There’s no doubt that trucks and utility vehicles rule the American car market. This phenomenon is so powerful that many manufacturers have retired their sedan lines. Of course, minivans still have a dedicated niche market, but trucks are where the money is.
With heavier and more powerful vehicles on the road, accidents have the potential to be even deadlier than before. Thankfully, safety features have improved by leaps and bounds. We’ll discuss the safety features you need and which trucks and SUVs offer them.
The Dodge Ram 1500 and three other pickup trucks are worth taking a closer look at for safety. And four sport utility vehicles, like the Ford Explorer, have earned recognition for superior safety. So what gives these trucks and SUVs the edge on safety? Read on to find out.
Safety Features You Need
Most people are familiar with basic vehicle safety features like seatbelts, anti-lock brakes, and traction control. However, with new safety technology, the goal is to prevent collisions altogether instead of just improving the outcomes of accidents.
Studies show backup cameras have reduced reverse driving collisions by at least 16%. All manufacturers since are now required to include backup cameras. As a result, all vehicles on this list provide them as standard features.
Forward Collision Warning
Forward collision warning systems use sensors, lasers, and other technology to alert the driver to impending collisions. Warnings are visual, tactile, auditory, or a combination. Most of these systems allow the driver to optimize their preferred alert settings. However, these systems do not always provide pedestrian protection.
Automatic Emergency Braking System
Arguably the most effective new tech safety feature is automatic emergency braking (AEB). A simple internet search will provide astounding statistics on how effectively AEB prevents collisions. This system is available in reverse and forward driving scenarios.
Many factors contribute to truck safety, and an alert driver is the most important. But, we’ll focus on safety tech and ratings from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) and National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTS).
Safest Pickup Trucks on the Market
Though under attack for carbon emissions, pickup trucks hold onto their popularity. Accident prevention is essential tech for them since they tend to be more dangerous than other vehicles in collisions. However, two large pickups still did earn “Top Safety Pick” titles from the IIHS.
Dodge Ram 1500
Our first truck has been on the safe list for many years, earning a “Top Safety Pick” badge. Dodge keeps upping their safety game.
Thanks to the redesign of their cab, the 2022 Dodge Ram 1500 offers improved safety in front-end collisions. In addition, they boast the largest brakes in their class as a standard feature, making their stopping power impressive.
Though Dodge’s most advanced safety features are not standard on all levels of the Ram 1500, they are worth upgrading to. A forward collision warning system with active braking is one such feature worth considering. This system includes pedestrian detection.
The available trailering safety package assists drivers in navigating roads while towing. In addition, Dodge’s blindspot assistance is configurable to towing, increasing versatility with safety tech. And AEB has been standard with Ram 1500s since 2022.
Another one of the most recognizable names in the truck industry, the F-150 is also one of the safest. Ford has worked to maintain their reputation with the safety features they offer on the F-150.
Recently introduced reinforcements to the frame give the F150 a safety edge in crash tests. The IIHS named the 2022 F-150 a “Top Safety Pick.”
The Co-Pilot 360 is Ford’s safety system that includes forward collision warning, brake assist, automatic high beams, and blindspot detection. This system is standard on almost all trim levels of the F-150, showing that Ford is serious about safety.
Chevy Silverado 1500
The Silverado 1500 did not earn a “Top Safety Pick” title, but they still deserve safety recognition. The 2021 Silverado 1500 earned a 4-star safety rating from the NHSTA.
Every 2022 Chevy Silverado comes equipped with forward collision warning system with brake assist. The standard safety features also include tailgating warnings on all trim levels.
To add to the impressive list of standard safety features, lane change and pedestrian warnings are active on all 2022 Silverados. Auto high beams round out the safety offerings, bringing Chevy well into competition with their commitment to safety.
The 2022 Tacoma ranked well with NHTSA safety ratings, though it failed to earn all five stars. Cab options varied in their IIHS safety ratings. Though the Tacoma can’t compete with competitors’ interior and bed space, its standard safety feature list is impressive.
Every Tacoma comes with Toyota’s safety package, which includes forward collision warning, pedestrian detection, AEB, blindspot monitoring, and automatic high beams.
Toyota’s safety tech has been around long enough to be proven and reliable. They earn a safety edge over other manufacturers’ glitchy alert systems and recalls.
Safest SUVs on the Market
The SUV market is the most popular today, ranging from car-based chassis of compacts and crossovers to truck chassis of full-size and large SUVs. Many are dropping the claim of being “sport” and are aptly referred to as just “utilities.” Given such broad expectations, this SUV list is limited to mid-size SUVs.
It would be wrong to leave out luxury SUVs from a top safety list since luxury utes are some of the safest vehicles on the road right now.
The Acura MDX has been a Top Safety Pick+ for years. Of course, Acura has been perfecting safety for a while now, so this is no surprise.
The MDX’s accident mitigation technology for vehicle and pedestrian scenarios ranked superior in IIHS reports. Acura provides quite an impressive and well-tested list of safety features standard for their MDX.
While XC90 might not be your classic idea of an SUV, it offers the long-standing safety prowess of Volvo in SUV form.
Standard safety features include forward collision warning, AEB, blindspot warning, rear cross-traffic alert, and lane departure warning. And since Volvo is a standard in safety tech, you can rest assured their systems are reliable.
Acuras and Volvos may not be in most people’s price range, but Buick offers a form of luxury at an attainable price. Plus, can a price tag be put on safety?
Front collision warning, pedestrian detection, AEB, blindspot alert, lane change warning, intelligent high beams, and rear cross-traffic alert all come standard on every Enclave. The Enclave earns its spot on this list thanks to Buick ensuring all Enclave packages include an impressive safety list.
Finally, the Ford Explorer rounds out this list because it’s a “Top Safety Pick+” for IIHS. The Explorer was redesigned in 2020, improving its crash test scores. Added to the Ford Co-Pilot 360 technology that comes with 2022 Explorers, there’s much to be impressed with.
Beyond the standard safety features, Ford has added all the bells and whistles for optional safety features. Side-wind stabilization, towing assistance, and increased ground clearance are worth mentioning.
Whether you’re in the market for a new truck or SUV or just want to stay apprised of available safety features, you’ll be impressed by looking closer at any of these vehicles.
Something worth mentioning in light of the chip shortage, available safety packages might not be operational. All of these vehicles are capable of their manufacturer’s safety tech, but whether the features will be active depends on chip availability.
In order to move inventory, many car manufacturers are nixing portions of their active safety tech in hopes of activating it when chips become available. So if you are in the market, clarify what you’ll be driving home with and what it may be capable of later.
Maria Hanson writes and researches for the auto insurance comparison site, AutoInsurance.org. She is passionate about helping drivers find their best insurance options.