Jeep Grand Cherokee moose-test rollover controversy explained
Earlier this month, a little-known Swedish magazine called Teknikens Värld (Technology World) released a video of their “moose test” for the 2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee, essentially an emergency lane-change manoeuvre, where the Jeep almost rolled over. Since then, there has been a public back-and-forth between the Swedes and the Americans over the issue.
The “moose test” is designed to simulate an evasive lane change act that a driver would carry out to avoid a large object, such as an animal that suddenly runs in front of the car. The test became famous when back in 1997, the then-new Mercedes A-Class failed the test, forcing Mercedes to upgrade the A-Class with a better stability-control system. Since then, numerous other vehicles have failed it, such as the earliest Smart Fortwo models and the latest Toyota Hilux.
In the Swedish mag’s test, which says they’ve been doing for decades, the 2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee went up on two wheels and “nearly” rolled over during the moose test, travelling at 63.5 kph. They also say the VW Touareg and the Volvo XC90 managed 70 kph with no issues.
The magazine claims the 2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee in question, an Euro-spec diesel model with 20-inch wheels, was loaded according to Jeep’s official data submitted to the Swedish transport authorities. A driver, four passengers and some cargo weight by way of sand bags restrained to anchoring points in the trunk were loaded in the car for this test. The Grand Cherokee was provided by Jeep, and all four tyres were filled with correct air pressure as specified by Jeep. All other settings, such as air suspension, were set to normal mode.
After the car went up on two wheels in that initial test, Chrysler then apparently sent engineers to meet the magazine editors and made numerous attempts to reproduce the wheel-lift in a properly loaded vehicle. Extensive testing produced no such result. Three vehicles performed 11 runs on a course prepared by the magazine. None reproduced the original stunt, although the magazine points out that several of them suffered from burst tyres.
Now, Chrysler says the Swedes overloaded the vehicle beyond its maximum capacity to make it do the wheelie, while the Swedes claim that Chrysler had not fully loaded up the vehicle to the maximum when they re-did the tests, while also saying that the maximum load capacity is overstated in documents. On top of that, Chrysler has already lambasted the magazine publicly in not-so-nice ways.
However, in a new bit of news, famous German magazine Auto Motor und Sport recently conducted the same moose test and failed to find fault with the Jeep. The Grand Cherokee already was awarded a “Top Safety Pick” by the U.S. Insurance Institute for Highway Safety and was awarded a four-star safety rating by Euro NCAP, with no rollover issues mentioned.
What is our take on this matter? Well, if you’re so worried about rolling over, then don’t buy an offroad-capable 4×4. You might be happier with a road-going crossover SUV instead. When we drove the latest Jeep Grand Cherokee, we were more than happy with the handling, even in sudden manouevres (though obviously we didn’t do anything like what the Swedes were pulling off). The complaint here is generally surrounding the fact that the electronic nannies aren’t doing enough. The Jeep already handles much better than trucklets like the Toyota Land Cruiser and the Chevrolet Tahoe, and better than our own older Jeep Grand Cherokee, which we survived just fine. If you’re going to drive any overloaded tall vehicle, just take more care of your surroundings and watch out for moose.