Washington — The 2018 Ford Explorer and Jeep Grand Cherokee earned “poor” ratings in crash tests conducted by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, which represents the insurance industry.
The institute said the Explorer and Grand Cherokee were the only models to receive low marks in its most recent tests of mid-size SUV crashes when the front passenger-side corner of the vehicle strikes another vehicle or an object such as a tree or utility pole. Such crashes are known as small-overlap collisions. The IIHS said the Explorer and Grand Cherokee had "serious issues with structure, restraints and injuries."
Six other models that were tested by the group — the 2019 Kia Sorento and 2018 Volkswagen Atlas, GMC Acadia, Toyota Highlander, Nissan Pathfinder and Honda Pilot — received "good" or "acceptable" rating in the tests.
IIHS said the Explorer "rates poor because its structure was seriously compromised."
"Intrusion reached 15 inches at the lower door hinge pillar and 13 inches at the upper door hinge pillar and the dashboard," the group said. "The door sill was pushed in 6 inches toward the dummy. Measures taken from the dummy showed a high likelihood of injuries to the right hip in a real-world crash of the same severity, as well as a possibility of left lower leg injuries."
The group said the Jeep Grand Cherokee had maximum intrusion of 10 inches at the lower door hinge pillar.
"More alarming was what happened to the passenger dummy’s head," IIHS said of the Grand Cherokee. "It hit the dashboard hard through the front air bag and then, because the side curtain air bag didn’t deploy and the door opened, it moved outside the vehicle during rebound. Measures from the dummy indicated that right leg injuries would be likely in a crash of this severity, and a head injury would be possible."
IIHS said three of the SUVs it tested — the GMC Acadia, Kia Sorento and Volkswagen Atlas — earned good ratings.
“Although some vehicles in this group offer very good protection, in other models, the air bags, safety belts and structure showed serious deficiencies,” IIHS Chief Research Officer David Zuby said in a statement. “In those SUVs, a front-seat passenger would be at risk of injuries to the head, hip or leg in a right-side small overlap front crash."
Only the Sorento qualified in crash-testing for the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety’s Top Safety Pick+ designation, which is the highest award from the group that represents the insurance industry.
To qualify for the top safety pick award, a vehicle must earn a good or acceptable rating in the testing, and also score good ratings in the other IIHS crashworthiness tests. Vehicles also need to have an advanced or superior rating for front crash prevention and good-rated headlights.