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2019 Ford F-150 Review: Kids, Carseats & Safety

When I was asked if I’d like to review the best-selling vehicle in the country, I said sure, figuring it would be something like an Accord or a RAV4. It turns out the best-selling vehicle in America is the Ford F150, which took me by surprise. I’m always up for driving a fully-loaded, brand-new vehicle for a week, though, so I was game to test out a 2019 Ford F150 SuperCrew Limited.

While it’s true that a lot of pickup trucks are probably bought more for work purposes than for family-hauling, pickups can be great options for people who need to do both, or for parents who just like the versatility of having a huge cargo area plus room to seat their kids.

This review will focus primarily on features that are important to the average parent, like safety, comfort, and, of course, car seats. Here’s a general video overview, and we’ll go into more detail down below:

Safety Features

As a Child Passenger Safety Technician, safety is my top priority when it comes to vehicles. A pickup truck’s large size will give it an advantage on the road, but that’s just part of it. Vehicle manufacturers are adding more and more safety features to satisfy customers and to improve their ratings in government and IIHS testing, and Ford has lots of safety options available for the F150.

The F150 Limited I drove came with all the safety features: blind-spot detection, lane-keep assist, automatic braking, adaptive cruise control, backup camera with 360-degree view, cross-traffic warning and more. As you go lower in trim levels, you’ll lose some of those features, but even the base model includes automatic emergency braking.

The F150 also comes with a full array of airbags, including the option of inflatable airbags in the rear outboard seatbelts. I’ll go into more detail on those in the carseat section.

I’ll admit I’m kind of nervous about driving large vehicles (especially at first), so features like blind-spot detection help give me peace of mind that I won’t run over a Smart Car. I’m also notoriously bad at parking, and the larger the vehicle, the worse I do. That’s why I loved the birdseye-view camera to help me not be so crooked in parking spaces.

The Limited also has a feature that will essentially parallel-park the truck for you. I didn’t have an opportunity to try it out, but it seems like a great option for those of us who are parking-challenged.

Driving and Comfort

Oh, my, the comfort…Where to begin?

Let me start by telling you that the F150 Limited has massaging seats. You can stop reading now and just go buy one if you’d like.

The seats are also heated and air-conditioned, so if you ever need a little “me time,” you can just go hang out in your truck.

If you’re still cold even with the heated seats, take advantage of the heated steering wheel as well. If you have backseat passengers who aren’t in car seats, they will also appreciate the heated second-row seats.

The center console is absolutely enormous. You could—but shouldn’t—store a small child in there. BubbleBum for scale:

A panoramic sunroof brightens up the whole car, as do tons of cool blue lights at night. (Even the cupholders glow.) LED lights also illuminate the truck bed at night, making it easy to find stuff in the dark.

Automatic retractable (and lit) running boards make it easy for kids and shorter adults to get in and out of the truck without hurting themselves or making fools of themselves.

The Limited has the option of serving as its own WiFi hot spot, which can come in very handy on long trips with kids. The truck is compatible with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto for smooth integration.

If you don’t need to have anyone riding in the middle of the back seat, an armrest/cupholder console folds down for convenience and comfort.

Did I mention it has massaging seats?

I’m not an expert on truck beds and sizes and whatnot, so I won’t try to get technical about it. I do know that on the occasions we need to haul stuff, getting it into the bed of an F150 would be a lot easier than shoving it into the back of our Odyssey, as we do now. I didn’t need to haul anything other than groceries during my test-drive period, so I didn’t really put that feature to use, although I think my husband was itching to throw some lumber back there.

Jennie, enjoying a massage

I’m not going to say that driving the F150 felt like driving a car, because it didn’t, and that’s okay. The ride was kind of bumpy, but that’s to be expected with an unladen pickup bed. (Get the massaging chair going, and you can’t really tell the difference between bumps in the road and the lumbar roller anyway.) To be honest, after the first few minutes of driving, I didn’t even notice the bumpiness anymore. The truck handled very nicely, and driving it wound up being pretty fun, even if it did take some getting used to.

The F150 Limited does have a fuel-saving option that idles the engine once you’ve been stopped for a while. Although it saves energy, I personally don’t like the associated lag that happens once I start accelerating. The option is easy enough to turn off when you don’t want it, though.

Carseats

In many ways the F150 is a dream for carseats, but there are a few important details to keep in mind.

First, the good. The SuperCrew’s backseat is enormous. ENORMOUS. It’s wide, meaning that almost any combination of three carseats (or combination of carseats and people) should fit without problem. It’s also very deep, so nearly any infant seat or rear-facing convertible should work. (I say “almost” any combination of seats and “nearly” any rear-facing seat only because it’s possible something won’t work, but I can’t imagine what. Seriously, there’s just a lot of room.)

Below you can see a Nuna Pipa, a Chicco MyFit, and a Graco Affix installed easily next to one another. You can also see how much room there is between the comfortably-adjusted front seat and the Pipa.

The back seat is also pretty flat, meaning that it shouldn’t be difficult to achieve the proper recline on a rear-facing seat. (Sometimes very sloped seats can make it hard to properly recline a child restraint.) The lower anchors are very easily accessible. No digging around looking for them! There is also no overlap of any seatbelt components, which means no one will be squished, and the belts won’t interfere with each other.

