The entire Ford F-150 pickup line has done it. The aluminum-bodied truck series has passed the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s (NHTSA) 2015 crash test program with five-star ratings. Ford, long the leading pickup truck manufacturer, took a chance on its bread-and-butter truck line by making huge changes in its construction. The most significant change was using aluminum stampings for major body panels. In addition, there were changes to the suspension and frame.
The use of aluminum in the F150’s body panels was particularly of concern to many. Industry observers and consumers worried quite visibly about the potential problems in aluminum use – aluminum, because of the physical nature, can be malleable to the point of brittleness, can be susceptible to breaking. A carmaker must use specially processed aluminum panels as major pieces of the body. The basic crystal structure of the metal must line up, so the aluminum remains malleable. This extra processing does increase cost. The extra cost, though, is apparently offset by gains Ford has achieved. Not only is the automaker now successfully using aluminum as a major component of the F-150, but it has also boosted the overall mileage of the F-150 series by four to five mpg. And, now, according to NHTSA, the whole F-150 lineup has passed the agency’s tough crash tests.
Edmunds.com said yesterday that the two-wheel- and four-wheel-drive versions of the F-150 Regular Cab and SuperCab joined the SuperCrew, in achieving five-star ratings in the front and side crash tests. The pickup line achieved four-star ratings in the rollover category. So far, the only other automaker that has achieved the five-star rating is Chevrolet whose Silverado 1500 line passed the front and side tests at the same ratings. The automotive web information site, one of the online leaders, noted that the F-150’s primary competition is the Silverado line. Other competitive makes include the FCA (Fiat-Chrysler Automotive) Ram 1500, Nissan Titan and Toyota Tundra. The Ram 1500 and Tundra passed the crash tests with four stars while the Titan was not tested. General Motors other pickup line – Chevrolet is one of the two – is the GMC Sierra 1500. Because the Silverado and Sierra are virtual twins, it is safe to assume that the Sierra will also achieve five-star rating status. Interestingly, the steel-bodied 2014 F-150 achieved only four-stars in the crash testing.
Ford took a major chance with its highly, profitable F-150 series as the pickups have been market leaders for the last 38 consecutive years. Though the Silverado is close in overall numbers, it has only topped the F-150 once in all this time.
A Ford spokesman said of F-150 development team had “created 31 safety-related innovations, including new structures, materials and joining methods that were tested virtually by supercomputer simulations, then retested in Ford’s advanced laboratories to” ensure that the F-150 is the “safest Ford ever.”
The F-150 Regular Cab has the following safety features:
· Anti-lock braking
· Disc brakes
· Stability and traction control
· Trailer sway control
· Front-seat side-impact airbags
· Full-length side-curtain airbags
The F-150 SuperCab, with seating for five- to six, depending on front seat configuration (bucket versus bench) includes the base set of safety features and adds:
· Curve control
· Adaptive cruise control
· Lane-keeping control
· Blind-spot information system