Automakers work to keep drivers safe on the road, but apparently some popular SUVs have some major flaws when it comes to keeping passengers safe.
The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety just released new results for its passenger-side small-overlap crash test. The 2018 Ford Explorer and Jeep Grand Cherokee got the worst ratings among the 8 midsize SUVs tested. Both got poor grades on the test which examines what happens when the front corner of a vehicle hits another car or something like a tree.
The Explorer got a poor rating because the structure collapsed in the crash and part of the passenger side door was pushed more than foot into the SUV. Measures taken from the crash test dummy show in a real-world crash there's a high chance a passenger could suffer broken bones or dislocations of the right hip or lower leg, as well as the lower left leg. The Explorer got a marginal rating for driver-side small-overlap protection.
The Grand Cherokee's structure held up a bit better than the Explorer, however the passenger side curtain air bag failed to deploy allowing the dummy's head to hit the dashboard. The passenger side door also opened during the crash, allowing the dummy to move outside the vehicle. That highlights there is a risk of the passenger being ejected or possibly ejected from the SUV.
The 2019 Kia Sorento was the IIHS Top Safety Pick. The Sorento, along with the 2018 GMC Acadia and 2018 Volkswagen Atlas got good ratings. The dummy in the 2018 Honda Pilot showed a possibility of head injuries. However since the SUV had good structural performance the Pilot earned an acceptable rating, as did the 2018 Toyota Highlander and 2018 Nissan Pathfinder.
“Although some vehicles in this group offer very good protection, in other models, the airbags, safety belts and structure showed serious deficiencies,” said 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.”
The IIHS started rating vehicles on driver-side small-overlap crashes in 2012, but just started testing the passenger side last year.
"The Institute started doing small-overlap front crash tests on the passenger side because we had noticed that some automakers who had improved protection on the driver's side were neglecting the passenger side," said IIHS Chief Research Officer David Zuby. "We wanted to put them on notice that we expect the same protection for both the driver and front seat passenger."