The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) implements much tougher crash tests than the standards that the federal government requires automobiles to meet. One of the toughest is the small-overlap frontal crash test, in which only 25% of the vehicle's front-end collides with an immovable barrier while moving at 40mph. In a recent test of medium-size SUVs, the IIHS found that the Wrangler Unlimited is among the top-performing midsize SUVs:
The IIHS describes this crash test as follows:
The small overlap test replicates what happens when the front corner of a vehicle collides with another vehicle or an object such as a tree or utility pole. In the test, 25 percent of a vehicle's front end on the driver's side strikes a rigid barrier at 40 mph.Although the Wrangler's removable doors and roof are frowned upon by the IIHS for limiting occupant protection in side-impact and rollover accidents versus thick, fixed alternatives, this did not affect the vehicle's ability to excel in this common collision:
The test is more difficult than either the head-on crashes conducted by the government or the longstanding IIHS moderate overlap test. That's because, in a small overlap test, the main structures of the vehicle's front-end crush zone are bypassed, making it hard for the vehicle to manage crash energy. The occupant compartment can collapse as a result.
The strength of the Wrangler's chassis plays a key role in its ability to limit structure deformation and intrusion into the occupant area. The wide, overbuilt frame rails deflect the Jeep away from the object and slows the rate at which energy is dissipated, which in turn lessens the impact on the occupants and lessens the severity of the vehicle's deformation. The Wrangler performs better than most vehicles in spite of its lack of side-curtain airbags.