The 2020 Ford Explorer has received the Top Safety Pick+ rating from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety – its highest rating possible. But it’s worth noting that initially the new Explorer fell short in the agency’s crash tests, which prompted Ford to make a change to the Explorer’s design starting in May 2020.

To receive the Top Safety Pick+ rating, a vehicle has to receive a Good rating in all six of the agency’s crash tests. It also has to receive an Acceptable or better rating for its available headlights and it’s collision avoidance systems must also receive an Advanced or Superior rating.

Initially the 2020 Explorer failed to earn a safety award when it fell short of a good rating in the Institute’s driver-side small overlap test. In that test, intrusion into the footwell elevated the risk of injury to the driver’s left leg. To improve the crash test result, Ford modified the left and right front subframe in the Explorer models built after May 2020.

The 2020 Explorer was re-tested and this time it achieved a Good rating in the driver-side small overlap test. The Explorer’s headlights receive an acceptable rating and its standard front crash prevention system earned a superior rating, which qualifies the 2020 Ford Explorer for the Top Safety Pick+ award.

The Lincoln Aviator shares its platform with the Explorer, so it too received the same modifications and the same crashworthiness ratings. Unfortunately the Aviator’s standard headlights were rated as marginal, which means it only gets the lower Top Safety Pick rating.