By on December 16, 2021

While the full-size Bronco might be one of the hottest games in town, its performance in some key safety measures failed to wholly impress the IIHS crash test dummies. Their major beefs? Headlights and whiplash.

This is not to say the Bronco is an unsafe vehicle or that it flies apart at the seams like in the zero-star performances of some machines from overseas. In fact, it garnered top marks in a number of areas, including the notoriously tough small overlap front crash tests on both the passenger and driver sides. That’s the exam meant to simulate sailing headfirst into a solid wall or low barrier, making contact with the immovable object in the car’s headlight area. The only place in which the IIHS noted any issue here was when one of the dummies appeared to suffer an injured ankle thanks to a dead pedal which ended up at a wonky angle after the crash test.

But it was those big round peepers which caused some consternation, earning the Bronco just a ‘marginal’ overall rating. The IIHS testers said on a simulated straightaway, visibility was fair on both sides of the road. On curves, however, visibility was deemed to be inadequate in all tests. That quartet of exams includes 250m and 150m radius curves in both left and right directions if you’re wondering and you probably weren’t.

It’s worth noting the Base trim and the Big Bend without an extra-cost lighting package have even dimmer headlamps thanks to their less expensive illumination systems. IIHS tests high beams as well, of course, finding them to offer good, visibility on the right side of the road and fair on the left side when measured on a straightaway stretch of tarmac. On curves, visibility was fair on the gradual right and both left curves but inadequate on the sharp right curve. As you’d expect, high-beam assist compensates for some limitations of this vehicle’s low beams on the straightaway and all 4 curves. Thank you, Captain Obvious.

As for the result in a head restraint and seat test, the IIHS is said to be looking for a number of results in that assessment. Good geometry is essential for an effective head restraint, they say, going on to explain that if a head restraint isn’t behind and close to the back of an occupant’s head, it can’t prevent whiplash in a rear-end collision. This is why it’s important to properly adjust the things when getting behind the wheel of a car and not simply leave them where Aunt Doris had them while driving to church. Bronco scored ‘acceptable’ here, thanks to the neck of a test dummy which was found to have been subjected to a moderate force in a simulated rear-end crash.

Still, the 4-door midsize SUV did earn a “good” rating (the highest possible) in five out of six crashworthiness tests. Sure beats those zero-star econoboxes in other markets.

[Image: Ford]

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27 Comments on “Ford Bronco Doesn’t Ace Safety Tests...”

  • avatar

    If you want safe don’t buy a car who’s intended purpose is to ride the Rubicon. If you want safe buy a CR-V but I wouldn’t advise rock crawling at Moab with it

    People get this stuff mixed-up all the time

  • avatar

    While it’s nice to see them rating headlights to push improvements, they’re going to be pretty pricey especially to replace.

  • avatar

    Oddly, there is no head restraint in the video. Jumping over to the Ford site, the gallery for the Bronco has restraints in place.

  • avatar

    Oddly, there is no head restraint in the video. Jumping over to the Ford site, the gallery for the Bronco has restraints in place.

  • avatar

    I like the fact that headlights are getting a rating. Wranglers have a bad rep for poor lights. Ford benchmarked them too closely. LOL
    Whiplash? I suspect that’s more a factor related to the Bronco being tall and rather short.

  • avatar

    On the bright side, the Ranger SUV saw a 100% improvement in its looks after the tests.

    As for the headlights, Ford has always struggled with providing adequate headlights on their vehicles. Even Ford’s LED headlights have received poor ratings.

    Rather than do a little bit of work and improve the headlights, they just add more inadequate headlights like the Super Duty. bad + bad is still bad.

    • 0 avatar

      Not sure where you acquired your data, but I can attest that the headlights on my ’20 Explorer perform extremely well. This past summer I drove overnight from Sault Ste. Marie to Thunder Bay, an area known for its abundant wildlife, and felt very confident doing so.

      • 0 avatar

        And personal experience. Although I have not been so unlucky as to be able to drive a new Explorer (thank God) but the IIHS wasn’t impressed awarding only an acceptable rating. They wrote:

        “Low beams
        On the straightaway, visibility was fair on the right side of the road and inadequate on the left side. On curves, visibility was good on both right curves and inadequate on both left curves.

        The low beams never exceeded glare limits.

        High beams
        On the straightaway, visibility was fair on both sides of the road. On curves, visibility was good in all 4 tests.

        High-beam assist compensates for some limitations of this vehicle’s low beams on the straightaway and on both left curves.”

        Further, according to the IIHS

        -Ecosport – Not rated
        -Escape – Halogen marginal, LED acceptable
        -Boxy version of the Escape – *GOOD*
        -Ranger SUV – Marginal
        -Explorer – Acceptable
        -Edge – Halogen poor, LED acceptable
        -Mach-Escape – LED marginal or good depending on trim level
        -Expedition – Not rated

        -Maverick – Not tested
        -Ranger – Marginal
        -F150 – Halogen poor, LED acceptable/good
        -Super Duty – Not rated

        Mustang – Not tested

        The only vehicle that gets a good rating across all trim levels is the boxy Escape.

