Ford's second-most popular vehicle by sales has failed a critical crash safety test, earning the worst safety rating of seven small SUVs tested by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety for front passenger-side crash protection.
The 2018 Ford Escape earned a "poor" rating in IIHS's passenger-side small overlap front crash testing, which measures what happens when a front corner of the vehicle collides with an object at 40 mph. IIHS said the Escape struggled in the test, as the passenger-side upper door-hinge pillar intruded 10 inches, compared with 5 inches on the driver side, and the door sill intruded 4 inches laterally into the cabin. It said measures taken from the dummy show that an occupant would have likely sustained right hip injuries in a real-world crash.
In addition, the side curtain airbag didn't deploy in the roof rail, leaving passengers' heads vulnerable to hitting the door trim or an outside object.
Ford reinforced the structure of the driver side starting with 2017 models to improve protection in a small overlap front crash test, where it earns an "acceptable" rating. It apparently didn't make the same improvements on the passenger side. IIHS began testing passenger-side front crash protection last fall after it found inconsistencies in front crash protection test results on seven small SUVs from the 2014 and 2016 model years — automakers had apparently reinforced their cars to pass the driver-side test, but didn't extend front passengers the same courtesy. Vehicles must earn good or acceptable passenger-side ratings in order to receive IIHS' Top Safety Pick + award.
In a statment provided to Autoblog, Ford says "Safety continues to be one of the highest priorities in the design of our vehicles. We are committed to designing and building vehicles that meet or exceed applicable laws and regulations across the globe, incorporating updates and new features into our lineup wherever possible. The Escape has earned the highest 5-star overall NCAP ratings in the U.S., Europe, China and Australia and a "good" rating in all other IIHS crash test modes. We expect the new 2020 model also will perform well on this test."
The 2018 Escape earned "poor" ratings for structure and hip and thigh injury measures, "marginal" for passenger restraints and kinematics, and "good" ratings for protection against injuries to head and neck, chest and lower leg and foot. The model otherwise earned good ratings for moderate overlap front crash, side, roof strength, and head restraints and seats crash protections. IIHS said its headlights were acceptable in certain trim levels.
Among the seven small SUVs tested, the Mitsubishi Outlander Sport earned a marginal rating after its side curtain airbags also didn't deploy, while the BMW X1, Chevrolet Equinox, GMC Terrain, Jeep Compass and Mitsubishi Outlander all earned good marks. None earned better than acceptable ratings for structure.
Ford this week said it sold 27,370 Escapes in March, down 2.6 percent from the same month a year prior, and 67,350 year to date, down 11.8 percent. But it's still Ford's second top-selling vehicle behind the F-Series trucks, having sold 308,296 Escapes in 2017.