The new Jeep Wrangler hasn’t exactly covered itself in glory during crash tests. It infamously scored just one star in a Euro NCAP test in late 2018, and this month the vehicle raised eyebrows by partially rolling during the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety’s (IIHS) driver-side small overlap test - the first time the organisation has recorded such an incident in the category.
To make matters worse, this happened on two separate occasions. Jeep parent company FCA objected to the result of the first test, suggesting that outcome might be related to the way the Wrangler had been hooked up to the propulsion system. After some tweaks, the test was re-run, with the vehicle again flipping onto its side. FCA submitted its own test, in which the car stayed upright.
“FCA has indicated that they’re working on changes to address the partial-rollover outcome that we observed in our driver-side small overlap crash test,” the IIHS told Jalopnik, although it’s not clear what these “changes” might be. The official statement from FCA doesn’t shed any more light, but instead seems to question the real-world relevancy of the test result. It said:
“FCA has produced more than 500,000 of these vehicles. From this population, we are unaware of any incidents that correlate with the vehicle dynamic portion of the IIHS test result. With more than 75 available safety and security features, the Jeep Wrangler Unlimited meets or exceeds all federal safety standards and continues to win acclaim from news organizations and consumer groups.”
Aside from the partial roll, the Wrangler did well by the the Institute’s metrics in the small overlap test, with the driver’s space said to be “maintained well” and dummy movement “well-controlled”. The vehicle tipping onto its side couldn’t be ignored, of course, so what would have been a ‘good’ outcome - the best IIHS rating - was downgraded to ‘marginal’.
“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,” the IIHS said, adding, “This is a particular concern in the Wrangler, which has a roof and doors that can be removed”.
The Wrangler scored ‘good’ for every other category aside from the headlights test, in which it was rated as ‘poor’.