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SAFETY | 8 out of 10
Five stars, frontal impact and side impact protection; three stars, rollover rating
Good," frontal offset impact; "acceptable," side impact
not all of the Ford Explorer's competitors can match the SUV's five-star front and side crash test ratings
No matter where you turn for information on the safety credentials of the 2009 Ford Explorer, one thing is clear: Ford engineers have made safety a priority on the Ford Explorer.
The 2009 Ford Explorer has been tested by both crash-test authorities in the United States, and the results are impressive. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) subjected the Ford Explorer 2009 to its full range of crash tests and awarded it a perfect five-star rating for both driver and passenger protection during front impacts, as well as five stars for side impact protection on both sides of the vehicle.
The 2009 Ford Explorer also scores well with the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), which awards its highest rating, "good," for frontal offset impact protection. The IIHS also bestows its second-highest rating, "acceptable," for side impact protection. Motor Trend observes that "not all of the Ford Explorer's competitors can match the SUV's five-star front and side crash test ratings."
Edmunds states that "all major safety equipment is standard on the 2009 Ford Explorer," and that standard equipment list is quite long. ForbesAutos reviewers are pleased to find that "Ford's AdvanceTrac stability control system with Roll Stability Control is standard," and they note the system "provides added road-holding abilities, especially around sharp curves." Cars.com adds that "seat-mounted side-impact airbags, a tire pressure monitoring system and a five-level front-passenger sensing system" are all included, and "a 4-inch-thick foam block installed between the exterior and interior front-door panels helps manage side-impact forces on occupants' hips."
One safety aspect that shouldn't be ignored but is sometimes forgotten by automotive reviewers is driver visibility. On the Ford Explorer 2009, ConsumerGuide warns that "outward visibility is hindered some by thick roof pillars, but the 2nd- and 3rd-row headrests fold to reduce obstruction." While the 2009 Ford Explorer doesn't offer a rear-facing camera, Motor Trend notes it does have an optional "reverse sensing system" that should aid drivers during parking lot and towing maneuvers.
The 2009 Ford Explorer might have a truck-based layout that’s no longer in favor, but Ford has done a good job keeping its safety features up to snuff.