2016 Toyota Tacoma front 3/4 off-road
When folks come looking for today’s safest trucks, they may be in for a surprise or two. For example, even though many sources say that bigger, heavier vehicles tend to do better in impacts, a number of pickups and other trucks are still unable to achieve top safety scores from NHTSA or the IIHS. On the other hand, customers will find an increasing range of today’s top driver-assistance measures, including blind-spot monitors and lane-keeping technology. Here’s a quick rundown:
Making its case as the safest truck in the country is the 2015 Ford F-150 SuperCrew, which is the only pickup to have earned aTop Safety Pick recognition from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). Indeed, that model scored the IIHS’ highest possible “good” grades in all physical testing, including the notoriously challenging small-overlap front-impact evaluation, and was given a “basic” rating for its front crash-prevention technology. Also in the mix here: a lane-keeping system, Ford’s Blind Spot Information System with cross-traffic alert, adaptive cruise control, brake support, a 360-degree split-view display, and Curve Control—developed to help slow the vehicle if sensors detect it is entering a turn too quickly. The 2016 Ford F-150 has further achieved a 5-Star Overall Safety Score from NHTSA, in all body styles, with 5 stars for both frontal- and side-crash performance and a 4-star rating for rollover roof strength.
The 2015 Chevrolet Silverado lineup also scored a 5-star hat-trick with NHTSA, thanks to top Overall Star Ratings for all three of its cab styles—regular, extended and crew. More specifically, the trio touts 5-star performances in frontal-crash and side-crash testing, along with a 4-star grade for rollover roof strength, with NHTSA also recognizing the Chevy for offering two “Recommended Technologies,” for forward-collision and lane-departure warnings. A rear-vision camera is available as well, while the Bowtie brand promises that “additional safety technologies” will debut for the 2016 model year as part of a mid-cycle upgrade to the truck. At the point, not only will the Silverado stand out as one of the market’s safest pickups, but it will also distinguishes itself with a refreshed, more sculpted front-end appearance, a wider application of the Chevy’s eight-speed automatic transmission and, for advanced smartphone integration, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.
Unsurprisingly, the 2016 GMC Sierra matches the 5-Star Overall Safety Rating of its Chevy Silverado corporate cousin, but it also ups the ante a bit in terms of driver-assistance technologies, no doubt as part of its Pro Grade premium positioning—which is significantly bolstered for the new model year. Thus, instead of a mere lane-departure warning, the Sierra can supply a full-on lane-keeping system that will gently nudge the steering wheel to help keep the truck from drifting off course. Moreover, the GMC entry is the only one in its class with the GM safety seat, developed to provide tactile, directional alerts about potential road hazards by using seat vibrations. And if that doesn’t make the Sierra one of the safest trucks around, drivers also can benefit from more common technologies like forward-collision alert, automatic high-beam headlight control and a rearview camera.
The 2016 Nissan Titan XD will be a full-size pickup with a difference—a diesel difference, that is, courtesy of a 5.0-liter turbodiesel V8 from Cummins. Capable of kicking out 310 hp and 555 lb.-ft. of torque, towing more than 12,000 lbs. and handling a payload of up to 2,000 lbs., that unit provides the XD with “the effortless towing and hauling of the larger, more expensive heavy-duty trucks,” according to the brand, along with “the fuel-efficiency and affordability of a half-ton pickup.” For our purposes, that robust capability also will be complemented by high-tech driving aids such as blind-spot warning, front and rear sonar systems, and both rear- and around-view monitors with moving object detection. So there’s a good chance that the Titan will be one of the market’s safest trucks when it launches late this year.
Some might say the 2016 Cadillac Escalade stretches the limits of what it means to be a “truck,” but as long as that definition—and the Escalade itself—retain a dedication to body-on-frame construction, this big Caddy definitely qualifies. That being said, this is one luxurious example of the segment, complete with a portfolio of premium passenger protection measures that adds lane-keeping assistance for 2016. Shoppers searching for the safest trucks also will find the Escalade offering front and rear automatic braking, forward-collision alert, automatic high beams, a 360-degree camera system, adaptive cruise control, side blind-zone alert, rear cross-traffic alert and lane-change alert. Cadillac does a little envelope-stretching here, too, with features like automatic safety-belt tightening and a front center air bag for extra first-row protection in side-impact crashes. Finally, Cadillac caps off those advantages with unmistakable Escalade style details—like an eye-catching LED light signature—and a 420-hp, 6.2-liter V8.
