By on March 21, 2019

There are wars being waged on all fronts in the half-ton pickup truck market, from towing prowess to outright power ratings. Not ones to pass up an opportunity to bash their competitors over the head with a truck-shaped chair, manufacturers seem to take every opportunity to harangue their opponents – especially when empirical data puts them in the driver’s seat.

The latest to do so? Ford, leveraging the recent IIHS crash test results of its 2019 F-150 Crew Cab pickup to take a shot or three at The General.

A new test cooked up by the crash testers at the gubbmint agency has recently been giving OEMs a few fits. Called the small overlap test, it mimics a terrifying crash in which a vehicle careens into an immovable obstacle that is just only jutting out into the rig’s path of travel. Think of nailing a tree or telephone pole with the left or right headlight of your pickup at speed and you’ve got a good picture of the test. This test pretzelizes the vehicle and often rudely intrudes into the passenger compartment. Here’s an example:

After manufacturers largely sorted out how to handle this test on the driver’s side of a vehicle, attention was turned to the passenger side of things. Ford sent a 2019 F-150 Crew Cab into battle, where it earned a top-tier Good rating in all categories. That’s the highest rating, by the way; there are no Excellent or Super Duper classifications, sadly.

Here’s a breakdown of passenger side crash testing of crew cab pickups, in which the Honda Ridgeline is inexplicably included.

And here’s a screenshot of IIHS crash test ratings as they pertain to other areas of pickup trucks, not just the passenger side. Note we had to split the picture because the Toyota Tundra CrewMax was so far down the rankings that it could not be displayed on the same page as its crew cab competitors. Extended Cab trucks are tested separately and sometimes create different test results. For ease of reading, we’ve pointed out the Crew Cab models.

According to the IIHS, the Ford F-150 was the best performer in the passenger-side test. Its structure is said to have held up well with a maximum intrusion of 5 inches at the rightmost section of the toepan. The seat belts and airbags worked well together to control the movement of the passenger and driver dummies, and neither dummy recorded any potential injuries.

The Tundra, in contrast, was seriously compromised (those words are lifted verbatim from the IIHS report) by intruding structure. Maximum intrusion, also at the rightmost part of the toepan, measured 15 inches. There was also intrusion of more than a foot at the lower door hinge pillar. The passenger dummy’s head hit the grab handle attached to the A-pillar as the pillar intruded into the passenger’s space.

“We commend Ford, Nissan, and Ram for providing state-of-the-art crash protection for both drivers and front passengers of their large pickup models,” says David Zuby, IIHS chief research officer. “As a group, however, the pickup class still has a lot of work to do.”

Ford PR rep and noted sender-of-tweets Mike Levine took the opportunity to poke his rivals at Chevrolet and GMC in the eye with this series of smack on Twitter this morning.

Alert readers will note none of the half-ton trucks shown here are bestowed with the IIHS award of Top Safety Pick or Top Safety Pick+. This is down to the performance of their headlamps and their illumination properties, or lack thereof. Absent of an Acceptable or Good rating in this test, no Top Pick designation will be given, no matter how well the rest of the truck performs.

Until then, we’ll just have to sit back and enjoy the smacktalk between crosstown rivals on Twitter.

[Images: IIHS]

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39 Comments on “Crash Test Dummies: Ford Tops IIHS Tests, Everyone’s Headlights Suck...”


  • avatar
    Art Vandelay

    Next time the esteemed commentators that frequent these hallowed forums wish to bash crew cab pickups driving around with passengers remember, that in the case of the Tundra at least, this is probably a good thing!

  • avatar
    Art Vandelay

    Next time the esteemed commentators that frequent these hallowed forums wish to bash crew cab pickups driving around with no passengers remember, that in the case of the Tundra at least, this is probably a good thing!

    • 0 avatar
      JohnTaurus

      They should also complain about 5 passenger cars with less than 5 people in them, those with a 15 cubic foot trunk with less than 15 cubic feet of cargo, and those who’s engine has more than the absolute minimum amount of power required to propel the car to the speed limit.

  • avatar
    210delray

    The IIHS is independent from the “gubbmint.” But with NHTSA, the federal goverenment agency in charge of safety regulation, moving at such a glacially slow pace (under both GOP and Democratic administrations), the IIHS has become the de facto regulator.

  • avatar
    EBFlex

    The “Insurance Institute for Highway Safety” is now a government organization?

    And damn, Levine is a child considering Ford cannot engineer door handles, proper headlights and just recalled 1.5 million trucks.

