The increasing popularity of crew cab pickup trucks is due to their practicality and the ability to accommodate families. However, recent research from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) has discovered that these vehicles may not provide adequate protection for rear seat passengers in the event of an accident. The 2023 Ford F-150, Chevrolet Silverado, Ram 1500, and Toyota Tundra were subjected to the updated "moderate overlap front" crash test and side crash test conducted by the IIHS.

All four of these vehicles provided satisfactory protection for front seat passengers. However, they struggled when it came to rear seat safety. A dummy designed to simulate a 12-year-old was used in the tests, primarily focusing on the safety of the head, neck, and chest areas. The primary issue identified was "submarining," where the rear seat passengers slid down and forward due to insufficient restraint and kinematics.

Here are the key findings from the tests:

  • Toyota Tundra Crew Cab had the best performance, receiving a "marginal" rating in the moderate overlap front crash test.
  • Ford F-150, Chevrolet Silverado, and Ram 1500 all received "poor" ratings for their lack of protection for rear seat passengers.
  • All four pickups had "poor" ratings in the rear passenger restraint and kinematics portion of the test, due to submarining issues.
  • American pickups also had high belt forces, further contributing to inadequate protection for rear seat passengers.

It's worth noting that pickup trucks are not the only vehicles that have struggled in the updated IIHS tests. Historically, automakers focused their efforts on front seat safety due to the test parameters.

However, as front seat safety has improved, rear seat safety has become a focal point for the IIHS. To receive the organization's "Top Safety Pick" award, a vehicle must perform well in both front and rear safety tests. None of the aforementioned pickup trucks are eligible for the award under the current criteria.

Despite these findings, the IIHS emphasizes that the rear seat is still the safest place for small children, as they may be injured by airbags in the front seat. The test results do not examine car seat safety.