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2017 Ford Escape improves crash test performance, but still isn't 'good'

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(Read caption) Guests are served coffee while riding in a 2017 Ford Escape SUV during Ford's "Escape the Room" drive experience in New York City in June

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The updated 2017 Ford Escape compact crossover received more than just a cosmetic facelift this year. Structural changes to the vehicle's front end were enough to boost its crashworthiness, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.

The Escape's performance in the IIHS small-overlap test improved from a dismal "Poor" rating in 2016 to a much-improved "Acceptable." That's still one mark shy of "Good," the agency's top rating, and a requirement for its coveted Top Safety Pick ranking. 

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The challenging small overlap test evaluates how a vehicle's safety structure holds up in a frontal impact—think two cars heading toward one another on a two-lane road. IIHS introduced the test a few years ago, and it has proven difficult for many automakers to pass. 

Ford improved the Escape's front structure beneath its redesigned nose for 2017, and it reinforced the vehicle's door hinges as well. Those changes helped out a lot, but they weren't quite enough to elevate it to the top.

That makes the Escape one of only a handful of small crossovers and SUVs not rated as a Top Safety Pick—or a Top Safety Pick+, which is reserved for top-scoring vehicles that also offer automatic emergency braking. 

Here's a look at the current Top Safety Pick+ award recipients among small crossovers and SUVs:

  • Hyundai Tucson
  • Mazda CX-3
  • Mazda CX-5
  • Toyota RAV4
  • Kia Sportage
  • Subaru Forester
  • Honda CR-V
  • BMW X1
  • Fiat 500X
  • Mitsubishi Outlander

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