By on July 30, 2015

2015_Ford_F-150_Pickup_Truck

Automotive News is reporting the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety will rate versions of Ford’s F-150 pickup with dramatically different safety ratings after re-testing versions of the pickup, which is a highly unusual move for the safety nonprofit.

The SuperCrew cab version of the F-150 earned the highest marks from the IIHS in its small overlap crash test, earning a Top Safety Pick rating. The re-tested SuperCab registers only a “marginal” rating in the same crash.

The difference, according to Automotive News, are tubular frames called “wheel blockers” installed on the SuperCrew, but missing from the SuperCab and Regular Cab models.

David Zuby, who is the chief research officer for the IIHS, said that the crash ratings between different cab versions could give buyers the wrong impression.

“(It) shortchanges buyers who might pick the extended cab thinking it offers the same protection in this type of crash as the crew cab,” Zuby told Automotive News.

A Ford spokesman said the company would look into adding additional safety measures into the Regular Cab and SuperCab versions of the F-150 for 2016.

The wheel blockers present on the SuperCrew, but missing on the SuperCab and Regular Cab, significantly varied the trucks’ performances on the small overlap crash test. In the follow-up test conducted on the SuperCab, the “intruding structure seriously compromised the driver’s survival space,” the IIHS told Automotive News.

The notoriously difficult small overlap test has been particularly difficult for automakers to solve. It’s unclear why Ford put the wheel blockers on the SuperCrew, but not the SuperCab and Regular Cab. Zuby offered a possible solution.

“I think automakers are trying to design the vehicles to offer the best protection for their customers,” he told Automotive News. “But occasionally, we do see evidence that maybe they are trying to get a good rating in a test, maybe without looking for a completely holistic solution.”

The IIHS tests only high-volume models. Historically the SuperCab and Regular Cab models only comprised 25 and 5 percent of sales respectively.

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73 Comments on “IIHS: Not All Ford F-150s Are Built Just As Tough...”


  • avatar
    bball40dtw

    Well the SuperCab doesn’t have a B-pillar, so would anyone think that it’ll be as safe as the SuperCrew? However, that shouldn’t matter too much on the small overlap test.

    • 0 avatar
      lexus94

      The next big question is whether this is Ford-specific or industry practice. Has the IIHS done similar checks on Silverado / 1500 equivalents?

      • 0 avatar
        th009

        Those have not gone through the small-offset crash test yet.

        But IIHS didn’t check the F-150, either, it was Automotive News that pointed out the discrepancy.

    • 0 avatar
      stuki

      The “wheel blockers” that supposedly make the difference, are installed well forward of the cab itself. Ford either tried to pull a fast one, thinking they’d get by testing only their highest sales volume cab, or there are price and/or performance concerns at play.

      • 0 avatar
        sgeffe

        Shades of the Pinto!

        • 0 avatar
          bball40dtw

          Let’s not get ridiculous. It’s still safer than any other truck and it will be fixed for the next model year.

          • 0 avatar
            th009

            IIHS has not yet done the offset test on other pickup trucks so we don’t know how they will fare.

            Ford will only fix this because Automotive News exposed their safety shortcut.

          • 0 avatar
            bball40dtw

            The only, non F150, crew cab that has IIHS scores comparable to the the F150 SuperCab is the Tundra. It was tested today for the small overlap. Results aren’t out yet.

      • 0 avatar
        th009

        They knew only the crew cab would be tested, and that’s the only one where they added the wheel blockers. What does that tell you?

        • 0 avatar
          Quentin

          Multiple fuel economy revisions on hybrids (after the initial ads were released), the Eco part of Ecoboost (ongoing), their creative ways of measuring legroom (ongoing), and now this so they can advertise “Good” on small overlap without actually making all the trucks actually meet good. You’ll have to forgive me if I take Ford’s claims with a grain of salt.

        • 0 avatar
          bball40dtw

          It tells me they are dummies from not adding it to the other trucks. It can’t cost that much. I don’t even like the reasoning which was basically, “The IIHS small overlap test came out while the current F150 was well into it’s development. Because of this, we addressed the version that over 80% of consumers buy, first. The other versions will be addressed in 2016.”

