The Jeep Wrangler is unmistakably cool, but is it safe in an accident? It does things no other SUV can do, but does that make a difference in whether or not it’s safe? We took a look at all the available safety information to give you an answer.
All new vehicles must comply with mountains of safety regulations before they can be put on sale, but that doesn’t mean all vehicles are equally safe. Different designs and different types of safety equipment make big differences. An all-new Wrangler was introduced in 2018 and featured massive improvements in safety, fuel efficiency, and technology, as compared to the old JK model—so massive that we named the JL-generation Wrangler our 2019 SUV of the Year. But even with the many improvements made to the JL, are Jeep Wranglers safe? While it may be the strongest, safest Wrangler ever, it still received mixed ratings. Its older-style chassis and short list of advanced safety features bring it below average ratings from multiple testing agencies.
Jeep Wrangler Safety Ratings
We should note, however, that not all agencies have tested the latest Wrangler yet, and even those that have tested it haven’t necessarily completed every test in their arsenal. For example, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has subjected the Wrangler to only two of its four tests. As a result, NHTSA does not give the Wrangler an overall safety rating, just individual test ratings.
NHTSA subjected the Wrangler to a standard front impact test, where the vehicle runs straight into a flat wall. In that test, the Wrangler was awarded four out of five stars for both the driver and the front seat passenger. This is a good rating, though many SUVs today receive five stars for a front impact. NHTSA has not yet subjected the Wrangler to any side impact testing.
NHTSA’s non-governmental counterpart, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), has not tested the new Wrangler in any way yet. When it does, it will give us additional detail because IIHS performs some of the same tests as NHTSA and some of its own design. Especially useful among those special tests are the small and moderate front overlap tests, which examine what happens when you hit something with just the corner of your car instead of dead-center head-on, which can actually be worse.
Jeep Wrangler European Safety Ratings
That’s not a lot to go on, but we can look abroad for more clues. Jeep also sells the Wrangler in Europe, where it’s been subjected to nearly the full battery of Euro NCAP crash tests. Euro NCAP tested both full-frontal and partial offset front crashes and gave the Wrangler a combined score of 50 percent. This reflected a full-frontal score of 5.7 out of 8 possible points, a partial overlap score of 3.9 out of 8 points, and a side impact score of 8 out of 16 points (a side-impact pole test, which simulates sliding into a tree or telephone pole, was not performed).
While the Euro NCAP crash scores are a little lower than NHTSA’s 4-star score, it’s important to separate them from Euro NCAP’s overall score of 1 star out of 5. This is because the Euro NCAP overall score includes pedestrian impacts tests (how badly a person would be hurt if you ran into them with your car), child crash test scores, and tests of some advanced safety technologies. In particular, the Wrangler received zero points for Automatic Emergency Braking because the feature was not offered in Europe at the time of the test, but it is today and has been available on U.S.-model Wranglers since 2018.
Jeep Wrangler Safety Equipment
As with all vehicles, only certain advanced safety equipment is standard. On the Jeep Wrangler, that includes front and side airbags for both the driver and front seat passenger, anti-lock braking, traction control, and stability control with software designed to reduce the chance of a rollover. Also standard: a rearview camera, LATCH points for mounting car seats in the rear outboard seats, tire pressure monitoring (low or blown tires increase the chances of an accident), seat belt alerts for the front seats, and an SOS button above the rearview mirror that will connect you with an agent who can send help to your location.
Are Jeep Wranglers safe in a rollover event with all of that equipment? While no agency has tested the Wrangler’s roof strength yet, NHTSA did test its resistance to rolling over and gave it a rating of 3 stars out of 5. Though the Wrangler did not tip over in the test, NHTSA found a 26.7-percent chance of rollover, higher than a typical SUV.
Other safety technologies are offered as parts of various packages. These include forward collision warning with automatic emergency braking, blind spot monitoring, rear parking sensors, and rear cross-path detection (which warns about vehicles about to drive behind you as you’re backing up). These packages come at an additional cost and are available on all trims and models except the base “Sport” trim level.
This list is notably shorter than other SUVs on the market, many of which offer more airbags (especially for the rear seats), lane departure warning and lane keeping assistance, pedestrian and animal detection with alerts and automatic emergency braking, and front parking sensors. Lacking these features will count in some part against the Wrangler’s overall scores when it is fully evaluated by different testing agencies.
Jeep Wrangler Crash Safety
So how safe are Jeep Wranglers? From the data available, we can say the Jeep Wrangler is safe in a crash, but not as safe as other SUVs. Some of this is due to the Wrangler’s unique design and construction, which are specialized for extreme off-roading. We cannot make a full report on the Wrangler’s safety until more testing has been completed (which is at the discretion of the testing agencies), but we can say the Jeep Wrangler is not unsafe in a crash and is unlikely to rollover in normal driving situations.
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