Jeep Wrangler Once Again Earns Dismal Crash-test Rating Using Euro-based Metrics

Matt Posky
by Matt Posky
jeep wrangler once again earns dismal crash test rating using euro based metrics

Despite the previous generation boasting above-average frontal crash test scores from the United States’ Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), Jeep’s new Wrangler has earned harsh criticism in Europe and Australia. The model received a one-star European New Car Assessment Programme (NCAP) crash rating in December, followed by a similar review from the Australasian New Car Assessment Program (ANCAP) this month.

That makes it the only one-star vehicle in that particular market, which is not a position Fiat Chrysler wants to find itself in. However, as FCA took great strides in improving the Wrangler for on-road duty — including adding dual front and side airbags as standard — the dismally low score is a bit of a mystery.

Let’s start by unpacking the testing procedures. Where the IIHS test focuses primarily on frontal overlap testing and side impacts, with an added emphasis placed on headlight performance, its Euro and Aussie equivalents also incorporate whiplash tests at 10 and 15 mph and pedestrian impact simulation testing at 25 mph. In the NCAP test, the Wrangler earned a great score in the side barrier test (something the IIHS found lacking in the previous generation) and was rated “good” for whiplash protection.

The frontal crash tests and pedestrian safety score were another story, however. Those items, aided by difficult-to-use child restraints, absent automatic emergency braking (which is already available in North America), and poor pedestrian safety, ultimately dragged the vehicle’s NCAP score to the single-star category. The ANCAP scores mimicked this, albeit with improved child-safety scores, leaving the Jeep with another one-star review.

Australia’s CarAdvice reached out to ANCAP chief executive James Goodwin to glean more information on the poor rating. “This is a very poor performance, fundamentally structural,” he said. “For a new model to have an unstable passenger cell, where the dummy has made contact with the A-pillar, with the dashboard … [it’s poor].”

“It’s unfortunate that the vehicle hasn’t improved in a generation and I think the other concerning thing is we’ve had the brand tell Australian consumers they were going to make improvements and it was going to be better than the European model tested last year, and we haven’t seen any evidence at all,” Goodwin continued, adding that the cabin was subject to enough deformation to have the footwell rupture on fontal testing. “The passenger compartment of the Jeep Wrangler did not retain its structural integrity in the frontal offset test. Connection between the A-pillar and the cross fascia beam was compromised, as was the footwell structure, and penalties were applied.”

Ultimately, this netted the Wrangler a “marginal” rating that was dragged down to the depths by other issues. One of the biggest was pedestrian safety, which we expected. The model’s flat beak and high ground clearance are two things you absolutely do not want to encounter on foot. However, those elements are a big part of what makes it such a good off-road vehicle (and easily distinguishable to buyers).

Fiat Chrysler Australia offered the following response:

Safety is something we take incredibly seriously and every other member of the Jeep family of vehicles wears a five-star safety rating with pride, whether tested by ANCAP in Australia or by Euro NCAP.

The new Jeep Wrangler is a specialist off-road performance vehicle that has more than 70 advanced standard and available safety equipment. This includes front and side airbags, blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-path detection, parking sensors, a rear-view camera and autonomous emergency braking, all of which are paired with the use of high-strength steel in the Wrangler’s construction designed to protect the cabin in the case of an accident.

The Wrangler also meets federal safety requirements in Australia and is compliant with Australian Design Rules (ADR), the national government standards for vehicle safety, anti-theft and emissions in Australia.

We imagine the U.S. tests will yield slightly better results, as they’ll incorporate things like optional emergency braking and ignore some of the aspects that helped diminish its overall score in Europe and Australia. Whether that means the NCAP-based tests are either too stringent to leave adequate room for off-road vehicles or the IIHS-based tests are not stringent enough (or Jeep did a lousy job of building a safe car), we imagine individual answers will be dictated by personal preferences on governmental regulation.

U.S.-market IIHS and NHTSA test results for the current-gen Wrangler have yet to arrive. A perfect score sounds out of the question at this point; FCA is clearly hoping for better marks than those seen in Europe or Australia, and would undoubtedly prefer to outdo the previous-generation Wrangler — which received two stars in side impacts and three in frontal collisions from the NHTSA.

[Images: Euro NCAP]

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4 of 44 comments
  • James Charles James Charles on May 29, 2019

    For less than half the price of a Wrangler I would by a new Suzuki Sierra. Use the other half to buy a tiny car for day to day driving.

    • See 1 previous
    • Art Vandelay Art Vandelay on May 29, 2019

      @DenverMike Behold...the LC70

  • NG5 NG5 on May 29, 2019

    If I lived anywhere the Jimny is sold there's no way I'd buy a Wrangler anyhow.

  • Lou_BC "Owners of affected Wrangles" Does a missing "r" cancel an extra stud?
  • Slavuta One can put a secret breaker that will disable the starter or spark plug supply. Even disabling headlights or all lights will bring more trouble to thieves than they wish for. With no brake lights, someone will hit from behind, they will leave fingerprints inside. Or if they steal at night, they will have to drive with no lights. Any of these things definitely will bring attention.I remember people removing rotor from under distributor cup.
  • Slavuta Government Motors + Government big tech + government + Federal police = fascist surveillance state. USSR surveillance pales...
  • Johnster Another quibble, this time about the contextualization of the Thunderbird and Cougar, and their relationship to the prestigious Continental Mark. (I know. It's confusing.) The Thunderbird/Mark IV platform introduced for the 1971 model year was apparently derived from the mid-sized Torino/Montego platform (also introduced for the 1971 model year), but should probably be considered different from it.As we all know, the Cougar shared its platform with the Ford Mustang up through the 1973 model year, moving to the mid-sized Torino/Montego platform for the 1974 model year. This platform was also shared with the failed Ford Gran Torino Elite, (introduced in February of 1974, the "Gran Torino" part of the name was dropped for the 1975 and 1976 model years).The Thunderbird/Mark series duo's separation occurred with the 1977 model year when the Thunderbird was downsized to share a platform with the LTD II/Cougar. The 1977 model year saw Mercury drop the "Montego" name and adopt the "Cougar" name for all of their mid-sized cars, including plain 2-doors, 4-doors and and 4-door station wagons. Meanwhile, the Cougar PLC was sold as the "Cougar XR-7." The Cougar wagon was dropped for the 1978 model year (arguably replaced by the new Zephyr wagon) while the (plain) 2-door and 4-door models remained in production for the 1978 and 1979 model years. It was a major prestige blow for the Thunderbird. Underneath, the Thunderbird and Cougar XR-7 for 1977 were warmed-over versions of the failed Ford Elite (1974-1976), while the Mark V was a warmed-over version of the previous Mark IV.
  • Stuart de Baker This is depressing, and I don't own one of these.