2020 Ford Explorer safer than old model; crash test ratings short of Top Safety Pick
18 December 2019 - autoblog
The crash rating also applies to 2020 Lincoln Aviator
The 2020 Ford Explorer three-row crossover has improved on the outgoing model in many ways. According to the IIHS, it has also improved in a number of safety categories, but not enough to earn a Top Safety Pick award.
The culprit is not the headlight performance for once. The Explorer's headlights were given an "Acceptable" rating, which would be sufficient for Top Safety Pick, if not Top Safety Pick +. Where the Ford falls short is in the front small overlap driver-side crash test, in which it got the second highest "Acceptable" rating. The IIHS requires a "Good" rating in this category, whereas an "Acceptable" rating on the passenger side would be, well, acceptable for Top Safety Pick. According to IIHS, Ford will be reviewing the results to figure out what the issue is, and it will likely make revisions to future Explorers to improve the result.
Other than the one test, the Explorer performed admirably. It received a "Good" rating in all other crash categories except the passenger-side small overlap that was not tested. Both its standard and optional forward collision prevention systems had the highest "Superior" ratings, with the standard one preventing a collision with a car at speeds of up to 25 mph, and the optional one avoiding a collision at 12 mph, and "nearly" preventing one at 25 mph. Headlights are rated as "Acceptable" and so is access to child seat LATCH anchors.
Also worth noting is that the Explorer's crash test ratings apply to its luxurious twin the 2020 Lincoln Aviator, meaning it also doesn't get a Top Safety Pick rating. The forward collision system performed the same as in the Ford, and the only difference between the two was in headlight performance. The Lincoln's standard headlights, included on the base, Reserve and Grand Touring trims, have the second-lowest "Marginal" rating, but the optional headlights for those trims, and the standard ones on the Black Label trim, received the "Good" rating.
Among three-row Explorer competitors, the Honda Pilot, Hyundai Santa Fe XL, Kia Telluride, Nissan Pathfinder and Toyota Highlander all have a Top Safety Pick. The Hyundai Palisade, Mazda CX-9, Subaru Ascent, and the slightly smaller Kia Sorento and Volkswagen Tiguan all have a Top Safety Pick +. As for Lincoln Aviator competitors, the Cadillac XT6, Infiniti QX60, Lexus RX and Volvo XC90 get a Top Safety Pick. The Mercedes-Benz GLE-Class and two-row-only BMW X5 get the Top Safety Pick + rating.