F-150 only truck to earn top rating in IIHS safety test

Michael Martinez
The Detroit News

An independent crash test found the aluminum-body Ford F-150 SuperCab is the only crew cab or extended-cab pickup worthy of a top safety award, and other trucks are likely to result in leg, ankle and foot injuries during certain types of front-end collisions.

The crash-test dummy’s position in the Ford F-150 in relation to the door frame, steering wheel and instrument panel after this test indicates the driver’s survival space was maintained very well, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety said. Last year the truck got only a “marginal” score.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety on Tuesday published its annual small-overlap front crash test ratings, and the F-150 SuperCab was the only model to earn a “good” rating — the highest distinction awarded. By contrast, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles’ Ram 1500 Quad Cab and Crew Cab earned the worst marks, including the worst possible rating for its structure and lower leg and foot injury measures.

Crew cabs have four full-size doors and two full rows of seating. Extended cabs have two full front doors, two smaller rear doors and compact second-row seats.

The top score is an improvement for Ford’s extended-cab F-150 SuperCab, which earned a second-to-worst “marginal” score last year because that particular cab configuration didn’t include the same safety measures in its top-selling SuperCrew configuration, which did earn a top mark. Typically, IIHS has tested only the best-selling version, but last year decided to rate two versions because it learned the SuperCab lacked the safety measurements found in the configuration that normally was tested.

Ford said it didn’t have enough time to outfit the SuperCab for last year’s tests, but since then has added wheelblockers, nylon hinge pillar reinforcements and rocker cab reinforcements that help in this particular crash scenario.

An IIHS spokesman said the test “replicates a crash that almost doesn’t happen,” where a truck runs off the road and hits a tree or pole on the driver’s side, or clips another vehicle that has crossed the center line. The spokesman said small overlap crashes account for about 25 percent of the serious injuries and deaths that occur in frontal impacts.

“Ford is leading the way among large pickup manufacturers when it comes to protecting people in a range of crashes and offering technology to warn drivers of imminent frontal crashes,” Raul Arbelaez, vice president of the IIHS’s Vehicle Research Center, said in a statement. “We commend Ford for taking last year’s test results to heart and upgrading protection for SuperCab occupants in small overlap crashes.”

Automakers routinely upgrade vehicles to meet specific IIHS tests and many consumers consult the ratings before buying vehicles. Automakers are quick to tout the institute’s “Top Safety Picks” in advertising.

“From the moment our team set out to design and build the new F-150, we knew it had to be best-in-class,” Raj Nair, Ford executive vice president, Global Product Development, and chief technical officer, said in a statement. “This Insurance Institute for Highway Safety Top Safety Pick is another example of Ford’s commitment to building the toughest, smartest, most capable and safest F-150 ever.”

Most of the nine truck cab configurations tested scored top marks when measuring head and neck, chest and hip and thigh injuries. But all trucks besides the F-150 earned the worst possible rating for lower body injuries.

“Drivers in these pickups would need help freeing their legs from the wreckage following a small overlap crash,” Arbelaez said in a statement. “We encourage manufacturers to redesign their pickups to resist intrusion in the lower occupant compartment to safeguard people from serious leg and foot injuries that might require months of rehabilitation.”

IIHS noted that the Chevrolet Silverado 1500, GMC Sierra 1500 and Toyota Tundra extended-cab models each earned “acceptable” ratings, but problems emerged with the larger crew cabs from those makers. The crew-cab versions of those trucks only managed “marginal” ratings.

All trucks, including the 2016 Ram 1500 Crew Cab, besides the F-150 earned the worst possible rating for lower body injuries.

IIHS said that in both Ram 1500 cab configurations, the force of the frontal crash pushed the door-hinge pillar, instrument panel and steering column back toward the driver. In the crew cab version, the dummy’s head hit the front air bag and rolled around to the left side, approaching the windshield pillar as the steering column moved to the right.

Fiat Chrysler in a statement Tuesday downplayed the results.

“Our vehicles are designed for real-world performance, and no single test determines overall, real-world vehicle safety,” the automaker said. “Every FCA US vehicle meets or exceeds all applicable motor-vehicle safety standards.”

The Ram 1500 was last redesigned in 2012, the same year IIHS introduced its small-overlap test. Its competitors’ models have been updated since the test, so they have had more opportunities to adapt and include safety improvements.

IIHS said the large trucks all earn good ratings in the moderate-overlap front test, side test and head restraint evaluations. The institute plans to test the redesigned 2016 Nissan Titan and Honda Ridgeline later this year.


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