By on May 28, 2019

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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44 Comments on “Jeep Wrangler Once Again Earns Dismal Crash-test Rating Using Euro-based Metrics...”


  • avatar
    Lie2me

    Oh c’mon, does anyone think they have any expectation of safety in an open-air, doorless Jeep?

    • 0 avatar
      Detroit-X

      Bingo.

      Recently a family in the neighborhood bought a new Jeep Wrangler for their 17 year old daughter as her first car. I felt that was quite irresponsible.

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    “…which is not a position Fiat Chrysler wants to find itself in”

    That might be true in a press release, but as long as the metal is moving, they really don’t care when it comes to the Wrangler.

    Here’s the proof:

    “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.”

    Translation: “The Wrangler meets the letter of the law and sells like crazy, so bite it.”

    • 0 avatar
      dukeisduke

      I agree, they can bite it.

    • 0 avatar
      Ce he sin

      Translation: “The Wrangler meets the letter of the law and sells like crazy, so bite it.”

      Not in Australia it doesn’t! Jeep sales are going backwards there and this test result isn’t going to help things much. Total sales in Australia fell from 30,408 in 2014 to 8,270 in 2017 which is an impressive lack of performance.

  • avatar
    Jerome10

    Just drive over the other car in an impact.

  • avatar
    SPPPP

    “Safety is something we take incredibly seriously…”

    Well, no wonder they don’t believe you.

  • avatar
    TotalNonStopCars

    Bububububut, Ford Escape.

  • avatar
    dukeisduke

    And idiot pedestrians should just get out of the way.

    • 0 avatar
      Garrett

      Great advice. That would have helped me when I was crossing the road in a crosswalk, with the walk sign illuminated, in a large group of people, when an idiot decided turn right without looking.

  • avatar
    Tstag

    The all new Land Rover Defender is likely to get a top score, so bad timing for Jeep to get this rating in Europe. Bet the Defender is more reliable as well based on the fact that Land Rover always come out higher in reliability scores than any FCA product….

    • 0 avatar
      ToddAtlasF1

      What color is the sky on your planet?

    • 0 avatar
      Hummer

      Apples to oranges comparison, the Jeep Wrangler is an off-road vehicle, Land Rover already announced the upcoming Defender will be a unibody minivan.
      Even with what little cache Land Rover has left in its name, they seem to have made no indication that their quality or reliability has improved to the point of being better than any of FCAs product.

      • 0 avatar
        Garrett

        The Mahindra Roxor is an off-road vehicle. The Jeep is an onroad vehicle with off-road capability.

      • 0 avatar
        Tstag

        You wish they’d build a mini van! So far it looks great, angles or arrival and departure will be amongst the best in class and it will be rammed with class leading off road tech. Something you can’t say about the Wrangler.

        When it comes to safety I’d much rather be in something modern than something this old. Even better news the Defender will also come as a modern pickup.

        New Defender vs Ancient Wrangler. I’ll take new every time.

        • 0 avatar
          Hummer

          Are you serious? Literally the Defender will have as much capability off-road as a Subaru, it’s no longer an off-road vehicle and has no chance of making it any further than a 2wd pickup with a locker.

        • 0 avatar
          dukeisduke

          Ancient Wrangler? Lol. Defender owners will be happy to get a lift from Wrangler owners, when the Defender breaks down for the seventeenth time.

        • 0 avatar
          SPPPP

          “New Defender vs Ancient Wrangler.”

          First off, this sounds like a really good movie.

          Secondly, like many movies, it’s based off ancient legends, and somewhat detached from today’s reality.

    • 0 avatar
      ajla

      “new Land Rover Defender”

      Go buy one. I’m excited for you.

  • avatar
    ToddAtlasF1

    “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”

    They are just different tests. They’re educated guesses at simulating real-world collisions of a few types and generally modeled by people who fail to consider that test results are only portable when cars collide with their twins. They can’t establish real-world correlations because actual accident and fatality rates have a far greater correlation with driver-demographics than vehicle construction or safety features. Vehicle specification has an overall benefit, but not as great as driver behavior. Vehicle mass trumps all in a collision, but is often a liability in a single-vehicle roll-over crash.

    It’s pretty funny that the Wrangler earned one-star for a couple of weaknesses. I remember when one-star ratings were reserved for complete deathtraps from developing countries that basically ceased to exist the moment they met the barrier.

    • 0 avatar
      conundrum

      But the Tesla Model 3 gets five stars from everyone including Euro NCAP, period. Teslas are about the only really worldwide car export the US indigenous car industry has. In any real quantity, that is.

      The Mustang got two stars in NCAP, raised to three after they stuck electronic driving aids on it. You wonder who was awake in Dearborn when they prepared the Euro-spec model – a minor reading of the rules would show that Euro NCAP places high marks on electronic nannies, but they sent off Mustangs to Europe ill-prepared to begin with. Dumbkopfs. Although they flog a reasonable number there, the NCAP results hardly bolstered future sales.

