The Ford F-150 is a completely new truck made of aluminum, so safety issues hadn’t all been answered until now. The tests were conducted back in February, but posted this week.
It earned top NHTSA five-star ratings in the Frontal Crash and Side Crash categories of the New Car Assessment Program (NCAP). Plus, it earned five stars in all the subcategories of those, including the Side Pole test, which simulates a 20-mph crash hitting a narrow object like a tree or utility pole.
“The five-star safety rating is a terrific example of One Ford collaboration and innovation,” said Raj Nair, Ford group vice president, Global Product Development. “Our truck team worked together for years to deliver this accomplishment, using an unprecedented combination of advanced materials throughout the all-new F-150. The 2015 model is engineered to be the safest F-150 ever, which matters to customers who depend on this truck to not only get the job done, but also get them safely home.”
Ford attributes the high score to 31 safety-related improvements. One is in the truck’s cab design. It features hydroformed roof rails that constitute a cage-like structure around the doors, extruded roof bows to provide lateral strength across the top of the cab, and extruded rocker rails near the bottom to reinforce lower body strength.
Another improvement was that engineers added an extra crossmember to the frame and increased the use of high-strength steel to improve stiffness, durability and safety – while also helping reduce the frame’s weight by up to 60 pounds.
“The team had to invent new ways to manage crash energy, because advanced materials like high-strength steel behave differently,” said Matt Niesluchowski, Ford truck safety manager. “We found that changing certain shapes led to a weight reduction, while also improving crash performance.”
So far these results only apply to Super Crew versions of the F-150—the models with the four full-size doors big back seats, and an available inflatable seat belt system. Regular and SuperCab (extended-cab) models aren’t yet included in the five-star branding. That said, the F-150 is the best-selling vehicle in the U.S. market, so it should help plenty of shoppers make a more informed decision.
Safety ratings also haven’t yet been released the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. Last year’s model achieved top ‘good’ results from the IIHS in all categories for which it was tested—although it lacked results in the small overlap frontal test, which is often a differentiator among new vehicles that otherwise perform well in crash tests.