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SAFETY | 9 out of 10
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Top Safety Pick
Sightlines are pretty good out front but there is a large blind spot at the C-pillar.
...Depending on the option package, you can order adaptive cruise control and a blind- spot warning system.
All sorts of safety technologies are integrated into the 2011 Ford Explorer's cocoon, and the results are showing up already in at least one set of safety scores.
On every Explorer, Ford fits dual front, side and curtain airbags. Also standard are anti-lock brakes, traction and stability control, and active headrests that don't protrude forward as noticeably as in some recent-vintage Fords.
Like most SUVs, the Explorer's tall seating position gives it swell forward visibility--but to the back, it's a little less easy, since thick C-pillars can block the view out over the corners of the vehicle.
The very latest in safety gear can be found on the Explorer's options list. Blind-spot detectors, adaptive cruise control and "curve control" that predicts tight corners--and brings the Explorer in line before it gets out of line--are all available in option packages. Still to come is Ford's new inflatable seat belts; designed for middle-row passengers, the belts are said to offer more protection for smaller people in case of an accident.
How will those new features perform? None have been crash-tested by independent agencies as of yet, but the new Explorer has been rated a Top Safety Pick by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). The scores from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) have not yet been published.
With a Top Safety Pick award under its inflatable seat belt, the 2011 Ford Explorer is on its way to class-leading crash protection.