Compact crossover SUVs ruled U.S. motor vehicle sales in 2017, a trend that continued in the first three months of 2018. Unfortunately, the 2018 Ford Escape, one of the top-selling crossovers, was recently rated “Poor,” the lowest of four ratings, in a new Insurance Institute for Highway Safety small-overlap front-seat passenger protection crash test. Results for the same test on the driver side were “Acceptable,” the second highest rating.
The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) is a private group funded by insurance companies. The IIHS tests vehicles extensively and released the Ford Escape’s “Poor” passenger-side test results April 4, 2018.
The Ford Escape’s last major redesign was in 2013. That was also the first year the IIHS ran its driver side small overlap front crash test. The Escape received a “Poor” rating on the driver-side version of the test for 2013 through 2016.
In the small overlap front crash tests, a vehicle moving at 40 miles per hour hits a barrier with the farthest outside part of the bumper, similar to hitting a tree, a pole, or another car with the edge of the bumper.
Starting with the 2017 Escape, Ford added reinforcements, but only to the driver side of the vehicle. With the enhancements, the small SUV earned an “Acceptable” rating for each of the two years since the driver-side additions.
According to the IIHS, Ford didn’t add the same reinforcements to the passenger side that it did to the driver side. Because the Escape has not changed substantially on the passenger side since 2013, the “Poor” rating on the small overlap front passenger-side test applies to model years 2013 to 2018.
IIHS research engineer Becky Mueller, one of the test designers, told CNN, “Disparities like this one are why we decided to formally rate the passenger side in the small overlap test after five years of evaluating only the driver side.”
In response to the test, according to CNN, Ford stated: “Safety continues to be one of the highest priorities in the design of our vehicles.” The company also mentioned the Escape passed the other IIHS crash tests as well as all government crash tests.
The 2018 Escape was given a 5-star overall safety rating by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) for both RWD and AWD versions.