An engineering tweak to the Ram 1500 Crew Cab's optional adaptive LED projector headlight system helped the hot-selling pickup snag a coveted award last week: It earned the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety's highest rating, Top Safety Pick Plus.
Ram officials won't spell out exactly what was changed on the 1500's headlights, saying only that it was a "refinement." But it was enough to get IIHS to change its initial rating on the system from "poor" to "good." The institute said the lights had earned the "poor" rating because of excessive glare. The truck's standard headlights were rated "marginal."
Ram engineers made the change on trucks built after May for the 2019 and 2020 model years. The award is for the Crew Cab version that is equipped with the optional lighting system, automatic emergency braking and forward-collision mitigation.
IIHS said the Ram 1500 Crew Cab is the first full-size pickup ever to earn a Top Safety Pick Plus award.
Fiat Chrysler Automobiles introduced the fifth-generation Ram 1500 in January 2018 at the Detroit auto show, and it began arriving at dealerships that March as a 2019 model.
The latest Ram is underpinned by a beefy new steel frame that manages energy in a crash. FCA has patents related to the truck's frame rail construction. The front portions are splayed to help steer energy away from the truck's interior. The institute said the Ram 1500 aced six collision tests, earning in each a "good" rating, the highest the organization awards.
"This recognition validates our unrelenting efforts to deliver more value for our customers," Reid Bigland, head of the Ram brand, said in a statement.
Through June, Ram was on track to upend the Chevrolet Silverado as the nation's No. 2 selling full-size pickup. FCA and General Motors no longer issue monthly sales reports. The Automotive News Data Center estimates the Ram will finish 2019 ahead of the Silverado.
Ram's sales surge has been bolstered by deep discounts and continued production of the previous generation.