Ford F-150 scores poorly in tests
BY DEE-ANN DURBIN
WASHINGTON -- Ford Motor Co.'s new F-150 pickup did poorly on bumper crash tests performed by the insurance industry, requiring an average of $1,500 in repairs in each of four tests.
In results to be released today, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety also gave the 2004 Ford Freestar minivan its second-lowest bumper crash rating. The Freestar required an average of $700 in repairs in each of the four tests.
The front and back of both vehicles were hit in the 5-m.p.h. tests, which simulate low-speed crashes in a parking lot or heavy traffic. The F-150 sustained the most damage -- $2,041 in repairs -- when it backed into a pole. The Freestar sustained the most damage -- $1,239 -- when its front end hit an angled barrier.
Ford stressed Wednesday that the tests aren't related to the safety of either vehicle. The company also said it designs all of its bumpers to perform well in internal tests.
The institute's tests "may not be representative of the type of damage that occurs in real-world situations," Ford spokesman Glenn Ray said.
The institute said predecessors to both vehicles -- the 2001 F-150 and the 1999 Windstar -- did better in previous bumper tests when costs were adjusted to 2003 prices. In 1999, the Windstar got the institute's "acceptable" rating -- one level higher than the Freestar -- and had an average of $523 in damage per test. The F-150 got the institute's worst rating both years, but its repair costs were slightly lower in 2001.
"Ford could have used this opportunity to design better bumpers," said institute chief Adrian Lund. "A bumper should be strong enough to prevent major damage at a fast walking speed."
Ford said it will offer options on sport-utility vehicles to prevent them from rolling over.
Ford will make available a system it calls Roll Stability Control on 2004 Lincoln Aviator and Navigator sport-utility vehicles. The system has a suggested retail price of $855, said spokeswoman Kristen Kinley. A version of the Navigator has the system as a standard feature, she said.
The automaker plans to extend the system to 2005 Ford Explorer and Expedition and Mercury Mountaineer sport-utility vehicles, she said. The company hasn't determined whether the system will be an option or standard equipment on those vehicles, she said. Bloomberg contributed to this report.