Aluminum F-150 Garners More Safety Kudos

One model year after earning an IIHS Top Safety Pick for the 4-door F-150 SuperCrew pickup, Ford adds similar crash protection to its extended-cab and regular cab versions to gain the same rating.

Bob Gritzinger, Editor-in-Chief

April 12, 2016

3 Min Read
F150 SuperCab earns top safety rating
F-150 SuperCab earns top safety rating.

Add the ’16 F-150 SuperCab extended cab to the list of Ford pickups meeting the insurance industry’s highest standard for crash safety.

Ford and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety announced the 2016 Top Safety Pick award for the F-150 SuperCab variant in statements released early Tuesday. The truck joins the Dearborn automaker’s F-150 SuperCrew 4-door model that earned the IIHS’ Top Safety Pick when it went into production in 2014.

To achieve the higher rating for its SuperCab model, Ford added steel wheel-blocker bars and other countermeasures to the truck’s chassis to match those engineered into the SuperCrew from the outset. The bars prevent passenger-cabin intrusion in the IIHS small-overlap test.

“We spent thousands of hours engineering, designing and developing multiple safety features that work together in the event of an accident,” says Raj Nair, executive vice president-global product development and chief technical officer.

The small-overlap test, which was implemented in 2012, simulates a collision in which a vehicle runs off the road and hits a tree or pole or collides corner-to-corner with another vehicle. Trucks that score poorly suffer intrusion into the footwells that likely would cause severe foot and leg injuries.

For its 2016 ratings, the IIHS ran the test on seven ’16-model large pickups, evaluating both 4-door crew cab and the extended-cab variants with smaller rear doors and back seats, says Russ Radar, senior vice president-communications.

Three of the trucks earned acceptable or higher ratings, with the F-150 SuperCab receiving the highest Top Safety Pick rating while the Chevrolet Silverado 1500 Double Cab and Toyota Tundra Double Cab both earned Acceptable ratings. The Ram 1500 scored the lowest in the test.

Radar notes IIHS testing of more variants was prompted by learning only the SuperCrew version of the all-new aluminum-bodied ’15 F-150 was built with wheel blockers, while SuperCab and Regular Cab did not offer the same protection and did not qualify for the same high rating.

Ford spokesman Michael Levine says the new test was introduced after development of the ’15 F-150 began, so the wheel blockers were added to the SuperCrew first because it is the highest-volume configuration. SuperCrew accounts for 75% of F-150 sales.

“With newly designed vehicles you have an advantage,” Radar notes.

Similarly, the new test was implemented several years after the current-generation Ram 1500 was introduced and just prior to the introduction of General Motors’ Silverado and GMC Sierra trucks.

All were engineered without the crash protection necessary to score highly on the test, but FCA says every vehicle in its U.S. fleet meets or exceeds all applicable motor-vehicle safety standards.

“Our vehicles are designed for real-world performance and no single test determines overall real-world vehicle safety,” spokesman Eric Mayne says.

Additional development work was required to add the same protection in ’16 SuperCab and Regular Cab trucks, Levine says. Blocker bars in the ’16 Regular Cab should give it similar crashworthiness, however the IIHS did not test that model and did not issue a rating for it.

The wheel blockers add about 30 lbs. (13.6 kg) to each truck’s curb weight, with added cost built in to the vehicle’s base sticker price.

The crash ratings are significant because of the growing popularity of pickups, especially large crew-cab models, for work and play, Levine notes. In addition to the IIHS award, the F-150 is the only fullsize, light-duty truck to earn a 5-star crash-test rating from NHTSA for all cab types.

Raul Arbelaez, vice president-IIHS Vehicle Research Center, says the tests show a largely aluminum truck can be engineered for safety.

“It turns out the Ford is the toughest out there, according to our test,” Arbelaez says.

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About the Author(s)

Bob Gritzinger

Editor-in-Chief, WardsAuto

Bob Gritzinger is Editor-in-Chief of WardsAuto and also covers Advanced Propulsion & Technology for Wards Intelligence.

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