Safest Pickup Trucks of 2021

January 10th, 2022 by

Pickup trucks have a variety of structural, interior, and exterior safety characteristics to ensure passenger protection. Manufacturers are now installing the same safety technology in cars and trucks, which is a gamechanger. Here is our list of the safest pickup trucks of 2021.

Safety Ratings

We’ve rated our top picks using data from National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and Insurance Institute of Highway Safety. Many popular auto review websites, such as Kelley Blue Book, J.D. Power, and Consumer Reports, rely heavily on these safety ratings to form their expert opinions. Here is an overview of the criteria used.

National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NTHSA) has developed a five-star rating program to “provide consumers with information about the crash protection and rollover safety of new vehicles beyond what is required by Federal law.” Vehicles are ranked on a scale of one to five, with one being the worst and five being the best. The rating categories are overall rating, frontal crash, side crash, and rollover. These tests are based on the majority of U.S. crashes. The dummies in the scenarios represent an average-size male and small-size female. The NTHSA’s website contains more specific information about the test scenarios for those seeking details.

Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) evaluates the crashworthiness (how well a vehicle protects occupants in a crash) and crash avoidance and mitigation (technology that prevents or lessens the severity of a crash). The IIHS rating scale* is as follows:

Best

 

 

Worst 

Good

Acceptable

Marginal

Poor

Superior

Advanced

Basic

 

*Some ratings are on a scale from Good to Poor, others are scaled from Superior to Basic.

2021 Ram 1500

2021 Chevrolet Silverado 1500

2021 GMC Sierra 1500

2021 Honda Ridgeline

2021 Toyota Tacoma

2021 Ford Ranger

Comparison Charts

2021 Ram 1500

The 2021 Ram 1500 is the only pickup truck to be chosen as an IIHS 2021 top safety pick (for the crew cab with optional front crash protection and upgraded LED headlights). The Ram 1500 has high ratings for IIHS’s crashworthiness testing. Test findings report that frontal and side airbags protect a driver’s head from the vehicle structure or outside objects and there is optimal space between the driver’s seat, door, steering wheel, and dashboard in a crash.

National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) Rating

Overall Rating: 5/5 (crew cab); 4/5 (classic crew and quad models)

Frontal Crash: 4/5

Side Crash: 5/5

Rollover: 3 or 4/5

Notable Safety Features

  • Innovative Trailering Features
  • Smart Braking Technology
  • Guided Parking
  • Blind Spot Monitoring
  • Landsense® Lane Departure Warning
  • 360° Surround View Camera
  • 14.9″ Standard Brakes
  • High-Strength Steel Frame
  • Advanced Airbag Protection
  • 6 Airbags

2021 Chevrolet Silverado 1500

The 2021 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 has extensive trailering technology compatible with a smartphone app. It comes in seven trims with a diesel or gas engine. Although it was not a IIHS top safety pick, the Chevy Silverado 1500 crew cab pickup had high crash test ratings. It rated high in crashworthiness and front crash prevention: vehicle-to-vehicle. Crash tests showed that the driver’s seat position is safe in relation to the door frame, steering wheel, and dashboard in a crash, but that a crash carries a moderate risk of injuries to the left foot and lower right leg.

NHTSA Rating

Overall Rating: 4/5

Frontal Crash: 4/5

Side Crash: 5/5

Rollover: 4/5

Notable Safety Features:

  • Up to 15 Camera Views
  • Roll-Formed High-Strength-Steel Construction
  • Multi-Flex Tailgate
  • Heads-Up Display
  • Forward Collision Alert
  • Automatic Emergency Braking
  • Adaptive Cruise Control
  • Front Pedestrian Braking
  • Lane Change Alert With Side Blind Zone Alert
  • Front and Rear Parking Assist
  • Forward Collision Alert

2021 GMC Sierra 1500

This light-duty pickup truck comes in three trims with a diesel or gas engine. Drivers can utilize up to 15 camera views to safely view their surroundings. The 2021 GMC Sierra 1500 crew cab has overall strong IIHS crashworthiness ratings, including driver-side crash, roof strength, and head restraints and seats. It got a marginal rating for overall evaluation for a crash on the passenger side. The Sierra 1500 received an impressive “superior” in the front crash prevention: vehicle-to-vehicle, when the following were present: automatic emergency braking, forward collision alert, and Safety Confidence Package or Driver Alert Package II.

