2020 Ford Explorer Fails To Earn IIHS Safety Award

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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 - December 10, 2019

Ford had quite a hard time bringing the new Explorer and Lincoln Aviator to market. Both SUVs were involved in recalls before consumers could purchase them and then the automaker ran into production issues a month after the vehicles officially went on sale. Another blow to the Explorer and Aviator came recently when the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) put the SUVs through its tests and neither won one of the institute’s safety awards.

With both SUVs sharing the same platform, it’s unsurprising to hear that they share the same crash test scores. Both SUVs received an Acceptable rating in the driver-side small overlap test and a rating of Good in the other five crash tests. Unfortunately for Ford, a Good rating in the driver-side small overlap test is needed to be eligible for one of the IIHS’ awards. A rating of Acceptable made both the 2020 Explorer and Aviator ineligible for a safety award.

While seeing a vehicle, especially an all-new one, fail to earn one of the IIHS’ safety awards is odd, the 2020 Explorer fared much better in the institute’s crash tests than before. Last year’s model earned the second-worst rating of Marginal in the driver-side small overlap front test and the lowest rating of Poor in the passenger-side small overlap front test.

Both SUVs come with standard front crash prevention systems that earned a rating of Superior. While the Explorer and Aviator share a lot of components, the don’t share headlights. Both of the Explorer’s headlights earned a rating of Acceptable. The Aviator’s optional headlights were found to be Good, while it’s standard units were found to be Marginal.

Apparently, Ford isn’t happy with the result. The IIHS claims that Ford expected the Explorer to earn a rating of Good in the driver-side small overlap test and will look into why the vehicle failed to do so. Changes, which could possibly include structural ones to the SUVs’ bodies, are coming to improve the scores in the future.

Changes may be in the pipeline, but if you’re looking to get into an SUV that earns one of the IIHS’ safety awards, there are quite a few midsize SUVs to choose from. The Honda Pilot, Hyundai Santa FE XL, Kia Telluride, Nissan Pathfinder, and Toyota Highlander are all Top Safety Picks. The Subaru Ascent, Mazda CX-9, Kia Sorento, and Hyundai Palisade received the institute’s Top Safety Pick+ award.

There are a number of midsize luxury SUVs with seating for up to seven that have earned one of the IIHS’ safety awards. Top Safety Pick luxury SUVs include the Cadillac XT6, Infiniti QX60, Lexus RX, and Volvo XC90.

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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