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2020 Ford Explorer, Lincoln Aviator fail to earn IIHS safety awards

Ford said it expected the Explorer would perform better and plans to investigate.

The 2020 Ford Explorer and its luxurious counterpart, the Lincoln Aviator, will not be part of the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety's cabinet of 2019 Top Safety Pick and Top Safety Pick Plus award winners.

The IIHS said on Monday that neither SUV performed well enough to earn either award. Having not performed well enough in the first set of tests, the IIHS did not continue on to the passenger-side small overlap crash test -- a crucial test that often makes or breaks a model's chance at a safety award. The previous Explorer received the worst grade, Poor, in this area.

When testing for the driver-side small overlap crash test, the IIHS only rated both SUVs Acceptable. A Good rating is required for any accolades.

Ford told the IIHS it expected the Explorer to earn a Good rating in the driver-side overlap test and plans to investigate why it didn't perform as well. Any improvements will likely make their way to a production change before the IIHS retests the SUV.

If Ford can manage upgrades, the Explorer and Aviator could very well earn awards for 2020. With a Good rating in the driver-side small overlap crash test and an Acceptable rating in the passenger-side test, the Explorer will meet every other criteria for the lesser Top Safety Pick. The IIHS found its standard frontal-crash avoidance system performed well with a Superior rating and each model's headlights earned an Acceptable rating -- both ratings needed for a Top Safety Pick.

For the Aviator, its headlights differed. The standard LED reflectors scored a Marginal rating, but its optional curve-adaptive units propelled it to a Good rating.

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