Which Truck Has the Strongest Roof? Is It Aluminum or Steel? [Safety]

2016 ford f-150 crash testing iihs
2016 Ford F-150 crash testing (by IIHS)

Do all pickup trucks have the same roof strength to protect occupants in a case of a rollover?  The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) performs a series of crash tests and safety evaluations.  One of the tests they perform is the “Roof strength” test.  This procedure is fairly straight forward and its results can be displayed in an easily understood graph. A large steel plate is slowly pushed against the passenger side corner of the roof. The force required to deform the roof a specific number of inches is recorded. Then the force is related to the weight of the vehicle to come up with the final strength-to-weight ratio. The IIHS video below explains the details of the test.

The graph shows how the ratio varies as the metal plates continues to push against the vehicle. The peak strength-to-weight ratio recorded at any time before the roof is crushed five inches is the key measurement of roof strength.

“Good” rating requires a strength-to-weight ratio of at least 4.oo.  In other words, the roof must withstand a force of at least four times the vehicle’s weight before the plate crushes the roof by five inches. The higher the number – the better. The steeper the graph in the beginning – the stronger the roof structure and the lesser distance the roof is likely to squish during an accident.

All data provided here is from IIHS reports.

2015-ford-f-150-iihs-roof-strength
2015 Ford F-150 Crew 2WD

This table shows how several generations of full-size crew cab pickup trucks faired. It takes the IIHS a long time to test newer generations of trucks. As you can see, the data table below shows the most recent trucks that the agency tested. The majority of the data is for trucks from a previous generation. However, the interesting point is that the all-aluminum 2015 Ford F-150 shows the highest force ratio for roof strength.

The rating for the 2015 F-150 is significantly higher than that of the steel-cab 2011 F-150. There are two factors at play here. The 2015 truck is reported to be 691 lbs lighter than the 2011 model. The aluminum truck was able to withstand a greater peak force: 27,215 lbs versus 25,234 lbs for the steel Ford. The result is a good ratio of 5.85.

2011 Ford F-150
2011 Ford F-150 Crew 2WD

The IIHS testing shows that the aluminum cab of the latest Ford F-150 is significantly stronger than the steel counterparts of the previous generation. We will publish an update when more of the current generation of the trucks are tested.

Force Ratio IIHS Rating
2015 Ford F-150 Crew 5.85 Good
2011 Ford F-150 Crew 4.72 Good
2013 Toyota Tundra Crew 4.48 Good
2011 Nissan Titan Crew 3.56 Acceptable
2011 GMC Sierra Crew 3.13 Marginal
2011 Chevrolet Silverado Crew 3.13 Marginal
2011 Ram 1500 Crew 2.97 Marginal

 

Andre Smirnov is an Automotive Enthusiast, Producer, Reviewer, Videographer, Writer, Software Engineer, Husband, Father, and Friend.