2011 Dodge Ram OutdoorsmanEnlarge Photo
2010 Chevrolet SilveradoEnlarge Photo
Those observations come from the latest group of results released from the federal government's crash-test program; that group included several pickup models—the first pickups, in fact, to be tested and rated under the new procedures.
GM's full-size trucks—the 2011 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 and 2011 GMC Sierra 1500—did reasonably well in this latest round of testing, with five-star results for side impact and four stars for frontal impact and rollover. Side tests in particular were absolutely stellar, with top scores in the driver front-seat and passenger rear-seat side-barrier measurements as well as a top five-star score in the new side pole test.
The 2011 Dodge Ram earned just two stars in the frontal crash category, and while it managed impressive five-star results in the side barrier test, it got a low, low rating of just one star in the side pole test—with the NHTSA noting that the driver door intruded, with the door panel striking the dummy, with a higher likelihood of spinal injury.
Despite that, the 2011 Ram earned five stars in side protection, as the side pole test—which was just introduced and simulates a side impact into a tree or pole—doesn't yet figure into the overall score.
The mid-size 2011 Toyota Tacoma was also tested, with results that fall in the middle. It earned three stars for frontal crash (with a low two-star score for a smaller female-size passenger) and five stars for side crash, though it did earn a respectable four stars in the new side pole test.
As part of a revised safety ratings program, NHTSA plans to test 55 vehicles for the 2011 model year, and a number of results haven't yet been released.