Ford Bronco: IIHS Says No ‘Top Safety Pick’ For 2021

The Ford Bronco has been on a roll, with nothing getting in its way. But now that batting streak may be over. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety just issued its crash and safety testing info for the Bronco.  It didn’t achieve a “Top Safety Pick+” or “Top Safety Pick” ratings from the august non-prof. 

Why didn’t the Bronco receive a Top Safety Pick?

A Ford Bronco with prototype donut doors
Bronco with donut doors | Ford

Where the Bronco fell down is over its head restraints and its headlight systems. But in the category, the Jeep Wrangler also missed out on the Top Safety Pick, though for different reasons. We’ll get to that later.

IIHS recommends head restraints be 3.5 inches below the top of the head, with a small distance from the back of the head to the restraint as much as possible. The Bronco test dummy was “subject to moderate force” at its neck in a simulated rear-end crash. Also, the driver’s seat didn’t help protect the head and neck from whiplash. 

As for the headlights, we’re seeing more automakers upgrading them since 2020 when the IIHS factored them into its Top Safety Pick rating. There are two headlight systems available for the Bronco, but neither of them is rated above Marginal. As the Ford F-150 was recently treated to better headlights, we expect to see that happen soon with the Bronco. 

How does the Jeep Wrangler compare to the Bronco for safety?

A 2022 Jeep Wrangler Rubicon compact off-road SUV with the Firecracker Red paint color option parked on a trail of water, mud, and rocks
2022 Jeep Wrangler Rubicon | Stellantis

The Wrangler is the Bronco’s most direct competition. Its lack of a Top Safety Pick is because of a number of issues starting with the driver’s-side small overlap crash test. It rated only a Marginal “due to tipping onto its side,” an IIHS representative told Car and Driver. 

It also fell down in the vehicle-to-vehicle and pedestrian crash protection, both of which are standard equipment on the Bronco. The Wrangler doesn’t offer pedestrian protection technology. 

Only 29 percent of new vehicles have a Good headlight rating

The 2021 Ford Bronco Sport on rocks
2021 Ford Bronco Sport | Ford

And the Wrangler’s headlights rated either Marginal or Poor, depending on which system you buy. Not to be defending a Poor headlight rating, but the IIHS says that only 29 percent of 2021 vehicles evaluated received a Good headlight rating. Again, we expect to see this number increase as automakers vie for that Top Safety Pick label. 

The good news for Ford is that the Bronco Sport did receive a Top Safety Pick rating. In all six crashworthiness tests, it scored a Good rating. The tests determine driver- and passenger-side small overlap front, moderate overlap front, side, roof strength, and head restraints.