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Is the 2021 GMC Sierra 1500 safe? It’s hard to believe car companies’ advertising, as they primarily want to sell cars. That’s why it’s helpful to look at independent safety organizations like the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. Each year the IIHS crash tests a wide variety of vehicles

A gray 2021 GMC Sierra 1500 drives down a street.
2021 GMC Sierra 1500 | GMC

How are the 2021 GMC Sierra 1500 crash test ratings?

The IIHS ratings measure the front moderate overlap, as well as driver and passenger small overlap crash ratings. Overlap testing evaluates how well a car does when part of the front strikes a barrier. Crash test ratings vary based on the trim selected.

The small overlap front: driver side overall crash test rating was good. However, the structure and safety cage crash test rating was only acceptable. Most new vehicles have a safety cage which is supposed to stay strong in head-on collisions without much damage. When this is strong, it’s one of the components that can help keep dangerous things from entering the vehicle and causing harm to its occupants. 

The driver injury measures in the 2021 GMC Sierra 1500 are mostly good but the passenger crash test ratings are marginal

Mostly, but not completely. The GMC Sierra 1500 got good ratings in the head/neck, chest, and hip/thigh categories. On the other hand, the lower leg/foot rating is only acceptable. The driver restraints and dummy kinematics get a good rating. 

The IIHS says that some of the improvements that have been made in safety for the driver’s seat in vehicles doesn’t always carry over to the passenger side. The small overlap front: passenger side crash test ratings aren’t as good as the driver side. 

The overall evaluation for the 2021 GMC Sierra 1500 is only marginal. Not only that, but the structure and safety cage rating is poor, which is the worst rating a vehicle can get. 

In contrast, the passenger injury measures were all good, except for the lower leg/foot, which was marginal. 

Passenger restraints and dummy kinematics were good for the small overlap front: passenger side.

How about the moderate overlap front and side crash tests?

A red 2021 GMC Sierra 1500 parked on a beach.
2021 GMC Sierra 1500 | Dodge

To conduct the moderate overlap frontal test, the IIHS creates a situation similar to what would happen if two same-size vehicles hit each other at just under 40 mph. Forty percent of the width of the vehicle strikes an aluminum honeycomb barrier on the driver side.

The 2021 GMC Sierra 1500 did well in this, getting all good ratings except for the leg/foot, right, which received a marginal rating. Similarly, all side crash tests for the Sierra 1500 were good.

Roof strength, head restraints and seats, oh my!

The roof strength on the GMC Sierra 1500 is good, with a curb weight of 4,818 pounds, a peak force of 22,236 pounds, and a strength-to-weight ratio of 4.62. 

The GMC Sierra 1500’s power leather seat was tested. It received a good overall evaluation, as well as a good dynamic rating. It also got a good in seat/head restraint geometry. 

The front crash prevention: vehicle to vehicle overall evaluation was superior. The GMC Sierra 1500 met the requirements for forward collision warning. It avoided a collision in the 12 mph IIHS test and the 25 mph IIHS test. 

Headlight ratings and child seat anchors weren’t great

The IIHS tested four different headlight variations available on the 2021 GMC Sierra 1500. All of them were poor. None of the headlights were curve adaptive and headlight visibility was inadequate in all four tests.  

The child seat anchors were only marginal. They were rated as hard to find and other hardware could be confused as child seat anchors. They were also too deep in the seat. 

Overall, the 2021 GMC Sierra 1500 definitely has some limitations. If you’re planning on putting a child seat in it, it could be tricky to make sure you use the right anchors, which is necessary for safety. The poor safety cage rating is definitely a concern. If you’re in the market for a new pickup, there may be better safety options out there.


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