2020 Ford Explorer - Photo: IIHS

2020 Ford Explorer

Photo: IIHS

The 2020 Ford Explorer midsize SUV earned a Top Safety Pick+ award from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), thanks to improved performance in the driver-side small overlap front crash test. Crashworthiness ratings for the Explorer also apply to the all-new 2020 Lincoln Aviator, which earned a Top Safety Pick award.

Earlier, the two vehicles failed to earn a safety award when they fell short of a good rating in the Institute’s driver-side small overlap test. In that test, intrusion into the footwell elevated the risk of injury to the driver’s left leg. Ford modified the left and right front subframe in vehicles built after May 2020, and the Explorer performed better in a new evaluation.

A difference in headlight performance separates the Explorer from the Aviator.

With acceptable ratings for its two available headlight systems, the Explorer qualifies for a Top Safety Pick+ award. The Aviator earns a good rating for its available curve-adaptive LED projectors, but misses out on the Institute’s highest award due to a marginal rating for its base headlights.

Both vehicles come with a standard front crash prevention system that earns superior ratings in the Institute’s vehicle-to-vehicle and vehicle-to-pedestrian evaluations. A second, optional system also rates superior for vehicle-to-vehicle crash prevention but only earns an advanced rating for pedestrian detection.

To qualify for a 2020 Top Safety Pick award, a vehicle must earn good ratings in six crashworthiness evaluations, including the driver-side small overlap front, passenger-side small overlap front, moderate overlap front, side, roof strength and head restraint tests. It also needs advanced or superior ratings for both vehicle-to-vehicle and vehicle-to-pedestrian front crash prevention, as well as an acceptable or good headlight rating on at least one trim. For Top Safety Pick+, vehicles must meet those criteria and come with acceptable or good headlights across all trims.

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