      I’m not a raging Tesla fan, the point I’m making is that the FCA boys in Michigan designing Jeeps have access to the same rulebooks for Euro NCAP and Australasia NCAP as everyone else. FCA presumably maintains crash-test facilities like the other major manufacturers. Apparently they paid scant attention. A one-star rating is pretty awful, no matter how one rationalizes it.

      Kinetic energy is the basis for accident performance, not just mass, and the velocity component is squared, so much more important.

      • 0 avatar
        ToddAtlasF1

        Tesla still exists because their AVs have so far only succeeded in killing volunteers who were behind the wheels of Teslas. They’re as good an example of a car that performs well in simulations and chops off its drivers’ heads in the real world as you can get.

    • 0 avatar
      PeriSoft

      “It’s pretty funny that the Wrangler earned one-star for a couple of weaknesses. I remember when one-star ratings were reserved for complete deathtraps from developing countries that basically ceased to exist the moment they met the barrier.”

      I have a bit of a problem with this too. Current tests seem to mix their metaphors, combining into one glob ratings for structural integrity and accident avoidance. When I’m car shopping, I want to know two different sets of things – first, what specific features does this thing have to prevent me from getting in an accident, and second, what will it do to save my bacon once an accident happens. A car isn’t less safe *to me* because AEB is an option, because I sort that out when I buy it. When the rating assumes otherwise, I have less useful information.

      I want safety ratings to tell me *how likely I am to get hurt in a given impact*, not that, plus, oh, we’ll mix in some randomness to account for how likely the car was to avoid the impact in the first place. That’s not useful to me – and further muddying the waters by saying my car is less safe to me because it’s actually less safe to a pedestrian is even worse than useless. I don’t have a problem with measuring these things in the first place, but don’t tell me my car is “less safe”, double-quotes, because of externalities that aren’t actually relevant to its ability to protect occupants in an impact.

      • 0 avatar
        ToddAtlasF1

        The NCAP star ratings are about insurance companies dictating what people can buy. It doesn’t matter if you care about your own safety or that of anyone else. What matters is that nobody can afford to make their own choices.

  • avatar
    Hummer

    Pedestrian safety is not something a driver is to be concerned about, the only way to improve that metric is to destroy its capabilities so it seems this useless metric was designed to be failed.

  • avatar
    Garak

    The Wrangler’s a three-star car by old EuroNCAP metrics – not brilliant, but not completely awful either.

    Anyway, I doubt many Wrangler buyers worry about safety features. They know they’re getting a special-purpose vehicle, not a family hauler.

    • 0 avatar
      James Charles

      Garak,
      The majority of Wranglers sold are not sold to specialist users. I don’t know where your information is from.

      How many are four door Wranglers used for going to the mall and taking kids to the soccer?

      How many two door Wranglers are bought by the “hey look at me! I look cute driving my Wrangler fashion accessory”.

      • 0 avatar
        Garak

        That might be true in the US, but here in EuroNCAP-land that’s really not the case. Wranglers are expensive, thirsty for fuel, taxed to high heaven, and generally a really rare sight.

        • 0 avatar
          James Charles

          Garak,
          Here in Australia they are bought for the same reasons they are in the US, mainly posing by adorning yourself with this “look at me I’m a outdoorsy person”. Its bought and used mainly by the hairdressers, fashion store employees. If you want a reliable, capable off roader in Australia you have better choices than a Wrangler.

          I travel to “ENCAP” land once or twice a year and fail to see many Wranglers. The ones I do see are daily drivers.

          In “ENCAP” land most Wranglers are 2.8 diesels and return better FE than the thirsty Pentastars.

          The EU Wrangler would be no worse than a Hilux, Ranger, Prado, etc for FE and these are bought mainly as show ponies.

  • avatar
    James Charles

    Garak,
    The majority of Wranglers sold are not sold to specialist users. I don’t know where your information is from.

    How many are four door Wranglers used for going to the mall and taking kids to the soccer?

    How many two door Wranglers are bought by the “hey look at me! I look cute driving my Wrangler fashion accessory”.

  • avatar
    James Charles

    Garak,
    The majority of Wranglers sold are not sold to specialist users. I don’t know where your information is from.

    How many are four door Wranglers used for going to the mall and taking kids to the soccer?

    How many two door Wranglers are bought by the “hey look at me! I look cute driving my Wrangler fashion accessory”.

  • avatar
    James Charles

    Garak,
    The majority of Wranglers sold are not sold to specialist users. I don’t know where your information is from.

    How many are four door Wranglers used for going to the mall and taking kids to the soccer?

    How many two door Wranglers are bought by the “hey look at me! I look cute driving my Wrangler fashion accessory”.

  • avatar
    James Charles

    Man, Word Press is great today!

  • avatar
    James Charles

    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.

    • 0 avatar
      DenverMike

      Thanks BAFO, but keep in mind NCAP judges vehicles by the “standards” of when the vehicle (generation) first went into production, even when dangerous by today’s standards. That’s one major fail of NCAP.

      In your part of the world, including Africa and SE Asia, you have access to vehicles far too dangerous for US standards, but still earn a respectable NCAP rating.

  • avatar
    NG5

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


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