Wrangler and Patriot Still Suck in Side-Impact Tests
Date 2008/8/21 15:18:04 | Topic: Wrangler
|The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) just released the results of their small SUV side-impact tests. Not surprisingly, the Wrangler and Patriot scored terrible.|
The 2009 Volkswagen Tiguan was the clear "standout" in the test, earning the IIHS's "Top Safety Pick" award along with the 2009 Ford Escape, 2008 Mitsubishi Outlander, and 2008 Nissan Rogue.
Just how bad was the Wrangler's performance? It actually got worse from the 2008 test:
The Institute's frontal offset crash test, which began in 1995, drove major design changes in vehicles to do a better job of protecting people in the most common kind of serious crash. In the mid-1990s, few vehicles earned the top rating of good in the frontal test. Now nearly every vehicle is rated good for frontal protection. Since the Institute began its side tests in 2003, manufacturers have been following the same path, changing their vehicles to improve protection in serious side impacts.
An exception is the 2-door 2008 Jeep Wrangler, which was tested without its optional side airbags. The previous version of the Wrangler, in which side airbags weren't available, earned a rating of marginal for protection in side crashes, and the new model performed even worse, earning the lowest rating of poor. A new problem was that the driver door opened during the impact. This didn't significantly affect the movement of the dummy during the test, but an open door in a crash could lead to partial or complete ejection of occupants.
"Most vehicles are being improved," Lund says. "We've rarely seen a vehicle go in the wrong direction and get a worse rating after it has been redesigned."
The Wrangler and Chevrolet Equinox, also a 2008 model, are the only 2 vehicles tested this time around without standard side airbags. The Jeep Patriot does have standard curtain airbags, but additional torso airbags designed to protect an occupant's chest and abdomen are optional.
When side airbags are optional, the Institute's policy is to test without the option because this is how most of the vehicles will be sold. A manufacturer may request another test with the optional airbags if the automaker reimburses the Institute for the cost of the vehicle. General Motors didn't request a second test of the Equinox, also sold as the Pontiac Torrent. After completing tests of this group of vehicles, the Institute learned that curtain airbags will be standard in the 2009 Equinox. This vehicle will be tested later this year.
"Since they didn't ask us to test the 2008 Equinox with its optional side airbags, we have to assume it means GM didn't expect it to perform much better, even with the option," Lund points out.
Chrysler didn't request another test of the Wrangler with the optional side airbags, but this automaker did request a second test of the Jeep Patriot with optional torso airbags. When tested with the standard curtain airbags only, the Patriot earned the second lowest rating of marginal. While the curtains did a good job of keeping the driver and rear passenger dummies' heads from being struck by the barrier or hard structures inside the vehicle, forces on the driver dummy indicated that rib fractures and internal organ injuries would be likely in a real-world crash of this severity. In the second side test of the Patriot with the optional seat-mounted torso airbags, this vehicle's rating improved to good.
If you can stomach it, here's some video as well.