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by Tim Beissmann

Chrysler Group has defended the safety of its Jeep Grand Cherokee after a Swedish magazine questioned its rollover integrity and called for the US-built SUV to be pulled off the market.

Chrysler issued an official statement overnight accusing Teknikens Varld (Technology World) magazine of unsafely overloading a new Swedish-specification Grand Cherokee Overland to achieve misleading results in a rollover test.

A video of the test published by Teknikens Varld (inserted below) shows the Grand Cherokee tipping up on two wheels and coming dangerously close to rolling while being subjected to the ‘moose test’ – a lane-change manoeuvre conducted at 63.5km/h designed to replicate evasive action taken to avoid an object in the vehicle’s path.

Although the Grand Cherokee, shod with 265/50R20 tyres, was equipped with electronic roll mitigation and electronic stability control, Teknikens Varld said the car didn’t “at all handle the loads built up in the chassis” and “isn’t at all performing as a modern car should”.

“You’ve seen the results, and we can only say: ‘Stop sell[ing] this car, Jeep, in this specification,” said Linus Projtz from Teknikens Varld.

 

Chrysler Group reacted swiftly to the video, which has been republished by a number of news sites around the world, insisting that the Grand Cherokee in question was tested in an “overloaded condition”.

“The uncharacteristic result was obtained using a vehicle loaded beyond its weight specifications,” Chrysler said in a statement. “The Grand Cherokee’s weight limitations are clearly stated on the vehicle and in the owner’s manual.

“Chrysler Group engineers made numerous attempts to reproduce the wheel-lift in a properly loaded vehicle. Extensive testing produced no such result. A subsequent evaluation was conducted by the magazine July 8 in Sweden and witnessed by Chrysler Group engineers. Three vehicles performed 11 runs on a course prepared by the magazine. None reproduced the original event.

“Also, the extreme manoeuvre performed by the magazine is not certified by any regulatory agency, nor is it used to establish any sanctioned safety ratings. Chrysler Group takes seriously any safety concerns and engineers are examining the event to better understand the magazine’s claims.”

Respected US automotive publication Motor Authority claims the test conducted by Teknikens Varld was compromised, quoting a source close to the matter who said the vehicle contained five passengers and a cargo area filled with sandbags, putting it as much as 90kg over its specified weight rating.

Tekinkens Varld is yet to respond to the accusations or react to the follow-up tests conducted with Chrysler Group engineers on hand.

The Jeep Grand Cherokee was awarded a Top Safety Pick by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety in the US, and Chrysler says it “meets or exceeds all government safety mandates”.

The US government’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration gave the Grand Cherokee an overall rating of four stars out of five, including a four-star rollover rating.

The Grand Cherokee was also awarded a four-star safety rating by Euro NCAP in November and local affiliate ANCAP in December, missing the maximum five-star rating because of structural issues with the driver’s seat and average child occupant protection.

The Jeep controversy comes 15 years after Teknikens Varld hit headlines for its infamous rollover test of the first-generation Mercedes-Benz A-Class, which caused Merc’s then-brand-new small car to flip. Mercedes initially denied there was a problem with its car, but later recalled all vehicles sold to date and stopped distribution until it corrected the problem by modifying the vehicle’s suspension and adding electronic stability control.




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