The Jeep Wrangler 4-door isn’t as safe as other SUVs according to Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) crash tests. The 2022 Wrangler tipped onto its side in the driver-side small overlap front test, repeat of what the 2019 model did after striking the barrier, despite design changes.
The result of the test was that the 2022 Jeep Wranger received a Marginal rating. A Good rating in the test is required to be labeled a Top Safety Pick.
The drivers-side small overlap frontal crash test was introduced in 2012 to replicate what happens when a front left corner of a vehicle collides with another vehicle or an object like a tree or utility pole. IIHS says it’s a challenge for some safety belt and airbag designs because occupants move both forward and toward the side of the vehicle. In the test a vehicle travels at 40 miles per hour (mph) toward a 5-foot tall barrier. A crash test dummy rides in the driver’s seat and the crash takes up about 25 percent of the total width of the vehicle.
IIHS notes that when considering normal metrics, the Wrangler performed well. The safety cage held together protecting the driver and the restraints controlled the movement of the dummy. The test did show risk of injury to the driver’s left foot and leg. The combination head and torso side airbag did not deploy, according to the IIHS.
However, IIHS added that tipping over adds a dangerous wrinkle to the equation. IIHS does not traditionally test tipping points, but does note when vehicles tip as the result of a test.
“We made a change to a suspension component in response to the test result, and we are reviewing that change. However, we engineer our vehicles for real-world performance, and real-world performance continues to indicate the vehicle is safe,” Stellantis media relations manager Eric Mayne told Newsweek.
The IIHS does not place a dummy in the passenger seat for the driver-side small overlap front tests. In real life, during a partial rollover a passenger or driver could be ejected from the vehicle during a tipping incident. Additionally, a passenger could fall onto the driver, or vice versa.
That’s more relevant for the Wrangler, which can be driven with the doors and roof removed.
The Jeep Wrangler did earn Good ratings in the four original tests from the IIHS, and got a four-star rating overall and in front crash tests from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).
“Stellantis has produced more than one million of these vehicles. Real-world performance strongly indicates they afford the level of safety our customers demand and deserve. By conservative estimate, they have accounted for 105 billion on-road travel miles. And we are unaware any of field reports that correspond with the IIHS test results,” a Stellantis rep told Newsweek.
“We’re reviewing this latest result. We routinely consider third-party testing and factor it into our product-development process, as appropriate. But we engineer our vehicles for real-world performance,” they said.
“The Jeep Wrangler has unique and extraordinary capabilities unlike any other vehicle on the road. Real-world data and ongoing demand indicate the four-door Wrangler meets or exceeds the expectations of the buying public.”
On its Understanding the Ratings webpage, the IIHS says that after an analysis of 14 years of data, it found that the driver of a vehicle rated good in the moderate overlap test is 46 percent less likely to die in a frontal crash, compared with a driver of a vehicle rated poor. However, it only started evaluating vehicles for protection in small overlap frontal crashes in 2012.
The IIHS also notes that generally when considering weight, the heavier of two vehicles usually offers better protection in real-world crashes. It tested this in 2009 when even small cars with Good frontal ratings still fared poorly against heavier cars.
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