          • 0 avatar
            CJinSD

            They’re saying it was the plan to address it next year because they got caught. Reality is that they were going to sell a million trucks without the safety feature over the course of the model run, making a million times whatever the cost savings per unit was. Whoever thought of leaving the safety features out of the models that wouldn’t be tested was headed to bonus land.

          • 0 avatar
            bball40dtw

            I agree CJ. It smells like poo.

  • avatar
    dwford

    This is very shady on Ford’s part, and shows they’ve learned nothing from the mpg rating fiasco on the hybrids.

    • 0 avatar
      CJinSD

      They probably only get caught for one in a thousand of the shortcuts that they take and they still have customers. It’s Ford’s customers that are incapable of learning.

    • 0 avatar
      derekson

      This situation reminded me of Ford gaming the EPA mileage tests with their hybrids as well. Ford apparently learned nothing, and still does their best to game the testing and screw over their customers.

      This type of thing would give me serious concerns about buying a Ford product. What other corners are they cutting that people aren’t specifically testing for/looking at?

    • 0 avatar
      cwallace

      As shady as Hyundai putting extra reinforcement only on the side of the car that IIHS uses for front overlap crash tests?

      https://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/2016-hyundai-tucson-hope-four-wheels/

      • 0 avatar
        dal20402

        Check the update. They didn’t actually do that.

      • 0 avatar
        Dan

        Achieving a small-overlap head-on crash on the passenger’s side of the vehicle would take some real doing, mail trucks excepted.

        • 0 avatar
          ctg

          @Dan:

          It doesn’t have to be a head-on crash with another vehicle. This test also simulates running into a roadside barrier, like a telephone pole or bridge abutment.

        • 0 avatar
          Pch101

          “The Institute added the small overlap front test to its lineup of vehicle evaluations last year. It replicates what happens when the front corner of a vehicle strikes another vehicle or an object like a tree or a utility pole.”

          http://www.iihs.org/iihs/news/desktopnews/performance-in-small-overlap-front-test-earns-6-small-cars-good-or-acceptable-ratings-and-top-safety-pick-award

          People swerve to avoid a crash, screw up and hit something else, instead.

          It helps to look up this stuff.

        • 0 avatar
          stuki

          Nothing a bottle of booze and a row of parked cars can’t help with. Or a trip to the UK.

      • 0 avatar
        05lgt

        Overlap crashes happen on the driver side. That’s why they test that side. Putting overlap protective features on the passenger side seems kinda dumb.

  • avatar
    dal20402

    Did Ford try to get IIHS to rate all F-150s based only on a SuperCrew test? If so, this is repellent behavior.

    But I could also imagine Ford just caring less about the safety ratings for non-SuperCrew versions, because the family customers who care about safety are almost all buying SuperCrews.

    • 0 avatar
      bball40dtw

      “Did Ford try to get IIHS to rate all F-150s based only on a SuperCrew test?”

      I hope they aren’t that stupid. They should know that the IIHS is going to test the other versions. I’ll have to ask around to why the decision was made not to have the wheel blockers on the other versions, and if that is in fact the difference.

      • 0 avatar
        dwford

        IIHS only tests the most popular body style. They are testing the other cab configurations because they got some sort of tip off that the crash structures weren’t the same on all body styles.

        • 0 avatar
          bball40dtw

          They should still know it’s a possibility. Especially the volume the F150 moves. I’d like the see the tests of the other extended cab trucks.

          • 0 avatar
            derekson

            The only reason they did the test was because someone discovered the crossmember reinforcement specific to the SuperCrew and speculated that it was to game the small overlap test. The IIHS policy is always to only test the most popular body style, and Ford was gaming the test. Period.

          • 0 avatar
            bball40dtw

            Then they have to come out and own it and fix it.

          • 0 avatar
            stuki

            “Ford was gaming the test.”

            I’m sure they’re the only one. And this the only test being gamed…..

