The Jeep Cherokee is the US brand's first vehicle to score the maximum five-star ANCAP crash test rating.
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The US brand's new Cherokee SUV - which launches next month and will give the company a competitor to the likes of the Hyundai ix35 and Mazda CX-5 - managed the five-star rating based on Euro NCAP testing with Australian criteria assessment.

ANCAP chair Lauchlan McIntosh said Jeep's first five-star result has been a long time coming - the brand's other models, such as the Grand Cherokee, Wrangler and Compass, managed four-star ratings.

"Jeep is a mainstream brand that has been around for many years but has lagged its competitors in terms of safety," McIntosh said. "Having a five-star model now available to consumers is a commendable achievement by Jeep."

As the score was based upon European testing, it applies to two-wheel-drive diesel models only, though it scored highly with 36.16 out of a possible 37 marks achieved.

Honda Odyssey ANCAP 2

ANCAP put the all-new Honda Odyssey through its paces in the Crashlab, and the seven- or eight-seat people-mover scored the maximum five-star rating - increasing its safety rating over the existing four-star model. It scored 32.75 out of 37, with marks taken away for marginal protection for the driver's legs in the frontal offset crash test.

Another improver over its predecessor was the Nissan Pathfinder. The Pathfinder range - including the soon-to-be-released supercharged Hybrid model - managed the maximum crash rating, with a score of 35.73 out of 37. The previous-generation model which was based upon the Navara ute managed a score of 32.17 and a four-star rating.

The new Skoda Rapid small hatch also achieved the maximum five-star rating with a score of 35.37. It was crashed by Euro NCAP with Australian criteria applied to the results.

McIntosh said that while the five-star ratings were good news for potential buyers, the lack of standard Safety Assist Technologies (SATs) such as autonomous emergency braking or blind-spot monitoring in more affordable variants needs to be addressed.

"While each of the cars for which we've released ratings today have achieved excellent results and provide a very high level of safety for occupants - and, in the case of the Cherokee, Odyssey and Pathfinder, have increased their ratings from previous models - there now needs to be a shift in focus," he said.

"The future of vehicle safety lies with active safety features - safety assist technologies which can prevent a crash from occurring. Many of these technologies are now widely available in Europe and are working to reduce the number and severity of crashes. Their availability in Australasia is however being restricted by manufacturers, many of which are still only offering them to those who are prepared to pay for them as an extra."