New model falls short of five-star benchmark with rugged construction holding crash performance back.
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The all-new 2019 Jeep Wrangler has been given a stinging one-star safety rating in the latest round of assessments from independent body, Euro NCAP.

The fourth-generation JL Wrangler, revealed earlier this year, was already out of the running for a five-star rating due to its lack of autonomous emergency braking at launch.

The single-star result revealed by Euro NCAP today comes as a massive blow to the new model before it goes on sale, making it the lowest-rated car as tested under 2018 criteria, which not only analyses crash data for occupant protection, but evaluates accident avoidance tech and pedestrian impact performance.

According to crash data from Euro NCAP, the new Wrangler’s low adult occupant (50 per cent) and vulnerable road user (49 per cent) protection led to the result. The lack of technologies like AEB and curtain airbags make for a very low 32 per cent assist systems score.

Jeep was quick to address the Wrangler’s low test result, with the company releasing a statement defending the Wrangler’s crash assessment, citing the specialist nature of the vehicle to justify the rating, as follows:

“The new Jeep Wrangler – an award-winning vehicle with unmatched capability and worldwide appeal – meets or exceeds federal safety requirements in every market in which it is sold.

“Further, the Jeep Wrangler is engineered to deliver superior performance and unique driving experiences under the most demanding conditions. Testing protocols that apply exclusively to urban scenarios may not align with such a vehicle.

“Notwithstanding such misalignment, the new Jeep Wrangler benefits from fully boxed, body-on-frame construction featuring pressure-formed front-rail sections, with high-strength steel in all critical areas. The vehicle offers more than 70 advanced safety and security features, including four standard-equipment air bags and, starting in early 2019, an advanced Automatic Emergency Braking (AEB) system that combines the benefits of camera and radar technologies.”

One of the critical areas of assessment, the lack of AEB, is set to improve as part of a running change to the Wrangler overseas. Australia-bound Wranglers will include the collision avoidance technology as standard from launch.

Other tech from Euro NCAP's safety assist criteria not available on the Wrangler includes lane assist and an active bonnet.

In the official Euro NCAP assessment structural issues were identified: "The connection between the A-pillar and the trans-facia beam was damaged in a way that indicated the structure would be unable to withstand higher loads. Similarly, deformation of the footwell showed that the structure had reached the limit of its integrity." according to the technical data from the report.

A spokesperson for Jeep Australia detailed the standard safety spec expected across the range in Australia, which includes the as-yet untested AEB system not included in the Euro NCAP test.

“The Jeep Wrangler arrives in Australia with a long list of standard and available safety equipment, including front and side airbags, blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-path detection, parking sensors, a rear-view camera and autonomous emergency braking, all of which is paired with the use of high-strength steel in its construction designed to protect the cabin in the case of an accident,” the spokesperson explained.

“Safety is something we take incredibly seriously, and every other member of our Jeep family of vehicles wears a five-star safety rating with pride, whether they have been crash-tested by ANCAP in Australia or by Euro NCAP. The Wrangler is a specialist vehicle that offers unique features that are highly valued by our customers, both in Australia and overseas.

“The Wrangler is a motoring icon. It's a specialist off-road performance vehicle. Part of what makes it such an icon, is the fact that its doors, roof and windscreen can be removed or folded down. Such unique features have formed an important part of its 77-year history, which have made the Wrangler such a long-standing symbol of off-road freedom.”

2018 has so far proven a tough year for specialist 4x4 vehicles in the Euro NCAP spotlight, with the new Suzuki Jimny recording a three star result earlier this year. Adult occupant and pedestrian protection dragged down the Jimny’s result, as did its AEB performance in certain conditions.

Local crash test authority ANCAP confirmed that the European result may not be indicative of the rating applied to local cars, but that the European result was disappointing.

Any modifications to the vehicle, be they structural or related to specifications, could result in independent testing in Australia. A spokesperson for ANCAP indicated that at this stage it was too early to know if that would be the case for the Wrangler.

Australian deliveries of the 2019 Jeep Wrangler are expected to begin towards the end of the first quarter of 2019. It's unknown at this stage if the Euro NCAP findings will have an impact on Australian launch timing.