      • 0 avatar

        The ratings are hard to interpret because they can conflate different issues (straight-on performance for the driver, curve performance for the driver, glare for oncoming traffic). My Bolt’s headlights got a “Marginal” rating, even though they are excellent from the driver’s perspective, because they cause too much glare. This is one case where three ratings might be better than one.

        • 0 avatar

          “My Bolt’s headlights got a “Marginal” rating, even though they are excellent from the driver’s perspective, because they cause too much glare.”

          Is this you:

          “If the streets around here are any indication, because they think blinding other drivers on the road is a dominance gesture like peeing on the right bush.”

          Gotta love some hypocrisy. But your position is absurd. A headlight that is effective for the driver yet produces too much glare for oncoming traffic is a bad headlight and should be rated as such.

          Headlights are about safety. Being able to see….both for the driver and oncoming traffic should have equal weight. Because it’s great that YOU can see in your electric Spark but not if it’s causing others to be unable to see and risk crashing.

          • 0 avatar

            Yes, you are very smart, deducing that (1) slightly too-glarey headlights are the same thing as the giant blinding LED light bars that were the context of my other comment, and (2) I have complete control over the minutiae of GM’s headlight designs.

          • 0 avatar

            In both instances you are talking about glare. Is there a difference between the glare from an electric Spark and the glare from an aftermarket accessory?

            Then end result is the oncoming driver not being able to see.

            I figured you would pretend to be obtuse but I didn’t think the point would go that far over your head. My bad…

  • avatar

    I’m not surprised about the headlights. Nowadays, manufacturers seem to be more concerned with headlights that make a style statement, while blinding oncoming drivers in the process, rather than actually helping the drivers actually see where they’re going. I’m tired of having to meet vehicles with naked LEDs that do nothing more than distract and blind me.

    And don’t get me started on all the sh-tty eBay headlights out there, LED lightbars, red lights(!) showing to the *front*, etc.

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    Ford won’t lose a single sale from this report.

  • avatar

    Much safer than any vehicle I have ever designed.

  • avatar

    The IIHS is a bunch of scumbags funded by the insurance industry. There are federal safety and crash standards. Those are more than sufficient to protect courteous, well trained drivers that know what they’re doing.

    These idiots make up their own tests then publicize them through an ignorant media that just parrots what they’re told.

    If those guys gave a rat’s behind about driving safely, they’d be publishing articles about what garbage American driving tests are. Nope. Why? Better trained drivers have less accidents. Less accidents means lower rates — and the industry can’t have that.

    I’ve had one ticket in 20 years — yet my rates just went up 15% because others wadded up their dopey Nissans and Hyundais or whatever — so the entire metropolitan area where I live got stuffed.

    May they choke on their Christmas fruitcakes.

    • 0 avatar

      Yes because the federal government has proven decade after decade how effective they are. Never mind the fact that their standards are decades behind Europe, etc. Until recently, our federal headlight regulations largely date back to the mid 60s. Hate to break it to the ineffective geriatrics in our federal government but headlight technology has advanced a bit since sealed beam headlights. It took until 1997 for the federal government to “allow” us to use the H1 bulb. It was introduced in Europe in 1962…so our grotesque federal government was only 35 years behind the times.

      But getting back to the IIHS, imagine the audacity of an organization making recommendations that lessens their financial liability by advocating for a safer alternative. The nerve!

  • avatar

    this will sell even if it fails the moose test

  • avatar

    Mr Guy, whatever econoboxes you are referring to as getting zero stars in Euro NCAP official tests like the Tata Nano have never been subjected to an IIHS test. The IIHS is a non official organization of American insurance companies unique to the USA which tests vehicles to its own peculiar set of standards that aren’t harmonized through UNECE like the official NHTSA US government and Euro and Global NCAP tests.

    The Euro NCAP official test gave the current Mustang two stars out of five six years ago, or three if it had some electronic aids.

    Of course none of these august organizations know which are the 10 best chamois, seat covers or lousy quality Chinese LED light upgrade kits like you do. So you have the advantage there.

  • avatar

    I’m really surprised that headlight issues remain in this era. After all, Chrysler seemed to be in the crosshairs for their substandard headlights many years ago – along with almost everything else they built.

    Makes me wonder why this is still a problem. Projection lenses? If that’s so, they’re only good for the straightaway.

    When I had my 2012 Impala, the headlights seemed ok, but when the ditch lights were switched on, they lit up the road directly in front of the car and even a bit beyond the sides, which made all the difference.

    Perhaps Ford rushed the Bronco to market a bit too early? I think it’s still a nice vehicle, though, and wouldn’t mind owning one.

  • avatar
    Art Vandelay

    Did it flip over in any of these tests? If I remember, that is the bar the Wrangler set.

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