The headrests in the back are also relatively flush with the seatback, which means they shouldn’t pose too much of an issue with forward-facing seats and booster seats. Sometimes headrests that are bulky or jut out can push carseats forward, which can lead to an incompatibility in some cases and frustration in others. Since the F150’s headrests are pretty unassuming, they shouldn’t cause too much trouble, and if they do, they’re removable!

Now, the issues you need to keep in mind. (These aren’t necessarily negatives, and in fact can be positives in a way, but they’re important to consider.)

The F150, like most pickup trucks, has weird top tether anchors. In most sedans and SUVs, the tether anchors are actual metal bars located behind the seat. In the case of most trucks (including the 150), the anchors are actually fabric loops. To use them, you route the carseat’s tether through the loop behind the seat, then route it over and clip it to the loop behind one of the adjacent seats. In this case—and in this case only—it’s okay to have two carseats tethered to the same (center) tether anchor. This set-up isn’t dangerous, but it can be confusing to people who aren’t used to it.

The other really important thing to keep in mind is that most carseats are not compatible with inflatable seatbelts. There are exceptions, which I won’t enumerate here because manufacturers have been known to change their position. However, you can find a list of currently approved seats here, and you can always check your child restraint’s manual or call the manufacturer for more guidance.

Let’s say you have carseats that are not compatible with Ford’s inflatable belts. What can you do? First, you can install with lower anchors (LATCH) if your child is still within the LATCH limits of the carseat. If your child is too heavy for LATCH, you can install the child restraint in the center of the back seat. Only the outboard seats have inflatable belts, so the center seatbelt is a normal one and is just fine for installing seats. Since the back seat of the F150 is so wide, you shouldn’t have any trouble fitting your carseat in the center.

It’s important to note that various booster seats aren’t allowed to be used with the inflatable seatbelts, although you’ll find a wider array of allowed booster seats than you will harnessed seats.

With all that complication, you might be asking what the point of inflatable seatbelts is and why you should even bother with the option. The idea behind the belts is that in a crash, the inflatable belt will distribute crash forces over a wider part of the torso, reducing injury. Many years ago, when the inflatable belts first debuted, I went to a presentation about them and was impressed with the X-rays they showed of cadavers tested with regular belts vs. inflatable ones. The reduction in fractures was impressive.

Obviously, though, these benefits would only apply to people using the seatbelt directly (adults, teens, kids in approved booster seats). When deciding whether or not you want to opt for inflatable belts, consider your needs now and for as long as you think you might have the truck. If you mostly have older kids or only need to be able to install one harnessed carseat, inflatable belts might be a good option for you. If you’re just starting your family or have a couple small children who you expect to be in harnessed seats for a while, maybe opt for the standard belts.

I didn’t have any compatible harnessed seats to try out with the inflatable belts, but I did have a couple Graco boosters that are (at the time of publication) approved for use with them. I found that the thicker webbing of the inflatable belt took a little more effort to get into the belt guide of the Graco Affix, but that also meant it was less likely to slip out on its own. The belt itself wouldn’t have had any issues smoothly sliding through the guide, but I did find the fabric label sewed onto the belt would sometimes catch on the guide, so that’s something to keep in mind.

I also found that when my daughter was in the backless Graco TurboBooster TakeAlong, the seatbelt only made contact with her chest if she sat very still in one exact position. If she shifted even a little, the belt would float in front of her, which isn’t safe. She’s on the smaller side, though, and very slender, so this might not be a problem for all kids. Adding the back to the TakeAlong would likely solve this problem as well.

You can check the quick video below for more information about inflatable seatbelts, including how to lock them when installing an approved harnessed seat. (You pull the lap portion all the way out, not the shoulder portion like you do with most vehicles.)

 

Top Likes

  • “Good” results in IIHS crash tests
  • 5-star overall and in all NHTSA crash tests
  • Tons of safety features
  • Extremely roomy back seat
  • Easily accessible lower anchors
  • Inflatable seatbelts (for older kids/teens/adults)
  • Lots of comfort features
  • Massaging seats (it deserved its own bullet)

Top Dislikes

  • Top tether loops (although this is pretty standard on pickup trucks in general)
  • Inflatable seatbelts (not a dislike on its own, but can cause issues for installing carseats)
  • “Poor” IIHS headlight rating.  Untested in IIHS Passenger-side small overlap crash test, untested standard front crash prevention system.
  • Bigger than what I’m comfortable driving (though its size can definitely be a positive for some people–in fact, if you’re reading this review, you’re likely one of them!)

Conclusion

The Ford F150 Limited was a lot of fun to drive. Although I don’t have much use for a pickup truck these days, people who tow trailers, haul a lot of big items, or just like trucks can rest assured that they can still do all those things while comfortably and safely driving their kids. All the comfort and safety features of the Limited trim come with a high price tag ($74,775), but the base model SuperCrew starts around $34,000 and comes with some safety features (like automatic emergency braking) standard.  From a crash-worthiness perspective, the Super Crew is arguably the safest of any light duty pickup truck in terms of actual crash test results.  If you’re in the market for a pickup, the F150 is a worthy contender. There has to be a reason it’s the best-selling vehicle in America, right?

Ford provided CarseatBlog with a truck for a week to review, but we received no compensation and all opinions are our own.