Last week, the new JL-generation Jeep Wrangler made history by being the first model tested to ever tip over in the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety small-overlap crash test. While the automaker claims the result doesn’t reflect its real-world data, it’s also currently working on a fix.
To follow up with a video showing the current-generation Jeep Wrangler tipping over in the IIHS small frontal overlap crash test—the first vehicle tested since 2012 to ever tip over—Gizmodo reached out to both Fiat Chrysler and the IIHS to see what the next steps for the JL Wrangler are if it ever wants to pass the small overlap crash test without tipping over.
Fortunately, both parties informed us the JL Wrangler is, in every other regard, a fairly safe vehicle. Obviously nobody expected it to tip over in this crash test, but that’s why we do them!
The IIHS told Gizmodo it wasn’t immediately clear why the JL Wrangler tipped over in testing where the previous-generation JK Wrangler did not, and confirmed that engineers did not expect the JL to tip over in testing. Here’s the rest of the IIHS response to Gizmodo:
We can add that the Wrangler affords good protection by the standard measures of our crash tests. They deserve credit for that good performance by the metrics we normally use. However, a vehicle tipping on its side in a frontal crash test is not acceptable. A partial roll would not happen in every real-world crash, but if it does happen it is not a good outcome. Still, we give the vehicle credit for what was good performance in the standard measurements of the test.
The rep added, “FCA has told us they are working on changes to the Wrangler, and when those changes are made, IIHS will retest it. FCA would be best to describe what changes they are contemplating.”
So, to find out what FCA was contemplating, I reached out to them. A spokesperson forwarded me the following official company response to the IIHS crash test, attempting to show that the company’s own real-world data does not necessary reflect the result of the IIHS crash test, and that the Wrangler is a safe model for the road:
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 organisations 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.
FCA also pointed out the IIHS assessment from the tip-over test that the passenger compartment of the Wrangler was “maintained well, and the dummy’s movement was well-controlled” in the crash. That is sort of reassuring, I suppose?
Clearly being the first vehicle to tip over in an organised crash test is not a good look, so obviously the company is going to push forward with some sort of attempted engineering solution to avoid it happening again. But like the IIHS spokesperson said, I’d like to know what Jeep is planning.
And I don’t think anybody looks a Wrangler and buys it for safety first.