The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration recently implemented a revised test procedure for it’s 5-star New Car Assessment Program (NCAP) vehicle safety rating system and now, has issued results conducted with four 2011 model year pickup trucks – the Chevy Silverado/GMC Sierra 1500, Ram 1500 and Toyota Tacoma.
NHTSA’s new NCAP test results are calculated using the probabilities of injury in determining frontal, side and rollover ratings, but now incorporate different sized dummies for more ‘accurate’ measuring and a new side impact ‘pole test’ as part of the program. The results of the crash tests are awarded ‘stars’ based on the ‘level’ of injury risk related to a defined average from those individual front, side and roll-over tests – five stars being the best above average, one star being the worst.
And based on those ratings, among the four trucks tested, the Silverado/Sierra scored the highest overall rating – earning an average ‘four-stars’ for occupant safety – including a 5-star award for driver frontal crash protection on extended cab models and five-stars for side impact testing – including the new pole test that simulates the impact of hitting a pole or tree at 20 mph, just behind the A-pillar. Rollover ratings were 4-stars on both trucks.
The Toyota Tacoma also received an overall ’4-star’ rating but didn’t fare as well as GM twins in frontal and side impact testing.
The 2011 Ram 4×4 garnered a 3-star safety rating largely due to average ratings in frontal driver and passenger protection and just a one-star rating in the new pole test, though interestingly, two-wheel drive Rams tested were awarded an overall NCAP rating of 4-stars.
NHTSA is the first to indicate that because of the changes in the new tests, like adding different sized dummies and the pole test, direct comparison between the 2011 and 2010 NCAP tests can’t be drawn, though it will be interesting to see how some of other pickups on the market will fare in the tests, particularly the current F-150 and the compact Ranger.