Which Full-Size Pickup Truck is the Safest? (2019 edition)

Which of the many full-sized pickups will keep you the safest in an accident? It’s a common question, and for good reason. These days, many pickup owners use their trucks for family duty instead of just for work. Naturally, owners grow more concerned with safety when they plan on having their whole family inside of the truck. Manufacturers have taken note, with modern trucks featuring more safety equipment than ever before. But which one does it best?

Which Full-Size Pickup Truck is the Safest? (2019 edition)According to the IIHS, here is the full range of 2018 and 2019 full-size pickups, ranked from safest to least safe. 

  1. 2019 Ram 1500 Crew Cab
  2. 2019 Ford F-150 Crew Cab
  3. 2019 Ford F-150 Extended Cab
  4. 2019 Nissan Titan Crew Cab
  5. 2019 Toyota Tundra Extended Cab
  6. 2018 GMC Sierra 1500 Extended Cab
  7. 2018 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 Extended Cab
  8. 2018 GMC Sierra 1500 Crew Cab
  9.  2018 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 Crew Cab
  10. 2019 Toyota Tundra Crew Cab
  11. 2018 Ram 1500 Extended Cab

Quite interesting how the list starts and ends with a Ram 1500, isn’t it? Well, keep reading as we dive into each pickup’s ratings to discover why they earned their respective scores.

A Word About the Safety Tests

Before we begin, we must discuss the tests that determined our winner. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety is responsible for the most stringent crash- and safety-tests in the United States.

Here are all of the tests that go into their ratings:

  • Small Front Overlap Crash Test
  • Moderate Overlap Crash Test
  • Side Crash Test
  • Roof Strength
  • Head Restraints and Seats
  • Front Crash Prevention
  • Headlights
  • LATCH (child seat anchors) ease of use

After each segment is tested, the institute issues a rating. These ratings come in four flavors: poor, marginal, acceptable, and good. Yes, in today’s hyperbolic world, the best rating you can get with the IIHS is “Good.”

The only area judged on a different scoring system is the Front Crash Prevention system. In this area, vehicles can receive either not available, basic, advanced, or superior. In this article, anything less than the best result in each category will be listed at the bottom of each truck’s write up. That way, you can judge for yourself which pickup is safe enough for you and your family.

2019 Ram 1500 Crew Cab

2019 Dodge Ram 1500 Crew Cab Laramie Sport 5.7 Hemi 4x4
2019 Dodge Ram 1500 Crew Cab Laramie Sport 5.7 Hemi 4×4 | Photo by Matti Blume

In the IIHS ratings, Ram’s new 2019 1500 Crew Cab is nearly flawless. It received the top “Good” rating in every one of the crash tests, including the new passenger-side small front overlap. None of the other pickups on this list have even been tested for this new requirement.

Another area where the Ram prevails is in the front crash prevention. With a total of 6 points awarded in these tests, the 2019 Ram 1500 earns a “Superior” rating.

Problem Areas

(Anything lower than a “Good” rating)

Headlights: Marginal

LATCH ease of use: Marginal

2019 Ford F-150 Super Crew

Another super safe truck, the Ford achieved great results with their latest 2019 F150 models. In crash tests, the F150 was perfect, except for the small front overlap passenger-side, which was not tested. Otherwise, every test resulted in a Good rating.

There is a sore spot for the F150, however. The headlights received the very lowest rating: Poor. Clearly, Ford will have to address this problem soon if it wants to take over the crown as safest full-size pickup. The only other demerit was with the LATCH system – the testers only awarded a Marginal rating there.

Problems Areas

(Anything lower than a “Good” rating)

Headlights: Poor

LATCH ease of use: Marginal

2019 Ford F-150 SuperCab

Unlike some other makes, the two Fords on the list received the exact same scores in both extended- and crew-cab configurations. So, everything from the SuperCrew write-up applies here as well.

Problems Areas

(Anything lower than a “Good” rating)

Headlights: Poor

LATCH ease of use: Marginal

2019 Nissan Titan Crew Cab (Gas)

At first blush, the Titan’s test results appear to be even better than the Fords that are higher up on the list. Look more closely, however, and it’s this pickup’s lack of front crash protection systems that caused it to fall short. It is a testament to the Titan’s stellar results in all other categories that it finished ahead of other trucks that do feature such systems.

Problems Areas

(Anything lower than a “Good” rating)

Headlights: Marginal

LATCH ease of use: Acceptable

Front Crash Protection: Not Available

2019 Toyota Tundra DoubleCab

It’s no surprise that Toyota’s aging Tundra can’t compete with the newest offerings from the domestic brands. If you think about it, this truck, which hasn’t been completely redesigned since it debuted in 2007, does commendably well, coming in mid-pack. The front crash prevention system received top honors, while the front overlap only receives an “Acceptable.”

