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Ford Mustang Mach-E Just Missed the Highest Possible Safety Score - Here's Why

The Mustang Mach-E missed the Top Safety Pick Plus rating for an easily avoidable reason.

The Ford Mustang Mach-E has earned the second-best safety score in Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) testing. Although the Mustang Mach-E does earn the classic, Top Safety Pick designation, it failed to earn the “Plus” because Ford does not equip all Mustang Mach-E vehicles with the same headlights.

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Based on IIHS testing, the Mustang Mach-E’s Select and California Route 1 trims have inferior headlights to the First Edition and GT trims. The Mach-E is available with Good-rated LED projector headlights on the Premium, GT, Premium, and First Edition trims, which qualify for TOP SAFETY PICK. However, IIHS found that the LED reflectors installed on the Select and California Route 1 trims are rated Marginal, thus preventing the new Mustang from earning the “Plus.” The lower-rated headlights were found to provide inadequate illumination on some curves during IIHS testing.

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The IIHS Top Safety Pick award requires good ratings in all six IIHS crashworthiness tests — driver- and passenger-side small overlap front, moderate overlap front, side, roof strength, and head restraints. Nearly all modern vehicles tested ace these crash tests, and the exceptions stand out and make news. To earn top scores, vehicles must also be available with good or acceptable headlights and a front crash prevention system that earns advanced or superior ratings in both the vehicle-to-vehicle and vehicle-to-pedestrian evaluations. In order to qualify for the “plus” designation, vehicles must come with good or acceptable headlights across all trim levels and packages. The Mustang Mach-E does not qualify for the topmost score of “Plus” because two of its trims do not meet that requirement.

IIHS began to focus closely on headlights back in 2014. By 2016 it had established testing and standards, including using volunteers to help calibrate its glare metrics. In the Institute’s first major round of testing of crossovers in 2016, many models scored Poor. Not a single one earned a score of Good. That has changed. Many crossovers now come equipped with Good-rated headlights on all trims. One example is the Mazda CX-30.

Headlight testing image courtesy of IIHS

All Mustang Mach-E trims do come with a standard front crash prevention system that earns superior ratings in both the vehicle-to-vehicle and vehicle-to-pedestrian evaluations.

Should shoppers with fewer dollars to spend have to make do with lower-quality headlights? Or should all vehicles be equipped with the best lighting possible? Feel free to express your opinion in the comments below.

John Goreham is a long-time New England Motor Press Association member and recovering engineer. Following his engineering program, John also completed a marketing program at Northeastern University and worked with automotive component manufacturers. In addition to Torque News, John's work has appeared in print in dozens of American newspapers and he provides reviews to many vehicle shopping sites. You can follow John on Twitter, and view his credentials at Linkedin