the label from Acceptable to Marginal. The Titan's sister vehicle, the Armada SUV, hasn't been crushed by IIHS but has a zero rollover fatality rate, and Nissan's Frontier is the only compact pickup IIHS tested that scored a Good (for 2005-2013 model years).

Regardless of rank, the new standards likely spell the demise of an extended cab without a center pillar — simple physics says a span with three supports will be stronger than one with two. Beyond noise and vibration issues there are downsides to having a 25-square-foot aperture in the side of a pickup cab, and those are only part of why the new Silverado and Sierra 1500s use a B-post double cab.

The IIHS tests can help you determine which pickup has the most crush-resistant roof. However, that's just one aspect of a truck's safety. The other IIHS crash tests and whether a pickup is equipped with electronic stability control are other important factors. ESC was required in all new passenger vehicles starting with 2012 models; it helps prevent rollovers. ESC saves lives and reduces insurance losses, the IIHS says, but its benefits vary from vehicle to vehicle. IIHS hopes to get a better understanding of this variance through more testing.

Ultimately, the safest pickup truck is the one you avoid rolling in the first place and in which you're properly belted for when you can't avoid an accident.

IIHS Roof Crush 2 II


Things are just all around greener in the F series :P

I must admit I do love the fact that I can open my 07 ext cab Silverado up wide open. But it does not have the stiffness of my brothers Silverado crew cab. I do like the looks of the ext cab better. Guess its time to move up to the new Silverado.

I am sure the 2014 GM trucks will vastly improve on their score.

I'm impressed with how trucks have changed and become safer over the years. Would be interesting seeing o
How a 90's or 80's model would fair compared to the newer models. I also like the older extended cabs, but I now have a crew cab.

Bunch of death traps!

More reasons for them to jack up our insurance rates.

I don't think weather or not the truck is 4x4 makes much of a differance in the roof strength, 4x4's may be more likely to roll over in the first place since they usually they have a slightly higher center of gravity but it shouldn't make much differance in cab strength even with a few hundred extra pounds of GVR.

All the more reason to buy a Ford.

Things sure are greener with a F150. The only problem is that the green comes from the wallet for repairs and fuel to take the truck back to the dealership for all the recalls.

A good roll cage adds plenty of crush safety in any vehicle for rollover protection.

As long as you don't mind voiding the original warranty from the vehicle manufacturer, you can get a roll cage installed in you truck's cab.

Mark Williams Are you Ford guy?

@GREG, boy do you ever hate Ford and why?? I'm a Ram man and I know you are a chevy man so lets face it, Ford makes the best truck out there hands down. It was hard for me to swallow too so just suck it up and realize we drive #2 and #3. #1 is Ford and always will be so lay off the anti-Ford comments jerk!!

Improving vehicle safety is just common sense, also looking at dual cab pickups is common sense. Most of these vehicles are family SUVs. Here all new dual cabs have a 5 star ANCAP/ENCAP rating. But we can still improve these vehicles.

From recorded data it appears pickups are one of the larger contributors to the higher than average OECD fatality rate in the US.

Even in Australia many people believe a larger vehicle is safer, but this is a misguided paradigm. People just don't consider issues like roll overs, single vehicle accidents and pedestrians. I suppose this part of the 'my driving skills are superior' attitude so they just don't consider the above mentioned types of accidents.

I think the NHTSA is also looking at improving pedestrian safety with vehicles. This will alter the front of pickups when this comes into effect. Your trucks will adapt a front end design similar to ours.

With CAFE forcing the weight of vehicles to reduce and new materials being used more often it will be interesting to see how the design of vehicles will change.

Any improvement to vehicle safety through design and education is better than increasing regulation.

"@GREG, boy do you ever hate Ford and why?? I'm a Ram man and I know you are a chevy man so lets face it, Ford makes the best truck out there hands down. It was hard for me to swallow too so just suck it up and realize we drive #2 and #3. #1 is Ford and always will be so lay off the anti-Ford comments jerk!!"


