— If you've been thinking about buying an Ford F-150 aluminum-body truck but have been curious just how safe that body is, the latest crash test results should ease your mind.
The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) pinned a 2015 'Top Safety Pick' award to the aluminum F-150 Crew Cab after the truck earned good ratings for occupant protection in all five tests: small overlap front, moderate overlap front, side, roof strength and head restraint crash tests.
The truck Ford calls the F-150 SuperCrew is the first mass-produced truck to be tested that isn't made out of the standard steel-bodied construction. IIHS also tested the aluminum-body F-150 Extended Cab which didn't do quite as well, but still achieved a "good" rating in 4 of 5 tests.
The one difference in ratings came from the dreaded small overlap crash test which replicates what occurs when the front corner of a vehicle hits another vehicle or object. In the test, engineers sent the trucks at 40 mph toward a 5-foot-tall barrier that involved 25 percent of the total width of the truck hitting the barrier on the driver's side.
Bottom line? The Ford F-150 Crew Cab aluminum version did really well in the small overlap crash test but the Extended Cab aluminum-body left the test dummy hurting.
Ford F-150 Aluminum Crew Cab
The 2015 F-150 aluminum Crew Cab did especially well in the small overlap test and the occupant compartment stayed intact. It remained intact because the front-end did what it should do and crumpled in a way that left space for the driver after the crash.
Measurements from the crash-test dummy indicated a low risk of head, chest, leg and feet injuries. The head was properly protected from the truck by the front and side-curtain airbags which kept the dummy's head in place.
Ford F-150 Aluminum Extended Cab
The Extended Cab version of the F-150 had more issues with the small overlap crash test. IIHS said the structure intruded into the driver's space to a dangerous level, earning a "poor" structural rating. The dummy took a beating from the dashboard which was jammed against the legs and injuries were sustained to the lower left leg, left foot and right thigh.
Additionally, the parking brake and brake pedal were pushed toward the dummy by 10-13 inches and the steering column was pushed toward the dummy's chest by 8 inches. And the poor dummy's head slid off the airbag and hit the instrument panel.
So why the big difference in the test results of the F-150 Crew Cab and F-150 Extended Cab?
"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. 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." - IIHS
Ford said in a statement it's thinking about making changes to the Extended Cab to improve performance in the small overlap crash test.