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America’s favorite truck can’t be perfect all the time, even though it feels like it sometimes. For Ford, making a well-rounded pickup truck has come easy for the last 40-some years. And even though it slipped up on a recent safety test, the Ford F-150 remains the best-selling vehicle in the US by a lot.

Popular trucks in America include this 2023 Ford F-150 Lariat
A 2023 Ford F-150 Lariat Sport | Ford

In case you were unaware that Ford sells an F-Series truck every 49 seconds in America, that is the case. Like most new vehicles, the F-150 underwent safety testing through the IIHS. Large pickup trucks like the F-150 don’t always excel in these crash tests simply because trucks are built differently than the average car or SUV. Since the IIHS has increased the stringency of tests to keep occupants safe, some vehicles earned lower scores than in previous years.

Last year, the IIHS modified one of its tests after data showed there was a greater chance of fatal injury for second-row passengers. Since there is so much emphasis placed on front-row occupants, the front-row passenger is covered by improved safety measures. There was room for improvement for those in the back row for most large pickup trucks in America.

IIHS Crashworthiness TestScore
Small overlap front: driver-sideGood
Small overlap front: passenger-sideGood
Moderate overlap front: original testGood
Moderate overlap front: updated testPoor
Side: original testGood
Side: updated testGood
Roof strengthGood
Head restraints & seatsGood
2023 Ford F-150 IIHS safety scores

On this test, called the moderate overlap front updated test, the 2023 Ford F-150 earned a score of “poor” on the overall evaluation. While this made the 2023 F-150 ineligible for the higher distinction, it still earned the Top Safety Pick award.

Why did America’s favorite truck fall short?

It isn’t all bad news for large trucks in America. The Ford F-150 did retain its structural integrity and earned the highest score of “good” on that part of the test. It also protected the driver in all of the critical areas. The rear passenger injury measures earned more poor scores. Even though the 2023 F-150 has to accept this score for now, Ford will likely implement changes quickly.

In the updated overlap front test, the IIHS uses a dummy place in the second row to measure injuries. The safety group has new data that shows what injuries are most common in the back seat and measures how the truck protects against those injuries.

Unfortunately for the Ford truck, the dummy moved around too much in the collision. Sensors showed that injuries would be likely for most of the large pickup trucks tested, which calls for some adjustments and improvements. Without a good score in this segment, the trucks are ineligible for the Top Safety Pick Plus award.

There is room for improvement for most trucks in America

The backside of the 2023 Ford F-150 on the road
2023 Ford F-150 | Ford

Even though America’s favorite truck fell short in that segment, the scores on other parts of the crashworthiness tests were positive. The Ford F-150 earned the highest score of “good” on the other seven tests.

The 2023 Ford F-150 has three different headlight variations available, which earned three different scores. Below are the different trim levels and packages, along with the headlight type and how each one scored. The LED projector headlights provided the best visibility for both low and high beams.

Ford F-150 Trim LevelLow-beam headlight typeHigh-beam headlight typeIIHS Score
Lariat with 502A package
Raptor with 801A package
King Ranch
Tremor with 402A package
LED projectorLED projectorGood
XLT with 302A package
Tremor with 401A package
LED reflectorLED reflectorAcceptable
Halogen reflectorHalogen reflectorPoor
The most popular trucks in America

One of the reasons trucks in America are so popular is because there are endless varieties. The 2023 Ford F-150 has many trim levels to choose from and countless ways to customize the truck. Ford will likely make some adjustments to backseat safety in the next few months with the hopes of improving this score. Overall, the F-150 is the best-selling truck in America and will probably remain so, even if some elements of safety need tweaking.


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