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What's the safest pickup on the road?

Only one pickup truck tested has received a top safety rating from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety: Ford's (F) F-150.

That rating was issued after the so-called small overlap crash test, which approximates one corner of a vehicle clipping a tree or utility pole. This was the first time most pickups had been subjected to this difficult test. The F-150 SuperCab is alone in getting a Good rating for occupant protection. The others -- Chevrolet, Toyota and Ram models -- ranged from a second-level Acceptable rating to a Marginal rating.

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Except for the F-150, "Drivers in these pickups would need help freeing their legs from the wreckage following a small overlap crash," said Raul Arbelaez, vice president of the Institute's vehicle research center.

The IIHS tested two popular versions of the large pickups -- crew cabs and extended cabs. Crew cabs have four doors and two full rows of seats, while extended cabs have only small rear doors and narrow seats in the back.

Last year, the 2015 F-150 crew cab got a Good rating in the small overlap test but the extended cab did not. After structural alterations for 2016, the extended-cab version -- known as SuperCab in Ford's marketing -- also earned a Good rating. "We commend Ford for taking last year's test results to heart and upgrading protection for SuperCab occupants," said Arbelaez.

Here are details on ratings for the pickups in the tests:

  • Ford F-150 The F-150 SuperCab not only did well in the small overlap test but also in the other tests -- moderate overlap front-end crash, side collision and rollover accidents. That combination earned it the Top Safety Pick. For the first time in 2016, the F-150 offers a system aimed at preventing front-end crashes. But it fell short of the very highest Top Safety Pick Plus because that front-end crash prevention system wasn't highly rated enough.
  • Chevrolet Silverado 1500 The Silverado extended cab, known as Double Cab, got an Acceptable rating in the small overlap test, while its Crew Cab was rated as Marginal. Like the F-150, both Silverado versions got Good ratings in the moderate overlap, side and rollover crashes. And it also offers an optional front-end crash prevention system. But the relatively poor showing in the small overlap test kept it from a top rating. (The Silverado's ratings apply also to its structural twin the GMC Sierra 1500.)
  • Toyota TundraThe Tundra extended cab, known as Double Cab, got an Acceptable rating in the small overlap test, while its CrewMax crew cab got a Marginal rating. Both got Good ratings in all the other tests, except the rollover test. The Double Cab got a Good rollover rating and Crew Max earned an Acceptable.|
  • Ram 1500 Overall, the Ram fared worse than its competitors. Both the Quad Cab and Crew Cab versions got Marginal ratings in the small overlap tests. They did get Good ratings in the front moderate overlap and side tests. But unlike the others, both Ram versions got only a Marginal rating on roof strength in a rollover accident. "Keeping the roof from collapsing when a vehicle rolls over is particularly important in pickups because 44 percent of occupant deaths in pickups are in rollovers," the IIHS said in its release.
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