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The Jeep Wrangler is the go-to SUV for those who want classic style, off-road ability, and everyday fun. From its seven-slat grille to its live-axle suspension, the Wrangler has throwback looks and rugged performance. However, that doesn’t always translate into good safety scores, and that’s the case on 2021-2023 Wrangler Unlimited models.

Recently, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) updated its rear seat safety testing standards with more rigorous requirements. The Jeep Wrangler SUV came away with a “Poor” score in the “moderate overlap: front test.” Let’s look at the four-door Wrangler’s IIHS results and how another Jeep model fared on the same test.

IIHS rear seat safety testing standards

The IIHS is a trusted source of car safety testing. By simulating the effects of a collision, they measure vehicles’ overall security during an accident. Central to those tests are potential injuries to occupants.

Many accidents involve frontal collisions. The IIHS recently updated its moderate overlap front crash test to include rear-seat injuries. By positioning a dummy behind the driver, they can measure rear passenger protection in an accident.

IIHS revised the test because front occupant safety improved while rear seat security lagged behind. Research showed that happened because the original criteria only measured injuries to front-seat passengers. That wasn’t because rear seats became less safe—just that front-seat restraints continued to advance.

For a vehicle to score “Good” on the new test, data from the rear seat dummy can’t show excessive injuries to the head, neck, chest, abdomen, or thighs. Additionally, grease paint on the dummy’s head and video footage must indicate no impacts with the interior, getting too close to the seat back, or sliding beneath the lap belt. Additionally, the IIHS notes that already-proven front-seat restraints can remedy any issues in the rear for a quick fix to a significant problem.

How the 2021-2023 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited scored

It isn’t that the 2021-2023 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited is unsafe. After all, before the IIHS updated its testing methods, the SUV scored “Good” in several categories. It’s just that the organization’s new requirements exposed weaknesses in the Jeep’s armor.

In the original version of the IIHS moderate overlap front test, the Wrangler Unlimited earned a “Good” score. In categories like structure and safety cage, driver injury measures, and driver restraints and dummy kinematics, the institute gave the Jeep top scores.

However, in the new moderate overlap front test—while the SUV retained “Good” scores in several areas—rear passenger safety dropped its overall score to “Poor.” For rear passenger injury measures, the Wrangler Unlimited scored “Marginal” in two of three categories. It obtained a rating of “Poor” for rear passenger restraints and dummy kinematics.

While that might sound an alarm for many drivers—especially those with children—the Joe Young of the IIHS calms concerns in Consumer Reports. “The new results don’t change much for those who use forward- or rear-facing five-point child restraints to transport kids,” he says, and “Drivers should rest assured that those seats provide a high level of crash protection.”

The 2022-2023 Jeep Grand Cherokee also received a ‘Poor’ rating

The Jeep Wrangler Unlimited wasn’t the only Jeep to receive a “Poor” score on the updated moderate overlap front test. Surprisingly, the stout, full-featured Grand Cherokee also struggled with the new criteria.

Consumer Reports noted that the 2022-2023 Jeep Grand Cherokee joined several popular SUVs to obtain a “Poor” rating. Like the Wrangler Unlimited, the Grand Cherokee obtains “Good” scores in areas like structure and safety cage, driver injury measures, and driver restraints and dummy kinematics. However, like the Wrangler, the new rear occupant standards drop its overall score. It particularly fell short in rear passenger restraints and dummy kinematics, where it obtained a rating of “Poor.”

Jeep makes SUVs known worldwide for their rugged capability, good looks, and fun factor. Still, while having plenty of the aforementioned attributes, the Wrangler Unlimited and Grand Cherokee lag behind in rear passenger safety. The new IIHS moderate front overlap test brought those deficiencies to light. Now, with manufacturers updating rear restraint systems, drivers can enjoy even safer travels.

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