Safety Technology

Jeep Grand Cherokee, Ford Explorer Fail Passenger-Side Crash Test

Both SUVs received the worst possible rating in the IIHS passenger-side small overlap crash test.

Back in 2012, the Insurance Institute of Highway Safety started conducting driver-side small overlap crash tests to simulate what happens when the front corner of a vehicle hits oncoming traffic, a tree or object. This resulted in numerous safety improvements, but the IIHS wanted to see if passengers were offered the same protection as drivers, so it introduced the passenger-side small overlap crash test last year.

A selection of SUVs currently on the market were recently subjected to crash testing by the IHSS, and the 2018 Jeep Grand Cherokee and 2018 Ford Explorer, two of the most popular midsize SUVs currently on sale in America, didn’t perform well. Both SUVs received “Poor” ratings for the passenger-side small overlap crash. The Explorer earned its poor rating because the structure collapsed during the test. There was also serious cabin intrusion of 15 inches at the lower door hinge pillar and 13 inches at the upper hinge pillar and dashboard. The door sill was also pushed six inches toward the dummy.

If this was a real-world crash, the test showed the passenger occupant would have suffered right hip and left lower leg injuries. According to IIHS, Ford says the new Explorer will have improved small overlap protection on both sides. In contrast, the 2019 Kia Sorento earned a “Good” rating and was awarded the Institute’s Top Safety Pick+. The 2019 Sorento was modified to improve protection in a passenger-side small overlap crash. As a result, maximum intrusion was just four inches on the right side of the toepan. The 2018 Jeep Grand Cherokee didn’t fare well either, also earning a “Poor” rating.

There was a maximum intrusion of 10 inches at the lower door hinge pillar, and if that wasn’t already alarming the passenger dummy’s head hit the dashboard hard through the front airbag. Because the side curtain airbag didn’t deploy and the door opened, the dummy’s head moved outside the SUV when it rebounded off the dash. Measurements indicate the occupant would have suffered right leg injuries and possibly a head injury. Other SUVs tested include the 2018 GMC Acadia and Volkswagen Atlas, which earned “Good” ratings. The Acadia had just two inches of intrusion on the right side of the toepan, but the passenger dummy’s head slid off the right side of the front airbag.

The 2018 Toyota Highlander, Nissan Pathfinder, and Honda Pilot all received “Acceptable” ratings.

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