Skip to main content

The Top Safety Pick and Top Safety Pick+ winners of 2023 are available for all to see on the IIHS website. Car safety ratings determine how well these vehicles will withstand collisions. The IIHS’s rigorous testing regimens also determine the brightness of the car’s headlights and how much protection each passenger gains from their restraints.

Electric trucks are relatively scarce compared to other cars, and quite a few of them are still in development. However, the Rivian R1T managed to pass the IIHS’s tests with more confidence than almost all of its gas-powered rivals.

Rear view of 2023 Rivian R1T EV, showing how IIHS named it safest midsize pickup truck, not Toyota or Ford
2023 Rivian R1T | Rivian

What makes Top Safety Pick cars so safe?

According to U.S. News, a vehicle has to pass several safety tests with above-average scores to get a Top Safety Pick Plus award. The small and moderate overlap tests judge how well a vehicle handles a strike from either side, as well as a head-on collision.

The IIHS also assesses the car’s roof strength to determine a passenger’s likelihood of escaping a rollover accident with few injuries. Top Safety Pick cars also have secure head restraints and bright headlights. Their front crash prevention and pedestrian detection systems should also activate on time.

Top Safety Pick+ winners must exhibit ‘Good’ scores on every crash simulation test. They also need either an ‘Advanced’ or ‘Superior’ rating for the front crash prevention scenarios involving vehicle-to-pedestrian and vehicle-to-vehicle impacts. The standard headlights should have either an ‘Acceptable’ or ‘Good’ rating.

The Rivian R1T electric truck wins a Top Safety Pick+ award

The IIHS reports that the Rivian R1T received ‘Good’ ratings in all of its crashworthiness examinations. The headlights provide great visibility on all corners of the road, as well as tight curves. Besides the vehicle-to-pedestrian collision scenario at night, the R1T received the highest possible score on every crash mitigation test.

The Rivian’s electric truck only has one trim, so you get every available safety feature for $73,000. It has all of your essential crash-preventative features, including automatic emergency braking and forward-collision warning. It also has parking sensors at the front and rear, blind-spot monitors, and a 360-degree camera monitor to keep drivers fully aware of their surroundings. 

The Rivian R1T’s A and B pillars are also constructed with high-strength steel to provide optimal protection for all passengers. The R1T has several drive modes designed specifically to keep you safe while off-roading, including a drift setting with active torque vectoring.

Additionally, because the Rivian platform has a low center of gravity, it will naturally have less body lean than some of its peers.

Only one other truck reached Top Safety Pick+ status

Both the Toyota Tundra with the Crew Cab and Double Cab options are almost as safe as the Rivian RT1. While these rivals have the same scores in terms of both crashworthiness and collision mitigation, the Tundra’s standard headlights are merely ‘Acceptable.’

The IIHS noted some glare from the low beams and reported that they don’t provide enough illumination around gradual left curves.

Both of the Toyota Tundra SR models, as well as the Limited trim, come with standard LED reflector low-beams and high-beams. The Tundra Limited can be optioned with a Premium package that includes enhanced LED projector high-beams and low-beams. The Premium bundle also adds a digital rearview mirror and trailer backup assist for safer towing.

Additionally, the Toyota Tundra is available with both forward-facing and surround-view camera systems. A range-topping Tundra Capstone is actually more expensive than the Rivian R1T at $76,145.

The Rivian RT1 is likely a better value anyway because of its higher towing capacity and horsepower output. Be aware that electric trucks are in high demand, so you may have trouble finding one that isn’t overpriced. No matter which of these trucks you decide to buy, both are guaranteed to provide excellent protection during a collision. 


The World’s Fastest Truck May Surprise You