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A new year means new cars, trucks, and SUVs. While Insurance Institute for Highway Safety testing is ongoing throughout the year, only one Ford is an IIHS Top Safety Pick winner so far. The 2023 Ford Explorer earned the Top Safety Pick award this year thanks to updated headlights and front crash prevention.

The Ford Explorer is an IIHS Top Safety Pick winner for 2023

Testing for the safest new cars is ongoing, but the IIHS awarded the 2023 Ford Explorer with its Top Safety Pick accolade this week. That means the Explorer scored well in all main crashworthiness tests, such as small front overlap, side, roof strength, and head restraints/seats. It also received the highest score for the side: updated test, which has been tripping up some longtime safety winners.

In the crash avoidance and mitigation section, the Platinum trim received the highest score of “acceptable” with its LED projector low-beam and high-beam headlights. The XLT, Limited, and ST trims also received an “acceptable” score, but these headlights are non-curve adaptive LED reflector lights.

Another high score on the front-crash prevention vehicle-to-vehicle test helped the Ford Explorer SUV become an IIHS Top Safety Pick winner for 2023. The Explorer received many “superior” scores on the vehicle-to-vehicle tests and the vehicle-to-pedestrian daytime test. Scores for the seat belt reminder section came in with a “poor” score, noting that the 2023 Ford Explorer’s reminder was not long or loud enough.

Updated IIHS Top Safety Pick testing means safer vehicles, fewer winners

Each year, the IIHS updates its testing to address ongoing issues on the roadways. The 2023 test only strengthens the requirements to earn an IIHS Top Safety Pick Award, which resulted in fewer winners. For 2023, the IIHS updated its criteria for vehicles to win the Top Safety Pick and Top Safety Pick Plus awards. The press release states that the group demands better side crash and pedestrian crash protection systems in all vehicles. It also hopes to eliminate headlights that received poor grades during testing, making night driving more dangerous for drivers and pedestrians.

Due to the changes, only 48 vehicles qualified for an award this year. Only 28 cars, trucks, and SUVs earned the IIHS Top Safety Pick Plus award, and only 20 earned the IIHS Top Safety Pick award. Upon announcing the changes for 2022, 101 vehicles qualified, and 65 of those earned the Top Safety Pick Plus award. This will hopefully lead to safer cars in 2023 and beyond as automakers move to adapt to the updated testing.

More Ford SUVs earned a TSP award in 2022

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

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Testing is ongoing, but some popular Ford SUVs missed out on the IIHS Top Safety Pick award for one reason or another. The 2023 Ford Bronco fell short in the head restraint and seat section, as well as the headlights. Even though it was late, the 2023 Ford Bronco Sport received a 2022 Top Safety Pick Plus award.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety hasn’t tested the Expedition in a few years, but the 2023 Ford Edge received a 2022 TSP award. Those with a 2023 Ford Mustang Mach-E Premium or GT equipped with LED projector headlights earned a 2022 Top Safety Pick award.

There could be more IIHS Top Safety Pick winners from Ford as the year goes on, but the 2023 Ford Explorer is the lone recipient for now.