Despite having Ford’s Roll Stability Control, which works with electronic stability control to reduce the chance of rollovers, the Escape does not rank among the safest small SUVs, according to crash-test data compiled by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.
In the tests, which are generally more stringent than tests conducted by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the Escape is rated Good (the highest rating) for front, side and rear impacts but Marginal (not so good) for roof strength in rollover accidents. Small SUVs that scored Good in all of IIHS’ tests and are named Top Safety Picks include the Hyundai Tucson, Jeep Patriot, Kia Sportage, Subaru Forester and Volkswagen Tiguan.
The Escape also does not rank among the best in real-world data. IIHS says the driver death rate in the front-drive Escape is 42 per “million registered vehicle years.” In comparison, the front-drive Honda CR-V has 22 deaths, the Toyota RAV4 has 34, and the Hyundai Tucson 39. No data are available for the four-wheel-drive Escape, but the CR-V has the lowest death rate (seven) among small 4WD SUVs. Note that this data are from 2005-2008 models.
The Escape’s safety performance could be partly blamed on the SUV’s age. It uses the same platform (or basic architecture) it has had since it was introduced as a 2001 model. Although Ford has added several safety features, vehicles tend to benefit from clean-sheet designs in which the latest safety technology is built into the structure and passenger compartment, not just added on.
Industry analysts predict the Escape will be redesigned for the 2013 model year and be based on the Focus platform. The 2012 Focus sedan is an IIHS Top Safety Pick, so the new Escape could improve its ranking as well.
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