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The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) recently updated one of its crash tests in response to rear passenger safety systems not keeping pace with those offered for front-seat occupants. The IIHS recently used its updated test on over a dozen two- and three-row SUVs, and many, including the 2022-23 Jeep Grand Cherokee, were shown not to provide adequate safety for passengers behind the front row.

The IIHS updates a crash test to study rear passenger safety

White Jeep Cherokee 4Xe and Jeep Renegade 4Xe SUV cars at Brussels Expo
2023 Jeep Grand Cherokee 4Xe | Sjoerd van der Wal/Getty Images

The IIHS announced it updated its “moderate overlap: front” crash test. The car being evaluated travels at 40 mph and is crashed into a barrier with 40 percent of the total width of the vehicle striking the barrier on the driver’s side. Previously, the test only used one dummy in the driver’s seat.

The updated test now placed a second dummy, representing a “small woman or an average 12-year-old,” in the second-row seat behind the driver. The second-row dummy measures a rear-seat passenger’s risk for head, neck, chest, abdomen, or thigh injuries and how well a car prevents the dummy’s head from hitting the vehicle’s interior or front seatback. It also measures the potential for “submarining,” in which a rear passenger slides forward underneath the lap belt, causing abdominal injuries. Additionally, it measures the “survival space” for the driver ahead of the added second-row dummy.

The test was updated after research showed rear-seat passengers wearing seatbelts are at a 46 percent higher risk of a fatal injury in a crash versus front-seat occupants. The IIHS said rear seats haven’t become less safe, but “restraint technologies” used in the front seats aren’t consistently being used for rear passengers.

The test results do not include rear-seat passengers in rear- or forward-facing five-point harness child safety seats. IIHS spokesperson Joe Young told Consumer Reports such child seats deliver “a high level of crash protection.”

How does this relate to the 2022 and 2023 Jeep Grand Cherokee?

The 2022-2023 Jeep Grand Cherokee earns a ‘poor’ rating in the updated test

The 2022-2023 Jeep Grand Cherokee was tested under the IIHS’s new moderate overlap crash test, and it earned an overall “poor” rating, the lowest of four possible designations. The rear dummy in the Grand Cherokee “indicated a high risk of head or neck injuries to the rear passenger.” The IIHS notes the rear dummy’s head ended up between the window and a rear airbag following the initial impact, which increases the risk of injury for rear passengers as they are more likely to strike “hard surfaces of the vehicle interior or objects outside the vehicle.” The IIHS also found the seat belt tension was high in the Grand Cherokee, resulting in “high chest injury” values for rear passengers.

In rear passenger injury measures, the 2022-2023 Grand Cherokee scored “poor” in rear passenger head, neck, and chest injury potential. It was rated “acceptable” for rear passenger restraints/kinematics and “good” for thigh safety.

The Grand Cherokee earned a “good” rating, the highest designation, in all driver injury measures in the more rigorous test.

The Jeep Grand Cherokee previously failed to impress for rear passenger safety

The IIHS’ updated test scores are another sore spot for the Grand Cherokee’s standing for rear passenger safety. Previously, Consumer Reports gave the 2022 Grand Cherokee a low rating for its rear-seat passenger safety systems. The publication rates models for their inclusion of safety aspects for rear occupants, like the accessibility of LATCH anchors, their ability to securely hold a booster or car seat, and if they offer features like rear-seat alerts or rear-side airbags.

The Jeep Grand Cherokee earned a low rating as it does not include a rear seatbelt reminder, its rear seatbelts don’t have pretensioners or adjustability features, and its rear occupant reminder only activates when you park the car and turn off the engine. Additionally, Consumer Reports found that using a booster seat in the second row’s center seat blocks one of the seatbelt buckles, and high booster seats do not rest safely against the front seatbacks.

The 2023 Jeep Grand Cherokee has a few safety issues to work out to make many feel comfortable with sitting in the rear.


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