with the revival of the ford bronco, the jeep wrangler is faced with a genuine hometown rival for the first time in more than a quarter-century. and while plenty of folks are happy to debate the merit of the two suvs' off-road capabilities, a recent upload to the youcar youtube channel might help you decide which truck belongs in your garage. that's because we now have a chance to better see how the two off-roaders compare when faced with the insurance institute for highway safety's most difficult crash test: the small overlap front impact. spoiler alert: things don't look great for the old seven-bar grille.
the small overlap front impact test is the most brutal task that a car undertakes during crash testing. it consists of accelerating a vehicle up to 40 mph before smashing at least 25 percent of the frontal area into a five-foot-tall barrier. the area that makes impact must be biased toward the driver's side, which helps simulate hitting another vehicle or an object such as a telephone pole. as the iihs has previously reported, the ford bronco received a good rating for its efforts in this area, whereas the wrangler pulled away with only a marginal score. (see the iihs full set of ratings and test results for the 2021 ford bronco.) and while that might not seem like a tremendous difference, the footage speaks for itself.
upon smashing into the barrier, the bronco’s front fender immediately collapses, while the front wheel is smashed up into the fender well. it isn’t a pretty thing to watch, as is made evident by the suv's marginal score in the lower leg/foot evaluation. that said, the results don't look that much better for the wrangler. like with the ford, the wrangler’s crash structure immediately begins to deform on impact. furthermore, the front wheel once again finds itself shoved back towards the cabin. unlike the ford however, the jeep scores a better good rating in the lower leg/foot evaluation. this action nonetheless appears more violent on the jeep, as it appears to help the wrangler flip onto its side. according to the iihs, this happened during both tests of this nature. (see the iihs full set of ratings and test results for the 2019 jeep wrangler.) the institute had the following to say about the wrangler's performance:
in both of the institute's tests, the vehicle tipped onto its passenger side after striking the barrier. the partial rollover presents an additional injury risk beyond what the standard criteria are intended to measure in small overlap frontal crash tests. a vehicle tipping onto its side is not an acceptable outcome for a frontal crash and, as a result, the wrangler's overall rating was downgraded to marginal.
it is important to note that this jeep footage is from the 2019 model year, though the scores have not changed in the subsequent years. so while there might be arguments to be made for the jeep's capability, it's clearly not quite on the same level as the ford in terms of outright safety. whether or not that is a good enough reason to change allegiances will be a personal decision, but i know which suv i'd rather have a bad day in.