The Ford brand has had 92 recalls since 2009, substantially higher than the next highest brands — Chevrolet, at 70, and Toyota, at 68, a search of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration database reveals. Of course, such a search doesn't take into account the severity of individual recalls or that the Ford nameplate is part of the larger Ford Motor. When recalls in its various divisions are added up, General Motors outpaces Ford on recalls overall.






Too many babies around here, getting all worked up when the data does not favor their favorite trucks. Seriously get over it, get professional help if you need it.

@BAFO - Extensive use of composites, aluminum and other highstrength/lightweight materials should keep both NHTSA and CAFE happy.

But what do 'bull bars' do to pedestrian safety? And are your 'roll bars' just for looks?

Behind Fords $131 Million Rollover Judgment - AOL Autos

Maybe Ford has learned a little something after emptying their wallet's over the king of roll overs .........Ford.

@HEMI V8 - I guarantee all your years of rapid fire trolling and SPAM $H!T STORMS on RAM's behalf hasn't led to an additional RAM sale. MILLIONS of new F-series have sold in that time with almost as many GM trucks.

There isn't a OEM with a perfect record, But RAM trucks are the worst sold in the US. They're lucky to take up the 3rd spot. Until RAM improve dramaticallly or consumers start preferring the worst, they'll stay in 3rd.

Again, you have incorrectly comprehended what was written. You then try and twist it into the unique DlM/UAW interpretation.

The use of new materials doesn't mean CAFE and the NHTSA will 'probably' be kept happy. WTF?

It is how the materials are used in design that determines the safety of a vehicle.

Bullbars? They are mainly used in Australia, and our fatality rate is near on half of the US in motor vehicle accidents.

Bullbars also have to meet pedestrian regulations and not impede with the passive safety devices in a vehicle in Australia. That's why they are very expensive nowadays. They are more likely to cause a fatality than a vehicle without one.

Most of our roll bars are for looks and it provides somewhere for driving/spot lights to be mounted.

Some of the lifts I've seen on your pickups are ridiculous as they are only done for a pose. Why would you lift a 2wd, really. Very few 2wd would require a lift.

4x4 with extreme lifts are also dangerous, a realistic limit on lifts would reduce rollovers as well. We have the same issue with bullbars fitted to vehicles in cities. They aren't necessary, people buy them for looks.

I'm actually considering a lift on my pickup, but I'll only lift 1.75". Most lifts here are 2".

As I've stated education and design in vehicle safety is the best route to take. This will reduce fatalities significantly.

Remember, comprehend.

Here is a very good link on pedestrian safety and bullbars in Australia.

Remember, comprehend.

You see DlM using google would have prevented you from authoring stupids blogs, maybe you should use google more often, but remember don't believe all of what you read as there are many who write bull$hit like you do.


Here is an interesting link on lifting a 4x4 in Australia. The limits laid out in this link is very much standard across most states.


You did no this site is a ford site..:)

@Den eellike, ever notice I am quiet as a church mouse until the Ford trolls start in.

I agree ford is number one.




@HEMI V8 - "ever notice I am quiet as a church mouse until the Ford trolls start in."

That has to be one of the funniest things I've ever heard come out of your pie hole.


@TSP - NHTSA rules make it illegal for any automotive manufacturer to have a roll bar inside a vehicle.

Most companies that make "roll" bars do not market them as such. Most are called "bed bars", "light bars" etc. If they call it a roll bar, they have to carry the liability of it not protecting the occupants in a roll over.

All of the models tested are up to and including 2013 models. The new GMC siblings are supposed to be improved in structural rigidity.

The authors claims that strapped in cargo will lower ratings due to the extra weight on the roof is plausible but strapped in cargo tends to be much higher than the box sides which could provide extra protection in a roll over.

Greg is a GMC and Buick idiot from GMI otherwise known as the GMC-Buick fanclub. BVonScott, Tyler etc. Congrats to Ford here. It's no surprise still. Ford doesn't cut corners to skimp on pennies of costs like GM. That's the beauty of One Ford. GM can't have One Chevrolet or even One GMC because they're GM. Even though I back Chevrolet when I can legitimately do it, they are a letdown in this respect and several others. They'll never have a world class truck in this day and age with two truck lines. The costs are spread out too thin amongst too many companies and or brands. Ford learned this the hard way, eventually so will GM. Oops, Chevrolet.

