Since it first went on sale, the Jeep Wrangler JL has proved immensely popular, as Fiat Chrysler sold 228,000 of them last year. However, the model has shown some worrying signs for some in terms of its crashworthiness, including a one-star Euro NCAP rating in late 2018. Now, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) released their latest results for the JL Wrangler, as well as a video to show how it performed.
In the driver’s side small overlap frontal crash test, the 2019-2020 Wrangler rolled over onto its side. According to IIHS, this is actually the second time the vehicle behaved this way, as the car also tipped over in their initial audit test. FCA’s internal crash testing that it submitted did not show the car tipping over, leading the company to question whether IIHS’ testing methodology was to blame, rather than the vehicle itself.
According to the independent testing firm’s statement: “IIHS agreed to conduct a second test using a different method, which was approved by Fiat Chrysler. The second test also ended with the vehicle tipping on its side.”
The full results, and a caveat
In that small overlap crash test, the rollover was enough to knock the Wrangler down to a “Marginal” rating, just one step above their lowest “Poor” designation. The 2019-2020 did score well in all its other crash tests, however. One area where its predecessor did poorly was in side impacts, and that result improved dramatically in the JL.
A caveat to consider with this result, and all crash testing, is that not every crash is the same. Of course, testing data is meant to reflect real-world conditions, but a Jeep Wrangler won’t necessarily flip over in every overlap crash. In government testing results published by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the new Wrangler Unlimited (shown here) has a three-star Rollover Rating. It also has a 26.7% rollover risk according to their results, and the “Dynamic Tip” test did not tip the Wrangler over. In frontal crash tests, the Wrangler JL scored four out of five stars. The NHTSA test simulates two vehicles in a head-on collision, rather than small overlap testing.
For its part, FCA told Autoblog that in 500,000 vehicles produced, it was not aware of any incidents matching what the IIHS found in its testing. Naturally, the risk for injury or being ejected from the car in an accident are drastically lower if you’re wearing your seatbelt. That’s especially true in the Wrangler’s case, as you can remove both the roof and the doors.
Rollover risk is a safety subject endemic to most high-riding SUVs, and the Wrangler cannot defy physics. That said, the IIHS tests are something to consider, along with all other crash tests, when it comes to buyers looking for a new Wrangler.