NHTSA Rating (out of ranked models)

Overall Rating: 4/5

Frontal Crash: 4/5

Side Crash: 5/5

Rollover: 4/5

Notable Safety Features:

  • Up to 15 Camera Views
  • 15″ Diagonal Head-Up Display
  • Rear Camera Mirror
  • Prograde Trailering System
  • Multicolor 7″ or 8″ Diagonal Touch-Screen
  • Apple Carplay™ And Android Auto™
  • Available Navigation
  • Available Wi-Fi Hotspot
  • In-Vehicle Trailering App
  • Available Adaptive Cruise Control
  • Available Front and Rear Park Assist
  • Teen Driver Mode

2021 Honda Ridgeline

The 2021 Honda Ridgeline is a spacious, stylish, and safe ride. Drivers have the choice of one of four trims with a gas-powered engine. IIHS gives the 2021 Honda Ridgeline crew cab predominantly positive results, including the highest ranking in driver-side crashworthiness, side and roof strength, and head restraints and seats (in a crash). It also scored a “superior” in front crash prevention: vehicle-to-vehicle for its standard safety system.

NHTSA Rating

Overall Rating: 5/5

Frontal Crash: 5/5

Side Crash: 5/5

Rollover: 4/5

Safety features

  • Advanced Compatibility Engineering™ Body Structure
  • Front and Side Airbags
  • Side Curtain Airbags with Rollover Sensor
  • Anti-Lock Braking System
  • Electronic Brake Distribution
  • Brake Assist
  • Vehicle Stability Assist™ with Traction Control
  • Lower Anchors and Tethers for Children (LATCH) System in All Second-Row Seating Positions
  • Child-Proof Rear Door Locks
  • Tire Pressure Monitoring System
  • Daytime Running Lights
  • Multi-Angle Rearview Camera

2021 Toyota Tacoma

There are six 2021 Toyota Tacoma models and all boast extensive off-roading capabilities. They include sturdy wheels, cargo space, 120V outlets, heavy-duty tie-down cleats, and much more. The 2021 Toyota Tacoma has a few gas-powered engine options, and the 2022 models will offer diesel engines as an option. The IIHS gives the 2021 Toyota Tacoma crew cab pickup high ratings and a superior vehicle-to-vehicle crash rating for standard pre-collision system with pedestrian detection.

NHTSA Rating (out of ranked models)

Overall Rating: 4/5

Frontal Crash: 4/5

Side Crash: 5/5

Rollover: 3/5

Safety Features:

  • Toyota Safety Sense™ P (TSS-P)
  • Star Safety System™
  • Lane Departure Alert
  • Automatic High Beams
  • Pre-Collision System with Pedestrian Detection
  • Dynamic Radar Cruise Control
  • Traction Control
  • Brake Assist
  • Smart Stop Technologies
  • Anti-Lock Brake System
  • Vehicle Stability Controls
  • Blind Spot Monitoring with Rear Cross-Traffic Alert

2021 Ford Ranger

The 2021 Ford Ranger has three similar models and three cab size options. The Ford Ranger is a great truck for everyday commutes, long drives, and off-roading adventures. The 2021 Ford Ranger crew cab pickup has a majority of high ratings from IIHS, with average ratings for headlights and structure and safety on the left lower side. The Ford Ranger has a superior vehicle-to-vehicle crash rating for its standard pre-collision assist with automatic emergency braking and an advanced rating for vehicle-to-pedestrian crash.

NHTSA Rating

Overall Rating: 5/5

Frontal Crash: 5/5

Side Crash: 5/5

Rollover: 4/5

Safety Features:

  • Ford Co-Pilot360™ Technology
  • Lane-Keeping System
  • Blind-Spot Information System
  • Rear View Camera
  • Pre-Collison Assist with Emergency Braking
  • Auto High-Beam Headlamps
  • Anti-Lock Brakes
  • Stability Control
  • Front-Impact Airbags
  • Security System
  • Adaptive Cruise Control
  • Forward Collision Warning with Brake Support
  • Auto High Beams
  • Rear View Camera

Comparison Charts


With over 50 years of fleet consulting experience, Merchants Auto is ready to help find the perfect pickup truck for you. As the largest pre-owned dealership in New Hampshire, we have hundreds of vehicles to choose from top manufacturers. Visit our showroom in Hooksett, NH, or contact us today to get started.

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