Arlington, Virginia – The 2009 Chevrolet Silverado 1500, Dodge Ram 1500 and Nissan Titan have earned “poor” or “marginal” ratings in side crash tests by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). Even with side airbags, occupant protection in the crew cab models is no better than “marginal.”

“The size, weight and height of these large pickups should help them ace the side tests just like the other large pickups we’ve tested,” said IIHS senior vice-president David Zuby. “Not these three. They perform worse than many cars we’ve evaluated.”

The Dodge Ram, with standard side airbags, earned a “marginal” rating. The Titan and Silverado earned “poor” ratings when tested without their optional side airbags. The Titan’s side rating improved to “marginal” in models tested with side airbags, but the Silverado’s optional side airbags didn’t improve the rating over models without them.

The Silverado’s rating also applies to its twin, the GMC Sierra 1500, both of which were redesigned in 2007, so the ratings apply to 2007-09 models. The Ram is a new design for the 2009 model year. The Titan was introduced in the 2004 model year, so results apply to 2004-09 models.

The side tests assess occupant protection in vehicles struck in the side by SUVs or pickups. The IIHS said the three trucks should have an advantage in side crash tests over smaller vehicles, because of their size, weight, and the higher seating position puts the dummies’ heads and shoulders above the striking barrier.

“These large pickups don’t have to work as hard as smaller vehicles do to protect their occupants,” Zuby said. “Even with their characteristic advantages, the Ram, Titan and Silverado still miss the mark when it comes to occupant protection in side crashes.”

The Honda Ridgeline, Ford F-150 and Toyota Tundra all have standard side airbags with torso and head protection and “good”-rated structures. Zuby said the Ram would be a Top Safety Pick contender if its side rating improves to “good.”

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