- the good news: the 2021 ford bronco four-door suv achieved the top good rating in five of the six crashworthiness tests administered by the insurance institute for highway safety, the group announced today.
- the less-good news: the bronco didn't do well enough to earn iihs top safety pick honors because it got a marginal rating for headlights and was only rated acceptable in the head restraint test.
- its major competitor, the 2021 jeep wrangler, likewise has no top safety pick designation, although for different reasons.
the 2021 ford bronco four-door suv has completed the full set of crash and safety testing from the nonprofit insurance institute for highway safety (iihs). while the new bronco achieved the top good rating in five of six crashworthiness tests, it fell short of earning top safety pick or top safety pick+ honors. its smaller stablemate, the bronco sport, did make the top safety pick+ list for 2021 with good ratings in all six evaluations.
the bronco lost points for its head restraints, which were only rated acceptable (possible ratings are good, acceptable, marginal, and poor). the iihs measures the restraints based on an average male occupant's height and the distance behind the person's head, stating the restraint should be about 3.5 inches below the top of the person's head and with as small a distance from the back of the head to the restraint as possible. in rear-end crash testing, the test dummy's neck was "subject to moderate force" and the bronco's seat didn't support the occupant's head and neck well, indicating that occupants may not be protected well enough against whiplash injuries, the organization said in a statement.
the bronco is sold with a choice of two headlight systems, neither of which was rated above marginal. the lights' low-beams "do not illuminate the road to a far enough distance on curves," says the iihs. it's worth noting that several automakers have upgraded their headlights—including ford, on the f-150—since the 2020 model year, when the agency started including them as a criterion for top safety pick.
the bronco is not alone in the mid-size-suv category without a top safety pick rating. its biggest competitor, the jeep wrangler, also did not achieve the honor. in the case of the jeep, its head restraints were rated good. but while the bronco was rated good in the driver's-side small overlap crash test, the jeep only got marginal—"due to tipping onto its side" despite performing well otherwise, an iihs spokesperson explained to car and driver.
the wrangler's headlight choices were rated marginal or poor in the agency's stringent evaluations, slightly worse than the bronco's marginal ratings. the iihs website states that only 29 percent of headlight systems tested on 2021 model vehicles achieved a good rating, so these two suvs are not alone.
the bronco also outdoes the wrangler in crash-prevention equipment, the iihs said. both vehicle-to-vehicle and pedestrian front crash protection are standard equipment on the bronco. on the wrangler, there's optional vehicle-to-vehicle front crash protection but no pedestrian protection technology available.
on the iihs's mid-size-suv list where the wrangler and bronco are placed, seven vehicles made the 2021 top safety pick+ list: the ford explorer, hyundai palisade, mazda cx-9, nissan murano, subaru ascent, toyota highlander, and volkswagen id.4. another seven earned the 2021 top safety pick designation: the chevrolet traverse, ford edge and mustang, hyundai santa fe, kia sorento and telluride, and volkswagen tiguan. (check out the full list of 2021 top safety pick winners on the iihs website.)