Ford F-150 puts aluminum to the (crash) test

SuperCrew nets TOP SAFETY PICK; SuperCab stumbles in small overlap test

Published: July 31, 2015, 12:00 AM
Updated: April 29, 2018, 1:47 PM

2015 Ford F-150 SuperCrew crash test

Ford has been making a big deal about its aluminum bodied 2015 F-150 pickups, touting the benefits of strength AND lightness for fuel economy, and now it appears the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) has added another plus … sort of.

2015 Ford F-150 SuperCab crash test

In its latest round of crash testing, the IIHS found the F-150 SuperCrew (crew cab) top notch in the full slate of crash evaluations to earn a 2015 TOP SAFETY PICK award. However, the SuperCab (extended cab version) stumbled in one of the five scenarios, the small overlap front test that’s viewed as probably the most “realistic” of the tests in relation to real-word crashes.

The F-150 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. It was ineligible for the institute’s TOP SAFETY PICK award because it lacks automatic braking (where the vehicle automatically applies the brakes itself in a potential front crash, if the driver does not respond to visual and audible warnings).

The SuperCab earned just a marginal rating for occupant protection in a small overlap front crash, but mimicked the SuperCrew’s good ratings in the others.

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

“There’s been lots of buzz around the release of the first aluminum-body pickup and how it would perform in crash tests,” Zuby says. “After we tested the crew cab in the spring, questions were raised about the extended cab’s ability to match the crew cab’s good small overlap performance.”

Typically with vehicles available in multiple bodystyles, the IIHS only tests the top selling bodystyle but the decision was made to also test the extended cab because it outsells many other passenger vehicles that are rated by the institute. The IIHS has said it will also test multiple variants of the pickups from other companies, which it plans to test later in 2015.

“We did some initial analysis and decided to test the extended cab, too,” Zuby concludes, saying the F-150’s advancements merit a closer look.