2020 Ford Explorer's Crashworthiness Not Improved Enough For IIHS

Screenshot: IIHS

The poor 2020 Ford Explorer just can’t catch a break. Issues with the screens and personnel problems at the plant have resulted in a messy launch and dropped sales. There was a recall. Now adding to the pile of complications is news the new Explorer’s crashworthiness didn’t improve enough for the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety to give it a safety award.

The agency reports while the midsize SUV has better protection in the driver-side small overlap front test over previous models, that protection didn’t improve enough for the car to earn a 2019 safety award, according to a press release. From the release:

In the driver-side small overlap test of the Explorer, the structure held up well overall — an improvement over the severe intrusion seen in the Explorer prior to the redesign. However, in the test of the new model, there was enough intrusion into the outboard part of the footwell to elevate the risk of injury to the driver’s left leg, as indicated by measures taken from the dummy, resulting in an overall rating of acceptable.

Unfortunately, this applies to the new Lincoln Aviator as well.

The IIHS notes vehicles are required to earn at least a “good” rating on the driver-side small overlap crash test in order to receive a Top Safety Pick or Top Safety Pick+ award, so neither the Aviator nor the Explorer were eligible.

As a reminder, the IIHS’s driver-side small overlap front test is one that’s been designed to simulate what happens when the front left corner of a car hits an object, such as a tree, a utility pole or another car. It’s a difficult test to pass because occupants tend to move sideways and toward the front of the car.

The agency explains the whole thing here, but this is what the actual test is like:

In the driver-side small overlap frontal test, a vehicle travels at 40 mph toward a 5-foot-tall rigid barrier. A Hybrid III dummy representing an average-size man is positioned in the driver seat. Twenty-five per cent of the total width of the vehicle strikes the barrier on the driver side.

Ford, according to the agency, had anticipated its new SUV to earn a “good” rating in the test. The company has said it will investigate why that didn’t happen, and intends to make some changes in order to better the Explorer’s performance for future testing. I mean, yeah, that’d be the responsible and right thing to do.

You can see video of the safety test below.

And here’s a screenshot of the IIHS’s full rating:

Screenshot: IIHS
Screenshot: IIHS
Screenshot: IIHS

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