Equipment disparity on Ford F-150 prompts new crash test

IIHS takes a closer look

Last Thursday morning in rural northern Virginia, a silver 2015 Ford F-150 SuperCab 4×2 slammed violently into a concrete abutment at 40 mph.

It was a loud and unusual crash. But it was no accident.

Rather, it was an unprecedented follow-up crash test of a lower-volume pickup model by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.

According to IIHS, the test was done specifically because Automotive News alerted it to extra safety equipment that Ford installed on the top-selling SuperCrew model — the single model that IIHS normally tests — but not on its Regular Cab or SuperCab F-150s. Other pickup makers will be subject to new tests on their lower-volume models starting next year, an IIHS spokesman said.

Ford’s front-end reinforcement
To improve the crashworthiness of the F-150 SuperCrew, Ford used steel bars welded to the pickup’s frame that help prevent the front wheels from intruding into the passenger area in a crash involving the front corner. The parts aren’t included on the F-150’s other cab configurations.

The new tests show the determination of the privately funded IIHS to root out any hint of gamesmanship on the part of automakers seeking to do just enough to ace the group’s difficult crash tests and earn its top ratings.

Indeed, IIHS has launched what it calls a “research project” to determine the extent to which automakers might be taking shortcuts to pass the small-overlap test.

IIHS had planned to release a special single-vehicle safety report for the 2015 F-150 because of the pickup’s popularity and its transition to an aluminum body. But that report — based on crash-test results from just the top-selling SuperCrew version, as was the institute’s established practice — has been delayed until at least July, an IIHS spokesman said.

The reason: to allow extra time to crash-test other F-150 configurations and “give consumers comprehensive information about the F-150’s performance,” the spokes-man, Russ Rader, told Automotive News.

A Ford safety spokeswoman confirmed that Ford adds “supplementary material” to its SuperCrew model to “reinforce cab strength.”

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