— SUV crash test ratings for 2018 models (and one 2019 model) shows two of the most popular SUVs have problems with a certain type of frontal crash.
Out of eight SUVs tested, all were model year 2018 except the 2019 Kia Sorento, and all were put through the challenging passenger-side small overlap crash test. The test consists of the front corner slamming into a stationary object, such as a tree or utility pole, as the SUV travels 40 mph.
IIHS says some of the SUVs did well, but others showed serious problems with seat belts, airbags and structural strength, leaving front passengers at risk of injuries.
Three SUVs earned "good" ratings, the top classification out of "good," "acceptable," "marginal" and "poor."
Those three SUVs include the 2018 GMC Acadia, 2019 Kia Sorento and 2018 Volkswagen Atlas, with the Sorento the only SUV to earn a Top Safety Pick+ award when the SUV is equipped with optional front crash prevention and specific headlights.
Researchers say the 2019 Sorento structure suffered maximum intrusion of four inches on the right side of the toe pan. Overall, the structure held up well and the head of the test dummy was well-controlled.
The GMC Acadia did well also with maximum intrusion of only two inches on the right side of the toe pan. However, the head of the dummy slid off to the right side of the frontal airbag. An incident in real-life could cause a passenger's head to strike the structure.
The head of a Honda Pilot passenger could also suffer injuries based on results of the crash test, as researchers determined the head slid off the airbag and hit the dashboard. But IIHS says the SUV still earned an "acceptable" rating due to structural integrity, with the Nissan Pathfinder and Toyota Highlander also earning acceptable ratings.
Bringing up the rear in "poor" passenger-side small overlap crash ratings is the Ford Explorer and Jeep Grand Cherokee.
The 2018 Jeep Grand Cherokee suffered 10 inches of intrusion at the lower door hinge pillar and the dummy's head traveled through the frontal airbag and smashed into the dashboard. The head reached the dashboard because the side curtain airbag failed to deploy during the test.
Then there was the little issue with the door that opened during the test, allowing the dummy's head to move outside the SUV. According to data from the dummy, a human would have likely suffered from injuries to the head and right leg.
The 2018 Ford Explorer also rates "poor" in the small overlap test because of structural issues that allowed intrusion up to 15 inches at the lower door hinge pillar and 13 inches at the upper door hinge pillar and the dashboard.
IIHS says the door sill was pushed in six inches toward the dummy and data shows a high likelyhood of injuries to the right hip and possible left lower leg injuries.
Ford says it is redesigning the Explorer based on the results of passenger-side tests, in addition to the "marginal" ratings for past tests for driver-side small overlap protection.
SUV Crash Test Ratings (Small Overlap Test)
- 2019 Kia Sorento (Good)
- 2018 Volkswagen Atlas (Good)
- 2018 GMC Acadia (Good)
- 2018 Toyota Highlander (Acceptable)
- 2018 Nissan Pathfinder (Acceptable)
- 2018 Honda Pilot (Acceptable)
- 2018 Jeep Grand Cherokee (Poor)
- 2018 Ford Explorer (Poor)