    • 0 avatar
      Art Vandelay

      Yeah but they, and most eveyone else can engineer the cab to minimize intrusion and be less likely to crush your passenger’s legs or trap them in the event of this sort of collision. Unlike Toyota.

      • 0 avatar
        JohnTaurus

        C’mon now, dont take away from his negative spin, we all know Ford is the only manufacturer to ever have a recall.

        • 0 avatar
          EBFlex

          Hahaha, it’s so fun to watch Johnny get triggered by the truth.

          It’s not “negative spin” when you point out truthful facts, one of which is a piece of information found in the results of the IIHS testing.

  • avatar
    thelaine

    All these vehicles are very safe. Kudos to Ford. They know where their money is made and keep investing in their trucks. The pickup wars have been great for truck buyers, regardless size, configuration, or brand.

    Toyota invests and innovates the least, and it shows. People still buy them because they are Toyotas, and have a great reputation for reliability.

    • 0 avatar
      thegamper

      The way I understand it, with regard to the headlight test, there are two prongs. One is the ability to illuminate the road ahead an adequate distance and the second prong is the ability to do so without blinding all oncoming drivers.

      Thus, it is highly unlikely that any of the truck makers will ever pass that second part of the equation. This, because as we all know, modern trucks are designed to offend and intimidate first and carry passengers and cargo second.

      This being the case, naturally, headlights are at eye level or higher of literally anyone not driving a pickup truck or large SUV. The hoods of most trucks are above the roof height of most cars. There will certainly be no impetus to lower the height of truck headlights to be more in line with other passenger vehicles because…well….that would be less offensive and less intimidating. In fact, I think even higher headlights are probably on the horizon as trucks continue their clown like morph into ever larger phallus extenders for….erm…that crowd…. for lack of a better term. You know who you are.

      • 0 avatar
        Art Vandelay

        Oh nonsense. My Fiesta STs roofline is higher than my F150’s (2015, so current body) hood. I am looking out the window at them as I type this. So unless the “average” car is lower than the freaking smallest car Ford builds, this is just more pickup hate.

        • 0 avatar
          thegamper

          I’ve tried googling how high the hood of an f150 rises from the ground and the height it’s headlights sit at for a 2019 model. No luck. I would love to know if you want to take a tape measure Art. I’m sure different wheel options can take that number a few inches in either direction. I’ve parked next to trucks before so I have a pretty good idea. Your fiesta is actually two inches taller than my car which is a substantially longer, midsize/large sedan. I can guarantee that the headlights are at or above my eye level when sitting in the car. Does that seem reasonable? Safe for other drivers? Is there a reason the need to be that high? Just saying. Douchie is a legitimate pickup truck design language. Look at all the new HD pickups as exhibit A. They probably have focus groups and everything to make sure new models hit the mark. All the pickup truck hate aside, you can’t deny that they are going for max intimidation, bigger in every dimension, brighter “look at me” lighting. That’s a real thing and everyone knows it. They are not designing trucks to be attractive, they are designed to be “in your face” first and foremost because that’s what most buyers want. Most of us draw a similar conclusion about what that means and who that appeals to. You may like trucks despite this and buy for completely different reasons, but it’s still happening.

          • 0 avatar
            Art Vandelay

            In my driveway, as I typed that was a vehicle sandwich. Flanking my 2015 F150 Super Crew 2WD (but with the tire size from a 4WD), was on one side said Fiesta and on the other side, The kid’s Nissan Leaf. The roof of both of those cars is taller than the F150’s hood. I’m not taking any tape measyure because A: I don’t give a rat’s kiester and B: I can look out the freaking window and see.

            Furthermore, my wife’s Santa Fe is far more indicative of “the average car” than whatever midsized sedan you drive. Judging by your “You suck and my car is the be all end all of what people should drive”, I will guess some sort of BMW because we are making broad generalizations based on what people drive and frankly, your whining seems to fit that stereotype.

            Lastly, I drive, primarily anyway a Fiesta ST in Alabama. You know, The reddest of the red states where pickup ownership is a right of passage…yeah That Alabama. I am rarely annoyed by headlights behind me. In a Fiesta…In Alabama. When I am it is usually a lifted rig with those surface of the sun driving lights. Still, I am perfectly able to see over my own hood. Perhaps your auto dimming mirror isn’t working. As, in my mind anyway, you drive a BMW this seems likely. And for the record, even in Ala-Freaking-RawlTide-Bama the lifted coal rolling sort of truck yoou think 9 out of 10 truck owners own is comparitively rare. Most drive mid level trimmed 4x4s at stock height…which dont biother me…in a freaking Fiesta ST with my seat dragging my kiester inches off the ground.

