Did removable body panels make the Wrangler ANCAP's most unsafe vehicle on sale?
When questioned about whether we are currently living in an era of good car design or not, some would wholeheartedly say yes while others would disagree. Ultra-luxury cars, like the Pagani Huayra and Aston Martin DB11, turn heads as if it were a full-time job. But the rest of the automotive world is starting to run up against a problem: that most cars have very similar shapes nowadays. Even the Bentley Bentayga suffers on this front. A good reason for the problem is that large manufacturers are sharing more platforms than ever before, but that doesn't explain the cross-brand similarities.
For that, we have to point a finger at the regulators. Nowadays, cars have to adhere to strict safety regulations that have only become more stringent in recent years. These regulations call for reinforcements or pedestrian safety features on certain parts of the car, forcing designers to stick with a similar complaint shape. But there have always been stylistic outliers, like the Jeep Wrangler.
Unfortunately for the Wrangler, that styling - without even going into how its removable body panels make building a structurally sound vehicle more difficult - comes at a cost. At the end of 2018, the 2019 Jeep Wrangler was crash tested by Euro NCAP and received a one-star rating, primarily due to its lack of standard safety aids like automatic emergency braking and lane assistance.
But now, Australia's ANCAP safety agency has upheld Euro NCAP's assessment by giving the current JL-generation Wrangler another one-star rating, making it the lowest-rated vehicle on sale in Australia. While the Wrangler's lack of standard safety aids contributed to the dismal score, ANCAP's Chief Executive, James Goodwin, cited a number of structural issues on the Wrangler as big contributors to its one-star designation.
"The safety performance of the Wrangler is limited, falling well shy of the expected standard in three of the four key areas of assessment," said Goodwin in a press release. "Chest protection was a concern for the driver and rear passenger in each of the frontal crash tests; a number of penalties were applied for structural deformation and potential leg injury hazards; and base variants lack autonomous emergency braking altogether."
So how did the Wrangler fair in each of ANCAP's categories? It racked up scores of just 50% in the Adult Occupant Protection segment, 49% in the Vulnerable Road User Protection category, and 32% in the Safety Assist rankings. It's unlikely these scores will have any effect on the Wrangler's loyal fanbase, even though the JL-generation Wrangler hasn't been tested by the IIHS and though the NHTSA hasn't yet assigned the 2019 Wrangler an overall rating (though it gave the SUV a four-star front collision rating and a three-star rollover rating). Stay safe out there, yeah?