There is an increasing trend in using aluminum foam-filled columns in crash management systems due to their light weight in automotive industry. The main goal of this study is to optimize the crashworthiness of aluminum foam-filled thin-walled multi-tubular circular columns under quasi-static loading. The existing studies in the literature considered only lateral foam filling (the foam lateral dimension is variable and the foam height is equal to the column height). In the present study, we considered both lateral and axial foam filling and compared the performances of these two options. In optimization, the column thicknesses, taper angle, foam density, and foam height/diameter are considered as design variables. The quasi-static responses of the columns are determined through explicit dynamic Finite Element Analysis (FEA) using LS-DYNA software, and validated with quasi-static tests conducted in our facilities. Response surface based crashworthiness optimization of the columns for maximum Crush Force Efficiency (CFE) and maximum Specific Energy Absorption (SEA) is performed. It is found that lateral foam filling is superior to axial foam filling in terms of both CFE and SEA maximization. The maximum CFE obtained through lateral foam filling is 19% larger than the maximum CFE obtained through axial foam filling. Similarly, the maximum SEA obtained through lateral foam filling is 6% larger than the maximum SEA obtained through axial foam filling. For both CFE and SEA maximization, the columns should be tri-tubular type and have a large thickness and a taper angle. To attain the maximum CFE, foam should be designed with large density and medium foam diameter. However, foam plays an adverse role in maximization of SEA because of its weight. The increase in energy absorption obtained by using foam does not compensate the additional weight introduced by the foam.