            If you engineer a product to meet a specific test, and the testing procedures are such that one specific body configuration is being tested, you’ll make sure that configuration passes. If the testers then starts testing other configurations, you have to go back and make sure those pass as well.

        • 0 avatar
          th009

          Automotive News noticed the difference and tipped off IIHS.

  • avatar

    “But occasionally, we do see evidence that maybe they are trying to get a good rating in a test, maybe without looking for a completely holistic solution.”

    Bingo, but that statement is being kind. Ford assumed that they would only test the high-volume models, as they do for everyone else, and they were wrong. I bet you Ford isn’t the only one doing this.

    This test has really been a truth-telling exercise for automakers, especially when it was first introduced. Only Volvo, Subaru, and some Hondas came through with good results without being re-designed to succeed in the test. Especially remarkable given that Volvo’s designs were mostly quite old when they did the test (S80/XC70, XC90, S60, etc.).

    • 0 avatar
      210delray

      Volvo had been running its cars through this type of test before the gleam was in the IIHS’s eye. So the common refrain that “everyone has caught up with Volvo on safety” isn’t quite true.

      Not that I’d buy a Volvo today, but I loved my former 240.

    • 0 avatar
      Richard Chen

      Subaru only has recent (2013+) A or G ratings for the small offset crash test.

      OTOH, the Volvo XC90’s G rating goes back to MY2003, very impressive.
      http://www.iihs.org/iihs/ratings/vehicle/v/volvo/xc90-4-door-suv

  • avatar
    Richard Chen

    IIHS links:

    http://www.iihs.org/iihs/ratings/vehicle/v/ford/f-150-extended-cab-pickup
    http://www.iihs.org/iihs/ratings/vehicle/v/ford/f-150-crew-cab-pickup

  • avatar
    APaGttH

    Now that Ford has been caught, I would suspect the IIHS is going to start running different body configurations of the major trucks for sale through their crash test program.

    I think some automakers past Ford are going to have some ‘splainin’ to do.

  • avatar
    pbr

    The surprise to me is that ANY pickup earns “highest marks.”

  • avatar
    tylanner

    Oh god GM is salivating.

    They need a 2015.5 F150

  • avatar
    Gardiner Westbound

    It’s wise to wait a year or two after a new model comes out before buying it. The market has an opportunity to discover the shortcuts and flaws the manufacturer baked into the vehicle.

    • 0 avatar

      This is true. The sorry-ass “Discovery Composition” infotainment system in my Golf SportWagen, which is an all-new model for 2015, is being replaced with a much better one for 2016. By contrast, my 2014 Jetta SportWagen was the final model year for that vehicle and had all of the tweaks and improvements.

  • avatar
    brenschluss

    It’s not a subtle difference.

    Good: youtu.be/_KCLyPip2Iw

    Marginal: youtu.be/FzxiTZcIyUE

  • avatar
    canddmeyer

    Busted.
    Ford On Road Dead.
    Busted.
    Fix Or Repair Daily.
    Busted.

    The other rumor the IIHS is going to quell shortly is crashing the passenger side of the vehicle for the overlap tests as it’s suspected the driver’s side is fortified while the passenger side isn’t.

    As a Ford stockholder, this is embarrassing.

  • avatar
    DenverMike

    I’d better see some HUGE rebates on ’15 super cabs. This is a fair size scandal, but not to say I can’t be bought.

  • avatar
    alluster

    Built Fraud Tough

  • avatar
    Big Al from Oz

    Business and industry in the US should start to set the benchmarks.

    I do know here in Australia most business/industries will not buy a pickup with less than a 5 star ENCAP rating.

    I do think Ford is expecting the SuperCrew to be a family vehicle, with a fnch the worker attitude. Great company philosophy.

    Well, the Ranger still appears to be the safest Ford pickup. Not bad for a 5 year old vehicle.

    • 0 avatar
      bball40dtw

      The Ranger is not the safest Ford pickup. The new F150 is the safest pickup that has ever been produced (based on crash tests), regardless of cab. I am disappointed in the test results, but the Ranger would do worse on the IIHS and NHSTA tests, let alone the small overlap.

