The group began rating vehicles for driver-side small overlap crash protection in 2012 and automakers have since made engineering changes to better protect drivers in such crashes. But passengers aren't always equally protected, IIHS says, prompting the group to begin rating vehicles with the passenger-side test in 2017.
"These are vehicles that we hadn't rated on the passenger side before, and as we add more tests to our battery of evaluations, we try to keep up current ratings for the vehicles that people are the most interested in buying," IIHS Chief Research Officer David Zuby said.
The Explorer is rated poor because the structure collapsed during the test. The Explorer's passenger-side small overlap crash test indicated right hip and left lower leg injuries could occur in a crash. The Grand Cherokee's passenger-side small overlap crash test indicated right leg injuries and a possible head injury could occur in a crash.
The Explorer also received poor structural performance and an overall marginal rating for driver-side small overlap protection in the driver-side test.
The Explorer will be redesigned for 2020 and Ford said Tuesday it expects the crossover to "perform well" on future SORB tests and other tests.
“Customer safety continues to be one of our highest priorities when we design any of our vehicles and we continually make improvements to our vehicles to help our customers stay safe on the road," Ford said in a statement. "Explorer is a safe vehicle and has earned the highest 5-star overall NCAP ratings in the U.S. as well as 'good' ratings in front and side IIHS crash test modes."
The Acadia received one acceptable rating, in passenger restraints and kinematics, with a maximum intrusion of just two inches on the right side of the toepan but a passenger dummy's head slid off the right side of the front airbag. The vehicle otherwise rated good in each rating.
The Highlander, Pathfinder and Pilot rated good in chest, hip and thigh passenger injury measures. The Highlander and Pathfinder rated marginal in structure, and the Pilot rated marginal in passenger restraints and kinematics. The test of the Pilot indicated the possibility of head injuries, as the test dummy slid off the front airbag and moved far enough forward to hit the dashboard.
The Sorento is the only vehicle tested to earn the institute's Top Safety Pick+ award. The vehicle was modified for the 2019 model year to improve protection in a passenger-side small overlap crash.