Jeep Wrangler Safety for First Timers

Jeep Wrangler Safety '99 TJ

Jeep Wrangler safety concerns often arise especially regarding the young first time driver?

I have heard the question Are Jeep Wranglers Safe? often posed by parents who all too soon have teenaged children getting their drivers licenses and thinking about the car, truck or JEEP of their dreams.

I have to admit that the Jeep Wrangler and the Jeep CJ (also known as the "Universal" styled Jeeps) are very seductive to young and old alike. I am a good example of a tried and true Jeep Lover, who has been seduced by the Wranglers and CJs for a long time.

The problem arises when a parent or guardian has to make a decision about the type of vehicle they want their child to start driving...with safety as the greatest motivator. After all, we all want our children to be as safe as possible, especially when venturing onto the highways and byways in a ton and a half moving conglomerate of metal, plastic, rubber and glass.

I was recently asked (again) by a parent whether or not I thought the Jeep Wrangler was safe, or not, for her twin 16-year old new drivers. Below is Camilla's question. My reply might surprise you:

Camilla: The Jeep Wrangler doesn't have safety ratings that make the parents of two 16-year old's say "yes, buy it!" I'm wondering if it has been tested with the hard top on? (Implied) Are Jeep Wranglers Safe in general for young drivers?

My Reply:

Hi Camilla,

The Jeep Wrangler is only as safe as the person who drives it.

No, it does not have the safety features of a Volvo, or most other mid- to full-sized cars and trucks produced today. The Wrangler is a special multipurpose vehicle designed to go off road, as well as function on hard pavement.

Being that some compromises have to be made for a vehicle to have this kind of versatility, there are inherent requirements of the driver to be mature, experienced and above all, aware of the vehicle's limitations.

Only you as parents know your children's level of responsibility and concern for safety. Many young people get early experience with Jeeps on farms, ranches and hunting or fishing expeditions with responsible adults as examples.

As a parent myself I would not recommend a Wrangler or CJ Jeep as a first vehicle for my child to use as a daily driver. I would want my child to have a lot of driving experience and maturity before venturing into the Wrangler world of Jeeps.

A good compromise would be the Jeep Cherokee XJ (1984 through from 1996 to 2001), or the Jeep Grand Cherokee (1993 to the present). They are mid-sized SUVs available with 4-wheel drive and full safety features for each model year.

Also, the Wrangler hard-top provides no added safety protection. It merely provides shelter from inclement weather, some sound deadening and convertible versatility when desired. The Wranglers do come standard with full roll cages for added safety.


The question of Jeep Wrangler safety requires some caveats when applied to young drivers as well as many first time Wrangler drivers of any age:

  • The Wrangler and CJ Jeeps are not like cars. They can not be safely driven the same way one drives a sports car, or even the family sedan, especially at high speeds and on winding roads.

  • These Jeeps have a higher center of gravity to allow for better ground clearance while off the paved roads. A higher center of gravity makes any vehicle more susceptible to rolling over, especially when compared with one built lower to the road surface. That's why you don't see many "Low-Riders" flipped over on their roofs.

  • Adding a lift kit and/or taller tires only increases the center of gravity height. This is a very common practice with many Wranglers and CJ Jeeps to achieve better ground clearance for off road use.

  • The short wheelbase of the standard Wrangler and CJ Jeeps also reduces the stability of the vehicle under certain daily driver situations. These Jeeps were designed to go relatively slow when compared with cars and full-sized trucks. The short wheelbase was specifically designed to make the Wrangler/CJ capable of going through most narrow and steeply inclined trails without hanging up the front or rear bumpers.

    Note: The longer Wrangler Unlimited has a wheelbase of 116" compared to the standard Wrangler wheelbase of 95.4". The longer wheelbase "Unlimited" Wrangler adds significantly improved handling. The Wrangler Unlimited was introduced in 2004 and continues through today. When talking Jeep Wrangler safety...this is the safest one built to date.

    Wendy's 2011 Wrangler Unlimited...(click photo for more info)

  • And finally, most 16-year olds do not possess the maturity to not push a Jeep to the limit when given the chance (usually out of the sight of their parents). Although most young folks feel they are indestructible and can handle anything, traffic statistics prove otherwise. Now, I don't mean to offend any teenagers, but I was once a teenager, too! Looking back, only by the grace of God am I still here.

So, are Jeep Wranglers safe? Should Jeep Wrangler safety be a factor when choosing a young or first time driver's vehicle? Well, the answer to the second question is yes it should, however good preparation and supervised practice, subsequently gaining valuable experience, can lead to a lifetime of joy in one of the greatest vehicles of all time.

See More on Jeep Wrangler Safety and Answers to "Are Jeeps Safe".

Roll Cages and Wrangler Safety!

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