What do you think of when you hear the word ‘Jeep’?
At one point, the brand name was as synonymous with 4×4’s as the ‘Hoover’ brand is with vacuum cleaners. Jeeps are also usually thought of as particularly rugged, sturdy and tough machines that are great at off-roading and getting jobs done that other cars wouldn’t be able to cope with.
Jeeps were widely used in World War II and made up the majority of the light transport vehicles for the US military. The Jeep became well-known through its usage in the war and single-handedly popularised the concept of four-wheel-drive vehicles. Without the Jeep, our roads wouldn’t have nearly as many SUVs on them as they do today.
Unfortunately, Jeeps haven’t changed enough since the days they were used as war machines. They’re still solid as a rock, which may have been great when they had to survive explosives and gunfire but those times are gone. Nowadays, the average Jeep is driven by someone commuting to work or dropping the kids off at school, not evac-ing a squad of infantrymen from the front line.
Solidness in cars is not a good thing. Today, they’re designed to crumple under the pressure of a crash and absorb the force. This is why cars smash into a million pieces when they crash nowadays – because it’s safer. Jeeps, on the other hand, are still tough and unyielding machines that will still be in one piece after a collision. Because of this, the same cannot always be said for the occupants of said Jeep.
The current model of Jeep Wrangler (2018-present) received a shocking 1-star rating in a crash test carried out by Euro NCAP (European New Car Assessment Programme). Although the car received a perfect score on one of the side-impact tests, the overall score for the Wrangler was still abysmal.
Unlike many similar cars, the Wrangler lacked popular safety technologies such as automatic emergency braking, blind-spot detection and lane assist. Safety tests in Australia yielded similar results with the Australasian NCAP testing body also giving the Wrangler a 1-star safety rating. The tests showed that the Jeep poorly protected passengers in the frontal crash test with there being a risk of chest injury to the driver and the other passengers were at particular risk of leg injury.
The scores for the ANCAP tests were as follows:
- Adult Occupant Protection: 50%
- Vulnerable Road User Protection: 49%
- Safety Assist: 32%
To put these terrible safety scores into context, New Zealand’s top-selling van, the Toyota Hiace, had near-perfect scores:
- Adult Occupant Protection: 94%
- Vulnerable Road User Protection: 84%
- Safety Assist: 77%
The Wrangler isn’t the only Jeep to perform terribly in safety tests either, as you’ll see by looking at the scores for the Grand Cherokee. In a test where the car is driven at 40 mph into a barrier that only hits the passenger side of the front of the vehicle, the Jeep Grand Cherokee’s passenger compartment was crushed inwards leading to the passenger dummy’s head to hit the airbag with such force that it actually hit the dashboard.
To make things worse, the side airbag failed to deploy and the door opened allowing for the dummy’s head to move around more than it should. For this, the car received a ‘poor’ rating, the lowest of the four ratings.
So, the Wrangler received a 1-star rating and the Cherokee received the lowest possible rating of ‘poor’. That being said, the Renegade received a score of 5 stars, so that’s one Jeep you can buy with peace of mind.
They’re good-looking cars for sure but be sure to research the safety rating of your next Jeep before buying!
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