Ford Bronco Misses Top IIHS Safety Awards

Chris Teague | Dec 15, 2021

The Ford Bronco made a triumphant return early this year, with demand for the new SUV far outstripping supply. As with most new models, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) put the Bronco through its paces in a series of crash tests and assessments of its advanced safety systems. Due to its headlights and head restraints not receiving top ratings, the well-reviewed off-roader failed to earn either of the agency's highest awards.

2021 Ford Bronco IIHS Driver-side Small Overlap Frontal Test Good Rating

To qualify for a Top Safety Pick (TSP) or Top Safety Pick+ (TSP+) award, a model must receive Good ratings in six crashworthiness categories:

  • Small overlap front driver-side
  • Small overlap front passenger-side
  • Moderate overlap front
  • Original side test
  • Roof strength
  • Head restraints and seats

The IIHS notes that models must also be available with a front crash-prevention system that scores an Advanced or Superior rating in both vehicle-to-vehicle and vehicle-to-pedestrian situations. The lower-tier TSP award requires that at least one headlight system be available that scores Good or Acceptable, and the top-tier TSP+ award requires that all trim levels come standard with high-scoring headlights.

The Bronco earned Good ratings in five out of six categories in crash tests. Head restraints and seats earned a lower Acceptable score because the test dummy's neck saw moderate force in a simulated rear-end crash. The agency states that the headrests fail to protect passengers against whiplash injuries adequately.

The Bronco's headlights were the real letdown in testing. The IIHS says that both of the SUV's available lighting systems fell short in testing, earning Marginal scores. The agency found that the Bronco's low beams did not illuminate the road far enough ahead on curves.

It's important to note that none of this means that the Bronco is unsafe. Its Good scores in most categories indicate the opposite, and the fact that it also meets the front crash-prevention system requirements means that it's capable of helping get you out of trouble when needed. It's also likely that many Bronco buyers will set to work adding all manner of aftermarket light kits to the SUV soon after their purchase.

These scores apply to the 2021 Bronco, though some 2021 buyers will receive a 2022 model due to delays. There's no indication that Ford will change the standard Bronco's headlights or headrests for the new model year, but there will be a new Bronco Raptor model that the IIHS has not yet rated.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety is the source of information for this article. It was accurate on December 15, 2021, but it may have changed since that date.

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