@BAFO - Bull bars are technically required to improve pedestrian safety, but it's obvious they do nothing of the sort. And who enforces bull bar regs? It would defeat the purpose of bull bars if they collapsed on impact with a roo.

The current gen of F-150 crew cabs became 2 or 300 lbs heavier than equal RAM and GM trucks, and many have criticized their weight, but their safety ratings increased at the same time their weight did. You do the math.

I was impressed by the F-150's roof strength shown here:



I better buy a 2013 GM for my wife before they make it better!

@Mark: That depends on who you ant to bang.

Do I need to hold Package? No.
Do I need to carry more? No.
Do I need to Take a blue pill? No.
Do I need physically larger? No. In fact, I NEED physically SMALLER while still carrying a decent load--not by weight, but by bulk.
Do I need more "features"? Not when they're based on Genetics
Do I need more "niceties"? No. On average I'm paying for it.

Good to see FORD score so high in this test. Says a lot about the other makes and how much catching up they have to do, especially that POS fiat ram. Those trucks are down right scary from any angle.

I am a GMC and Buick fanboi from GMI otherwise known as the GMC-Buick fanclub. BVonScott, Tyler etc. Congrats to Ford and GM here. It's no surprise still. Ford does cut corners to skimp on pennies of costs unlike GM. That's the beauty of One Ford. GM can have One Chevrolet or even One GMC because they're GM, which is great. I back Chevrolet all the time. They have a world class truck with two truck lines. The costs are wisely spent to produce great products and or brands. Ford can't seem to follow GM's example. They will learn the hard way eventually. Even Chrysler is doing well. Ford, not so much.

To me, the rollover characteristics of a pickup truck are hardly ever going to concern me unless that truck is specifically intended for off-road purposes. My Ford F-150 certainly doesn't have any specific hardening though my Jeep Wrangler--specifically designed for driving in higher-risk areas--has a full roll cage protecting the entire passenger area.

In almost every case where you hear of a rollover, the cause is either due to a vehicle with a much too high center of gravity being driven like an idiot or involved in a collision with something that impacts well below that center of gravity. Sure, under the 'right' conditions any vehicle can roll, but it is pretty well proven that most passenger vehicles WON'T roll until taken well outside their design parameters.

My own personal opinion is that Firestone was made the scapegoat in the old Ford Expedition rollover issue when the real cause was a suspension simply too soft for the size of the vehicle and even then it was almost always due to the relatively top-heavy truck involved in a collision or skidding into a curb. The one case showing the impact vehicle was significantly lower than the truck, lifting it off its wheels while the other is obviously due to poor vehicle control. If we're also talking about tire blowouts--then maybe we should look at Ford's original choice of an automotive-style tire for a light truck.

Yes, I agree safety is important and I'll agree that today's cars are much safer than they used to be. I won't necessarily say that about today's trucks. Worse, with some of the systems now government mandated for vehicles, they've actually made the trucks more top-heavy while manufacturers themselves aren't helping the matter by making them so much taller. Soft suspensions; 20" or larger wheels with 5" or more of sidewall; many cases of 9"-11" ground clearance; You're just asking for a rollover in ANY collision with a modern car as that car goes UNDER the truck. Sure, front or rear collisions are decently safe, but any side impact is almost sure to tip the truck, even if it does manage to fall back onto its wheels.

So now we have another reason why I don't like Road Whales™; they're "Unsafe At Any Speed".

"Even lugging the heavy crew-cab version, the V-6 provides what feels like sub-eight-second runs to 60 mph. Unlike the smaller-displacement V-6s from Ford and Ram, the 4.3-liter has good low-end grunt and consequently feels less strained than the competition. The car-derived Ford 3.7-liter V-6 and Ram 3.6-liter V-6 both make nearly 305 horsepower, but they fall short of the Sierra’s figure. The V-6 Sierra can tow 7200 pounds, which is 500 more than the V-6 Ford and 700 more than the V-6 Ram. This GM V-6 was designed from the git-go for truck use and is essentially a small-block Chevy V-8 with two fewer cylinders.
The rest of the Sierra experience is, not surprisingly, pure Silverado. No matter what engine is under the aluminum hood, both pickups have a quiet demeanor and soft ride, and a smaller feel from behind the wheel than that of those big-rig-emulating competitors. The Sierra’s steering is accurate and doesn’t require constant corrections. A firm and confidence-inspiring brake pedal is almost sports-car-like, and the braking distances recorded by the Sierra’s Chevrolet analog were class-leading."

