For consumers, one of the most important criteria when shopping for a new vehicle has to do with safety. Regulations have gotten ever-tighter over the years – a highly positive trend, to be sure. Auto manufacturers are obliged to meet strict safety norms, and every vehicle sold must pass a series of collision tests.
The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) carries out a truly impressive number of collision tests each year and publishes results showing which models pass or fail these tests.
As a general rule, the ratings obtained range from Acceptable to Good. A failing grade, one that earns a vehicle the rating of Poor, is an increasingly rare occurrence.
This makes the news regarding the Ford Escape that much more surprising and newsworthy. The popular SUV, one of the top sellers in its segment, failed one of the recent IIHs tests, which looked at front passenger safety. The collision simulated in this particular test reproduced contact with a tiny part of the fascia, much like might happen in a collision in which the vehicle clips a pole, a tree or another vehicle. The Ford Escape came out of the test with a Poor rating – a quite stunning result, truth be told. The IIHS noted that parts of the vehicle, for example the A pillar, had moved into the space occupied by the front passenger in several places. To make matters worse, the side curtain airbag did not deploy.
An added irony in this case is that, according to the IIHS, Ford decided in 2017 to reinforce the driver’s side of the vehicle in order so that the Escape would excel in collision tests – but chose not to do the same on the passenger side.
“Manufacturers shouldn’t shortchange protection for front seat passengers.”
- Becky Mueler, IIHS senior research engineer
Ford has responded to the news of the failed test by reiterating that safety was a main priority for the company. It should be noted that the Escape passed all other tests conducted on it by the IIHS.
In the compact SUV segment that the Escape competes in, it was the only model to obtain a Poor rating in this collision test. Mitsubishi’s RVR received the slightly better Marginal rating in the same test; in its case the side curtain airbag also did not deploy on collision.