Just a couple of weeks ago, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) re-evaluated 18 midsized SUVs using its new side-impact test. Among them was the ever-popular 2022 Jeep® Wrangler Unlimited (JL). However, the Wrangler was downgraded from its previous side impact test due to a lack of rear side airbags, allowing for a poor rating for passenger head protection.
In 2019, the Wrangler Unlimited Sport 4×4 was put through IIHS’ driver-side small overlap crash test. During that test upon making contact with the overlap barrier, the vehicle rolled over onto its side. The rolling over increased the chances of injuries after the initial contact, causing the IIHS to grade the vehicle a score of “marginal”.
Stellantis had been working to address this issue since the test of the 2019 model brought the issue to light. Redesigned in 2018, the Wrangler (JL) was eligible for a driver-side small overlap rating based on manufacturer testing because the model’s previous generation earned a good rating in the test. In such cases, IIHS will assign a rating based on a video of the manufacturer’s test and other documentation.
The 2019 model did not tip over in the test conducted by the company and was submitted to IIHS for verification. However, it tipped in an IIHS test conducted as part of an audit program designed to ensure the integrity of the verification program.
Fast forward to today, and the 2022 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Sport 4×4 was again put through the driver-side small overlap crash test with the modifications done by Stellantis. Unfortunately, the structural modification done by Stellantis did not work in the re-evaluation and the vehicle rolled onto its side once again.
According to the press statement released by the IIHS, the Wrangler performed well by normal metrics used to evaluate performance in the test. The vehicle’s safety cage surrounding the driver held its structure well. The restraints also effectively controlled the movement of the test dummy, through the test did indicate a significant risk of injury to the driver’s left leg and foot, and the combination head and torso side airbag did not deploy.
Tipping onto the vehicle’s side presented even more additional possibilities for injury beyond what the IIHS’ standard criteria are intended to measure. This was in part to the IIHS test not including a test dummy seated on the passenger side of the vehicle for this test. IIHS stated that “even partial rollovers are dangerous, as they increase the chances that an occupant may be completely or partially ejected from the vehicle. That’s especially relevant for the Wrangler, which has a roof and doors that can be removed and lacks side curtain airbags.”
This resulted in another “marginal” rating for the driver-side small overlap crash test results for the 2022 model.
The Wrangler (JL) is due for a mid-cycle action (MCA) in 2023, hopefully, Stellantis engineers will address the issue thoroughly for the refresh.
|IIHS Crashworthiness Scores 2022 Jeep® Wrangler Unlimited Sport 4×4|
|Structure & Safety Cage||Good|
|Driver Injury Measures|
|Driver Restraints & Dummy Kinematics||Acceptable|