This rollover video shows why the Jeep Wrangler gets a marginal IIHS Rating. Despite ‘good’ ratings for driver safety, multiple rollovers earn the Jeep a ‘marginal’ overall IIHS rating
When this new model Jeep Wrangler was first tested in Europe it scored a 1-star rating. Subsequently on arrival to Australia, along with more ‘standard’ safety items, ANCAP scored it a 3-star rating.
Perhaps this series of tests by the USA’s Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, (IIHS) may cause ANCAP to review the rating assigned to Jeep Wrangler. But in reality, those owners of Jeep Wrangler and others thinking about getting into the iconic off-road vehicle won’t pay too much heed to tests. Ford Mustang went down the same path – iconic overcomes safety.
The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, or IIHS, has released crash test information for the current-generation Jeep Wrangler Unlimited JL. It’s mostly good news, with one glaring exception: When put through IIHS’ 40-mph, driver-side small overlap frontal test, the organization’s 2019 Wrangler Unlimited JL Sport rolled over on its side.
According to IIHS, after FCA raised questions with the test—the automaker claimed that it had not seen this sort of vehicle behavior in its own tests—IIHS ran it again. The vehicle rolled again.
It goes without saying that this is not what you’d want to see happen in a crash test. It makes for dramatic video footage, and it’s definitely something to keep in mind when shopping for a new vehicle. It has also earned the Wrangler Unlimited a “marginal” safety rating from the organization—one step above the lowest possible grade of “poor.”
Read below the top line, however, and it gets a little more complicated. The Jeep actually earns a “good” rating—the highest classification IIHS awards—when it comes to the vehicle structure and safety cage, and all driver injury measures, as well as driver restraints and dummy kinematics.
Interestingly, IIHS says the Wrangler Unlimited did just fine in its 31-mph side crash test, in which it earned a “good” rating. You watch that test unfold here:
Despite this, IIHS notes, “a vehicle tipping onto its side is not an acceptable outcome for a frontal crash, and as a result, the Wrangler’s overall rating was downgraded to marginal.”
Further, “Rollovers—even partial ones like those that occurred in the Wrangler tests—are especially dangerous crashes, in part due to the risk of complete or partial ejection. This is a particular concern in the Wrangler, which has a roof and doors that can be removed. The Wrangler also lacks side curtain airbags designed to deploy in a rollover to keep occupants inside. It is not required by regulation to have side curtain airbags because of its removable roof.”
You’ll recall that the small overlap frontal test caused considerable automaker consternation when it was implemented in 2012. In this case, IIHS did not offer any particular insight into why the Wrangler JL performed poorly in its tests, especially when its predecessor, the Wrangler JK, earned a “good” rating.
But the Wrangler is something increasingly scarce in today’s marketplace: a traditional, high-riding body-on-frame convertible truck with removable doors, a folding windshield and two solid axles—and as we’ve said before, solid-axle vehicles (sometimes) have solid-axle problems. It is intended to be able to go anywhere off-road, and its design and engineering reflect that. Never mind that most buyers use them solely on-road.
A modern Jeep, especially a brand-new Wrangler JL, is unquestionably safer than a vintage SUV by almost any imaginable metric. But it comes with certain tradeoffs, and this performance in the small overlap frontal crash test is apparently one of them. With that in mind, these IIHS finding should be used to inform your decision to purchase or avoid a Wrangler (or any other vehicle, for that matter), not necessarily to make that decision.
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