The redesigned 2009 Ford F-150 pickup received top safety ratings from the government and a leading outside group, the automaker said Wednesday.
The pickup earned the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s top 5-star crash-test ratings and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety’s “Top Safety Pick” award.
The 2009 F-150 is the first truck to feature side-impact air bags. It has a redesigned front end with high-strength steel to better protect occupants during crashes.
“The new F-150’s leading 5-star crash ratings and ‘Top Safety Pick’ award further demonstrate Ford’s commitment to safety,” said Susan Cischke, Ford’s group vice president of sustainability, environment and safety engineering.
The new pickup was completely redesigned with a new hydroformed steel front end, including use of tubular ultra-high-strength lighter weight steel, according to Steve Kozak, Ford’s chief engineer for safety systems.
The side-curtain air bags are designed to stay open for six seconds during a rollover crash. The system is designed to “cocoon” an occupant during a crash, Kozak said
The F-150 has a new “K-bag,” a front-seat dual-chamber side air bag named for its shape, which is designed to help protect the rib cage from excessive crash forces during a side impact.
Pickup trucks have often had fewer safety features than other vehicles, in part because customers haven’t sought them.
NHTSA issued a study in 2006 after it conducted focus groups on the impact of safety on auto buyers that suggested the agency may have problems convincing people to use the safety ratings.
“Pickup truck buyers are unconcerned about safety ratings,” NHTSA said.
Ford said its recent customer research shows 83 percent of F-150 buyers consider safety one of the top reasons to purchase.