Crash tests show growing safety of new-gen pickups

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The greatest evidence of the enhanced safety of pickups is visible in photographs that document the results of the small overlap crash tests of the IIHS of the 20100 Ram 1500, along with the testing of the Ford F-150, Nissan Titan and Toyota. Tundra.

Consumers have a number of reasons to love pickups: unparalleled usability, space, their now extravagant comfort.

But there is another reason: they have become some of the safest vehicles on the road.

Crash tests from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety have shown how violent the latest pickups have become, even compared to trucks from just a few years ago.

Pickups already had a physical advantage in traffic because of their mass, especially when interacting with smaller, lighter vehicles. But changes in the frames and other structural members of the latest pickups – the stuff that most consumers do not see or think about until they hit something – make safekeeping for drivers and passengers alike.

& # 39; Definitely improve & # 39;

"Pick-up trucks are definitely improving", says Becky Mueller, a senior research engineer at IIHS and the lead engineer for small overlapping tests on the driver and passenger side. "When we first started testing, everyone was in the" marginal "or" bad "assessment, but it's a challenge for car manufacturers because these vehicles are so big and their passenger compartments are so concentrated. "

The biggest proof of their progress can be seen in photos that document the results of the small overlap crash tests of the IIHS Ram 1500 – released this month – along with the testing of the Ford F-150, Nissan Titan and Toyota Tundra. . Testing on General Motors & redesigned full-size pickups has to be done this month, said Russ Rader spokesman IIHS.

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Small overlap crash tests hit the vehicle in a concrete stop that only comes into contact with a part of the front, roughly the width of the front wheel. Four reviews are possible: "good", "acceptable", "marginal" and "bad".

The test – which was implemented in 2012 to simulate a fixed object such as a mast – has been difficult for many car manufacturers and forces them to make reinforcements to ensure that the front wheels do not protrude into the passenger cabin.

Mueller said that larger vehicles have a bigger challenge in crash tests because the test simulates that a vehicle of similar size and shape is hit. "We know that in a larger vehicle, such as a pick-up, you are inherently in a safer vehicle because you have a tendency to win against smaller objects and vehicles around you."

Wheel blockers

In 2015, Ford solved this problem by using steel horns – known by most engineers as wheel blockers – on the frame of some F-150 versions. (Later it spread the wheel blockers over all F-150's.) The wheel blockers divert the energy of the collision from the passenger cabin.

Other car manufacturers took note, but continued to develop their own solutions for their next generation pickups.

For the redesigned 20100 Ram 1500 FCA has built in a so-called "mirrored" frame, in which the front elements of the frame are spread out on both sides of the pick-up – and the wheel is protected during the process.

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FCA kept the wheel blockers on the front wheels, but also included other energy management structures in its design to focus the energy on a collision away from passengers. The changes were sufficient to give the Ram its first "good" rating in all six IIHS crash tests.

This year before the Ram pick-up was tested, the latest version of the Nissan Titan joined the Ford F-150 as the only full-size pickups that earned a "good" rating in the small compensated crash test.

Like Ford, at the end of 2017, Nissan adapted the frame to improve passenger protection by leading the wheel away from the passenger cabin.

Although the 2019 Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra have not yet been tested by IIHS, GM has improved the frames of the pickups and processed other technologies to prevent the front wheels from entering the cab. The Silverado double cabin 2016 received an "acceptable" rating from IIHS, while the 2016 crew cabin was rated "marginal".