As per Car and Driver....need I say more!

@Lou, Isn't the cheby's V8 gutless enough? Now you want to blow smoke about a V6 in a truck.

This video sums up a V6 in a full size truck. lol


P.S. Now Cheby has a mans step too. LMAO!

@Hemi V8 - sounds like you know all about "Cheby" mans and blowing.

Is this you and your old man?


@Lou, The new cheby commercials are all about a women and HER truck. LMAO!

@HEMI V8 - you spell that Chevy bonehead. I can understand how all the commercials pisses off a guy that swings in your direction. Here something that your mother and your boyfriend will enjoy.


The new Chevy commericals are also comparing the Chevy 5.3 V8 to EcoBoost. I thought the Chevy fanbois were crying that they shouldn't be compared. LMAO.

@Josh, they want to compare the 5.3 with 3.08 axle to the EcoBoost only for fuel economy and nothing else. When it comes to performance and capability they only want to be comparing the 6.2 to the EcoBoost. But don't dare mention fuel economy, cos then they will go back to the 5.3. You can flip flop like that when you don't actually plan on buying a truck. But in the real world, you have to pick one truck with all its pros and cons. It's kind of like the Ram ads that talk about how Ram gets 25 mpgs AND has 850 lb-ft of torque, with 30,000 lb towing. They don't mention they are not talking about the same truck.

@HemiV8 - looks like you have fallen victim to the fake Lou.

No victim here. Lou BC.lol Just feeding the trolls.

@HEMI V8 - That's funny.

@Vulpine - the problem with the Exploder was that it was made too narrow. Engineers wanted to build a wider SUV but bean counters settled on the narrower truck. IIRC, engineers felt that it needed to be 6 inches wider to yield a good compromise between safety and maneuverability. There must be joke in there somewhere about bean counters being intimidated by size.

@Lou - Glad you found it funny Lou but you should have used the KY last night my hemorrhoids are killing me now.

Still Love ya!

@Josh, they want to compare the 5.3 with 3.08 axle to the EcoBoost only for fuel economy and nothing else. When it comes to performance and capability they only want to be comparing the 6.2 to the EcoBoost. But don't dare mention fuel economy, cos then they will go back to the 5.3. You can flip flop like that when you don't actually plan on buying a truck. But in the real world, you have to pick one truck with all its pros and cons. It's kind of like the Ram ads that talk about how Ram gets 25 mpgs AND has 850 lb-ft of torque, with 30,000 lb towing. They don't mention they are not talking about the same truck.
Posted by: Alex | Sep 8, 2013 7:05:16 PM

@Alex, Exactly. Well stated.

@Vulpine - I do agree that there is some moderation of comments on this site which makes us wonder WTF is going on at The Duchess Show Lounge in Kamloops?

I do agree with many posters that I am riding on the reputation of the show lounge. They charge too much for old outdated products. The Duchess Show Lounge is going to fall from top spot as competition gets stiffer.

I read a story on Just Girls about the Camry. Male drivers have become queens even though Toyota denies it. Compete loss of testicles. It is the reality of any club selling products to men. Unlike Microsoft, The Duchess Show Lounge hasn't created a near monopoly allowing them to get away with selling crappy products.


Are a marketer or a seller?

I only sell PRODUCTS!

@TSP - I'm not sure what the Fake Lou's are selling.

@HemiV8 - Bob used to say that it only hurt the first few times.

The fake Lou's are pro GM. john doe or Bob possibly?

@josh, My vote is johnny for president.

johnny for president = john doe.

Since HemiV8 has completely disrupted this site one again, with his copying of names and multiple name usage here is a link to an interesting article from up the northern end of Australia.

They should let this pig live and feed it scraps and beer.


The comments to this entry are closed.