VIDEO: 2017 Ford Escape Crash Test

The Ford Escape has measurably improved its performance in the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety’s challenging small overlap front crash test — raising its rating from “poor” to “acceptable” in that test — thanks to structural changes to the 2017 model.

IIHS credited the test improvement to Ford’s decision to reinforce the driver door hinge pillar and modify the front-end structure.

When the 2013 model-year Escape underwent testing for small overlap protection, the structure didn’t hold up well. “Intrusion into the driver’s space reached 10 inches at the upper door hinge pillar,” IIHS said. “The dummy’s head barely contacted the frontal airbag before sliding off to the left, as the steering column moved right. The side curtain airbag lacked sufficient forward coverage to protect the head. Measures taken from the dummy showed injuries to the left hip would be likely and lower leg injuries would be possible.”

But in the small overlap test of the new model, maximum intrusion was reduced to 5 inches at the upper door hinge pillar. The side curtain air bag had enough forward coverage to protect the head.

“The dummy’s head hit the frontal airbag, though it began to slide off because the safety belt allowed the dummy to move too far forward,” IIHS said. “Measures taken from the dummy indicated a low risk of injuries.”

Introduced in 2012, the small overlap front test replicates what happens when the front, driver-side corner of a vehicle collides with another vehicle or an object such as a tree or utility pole.

In four other crashworthiness evaluations — moderate overlap front, side, roof strength, and head restraints and seats — the 2017 Ford Escape drew the highest possible rating of “good.” For front crash prevention, the car scored a “basic” rating for its optional equipment.

To view video footage of the small overlap front crash test, click on the photo or link below the headline.