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It’s such a dire warning: don’t buy these pickups if you have little kids. And yet if you have little people in your life that you want to protect, you want to know everything you can about car safety. What are good pickup trucks for kids? Well, not for kids, since kids can’t drive, but trucks that are safe and easy to put a car seat or two into. 

A crying baby strapped into a car seat.
A baby in a car seat | Dayna Smith for the Washington Post via Getty Images

The importance of correctly installing car seats cannot be overstated. For a car seat to protect kids in a car accident, it has to be installed correctly. Different car seats have different rules for installation, so if you’ve never read an owner’s manual before, this is the time you want to do it. Even in good pickup trucks for kids, car seats need to be correctly installed.

If you’ve ever been in the backseat of a vehicle trying to figure out the madness that is car seat straps/belts/latches, you’ll know how easy it is to become confused. You really don’t want to be confused. You need to know which part of the truck is going to hold your precious cargo’s seat in place in the event of an accident, and which is some other hardware that is for some reason in a place where car seat anchors should be. 

(Also, if you’ve ever attempted to jam a car seat buckle onto a latch and it just won’t click, you already know why good child seat anchors make the whole process easier, and therefore safer.) 

Let’s look at some pickup trucks that you really don’t want to buy if you’ll be putting car seats into them.

Don’t buy the 2021 Chevrolet Silverado 1500

A black 2021 Chevy Silverado sitting on a grassy bank next to a river.
2021 Chevy Silverado | Chevrolet

The 2021 Chevy Silverado isn’t a great choice if you have kids in car seats. It only gets a marginal for its child seat anchors. (As a side note, these ratings also apply to the 2019 and 2020 models. If you’re interested in other model years, check those out before you buy.)

The Silverado could have gotten a good rating for child seat anchors, but perhaps that’s asking too much. But it also could have received an acceptable rating, and it didn’t. No, the IIHS found that the child seat anchors in the Silverado are too deep in the seat, hard to find, and can be confused with other hardware. In some cases they weren’t there at all. 

Don’t buy the 2021 GMC Sierra 1500

A black 2021 GMC Sierra against a white background.
2021 GMC Sierra 1500 | GMC

Are the child seat anchors in the 2021 GMC Sierra 1500 easy to use? No they are not. The IIHS says that its ratings apply to 2019-2021 models, so if you had your heart set on a late model Sierra, you’re out of luck. The 2021 GMC Sierra 1500 received a marginal for its child seat anchors.

Like the Silverado, the Sierra’s child seat anchors are hard to find, could be confused with other hardware, and are too deep in the seat. The rear middle seat doesn’t have any, so if you have three kids, you’ll have to choose your least favorite to sit there. Basically it would be a nightmare to attempt to put car seats into the back of a Sierra. 

Don’t buy the 2021 Toyota Tundra

A father talks to his son who is sitting in the bed of a blue 2021 Toyota Tundra.
2021 Toyota Tundra | Toyota

You’re noticing a pattern by now, right? The 2021 Toyota Tundra does not have good child seat anchors. It doesn’t have acceptable child seat anchors. It has marginal child seat anchors. Perhaps marginal is better than poor, but poor child seat anchors would probably be made out of gummy worms, and then they’d at least be delicious. 

Like the Silverado and the Sierra 1500, the Toyota Tundra’s child seat anchors essentially require night vision goggles and a scythe. Don’t buy the Tundra if you want to put car seats into it.

Don’t buy the 2021 Dodge Ram 1500

A black 2021 Dodge Ram on a gravel road.
2021 Dodge Ram | Dodge

The Ford F-150 Dominates the Chevy Silverado 1500 in Safety Systems

It’s tempting to overlook the child seat anchors in the 2021 Dodge Ram since it’s a Top Safety Pick, but don’t. The child seat anchors in the Ram are marginal, and like its truck siblings, the Ram doesn’t make it easy to use them. They have all the problems that the Silverado, Sierra and Tundra have.

Are there any good pickup trucks for kids?

So you’ve read about all these trucks and you’re thinking: Maybe I just shouldn’t drive anymore. There aren’t any good pickup trucks for kids. Don’t despair. The IIHS does rate some trucks as having acceptable car seat latches, though none have good child seat anchors. 

If you do buy a pickup truck (or any vehicle, really), take the time to make sure that you’re using the child seat anchors the right way. Read the car seat manual to make sure you’re installing it correctly. You can also call your local police department to see if they’ll inspect your installation, or find a car seat check event. These are sometimes held by various safety or child-centered organizations. It’s worth the investment in time, money and research to make sure your kids are as safe as possible.