The 2016 Toyota Tacoma continues to offer a typically truck-like ownership experience, although its recent renovations did reveal some notable next-get safety technologies, including a rearview camera, blind-spot monitor and rear cross-traffic alert. Now, those are exactly the kind of features that you should expect in today’s safest pickups, and they’re joined in the new Tacoma by premium touches like Qi wireless charging, keyless access and push-button start, and an upgraded Entune infotainment setup with 6.1-inch touchscreen, advanced voice recognition, Siri Eyes Free, and Bluetooth for both hands-free calling and audio streaming. Then, all that new content can be combined with a newly available V6 engine that carries 278 hp—42 more than in the 2015 Tacoma V6—and 265 lb.-ft. of torque. As a result, the Tacoma is a safe bet to stay on the top of the mid-size pickup best-seller’s list for the foreseeable future.
Photo by Benjamin Hunting
The Bowtie brand helped re-invigorate the mid-size pickup segment with the launch of the current Chevy Colorado, and a key part of the truck’s success has been its introduction of modern-day technologies to that section of the marketplace. Consider: the Colorado was the first mid-size pickup—along with its GMC Canyon corporate counterpart—to furnish owners with forward-collision alert and lane-departure warning; nowadays, it also delivers a standard rearview camera system, just like any of the country’s safest trucks. But the new-generation appeal of the Colorado additionally goes beyond occupant protection, so that the pickup’s MyLink infotainment suite—already available with 4G LTE connectivity and a mobile wifi hotspot—has been enhanced once again for the 2016 Chevrolet Colorado with the debut of Apple CarPlay smartphone integration. Nor has Chevy neglected “true” truck enthusiasts with the latest round of revisions, as among the changes in line for the truck is the debut of a 2.8-liter Duramax turbodiesel engine.
Life sure has changed for the Land Cruiser: originally an off-road favorite featuring Jeep-like capabilities, the latest edition is the brand’s range-topping luxury SUV, albeit one that still rides on a rugged body-on-frame platform. The 2016 Toyota Land Cruiser takes things in an even more premium direction, but as is often the case, it’s the more upscale trucks that also happen to be the safest trucks. That’s because, of course, those vehicles’ premium MSRPs cover such sophisticated features as the Toyota Safety Sense-P system. Standard in the Land Cruiser, this setup bundles a pre-collision system, frontal-collision avoidance, pedestrian protection technology, frontal-collision mitigation, lane-departure alert, automatic high beams and the company’s Dynamic Radar Cruise Control. Oh, and while a blind-spot monitor, rear cross-traffic alert and rearview camera aren’t part of that package per se, those latter features are standard as well, as are trail-tackling technologies like full-time 4WD and a two-speed transfer case.
Photo by Toyota
While the grandest Canyon—an anticipated Canyon Denali—remains a rumor at this stage in the game, the rest of the lineup is on track to be among the safest trucks for midsize-pickup owners. After all, the 2016 GMC Canyon matches its Chevrolet rival in terms of forward-collision alert, lane-departure warning and a rearview camera setup, even as the Professional Grade entry does provide a more lux-like setting. Indeed, WardsAuto honored the 2015 model for showcasing one of the 10 Best Interiors of the year. For 2016, the truck will be treated to Apple CarPlay smartphone integration and the new Duramax turbodiesel engine that will serve up a steep 369 lb.-ft. of torque, an SAE-certified 181 hp and a top trailering maximum of 7,700—yet even with that type of potent power, diesel owners are expected to enjoy the best fuel-economy ratings in the entire Canyon crew.
Photo by Benjamin Hunting
The 2016 RAM 1500 wasn’t quite ready for its official reveal when this list went to press, but “Automotive News” is reporting that the new model year could bring a new safety achievement for the truck: In an attempt to earn IIHS Top Safety Pick status, engineers are beefing up the truck’s frame with reinforcements that were specifically designed for added protection in small-overlap frontal impacts. Needless to say, accomplishing that task would go a long way toward securing the Ram’s reputation as one of the segment’s safest trucks (although the IIHS full-size pickup testing will continue through the fall of this year).