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Ford Explorer misses out on Top Safety Pick

The automaker promises to investigate why the redesigned SUV did not ace the small-overlap test.

The redesigned 2020 Ford Explorer and platform mate Lincoln Aviator have been left out of the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety's Top Safety Pick lists.

Surprisingly, the new SUV did not achieve a 'good' rating in the small-overlap test. The IIHS says the structure "held up well overall," much better than the severe intrusion observed with the previous-generation model, however there was still enough intrusion into the footwell to increase the risk of injury to the driver's left leg and leave the revamped model with an 'acceptable' rating.

Vehicles must earn a good rating in the driver-side small overlap test to qualify for the Top Safety Pick or Top Safety Pick Plus ranks. Headlight performance is another potential issue, deemed 'acceptable' for the Explorer. The Aviator was both better and worse, depending on configuration, with 'marginal' base LED reflectors and 'good' curve-adaptive headlights on certain trim levels.

"Ford had expected the Explorer to earn a good rating in the driver-side small overlap test and said it would investigate why it didn't," the IIHS says. "The automaker plans to implement changes with the aim of improving the vehicle's performance for a future test."

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