Australia's peak automotive safety body ANCAP has officially awarded the 2020 Jeep Gladiator a three-star safety rating, citing "lower than expected" levels of adult occupant and vulnerable road user protection as the reason for the score.
Of the maximum five stars a car can receive, ANCAP issued the utility vehicle only three, based on 2019 testing of its SUV sibling, the Jeep Wrangler, as well as supplied technical evidence and in-house evaluation and modelling.
Overall, only 1-3 per cent of new cars available in Australia have received a safety rating of between one and three stars.
Across the individual categories, ANCAP awarded the Gladiator a 60 per cent score for adult occupant protection, an 80 per cent score for child occupant protection, a 49 per cent score for vulnerable road user protection and a 51 per cent score for safety assist.
"As the Gladiator shares the same core structural underpinnings, engine configuration and restraint package as the Wrangler, we were able to utilise the test results from the Jeep Wrangler in conjunction with an evaluation of technical evidence supplied by FCA for the Gladiator," ANCAP Communications and Advocacy Director Rhianne Robson told CarAdvice.
"The Gladiator provides comparable levels of safety performance to that of its partner model, the Wrangler."
In response to the ANCAP announcement, a local spokesperson for Jeep's parent company, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA), said the Gladiator was equipped with "more than 70 advanced safety systems".
"This includes front and side airbags, blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-path detection, parking sensors, a rear-view camera and autonomous emergency braking," the spokesperson said.
ANCAP said that while the five-seat dual-cab ute receives dual frontal and combination side airbags, it does not receive head-protecting side airbags for the rear seats.
Additionally, ANCAP highlighted the fact the Gladiator does not offer lane-keep support, nor does its autonomous emergency braking (AEB) system offer pedestrian or cyclist detection.
Ms Robson added: "The structural issues we saw with the originally-tested Wrangler also apply to the Gladiator including A-pillar and cross-fascia beam failure, footwell intrusion, high seatbelt loads and excessive pedal movement. These remain an increased risk for occupants.
"Consumers have come to expect a high level of safety regardless of price-point and market segment ... Safety should remain a priority in all vehicle purchases, and this is no different for a vehicle of this type – particularly at this price-point."
Although an important measure of safety for many consumers, ANCAP scores do not disqualify cars from sale in Australia. Instead, all new vehicles must meet Australian Federal safety requirements and be compliant with Australian Design Rules (ADR) in order to be eligible for sale.
The Jeep Gladiator arrived in Australia in mid-2020 and is priced from $75,450 plus on-road costs.
It competes with other dual-cab utes offered locally, including the new Mazda BT-50 and Isuzu D-Max, the latter of which became the first ute to receive a five-star ANCAP rating under the stricter testing criteria introduced this year.
All other Jeep vehicles aside from the Wrangler and Gladiator receive a five-star safety rating from ANCAP.
Earlier this year, the safety credentials of the Wrangler were placed in the spotlight overseas, after the off-roader was filmed tipping over in two crash tests conducted by an independent North American body known as the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS).
At the time, FCA issued a statement saying it would continue to evaluate the results of the IIHS test and similar safety appraisals.
"FCA routinely monitors third-party evaluations and factors such findings into our product-development process. We design our vehicles for real-world performance. And real-world data, along with continuing demand, indicate the Jeep Wrangler Unlimited meets or exceeds customer expectations," the statement read.