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Jeep Wrangler crashes out

One-star safety rating awarded to new Jeep Wrangler in latest Euro NCAP tests

6 Dec 2018

EUROPE’S independent New Car Assessment Program (Euro NCAP) has awarded Jeep’s new fourth-generation Wrangler a lowly one-star safety rating, saying it lags far behind its competitors on safety. 
However, the rugged ladder-chassis off-roader fared better than its Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) stablemate, the Fiat Panda, which received zero stars, thus joining another Fiat offering, the Punto, as the only cars to bomb out completely in the European test regime.
The Panda and Punto – which was tested 12 months ago – at least have the excuse of being old cars that Euro NCAP felt the need to test against the latest safety requirements. The Wrangler is new, having been launched in North America earlier this year and now Europe. 
Euro NCAP secretary general Michiel van Ratingen commented: “It is truly disappointing to see a brand-new car being put on sale in 2018 with no autonomous braking system and no lane assistance. It is high time we saw a product from the Fiat Chrysler group offering safety to rival its competitors.”
FCA has defended its 4x4 rock-hopper, saying it meets federal safety requirements in every market in which it is sold.
It also advised that the Wrangler will get autonomous emergency braking (AEB) and other safety features such as blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-path detection, parking sensors and a rear-view camera in markets such as Australia where it is due to go into showrooms next year.
FCA said the rugged body-on-frame vehicle was engineered for the “most demanding conditions” – off-roading – and that “testing protocols that apply exclusively to urban scenarios may not align with such a vehicle”.
An FCA Australia spokesperson told GoAuto: “Safety is something we take incredibly seriously, and every other member of our Jeep family of vehicles wears a five-star safety rating with pride, whether they have been crash-tested by ANCAP in Australia or by Euro NCAP.
“The Wrangler is a specialist vehicle that offers unique features that are highly valued by our customers, both in Australia and overseas.”
The low safety ratings for the Wrangler and Panda are in sharp contrast with results for other vehicles released by Euro NCAP overnight.
The Audi Q3, BMW X5, Hyundai Santa Fe, Jaguar I-Pace, Peugeot 508 and Volvo V60 and S60 all scored five stars.
While the Wrangler got just 50 per cent for adult occupant protection, the Volvos and Peugeot were awarded 96 per cent, while the Audi Q3 received 95 and the Hyundai Santa Fe 94. The BMW X5 was marked down to 89 per cent because the driver knee airbag failed to deploy properly in the frontal offset crash test, which would have resulted in upper leg injury.
The Jeep Wrangler variant tested by Euro NCAP was the four-door Sahara Unlimited, but the rating applies to all variants sold in Europe.
In its comments on the adult protection crash testing, Euro NCAP’s engineers criticised the structural integrity of the Wrangler, describing the bodyshell as unstable.
They said the join between the A-pillar and trans-fascia beam had been damaged in such a way that indicated it would not be able to withstand higher loads. The footwell, it said, had “reached the limits of its structural integrity”.
In the offset test, driver chest protection was rated as weak, while leg protection was marginal.
In the full-width crash test, the rear passenger protection was rated as poor – the lowest rating – while driver chest protection was marginal.
The Wrangler performed better in whiplash and lateral impact tests, earning a good rating.
Child protection was rated at 69 per cent, although points were lost for marginal head protection in the lateral crash test.
The so-called vulnerable road users testing – mainly for pedestrians and cyclists – came in at 49 per cent, while safety assist was given at 32 per cent, with points earned for front and rear seatbelt reminders and driver-set speed limiter, but marked down for lack of lane support and AEB.
The Wrangler safety rating calls into question the safety standards for the upcoming Jeep Gladiator pick-up that is based on a stretched version of the rigid Wrangler chassis.
The Gladiator was revealed at the recent Los Angeles motor show ahead of its launch in North America next year and in Australia in early 2020.
The Fiat Panda light hatchback, which is not sold in Australia, dates from 2011 when it received four stars from Euro NCAP under the rules at that time.
Because the independent safety watchdog regularly updates and tightens its rules, it apparently seemed instructive to retest that car that is still on sale seven years later.
While the Panda originally received 80 per cent for adult protection, the latest test rated it at 45 per cent.
Child occupant protection has almost halved, from 31 per cent to 16, while pedestrian protection has not changed much, going from 49 per cent to 47.
In the latest frontal crash testing, the best chest protection rating – for the front passenger in the offset test – was adequate, while the worst was a poor rating for the rear passenger in the full frontal impact test.
In child protection, head protection was declared poor in all tests.
The only points collected in the safety assist assessment were for seatbelt reminders.

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