Look, sure. You need a vehicle with more space. You like to ride higher off the ground, too, because you can see more of the road from there. An SUV is an obvious choice. But if you care about the person in your passenger seat, maybe the 2018 Ford Escape and Mitsubishi Outlander Sport aren’t the way to go.
In recent tests by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, or what most of us know it better as, IIHS, the Escape and Outlander Sport did not impress anyone with their overlap crash protection on the passenger side. IIHS did its small overlap front test on the two SUVs, which it introduced last year to try to get automakers to give front passengers the same level of protection as drivers, and let’s just say most of us wouldn’t have wanted to be those crash-test dummies.
The small overlap test rams vehicles into a wall, trying to imitate a crash where only a quarter of the car’s front end hits a tree or post at 40 mph. This round of tests was on seven 2018 small SUVS, including the BMW X1, Chevrolet Equinox, GMC Terrain, Mitsubishi Outlander, Jeep Compass, and the two that didn’t do so well—the Outlander Sport, which IIHS gave a “marginal” rating on the passenger overlap test, and Escape, which got a “poor” rating.
Jalopnik has reached out to both Ford and Mitsubishi for comment on the SUVs’ crash tests. Here’s the video IIHS took during testing:
While it’s evident from the video that the Escape and Outlander Sport weren’t best in class for the passenger overlap test, IIHS explained their ratings in an announcement on this new batch. IIHS said both SUVs has too much intrusion into the passenger compartment, and that neither of their side curtain airbags deployed in the crash. Those help keep people from slamming their heads into the side of the car and should have deployed, according to IIHS.
IIHS called the passenger-side problems with the Outlander Sport and Escape “unequal protection” in the ratings announcement, and that’s an accurate way to describe it. Here’s a side-by-side comparison of how the 2017 Escape did on the driver’s side and how the 2018 did on the passenger’s side:
After seeing the crash aftermath, IIHS said the passenger in the Escape likely would’ve gotten a right-hip injury in it.
While most of the vehicles on the list of best selling cars in 2017 got the IIHS Top Safety Pick award, it’s a good idea to check crash-test ratings before buying a new car—especially when the ride heights and extra space in all of those new crossovers and SUVs are particularly alluring.
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