A large number of FoMoCo vehicles have earned Top Safety Pick or Top Safety Pick+ awards from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) this year, including the Ford Explorer, which was awarded Top Safety Pick+ honors, while the Ford Escape, Ford Edge, Lincoln Corsair, and Lincoln Aviator earned the Top Safety Pick distinction. However, the same didn’t ring true for the 2021 Ford Escape after it was recently subjected to a new, tougher side impact test designed to address the increasing number of fatal high-speed crashes.
IIHS subjected a total of 20 small crossovers to this test, and just one – the 2021 Mazda CX-5 – earned a good rating. Meanwhile, nine of those vehicles earned acceptable ratings – the Audi Q3, Buick Encore, Chevrolet Trax, Honda CR-V, Nissan Rogue, Subaru Forester, Toyota RAV4, Toyota Venza, and Volvo XC40, eight received marginal ratings – the Chevrolet Equinox, Ford Escape, GMC Terrain, Hyundai Tucson, Jeep Compass, Jeep Renegade, Kia Sportage, and Lincoln Corsair, while two – the Honda HR-V and Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross – were given poor ratings.
“Obviously, these results aren’t great, but they’re in line with what we expected when we adopted this more stringent test,” said IIHS Senior Research Engineer Becky Mueller. “We developed this new test because we suspected there was room for more progress, and these results confirm that,” IIHS President David Harkey added. “The good rating for the CX-5 shows that robust protection in a more severe side crash is achievable.”
What’s particularly interesting about these results is that all 20 of these vehicles earned a good rating in the previous side-impact test conducted by IIHS, which was introduced back in 2003. However, the new test is far more stringent, using a 4,180-pound barrier traveling at 37 miles-per-hour, while the old test utilized a 3,300-pound barrier traveling at 31 miles-per-hour. Together, those factors account for an 82 percent increase in energy transfer.
Regardless, this more stringent test is justified by real-world crash data collected over the last 10 years. The IIHS says that drivers in a vehicle with a good side rating are 70 percent less likely to die in the event of a side-impact crash, though those types of crashes still accounted for 23 percent of the total number of vehicle deaths in 2019.
As Ford Authority recently reported, the Escape is scheduled to receive a refresh for the 2023 model year, with a more comprehensive redesign coming in 2025. Ford Authority spies spotted a 2023 Escape prototype out driving around yesterday for the very first time, sporting a much more aggressive front-end design than the current model.