Jeep Wrangler Flops European Safety Tests.
Sales Unlikely To Be Affected.
“I wouldn’t say the new Wrangler is inherently unsafe, but consumers should know and understand what the vehicle’s inherent mission is”
You would think that Jeep’s ambitious plans to sell up to 12,000 high profit margin new Wranglers in Europe a year would be hurt by news it fared poorly in a European safety test, but that doesn’t seem likely.
The new Jeep Wrangler scored a one-star Euro NCAP rating out of a possible 5. At the same time, other new cars, like the Audi Q3, BMW X5, Hyundai Sante FE, Jaguar I-Pace, Peugeot 508 and Volvo V60 were all awarded 5 out of 5 stars, a routine score for new cars and SUVs in Europe.
Euro NCAP is the European New Car Assessment Program, based in Brussels and backed by the European Union. Its recommendations are not legally binding.
Matthew Avery, research director at Thatcham Research, said the Wrangler achieved only a 50% Adult Occupant Protection score.
Thatcham Research is an independent British adviser on automotive safety, which advises insurers and vehicle manufacturers on how best to engineer safety.
“The Jeep Wrangler is an entirely new vehicle and doesn’t come cheap. Buyers outlaying over 50,000 pounds ($62,800) on a car should expect more than a one-star safety rating. No AEB (auto emergency braking) system is fitted, which is unheard of in this price bracket. There were a number of issues with the Wrangler in impact testing too, in terms of deformation of the foot-well and damage to connecting structures, while the make-up of the dashboard was seen to present a risk to occupants,” Avery said.
Safety A Jeep Priority
Asked for comment, a Jeep spokesman said this.
“Safety is of the utmost importance at FCA and as such our latest Jeep Wrangler complies with all safety legislation in every market in which it is sold.”
Ed Kim, analyst at California-based AutoPacific, said the Wrangler historically has never done particularly well in U.S. safety tests, and Euro NCAP tests place an even stronger premium on advanced driver-assistance systems.
“While the 2019 Wrangler in the U.S. (I can’t comment on European equipment) has added adaptive cruise control and forward collision warning, the Wrangler is still lacking in basic safety technologies like lane keeping assist, emergency automatic braking. The lack of these features really hurt Wrangler in the Euro NCAP test.”
“In addition, the Wrangler also lacks side curtain airbags – another basic safety feature that’s ubiquitous today. Also, Wrangler is built first and foremost as a real off-road machine. It has a rigid separate frame designed for strength and off-road durability, but less so for the sort of controlled crumpling needed for good ratings in crash tests.
“The IIHS (Insurance Institute for Highway Safety) has not crash tested the new Wrangler. NHTSA (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration) did and gave it 3 out of 5 stars for frontal crash protection, which only measures crash performance in a head-on collision scenario and doesn’t take into account safety technology inclusion. However, most experts seem to feel that the offset tests done by IIHS and the various global NCAP protocols are more realistic and reflective of real world crashes. Few real world collisions are completely head-on, and even then, 3 out of 5 stars is nothing to write home about,” Kim said.
Not like a family SUV
“I wouldn’t go so far as to say the new Wrangler is an inherently unsafe vehicle, but consumers should know and understand what the vehicle’s inherent mission is and that it’s not designed for maximum crash avoidance and protection in the way that a family crossover SUV is,” Kim said.
When the new Wrangler was launched in Europe earlier this year, IHS Markit estimated sales would reach about 10,000 a year, perhaps peaking at around 12,000. In the first 10 months of 2018, Euroepwan sales reached 5,376. This isn’t very much considering Wrangler sales in the first 11 months of 2018 in the U.S. reached 220,232, according to carsalesbase.com. But prices, and profit margins, in Europe will be much bigger than in the U.S.
IHS Markit analyst Tim Urquhart said the safety results were not mandatory. The Wrangler was road legal. It was a bit anomalous for a modern car, but sales weren’t likely to be affected.
“The Wrangler is a really niche vehicle hand I don’t think buyers will be that bothered. They’ll just overlook the safety scores, or might not even be aware,” Urquhart said.