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Jeep Wrangler tips over during crash testing, IIHS: ‘Not an acceptable outcome’

Chris Teague

Chris Teague

The Jeep Wrangler tipped twice in crash testing.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) routinely crash tests vehicles from every mass market manufacturer. This time, the results are extraordinary. The 2019-2020 Jeep Wrangler four-door variant toppled over during the test.

When IIHS crash tests a vehicle, they often test numerous types of scenarios including front overlap and side impact crashes. Other elements of the testing include evaluating the vehicle’s roof strength, headlights, and front crash prevention technology.

The test the Jeep failed twice is the driver-side small overlap crash test. This type of test primarily effects a vehicle’s outer edges, which are typically not protected by traditional crush-zone structures. The impact of these incidents effects the front wheel, suspension, and firewall. According to IIHS data, 25 percent of all crashes are of this variety.

2019 Jeep Wrangler 4-door driver-side small overlap IIHS crash test

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The midsize SUV was evaluated in three separate driver-side small overlap crash tests, one by Fiat Chrysler, the parent company of Jeep, as part of the Institute’s verification test program and two at the Institute’s Vehicle Research Center. In the two test conducted at the IIHS testing location, the Wrangler, “rolled onto its passenger side after striking the test barrier,” according to the organization.

That result does not tell the whole story. IIHS shares,

“The Wrangler performed well by the normal metrics used to evaluate performance in the driver-side small overlap test. The driver’s space was maintained well, and the dummy’s movement was well-controlled. However, the partial rollover presents an additional injury risk beyond what the standard criteria are intended to measure. 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.”

A release by IIHS notes that in the test that Fiat Chrysler submitted to the organization, the Wrangler did not tip over. During product development, it is not uncommon for automakers to crash test their forthcoming models (full or partial) several times to ensure that they meet internal and external crashworthiness standards.

According to IIHS, “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 Wrangler has a roof and doors that can be removed. It does not have side curtain airbags, which are designed to deploy in a rollover to keep occupants inside in other vehicles. The Wrangler is not required to have these airbags because of its removable roof.

Following the first IIHS-conducted test, Fiat Chrysler questioned the validity of IIHS’s testing, concerned that the outcome was related to the way that engineers attached the vehicle to the crash propulsion system. IIHS agreed to conduct a second test using a different attachment method that was approved by Fiat Chrysler. That test had the same result.

In other aspects of testing, the Wrangler has earned more positive ratings. It scored a “good” in moderate overlap front, side, roof and head restraint evaluations. Its available vehicle-to-vehicle front crash prevention system that earned a superior rating.

However, the SUV’s base halogen headlights and premium LED projector headlights have earned “poor” ratings..

Jeep redesigned the Wrangler for the 2018 model year from the ground up. It is widely regarded as a successful redesign from an aesthetics and off-road capability standpoint.

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