UPDATE: APRIL 24, 2015: Not just the crew cab but extended cab and regular crab F-150s have now earned 5-Star crash ratings. Ford says the 2015 F-150 is the only full-size, light-duty truck to earn NHTSA’s highest rating, a 5-star crash test rating, for the driver and passenger for all crash test modes and cab configurations – SuperCrew, SuperCab and Regular Cab.
If any truck buyers had concerns about the safety implications of the aluminum body structure in Ford's new F-150 pickup, today's news should quell their fears. The 2015 F-150 has earned the U.S. government’s highest possible crash safety rating for all three cab configurations, making it the safest F-150 ever by that measure.
The truck was awarded a five-star Overall Vehicle Score in the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s (NHTSA) New Car Assessment Program. That's a better result than was achieved by the outgoing model with traditional steel construction, which achieved a four-star overall rating.
To achieve that overall rating, the F-150 scored five stars in both frontal and side-impact crash tests and four-stars for rollover. Five stars correspond with a 10% or lower chance of serious injury (or rollover) under the test conditions. Four stars equate to a 10-to 20% chance.
“Our truck team worked together for years to deliver this accomplishment, using an unprecedented combination of advanced materials throughout the all-new F-150," said Raj Nair, Ford group vice-president, global product development.
The F-150’s improved performance is enabled by the use of high-strength steel in the frame, high-strength, military-grade, aluminum alloy in the body and smart engineering, while achieving a mass reduction of up to 318 kg (700 lb).
Ford says its F-150 engineers developed digital safety models with nearly 1.4 million separate elements to examine how even the smallest parts of the truck would perform in a crash situation.
The engineers created and patented new structures, materials and joining methods that were tested virtually with supercomputer simulations, then retested in real form in Ford’s advanced laboratories before the designs were locked in.
“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.”
In all, 31 new safety-related innovations were developed by the Ford truck team to make the new F-150 safer in the event of a crash, the company says.
Among its competitors, General Motors' 2015 Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra full-size light-duty pickups have also received five-star ratings.
The full-size Ram 1500 and Toyota Tundra have four-star overall ratings, as do the mid-size Chevrolet Colorado and GMC Canyon and the Toyota Tacoma.