• The Ford Explorer and Jeep Grand Cherokee Fail Miserably in Recent IIHS Crash Testing

It’s not the kind of news that both SUVs want to attached to

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety has flagged the Ford Explorer and Jeep Grand Cherokee after both SUVs scored an overall rating of “poor” in the agency’s recent crash test examination. According to results of the passenger-side small overlap front crash tests, both SUVs showed a high risk of injury to a front passenger with potentially fatal ramifications.

It’s not a good look for both the 2018 Ford Explorer and the 2018 Jeep Grand Cherokee. But the results are the results. Both SUVs scored the lowest possible score in the IIHS crash test that simulates what might happen if an SUV strikes an immovable object at 40 mph with around 25 percent of its front width on the passenger side.

2018 Ford Explorer passenger-side small overlap IIHS crash test

For its part, the IIHS noted that the front of the Explorer showed structure that was “seriously compromised” during passenger-side small overlap crash testing. The upper and lower door hinge pillar showed intrusion levels of 15 and 13 inches, an alarmingly poor mark compared to the Kia Sorento, the only one of the SUVs that were tested to get a “Top Safety Pick+” from the IIHS, which showed structural intrusion levels of just 2 to 4 inches. Even the Explorer’s door sill was pushed inward by 6 inches towards the crash test dummy. According to the IIHS, that amount of intrusion could’ve resulted in injuries to the right hip and lower left leg of the occupant.

2018 Jeep Grand Cherokee passenger-side small overlap IIHS crash test

The Jeep Grand Cherokee fared a little better, but not by much. Testing on the SUV revealed intrusion levels of 10 inches at the lower hinge door pillar and worse, the crash test dummy’s head actually hit the dashboard, an indication that a crash of this kind could result in severe head injuries for the occupant. It doesn’t get better from there as the side curtain airbag on the Grand Cherokee didn’t deploy, and the front passenger door opened. Had it not been for the seatbelt, there’s a good chance that the crash test dummy could’ve been thrown out of the car.

Passenger-side tests of midsize SUVs reveal some major flaws - IIHS News

All these elements play important roles in determining how an SUV fares in the IIHS’s crash tests. "Although some vehicles in this group offer very good protection, in other models, the airbags, safety belts, and structure showed serious deficiencies," says IIHS chief research officer, David Zuby. "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."

If there’s a silver lining that both the Explorer and the Grand Cherokee can grab hold of, it’s that even SUVs that earned “acceptable” ratings — the 2018 Nissan Pathfinder, the 2018 Honda Pilot, and the 2018 Toyota Highlander — still had to improve their safety protocols.

Hopefully, both Ford and Jeep took note of the “poor” ratings they got and do something about it.

Overall Structure Passenger restraints & kinematics Head & neck Chest Hip & thigh Lower leg & foot
2019 Kia Sorento G G G G G G G
2018 Volkswagen Atlas G G G G G G G
2018 GMC Acadia G G A G G G G
2018 Toyota Highlander A M G G G G G
2018 Nissan Pathfinder A M G G G G G
2018 Honda Pilot A G M A G G A
2018 Jeep Grand Cherokee P M P A G G P
2018 Ford Explorer P P A G G P A


Further reading

2017 Ford Explorer – Driven High Resolution Exterior
- image 728375

Read our full review on the 2018 Ford Explorer.

2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee High Resolution Exterior
- image 513914

Read our full review on the 2018 Jeep Grand Cherokee.

Kirby Garlitos
Kirby Garlitos
Automotive Aftermarket Expert - kirby@topspeed.com
Kirby’s first exposure into the world of automobiles happened when he caught Knight Rider on television as a five-year old boy. David Hasselhoff didn’t leave much of an impression on him (that happened later on in Baywatch), but KITT certainly did. To this day, Kirby remains convinced that he will one day own a car with the same ‘spirit’ as the original KITT (not the 2008 monstrosity). He doesn't know when that will be, but until then, he’s committed to expressing his love for KITT, and all cars for that matter, here at TopSpeed.  Read full bio
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