2019 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited tips over in IIHS crash test

Zac Palmer

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety just tested the 2019 Jeep Wrangler, marking the group’s first test of the latest generation JL Wrangler. It released a couple videos of the test online to depict what happened.

The headline does most of the explaining. Yes, the Wrangler Unlimited tipped over onto its side in the driver-side small overlap front crash test performed by the IIHS. This is the first time the new-generation JL Wrangler has been tested by the IIHS. It previously received a one-star out of five rating from the Euro NCAP test. However, it also received a four-star out of five front crash rating from NHTSA.

The risks of a vehicle tipping onto its side in a crash are fairly obvious. If the occupants aren’t wearing their seatbelts, the risk of ejection or partial ejection is very real. Your odds of being ejected are higher if you happen to have the roof and doors off your Wrangler, too. Basically, be smart, and wear your seatbelt. Other than the car tipping, the IIHS was actually quite satisfied with how the Wrangler performed in the test. “The driver's space was maintained well, and the dummy's movement was well-controlled,” the IIHS says. This partial success combined with the tipping earned the Wrangler a “Marginal” rating for the specific test. That’s one step above “Poor,” which is the institute’s lowest rating.

There’s a bit of a discrepancy between the test results that FCA provided the IIHS and what the IIHS found in their independent testing. According to the IIHS, in the test that FCA submitted, the Wrangler did not tip on its side. FCA initially questioned the results of the first test run by the IIHS. Here’s how the IIHS describes it:

“After the vehicle tipped over in the audit test, Fiat Chrysler questioned whether this outcome was related to the method that IIHS engineers had used to attach the vehicle to the crash propulsion system. 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.”

We asked FCA for comment on the test and received this statement in response:

“FCA has produced more than 500,000 of these vehicles. By conservative estimate, they have accounted for 6.7 billion miles of on-road driving. 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. Since its 2017 introduction, the vehicle has earned one award nearly every eight weeks for attributes ranging from capability to residual value, and for achievements such as highest customer loyalty and SUV of the year. No single test determines vehicle safety. FCA routinely monitors third-party evaluations and factors such findings into our product-development process. We design our vehicles for real-world performance. And real-world data, along with continuing demand, indicate the Jeep Wrangler Unlimited meets or exceeds customer expectations.”

It’s important to note that the Wrangler performed far better in every other type of crash test performed by the IIHS, receiving the highest-possible “Good” rating in all categories. Compared to the previous generation JK Wrangler, the JL outscores or matches it in just about every category. We’ll also note the JK Wrangler did not tip on its side in four-door or two-door body styles when subjected to the IIHS driver-side front overlap crash test. You can watch the two-door crash video here, and the four-door crash video here.

As for the rest of the test, the IIHS rated both headlight options (halogen or LED) “Poor.” Its optional front crash prevention system received a “Superior” (highest) rating for its ability to avoid accidents at 12 mph and 25 mph.

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