In 2006, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) introduced its Top Safety Pick rating for vehicles that passed its test with flying colors. But to raise the bar even higher, the IIHS introduced the Top Safety Pick+ rating in 2013, and is reserved for vehicles that pass the test with a “Good” rating in every category. For 2019, that means passing the driver-side small overlap front, passenger-side small overlap front, moderate overlap front, side, roof strength and head restraint tests all with a ‘Good’ rating – the highest possible. Additionally, the vehicles must demonstrate either ‘Superior’ or ‘Advanced’ front crash protection, and must also have a ‘Good’ headlight rating for optimal nighttime visibility. Surprisingly, there has yet to be a full size pickup truck to pick up this coveted rating, until the 2020 Ram 1500 Crew Cab passed the test.
The 2020 Ram 1500 Crew Cab takes the highest rating given by the IIHS thanks to an improved headlight design. Specifically, it pertains to trucks equipped with adaptive LED projector headlamps that have high-beam assist and Automatic Emergency Braking (AEB) technology.
Of the six crashworthiness evaluations conducted by the IIHS, three simulate frontal impacts. And the Ram 1500 recorded ‘Good’ results in each. Per the criteria, 2020 Ram 1500 scored the same in the three remaining crashworthiness tests: side impact, rear impact and rollover.
Forward Collision Mitigation in the 2020 Ram 1500 earned a “superior” rating from IIHS. The optional feature blends camera capability with radar detection to determine when an impact is imminent. The system initially warns the driver to take action to avoid a collision. If the driver does not act in a timely manner, the system may activate the vehicle’s brakes if collision risk remains.
We personally have found that a perfectly alert driver who is attentive to the task at hand behind the wheel (ie: not texting and driving or distracted by a touchscreen) does not need this kind of technology.
Other full size trucks have come very close to earning the IIHS Top Safety Pick+ rating before, but ultimately fell just short because of their headlights. This included the 2019 model year Ram 1500. The LED projector headlights on the most expensive trims received a ‘Poor’ rating for creating excessive glare in previous test. That sent FCA engineers back to the drawing board, and released a rolling update for models built after May 2019. They now pass with the highest possible ‘Good’ rating, and sealed the deal for a Top Safety Pick+ award.
The latest accolades just add to the already decorated mantle of the fifth-generation Ram 1500 pickup. It also has taken home the Motor Trend Truck of the Year award, and North American Truck of the Year, while its eTorque V6 powertrain found a place among Wards 10 Best Engines.
The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety arguably has the most stringent crash worthiness rating system in America – even more so than the government’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). This is because of unique crash tests such as its various overlap impact tests and a more modern side impact test that reveal more about a vehicle’s crash structure than the tests from NHTSA. The IIHS is not a government entity, and its rating system serves as another tool for customers looking to drive a vehicle based on safety.
That said, the IIHS does stress that its awards identify the best vehicle choices for safety within size categories during a given year. Larger, heavier vehicles generally afford more protection than smaller, lighter ones. Thus, a small car that qualifies for an award might not protect its occupants as well as a bigger vehicle that doesn’t earn the award.