WASHINGTON (AP) _ The popular Ford F-150 and Dodge Ram pickups got poor marks after their cabs were smashed in and air bags deployed late in insurance industry crash tests released Monday.
In its first crash tests of large pickups more than 3,500 pounds, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety said the F-150 was by far the worst performer among the four 2001 models tested. The F-150 has been the top-selling vehicle in North America for 19 years.
The institute gave its best rating to the Toyota Tundra. The Tundra's structure was strong and the cab remained intact to protect the occupants, the institute said.
Photos of the trucks after the crashes showed that the F-150 cab was destroyed, while the Tundra's doors still worked.
``A key aspect of protecting people in crashes is keeping the space around occupants intact,'' said Brian O'Neill, president of the institute. ``Then the safety belts and air bags can prevent significant injuries, even in very serious crashes. This is what happened in the Tundra, but not in the F-150.''
There was also significant intrusion into the Ram cab, although not as dramatic as in the F-150, resulting in high head and neck injury measurements to the test dummy.
Ford Motor Co. and DaimlerChrysler AG said their vehicles are safe and noted they got high marks in government tests. They said they do not design the trucks to pass the institute's tests, but to protect occupants in highway crashes.
``No single test can measure a vehicle's overall safety performance and they don't necessarily reflect a vehicle's real-world safety,'' DaimlerChrysler said in a statement.
The fourth truck tested by the institute, the Chevrolet Silverado, got a marginal rating because while there was significant intrusion into the cab, the dummy did not measure injuries to the head, neck or chest. The rating also applies to the GMC Sierra because it is the same vehicle sold under a different name.
The institute tested the trucks by running them into a barrier at 40 miles per hour. It is called an offset test because 40 percent of the vehicle's front end hits the barrier.
In government tests, the entire front of a vehicle is run into a barrier at 35 miles per hour.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration gave the Ram five out of five stars for protecting the driver and passenger in the frontal crash tests. It has not yet released test results for the F-150, but Ford said it also got five stars for both positions.
NHTSA did not test the Tundra's standard cab version, but the extended cab version got three stars for both positions. The Silverado got three stars for drivers side protection and four stars for passenger protection.