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People often buy midsize SUVs to accommodate family and friends. But, as the designated transportation provider, the chosen vehicle must offer the safety of advanced driver assistance technology to help avoid accidents and reliable passenger protection in a collision. As a three-row SUV, it’s hard to beat the current-generation Ford Explorer’s safety track record. 

This blue Ford SUV is an IIHS Top Safety Pick winner
A 2023 Ford Explorer | Ford

Ford Explorer’s safety track record

Ford Explorer three-row midsize SUVs produced after May 2020 earned the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) Top Safety Pick+ (TSP+) award for three consecutive model years, 2020, 2021, and 2022.

In addition, the 2023 Explorer won the IIHS Top Safety Pick (TSP) award for 2023. Current generation Ford Explorers perform admirably in the IIHS “crashworthiness” tests scoring the highest possible rating of “Good” in all tested categories, including the updated side crash test. 

The Ford Explorer remains unchanged after May 2020, and all models receive top marks (Good, Acceptable, Advanced, or Superior) for every category except the following:

  • Standard front crash prevention: vehicle-to-pedestrian (night) – Basic
  • Seat belt reminders – Poor

While the Explorer didn’t change for the 2023 model year, its IIHS rating fell to a Top Safety Pick from the top honor because the award’s evaluation criteria changed. 

Why did the IIHS change Top Safety Pick and Top Safety Pick+ criteria?

IIHS President David Harkey says, “the number of winners is smaller this year because we’re challenging automakers to build on the safety gains they’ve already achieved,” according to Ford Authority.

For example, 2022 saw 101 vehicle models earn one of the two IIHS top honors, while only 48 models qualified in 2023, with 20 TSP awards and 28 TSP+ winners. The new IIHS testing criteria for 2023 include the following:

  • Updated side impact test with 82 percent more impact energy than the original side impact test
  • Headlight rating of Acceptable or Good required for all trim levels 
  • New nighttime vehicle-to-pedestrian front crash prevention test required for TSP+

While previous criteria such as moderate and small overlap front crash tests still apply, the IIHS removed scores from tests like “roof strength, vehicle-to-vehicle front crash prevention, and head restraint evaluations from this year’s award benchmarks.”

2023 Ford Explorer safety features

Standard safety features included on every 2023 Ford Explorer include the following:

  • AdvanceTrac with Roll Stability Control
  • Belt-Minder seatbelt reminder
  • Front passenger knee airbag
  • Safety Canopy side airbag curtain
  • SOS Post-Crash Alert System
  • Ford Co-Pilot360
  • Pre-collision assist with automatic emergency braking
  • Blind spot information system with cross-traffic alert
  • Lane-keeping system
  • Rearview camera
  • Automatic high-beam headlights

Ford Co-Pilot360 Assist+, optional on some models and included on some higher trims, features the following:

  • Adaptive cruise control with stop-and-go and lane centering
  • Evasive steering assist
  • Post-collision braking

In addition to the Explorer’s safety features and driver-assistance technology, Ford’s SYNC 3 technology provides access to your smartphone’s talk-to-text, automatically reading incoming text messages and providing the opportunity to respond hands-free without ever taking your eyes off the road.

You can also search for points of interest and navigate to them or call them or anyone in your phone’s address book, all with your hands on the steering wheel and your eyes on the road. 

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