F-150 Cab configurations result in different crash test results

IIHS has crash tested the latest aluminium bodied Ford F-150 with marked differences in results depending on cab configuration.

IIHS Frontal offset crash test on extended cab Ford F-150 pickupThe aluminium bodied 2015 Ford F-150 crew cab has swept the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety’s full slate of crashworthiness evaluations to qualify for a 2015 Top Safety Pick award. The F-150 extended cab turned in a good performance in 4 out of 5 assessments but stumbled in the small overlap front test. The results are the first ratings for large pickups in a group the Institute is evaluating this year.

The F-150 crew cab, which Ford calls the SuperCrew, earned good ratings for occupant protection in all five IIHS crashworthiness evaluations — small overlap front, moderate overlap front, side, roof strength and head restraint evaluations. However, the extended cab, or SuperCab, earned just a marginal rating for occupant protection in the small overlap front crash.

The Institute picked the F-150 to test first because it is the first mass-market vehicle with an all aluminium body.

“Consumers who wondered whether the aluminium bodied F-150 would be as crashworthy as its steel bodied predecessor can consider the question answered,” says David Zuby, IIHS chief research officer.

Both the crew cab and extended cab F-150 pickups are rated basic for front crash prevention when equipped with Ford’s optional forward collision warning system, which meets performance criteria set by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). The F-150 crew cab isn’t eligible for Top Safety Pick+ because it lacks an autonomous braking system (AEB).

Vehicles that earn a good or acceptable rating for small overlap protection and good ratings in the moderate overlap front, side, roof strength and head restraint evaluations qualify for Top Safety Pick. To earn the more demanding Top Safety Pick+, vehicles must also have an available autobrake system that earns an advanced or superior rating.

Striking differences in small overlap test

In the small overlap front test, each F-150 travelled at 40 mph toward a 5-foot-tall rigid barrier. Twenty-five percent of the pickup’s total width struck the barrier on the driver side, where a Hybrid III dummy representing an average-size man was positioned at the steering wheel. The test replicates what happens when the front corner of a vehicle collides with another vehicle or an object such as a tree or a utility pole. This kind of test reflects more of a real collision than a full frontal impact.

The two versions of the F-150 had markedly different outcomes.

“In a small overlap front crash like this, there’s no question you’d rather be driving the crew cab than the extended cab F-150,” Zuby says.

The crew cab’s occupant compartment remained intact. The front-end structure crumpled in a way that spared the occupant compartment significant intrusion and preserved survival space for the driver.

The extended cab is a different story. Intruding structure seriously compromised the driver’s survival space, resulting in a poor structural rating. The footwell, parking brake and brake pedal were pushed back 10-13 inches toward the dummy, and the dashboard was jammed against its lower legs.

“Ford added structural elements to the crew cab’s front frame to earn a good small overlap rating and a Top Safety Pick award but didn’t do the same for the extended cab,” Zuby observes. “That shortchanges buyers who might pick the extended cab thinking it offers the same protection in this type of crash as the crew cab. It doesn’t.”

The Institute has briefed Ford on the results. In a statement, the manufacturer said, “Ford is evaluating possible changes to the extended cab for small offset performance.”

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