      • 0 avatar
        th009

        The safest pickup that has ever been produced, regardless of cab? With a “marginal” test result, and serious deformation of the cab (see video above)?

        Are you serious?

        • 0 avatar
          bball40dtw

          Care to guess what other extended cab pickup trucks would rate on the small overlap? None of the others have been tested. In fact, none of the other crew cabs have been tested on the small overlap.

          All cabs of the F150 have the 5-star ratings from the NHTSA. Better than any other truck on sale right now.

          I’m not happy about the results from the SuperCab, because that’s the truck I want. However, it’s other ratings are better than any other truck on sale.

          • 0 avatar
            th009

            NHTSA doesn’t do offset crash testing. And the offset test results are pretty disastrous for the supercab. So if you want to wear blinders and look at only tests with the results you can like, then you can draw such a conclusion.

            I can only say “the safest pickup that has ever been produced, in bball40dtw’s mind, regardless of cab.”

          • 0 avatar
            Pch101

            “And the offset test results are pretty disastrous for the supercab.”

            The small offset test is new to IIHS. (Incidentally, NHTSA is in the process of developing its own.)

            I’m pretty sure that just about every vehicle built in the past would fail it. The full sizers from GM, Chrysler and Ford all get five-star ratings from NHTSA for overall, front and side protection and four stars for rollovers, so they’re all generally good.

          • 0 avatar
            bball40dtw

            Please tell me what crew cab truck has even received better crash test results than the F150 SuperCab.

            There isn’t one.

          • 0 avatar
            th009

            Because the two F-150s are the only pickup trucks tested so far, so it is the safest pickup truck on the small offset test. And also the least safe.

            Are you honestly happy with (1) the supercab test results, and (2) Ford’s behaviour in omitting the wheel blockers from the two versions that would not get tested by IIHS?

          • 0 avatar
            bball40dtw

            Two quotes from above:

            “I’m not happy about the results from the SuperCab”

            “I don’t even like the reasoning”

            I’m so irritated about it that I had a discussion with Mike Levine, Ford Trucks PR guy, about the results. How it went down pisses me off.

            However, my statement about the F150 being the safest truck you can buy is still true. The only CrewCab that did as well on IIHS tests as the SuperCab F150 is the Tundra. The Tundra was just tested in the small overlap today. We will see the results soon. It is industry expectation that all the current trucks will fail the small overlap. Some trucks won’t be tested until the 2016 model, and those companies will have time to update their offerings.

          • 0 avatar
            bball40dtw

            th009-

            my comment has been flagged for moderation, but the short answer is, no.

            I have had some conversations with F150 engineers about the incident and I am still not happy.

          • 0 avatar
            bball40dtw

            No. And think my overall comments reflect that.

    • 0 avatar
      Big Al from Oz

      A cut and paste from the immediate link below (attn: bball).

      “The Ranger scored 89 per cent for overall safety – the best score ever yet for a pick-up and one of the highest scores recorded by Euro NCAP for any type of vehicle.”

      From ANCAP below;

      https://www.ancap.com.au/safety-ratings/ford/ranger/ff346d

      Another interesting link;

      “Equally impressive is the new Ranger’s pedestrian protection rating of 81 per cent – not only the highest score for a pickup but also, amazingly, the highest safety rating for any vehicle tested for pedestrian safety by Euro NCAP. – See more at: http://www.truckjungle.com/2011/11/07/new-ford-ranger-first-pickup-to-earn-5-star-euro-ncap-safety-rating/#sthash.CmpcrVZ6.dpuf

  • avatar
    anomaly149

    Smells like a band-aid added to deal with a unique crash issue on that version that happens to help small overlap as well. Otherwise why bother with the complexity of not having it on everything?

  • avatar
    brenschluss

    I’m not going to lie. I’ve watched a new F150 crumple like a Landwind tin can on the IIHS Youtube channel maybe a dozen times now.

    Do I want a new Mustang or Focus RS any less now?

    Nope. Considering how fast I’d hit whatever immovable object in either of those, they could be made of paper-mache for all I care.

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