Problems Areas

(Anything lower than a “Good” rating)

Small Overlap Front: Acceptable

Headlights: Marginal

LATCH ease of use: Marginal

2018 GMC Sierra 1500 DoubleCab

Next up on the list, we have three GM products. The highest-rated is the Sierra, which, like the Tundra, only faltered on the overlap test, as far as the crash tests are concerned. All GM trucks offer just a “basic” front crash prevention system, however.

Problems Areas

(Anything lower than a “Good” rating)

Small Overlap Front: Acceptable

Front Crash Prevention: Basic

Headlights: Acceptable

LATCH ease of use: Marginal

2018 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 Extended Cab

The Silverado’s scores mimic the Sierra’s, only with a “Poor” rating for headlights. Clearly, GM needs to work on their lighting situation to get a better score on this new test.

Problems Areas

(Anything lower than a “Good” rating)

Small Overlap Front: Acceptable

Front Crash Prevention: Basic

Headlights: Poor

LATCH ease of use: Marginal

2018 GMC Sierra 1500 Crew Cab

Interestingly, opting for the Crew Cab variation of the Sierra means taking a hit on a couple safety areas. Both the small front overlap and the LATCH system receive one score lower than on the DoubleCab model.

Problems Areas

(Anything lower than a “Good” rating)

Small Overlap Front: Marginal

Front Crash Prevention: Basic

Headlights: Acceptable

LATCH ease of use: Poor

2018 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 Crew Cab

The only model on this entire list to have received a Poor rating for both headlights and LATCH system. I guess this makes the Silverado the worst choice for those who like to take nighttime drives with their children in tow.

While a front-crash prevention system is available, it received the lowest possible score for a pickup with such a system installed.

Problems Areas

(Anything lower than a “Good” rating)

Small Overlap Front: Acceptable

Front Crash Prevention: Basic

Headlights: Poor

LATCH ease of use: Poor

2019 Toyota Tundra CrewMax

The Crew Cab Toyota is the first pickup on the list to not receive a “Good” rating in the roof strength test. It also fared worse than its extended-cab sibling in the front overlap test. Interestingly, the LATCH system received a slightly higher rating than in the extended cab version.

The good news is that even the lowest-scoring Tundra still received the “Superior” rating for its front crash prevention system.

Problems Areas

(Anything lower than a “Good” rating)

Small Overlap Front: Marginal

Roof Strength: Acceptable

Headlights: Marginal

LATCH ease of use: Acceptable

2018 Ram 1500 Quad Cab

The good news for Ram is that their last-place finish was last year’s model, whereas their new 2019 Crew Cab pickup bested all comers. That means buyers of the new 2019 Rams have reasonable assurance that most, if not all of these problems have been fixed on their all-new extended cab models.

That said, anyone shopping for the 2018 models should know that these models have some serious safety concerns compared to all of the other pickups here. It didn’t just finish last, it was miles behind even the Tundra Crew Cab.

Problems Areas

(Anything lower than a “Good” rating)

Small Overlap Front: Marginal

Roof Strength: Marginal

Front Crash Prevention: Not Available

Headlights: Marginal

LATCH ease of use: Marginal

A Word About These Results

It is worth noting that many of these models were judged with optional safety equipment installed, such as front crash prevention systems and upgraded headlights. So, really, these ratings are the best-case scenario for each vehicle. To see the full scope of the tests and results for each vehicle, check out the IIHS results for yourself. If the model you are looking at does not include some of the tested safety features, you can probably assume that it would fare worse on these tests than scores shown on the IIHS site.

Are Pickup Trucks Safer than Cars?

Of course, we limited our safety discussion to full-size pickups here. But are they the safest vehicles on the road?

You will get many answers to this question when you start researching it. But what cannot be denied is that they are, on average, much heavier than most other types of vehicles, save for some full-size SUVs. And, when two vehicles collide, the heavier vehicle will exert more force on the smaller car. Even loaded down with the latest in collision avoidance technology and airbags, passengers in the smaller vehicle are going to feel the effects more than the truck occupants.

Sounds like a no-brainer then that trucks are the safer choice, right? Well, not quite. Notice how none of these pickups receive a top safety pick from the IIHS? That’s mostly because manufacturers haven’t given these trucks the full safety treatment that many cars receive, especially when it comes to headlights and LATCH systems.

Another thing to consider is that, even though pickups are heavier than most other vehicles they are likely to come into contact with, they are also more prone to rolling over. This is thanks to their higher centers of gravity, which help give them their off-road chops. So, while pickups might feel safer than any other vehicle on the road because of their immense size and weight, they can actually fare worse than standard cars and crossovers in some situations.

In Conclusion

Automobile safety is advancing at break-neck speed lately. There is no question that, no matter which truck on the list you look at, it will be much safer than anything for sale even just 10 years ago. This is thanks to the many advancements automakers are making, as well as the changes more rigorous crash testing procedures encourage. Still, many buyers still want to have the safest model available.

And when it comes to your family’s safety, who can blame them? Study those crash tests and decide for yourself which truck will be the safest for your family.

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