Is GMC’s safety rating for large trucks better than Toyota’s?

GMC and Toyota's large trucks have about the same safety ratings. As a result, their insurance costs are almost identical as well - about $120 a month.

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A former insurance producer, Laura understands that education is key when it comes to buying insurance. She has happily dedicated many hours to helping her clients understand how the insurance marketplace works so they can find the best car, home, and life insurance products for their needs.

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Joel Ohman is the CEO of a private equity backed digital media company. He is a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™, author, angel investor, and serial entrepreneur who loves creating new things, whether books or businesses. He has also previously served as the founder and resident CFP® of a national insurance agency, Real Time Health Quotes. He has an MBA from the University of South Florida. Jo...

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Reviewed by Joel Ohman
Founder & CFP®

UPDATED: Sep 15, 2020

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Here's what you need to know...

  • Because auto insurance rates are linked to safety ratings, reviewing safety ratings before buying your next truck is a great idea
  • While the GMC Sierra 1500 and the Toyota Tundra are popular trucks on the market today, neither boast the highest safety ratings in this class of trucks
  • Both trucks average $120 a month in insurance costs
  • Comparing truck insurance rates on several models before you make a buying decision could help you to determine which vehicle will be more affordable to insure over your years of ownership

When you are in the market to buy a new pickup truck, you understandably are looking for a rugged, durable, and powerful truck that has an appealing style.

Many truck drivers feel rather confident that they are safe on the road in a pickup truck, but in reality, many models on the market today rank low in some critical safety areas.

As you make your decision between buying a GMC Sierra 1500 and a Toyota Tundra, focus your attention on the safety ratings published by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety / Highway Data Loss Institute.

You want to choose a safe pickup truck for the well-being of you and all of your passengers, but you may not realize that safety ratings can impact insurance rates as well.

Each time you request a premium quote from an insurance provider, the provider bases the quote partially on the vehicle’s safety ratings.

Many automotive buyers are interested in keeping insurance rates as low as possible, and learning more about safety ratings can help you to find a safe, affordable truck to buy.

See how much your vehicle’s safety features could save you on insurance premiums by using our free rate quote tool above. Enter your ZIP code to get started.

Safety Ratings for Toyota Tundra and GMC Sierra

Some truck buyers inaccurately assume that most of the top truck models on the market have similar safety features and ratings, and because of this, they often only compare prices and features when making a buying decision.

However, there are substantial differences between the safety ratings issued by the IIHS for the Tundra and the Sierra in comparison to the vehicle that earned the prime honor of being the Top Safety Pick for 2017.

Altogether, the IIHS analyzed the safety features of 12 large trucks on the market in 2017, and this includes the Toyota Tundra, the GMC Sierra 1500 double cab, and the GMC Sierra 1500 crew cab.

While all three of these vehicles that you may be thinking about buying earned the highest ratings available by the IIHS for some safety categories, they fell short in other areas.

The three primary safety categories are:

  • Crashworthiness
  • Crash Avoidance and Mitigation
  • Child Seat Anchors (LATCH)

The first category is broken into five sub-categories, and it describes how well the vehicle can protect its driver and other occupants from injuries.

The second category has two sub-categories, and it describes the truck’s ability prevent or reduce the chance of being in an accident. LATCH is the last category, and it analyzes how easy the child seat anchors are for truck owners to use.

Which truck has the best crash rating?

The double cab model for the 2017 GMC Sierra 1500 had a “good” rating for the categories of Head Restraints and Seat, Front Moderate Overlap, Roof Strength, and Side, and it had an “average” rating for Front Small Overlap.

The Sierra crew cab had a “good” rating in all of these categories except for the Front Small Overlap section, which is rated as “marginal.” The Tundra ranked “good” in all of these categories, except it rated “average” for Front Small Overlap.

Crash Avoidance and Mitigation

The Sierra double cab and crew cab both had a “basic” rating in the area of Front Crash Prevention, and they both had an “average” rating for Headlights.

The Tundra did not receive a rating for Front Crash Prevention, and it had a “poor” Headlights rating.


The Sierra double cab had a “marginal” LATCH safety rating, and the Sierra crew cab had a “poor” LATCH rating. The Tundra’s rating in this category was “marginal.”

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Who has the safest pickup truck?

If you are interested in buying the truck that had the best safety rating for 2017, you will not want to look at the Tundra or GMC Sierra models. The only truck that earned the Top Safety Pick title from the IIHS for 2017 is the Honda Ridgeline.

This truck had a “good” rating for every category ranked except for the LATCH category, which it scored an “average” rating in. 

While safety ratings are important to consider, remember that many factors will affect your cost of ownership and your overall driving experience over the years.

How to Decide between the Toyota Tundra and the GMC Sierra Models

The safety rating of the Ridgeline may encourage some drivers to buy this Honda truck, but others may still have their hearts set on buying either the Tundra or Sierra.

As you compare the options available, turn your attention to the cost of the vehicles in comparison to the standard and optional features available to identify the best value for your money.

You may also want to focus on fuel economy and the overall cost of ownership for these vehicles to make an educated buying decision.

When many truck buyers prepare to buy a new vehicle, they focus on making monthly loan payments affordable, but this is not the only recurring expense associated with owning a truck.

Your truck insurance premium payment is also a rather substantial cost of ownership, and you need to understand what the insurance cost on a specific truck model is before you buy it.

It may be best to compare three to four different quotes from insurance providers for each model that you are seriously thinking about buying before you sign the purchase papers. Enter your ZIP code below to begin comparing rates today.

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