One of Ford's most popular cars, the Escape, has flunked a new crash test by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.
The passenger side small overlap crash test shows how well the passenger is protected when the impact is on the right front side of the car, clipping or shearing 25% of the right front area. Such accidents can be extremely dangerous, and kill several hundred passengers a year.
Insurance Institute spokesman Russ Rader says the side airbag didn't even deploy during the Escape test. That's something researchers haven't seen for years, he says. The Escape earned the Institute's lowest rating of "poor," for passenger protection in a small overlap crash.
Rader says Ford earlier made modifications to the driver's side, so the Escape got a better rating on the same test for driver protection.
"If the impact is on the other side of the vehicle, where your passenger is sitting, that person should get equal protection," says Rader.
Five other SUVS got the best rating of "good" on the test, including the Jeep Compass, the Chevy Equinox and the GMC Terrain.