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Ford F-150 extended cab falls short of Top Safety Pick [Video]

The SuperCrew variant aced all tests, however the extended-cab edition received a \'marginal\' rating in the small-overlap test.

Ford has achieved mixed crashworthiness ratings for its new F-150 pickup, depending on the cab configuration.

The SuperCrew variant aced all tests performed by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, representing the first aluminum-bodied vehicle to earn Top Safety Pick status.

Results for the extended-cab variant were mostly the same, except for the challenging small-overlap test. The structure was "seriously compromised," with significant intrusion into the driver's space. The brake pedal was pushed back 10-13 inches, while the dashboard jammed against the dummy's lower legs.

"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," said IIHS chief research officer David Zuby. "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."

For vehicles with several body styles, IIHS typically tests just the best-selling configuration. Engineering analysis suggested the F-150 extended cab might not perform as well, due to a lack of certain steel reinforcement bars that are present in the SuperCrew package. The suspicions were subsequently confirmed by another round of crash tests.

The results present potential trouble for Ford as the automaker works to promote the benefits of aluminum. General Motors has attempted to fuel skepticism via an anti-aluminum marketing campaign.

"Ford is evaluating possible changes to the extended cab for small offset performance," the company said in a statement.

More surprises could surface this year as IIHS tests different body styles in other pickups. The organization has suspected that some automakers may be effectively cheating in other ways, such as reinforcing only the left side of the vehicle to properly handle the small-overlap test.

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