2020 Ford Explorer Earns Highest Safety Rating

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Automotive Editor

Based out of the Washington, D.C. area, Joel Patel is an automotive journalist that hails from Northern Virginia. His work has been featured on various automotive outlets, including Autoweek, Digital Trends, and Autoblog. When not writing about cars, Joel enjoys trying new foods, wrenching on his car, and watching horror movies. 

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, Automotive Editor - September 22, 2020

The fully-redesigned 2020 Ford Explorer had a tough birth, but the automaker seems to have gotten a hold on production issues that delayed the SUV and the Lincoln Aviator, its luxury counterpart. Some good news for the Explorer came recently as the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) named the SUV a Top Safety Pick+ award winner.

When the IIHS first tested the Explorer and Aviator, the two SUVs failed to earn one of the institute’s awards because they performed poorly in the driver-side small overlap test. Explorer models built after May 2020 received an updated left and right front subframe. The change resulted in the Explorer and Aviator receiving ratings of “Good” in all six of the IIHS’ tests.

The Explorer is available with two different LED headlights that both earned “Acceptable” ratings, just allowing the SUV to narrowly get the institute’s highest safety rating. The Aviator, on the other hand, only gets a Top Safety Pick award because of its standard “Marginal” LED headlights. The optional LED projector headlights on higher Aviator trim levels earned a rating of “Good.”

The new ratings for the 2020 Explorer are an improvement over last year’s model. The 2019 Explorer did poorly in the IIHS’ crash tests, earning ratings of “Marginal” in the driver-side small overlap front and “Poor” in the passenger-side small overlap front tests. Headlights in last year’s Explorer were found be to be “Poor,” too, while the optional vehicle-to-vehicle front-crash prevention system earned a rating of “Basic.”

Ford only has three vehicles to earn either a Top Safety Pick or a Top Safety Pick+ award. The 2020 Ford Escape and 2020 Edge are Top Safety Pick SUVs. The 2020 Explorer is the automaker’s only Top Safety Pick+ vehicle. Against other American brands like Chevrolet, which has one Top Safety Pick vehicle (the 2020 Chevrolet Equinox), Chrysler has zero, and Dodge has none, Ford’s doing incredibly well. Compared to Toyota, Hyundai, Honda, Nissan, Subaru, Hyundai, and Kia, Ford is far behind.

The 2020 Explorer joins the Mazda CX-9 and Subaru Ascent as Top Safety Pick+ midsize SUVs. The Hyundai Palisade, Ford Edge, Hyundai Santa Fe, Kia Sorento, Kia Telluride, Toyota Highlander, and Volkswagen Tiguan are Top Safety Pick vehicles.

Learn more about the 2020 Ford Explorer »

, Automotive Editor

Based out of the Washington, D.C. area, Joel Patel is an automotive journalist that hails from Northern Virginia. His work has been featured on various automotive outlets, including Autoweek, Digital Trends, and Autoblog. When not writing about cars, Joel enjoys trying new foods, wrenching on his car, and watching horror movies. 

Follow On: Twitter

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