2018 Ford Explorer, Jeep Grand Cherokee score poorly in new crash tests

No airbag deployment, doors open, more issues

By Hank Winchester - Reporter, Von Lozon

The 2018 Ford Explorer and Jeep Grand Cherokee were the only two vehicles that scored a "poor rating" in a new crash test performed by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.

The tests involved eight midsize SUVs and was designed to measure front passenger-side protection. Those vehicles' front ends hit a 5-foot barrier at 40 miles per hour.

Acquiring "acceptable" scored were the 2018 Toyota Highlander, Nissan Pathfinder and Honda Pilot.

Getting "good" scores were the 2018 GMC Acadia and Volkswagen Atlas. The 2019 Kia Sorento also scored a Top Safety Pick plus award.

But the 2018 Ford Explorer and Jeep Grand Cherokee were rated the worst among the group. The Explorer scored the worst among the vehicles, according to David Zuby, the senior vice president of vehicle research with the IIHS.

"This portion collapsed more than a foot toward the passenger, severely compromising the survival space," Zuby said in a press release. "Intrusion reached 15 inches at the lower door hinge pillar and 13 inches at the upper door hinge pillar and the dashboard. The door sill was pushed in 6 inches toward the dummy.

"More alarming was what happened to the passenger dummy's head. It hit the dashboard hard through the front airbag and then, because the side curtain airbag didn't deploy and the door opened, it moved outside the vehicle during rebound."

As for the Grand Cherokee, Zuby said structural issues were cited for the "poor" rating.

"In addition, the side curtain airbag didn't deploy, the door came open, indicating a risk of ejection or partial ejection for people in crashes like this," he said.

FCA US, the parent company of Jeep, issued a statement that said its vehicles "all FCA US vehicles meet or exceed federal safety standards. FCA US vehicles are engineered to address real-world driving situations. No single test measures overall vehicle safety."

Meanwhile, Ford spokesperson Dan Barbossa said customer safety "continues to be one of our highest priorities when we design any of our vehicles," and "we continually make improvements to our vehicles to help our customers stay safe on the road."

"We fully expect next year's all-new 2020 Explorer will perform well on both the small overlap test and other tests," he said.

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