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Status Report, Vol. 44, No. 1 | February 14, 2009 Subscribe

Three large pickups don't live up to brawny image in side tests

The Chevrolet Silverado 1500, Dodge Ram 1500, and Nissan Titan are billed as workhorses, but the side crash protection these 2009 large pickups provide is wimpy, at best. All three earn either poor or marginal ratings in the Institute's side crash test. Even with side airbags, occupant protection in the crew-cab pickups is no better than marginal.

"The size, weight, and height of these large pickup trucks should help them ace the side test just like the other large pickups we've tested," says Institute senior vice president David Zuby. "Not these three. They perform worse than many cars we've evaluated."

The Ram with standard side airbags earns a marginal rating. The Titan and Silverado earn poor ratings when tested without their optional side airbags. The Titan's side rating improves to marginal in models tested with side airbags, while the Silverado's optional side airbags don't improve its rating over models without them. The Silverado's rating also applies to its twin GMC Sierra 1500.

"It's certainly possible to design a large pickup that offers good occupant protection in side crashes," Zuby says. Three previously evaluated 2009 models are Institute Top Safety Pick award winners. The Honda Ridgeline, Ford F-150, and Toyota Tundra all have standard side airbags with torso and head protection and good-rated structures.

The Institute's side test assesses occupant protection in vehicles struck in the side by SUVs or pickups.

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