Pickup trucks not perfect, but 5 make safety priority

James Raia

Ford will soon debut a new generation of trucks.

Pickup trucks always seem safe. Sitting high off the road and in a vehicle with all-wheel drive or 4WD capacity provides a sense of security. But trucks don’t always have top safety ratings.

No 2020 pickup trucks so far have received a Top Safety Pick or a Top Safety Pick+ — the highest ratings — according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS).

Ford F-150 pickup trucks and Ford Expedition SUVs are being recalled.
The 2020 Ford F-150 pickup truck is extremely popular but it didn’t receive perfect safety scores.

Not all 2020 models have IIHS ratings yet, but at least three reasons contribute to trucks’ surprising ratings.

Do pickup trucks seem too safe?

Truck drivers, feeling safe, sometimes drive too aggressively in inclement weather. Pickup trucks often have body-on-frame construction and accident impact results are often severe. Some automakers may also focus on their cars to gain the highest safety marks, but not their trucks.


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According to IIHS data, trucks often don’t get top marks in the passenger-side small overlap front test and the headlight evaluation.

Still, here are five popular 2020 model-year pickup trucks that achieved the best safety marks in the segment:

Ram 1500 Crew Cab (with optional equipment). It was the first full-size pickup truck to earn a 2019 Top Safety Pick+ designation from the IIHS. It didn’t get to the top rating this year because it lacks pedestrian sensing for its front crash prevention technology.

The Honda Ridgeline is the most enduring truck list of the top-15 vehicle woth the highest percent reaching 200,000 miles.
The Honda Ridgeline is among the pickup trucks with the highest percent reaching 200,000 miles.

Honda Ridgeline. It’s rare among trucks with its unibody construction. It has the front-wheel-drive, car-based platform Honda uses on cars and SUVs. Newly standard this year is Honda Sensing driver-assistance and safety features. A healthy supply of safety equipment is also standard. It didn’t get the top rating this year because it ranked only Acceptable in the small-overlap front passenger-side test.

Toyota Tacoma. It’s been around for a long time and features a lot of standard safety equipment including the Toyota Safety Sense P suite. The Tacoma gets top ratings in several categories this year, but it doesn’t have the top mark in the passenger-side front offset test. And it received only a Marginal rating in models with halogen headlights.

The 2019 Ford Ranger marks the return of the midsize truck for the first time on eight years
The 2019 Ford Ranger marks the return of the pickup truck for the first time in eight years.

Ford Ranger. After an eight-year hiatus, the Ranger returned as a 2019 model and was upgraded this year and offered in new colors. Co-Pilot360, the manufacturer’s safety package name, is standard on every trim level. It includes automatic emergency braking, curve control, forward collision monitoring and a rearview camera. But headlights rated only as Marginal prohibited the truck from being a Top Safety Pick.

Ford F-150. The country’s top-selling vehicle for decades, the Ford F-150 features forward collision warning and automatic emergency braking. Available equipment, depending upon the model, includes blind-spot monitoring with cross-traffic alert, automatic high-beam headlights, inflatable rear seatbelts and Ford Co-Pilot360. All tests were top-ranked except for a poor rating for headlights.

Article Last Updated: May 4, 2020.

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