            Get over yourself.

      • 0 avatar
        vehic1

        thegamper: +1

      • 0 avatar
        DenverMike

        “Pen!s extender”?? Is this Jalopnik? Actually all vehicles put down a similar size/shape light pattern, maximum about 180 feet ahead (full lane, low beams).

        If you’re paying attention, car headlights all aim slightly downward (barely noticeable) to reach that cut-off. Truck headlights aim dramatically downward to reach the same cut-off line, and not go beyond.

        • 0 avatar
          redapple

          Denver.

          Maybe not.

          Ford F 250. I remember a story in the news where Ford specifically designed the headlights to light up the lower section of the ‘C’ molding to AVOID BLINDING ONCOMING DRIVERS.

          PS- thegamper ++++1

    • 0 avatar
      EBFlex

      “Kudos to Ford. They know where their money is made and keep investing in their trucks.“

      Well except the interiors, suspensions, and apparently headlights are extremely low on their priority list. Being able to see at night is so overrated.

      • 0 avatar
        Art Vandelay

        So the difference from the Tundra in a domestic truck is that when the Toyota’s marginal headlights blind the oncoming driver and they stray into your lane you are far less likely to walk away from the resulting wreck. Your passenger is screwed should it happen on that side. Yeah, I’ll take my chances with the domestic. Having been in a vehicle on fire on a few occasion, not having my legs trapped is a definite positive.

  • avatar
    dukeisduke

    No surprise about the poor performance of the Tundra, seeing how its basic design dates to 2007.

    Why the swipe at the Ridgeline? Sure, I don’t think it’s a real pickup either, but it’s classified as such, and even earned a Top Safety Pick. What I can’t figure is how it got categorized as a large pickup, when really it competes more with the Tacoma, Frontier, and Colorado/Canyon.

    Yeah, truck headlights suck. I love the ones in my ’13 Tacoma; they’re bright enough with the stock bulbs, have a nice sharp cutoff, and no discernible hot spots. The worst, as far being in front of one, or meeting one, are the ’18/’19 F-150s, as they’re usually blinding. At first I thought it was due to aftermarket bulbs, but now I’m convinced it’s factory LEDs used in uplevel trims. They also run all four lights at once, which just looks weird, like the ’17 and up Super Dutys.

    • 0 avatar
      Vulpine

      @dukeisduke: The Ridgeline got classed as full-sized because it is closer to full-sized in width and very nearly the same length as a short-bed full-sizer. Larger than mid-sized but only slightly smaller than full sized.

      And it’s the only TSP because it’s headlamps don’t suck as bad as the rest.

    • 0 avatar
      ar_ken

      Just because it’s a older design doesn’t mean it necessarily suck. Remember how Volvo managed to ace the Small Overlap Test in 2012 with a XC90 that was released in 2003?

  • avatar
    APaGttH

    I hate the new Ford headlights – they are like four lightsabers searing your retinas out. What the f—- was Ford thinking???

  • avatar
    bs3875

    Maybe the headlights in the US wouldn’t be so poor if they updated the regulations. In Europe they have some awesome technology coming out or that is out that we never get because of our regulations.

    • 0 avatar
      James Charles

      bs3875,
      In Australia we can have driving lights fitted to our vehicles. These don’t pose a safety issue. Our headlight are the same as the EU, Japan and all other signatories of the UNECE vehicle standards.

      I don’t know if the EU allows for driving lights. This might be a local Australian allowance.

  • avatar
    brn

    IIHS exists to draw attention to itself, to draw more funding. Never been a fan of their tactics.

  • avatar
    Garrett

    Remember that time Ford cheated by only making its crew cab pass the test, without including the same parts on regular and extended cab pickups – all because the IIHS didn’t test them?

    Maybe they should hold off with the bragging.

  • avatar
    HotPotato

    Ford truck headlights: existing solely to blind oncoming traffic for 30 years.

  • avatar
    ToolGuy

    Regarding the small overlap test: Would a larger grille help? …ducks…

  • avatar

    What is with all those poor structures ratings for GM trucks. They should stick to building cars.

    • 0 avatar
      Detroit-X

      The excellent GM structures guy/gal, with 30 years of experience, was “separated” because his job wasn’t needed anymore in 2008. His replacement with 20 years of experience was “separated” last month.

      • 0 avatar

        I would say it is more of an organizational failure than anything to do with one individual. This is not good news for GM. GM’s best vehicles are still cars. I think the overall excellence of the CT6, Volt, and Corvette back up this claim.


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