If you’re driving a minivan, then the chances are good that you’ve got at least a couple of kids in back and are hoping that your vehicle will keep everyone safe during a crash. The most recent testing by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) might just have you rethinking you choice with minivans performing terribly in the small overlap crash test.
The purpose of this test is to mimic what happens when the front corner of the vehicle hits another object. It could be another car in the opposite lane of traffic or a pole or a tree, but whatever the obstacle, its positioning means that the force of the crash hits the car in a way that it concentrates all the impact on only one quarter of the vehicle’s energy-absorbing structure.
The IIHS subjected five vehicles to this test and only two of them won’t make you cringe when you see the results. Both the 2015 Toyota Sienna and the Honda Odyssey did okay, with the Sienna earning an Acceptable rating to join the Odyssey with its Good rating from last year. Both of these minivans were given a Top Safety Pick+ rating for their combination of active and passive safety features along with their performance in crash tests.
The Sienna performed well thanks to changes in its front structure, but it still wasn’t all good news for Toyota. Intrusion into the vehicle was still 5.5″ at the upper door hinge pillar and instrument panel and its head slid off the airbag to the left. The side curtain airbag did its job, however, and the end result was the determination that injuries would be low with this type of crash in the Sienna.
That was the good, now let’s look at the bad.
The worst of the lot in IIHS testing was the Nissan Quest which was not just a poor performer among minivans, but one of the worst performing vehicles the IIHS has ever seen in the small overlap crash test. In the words of Executive Vice President and Chief Research Officer David Zuby, “The structure collapsed like a house of cards.” Intrusion toward the driver was 2 feet which trapped the left leg so completely that they had to cut the seat out and use a crowbar to remove the dummy. Injuries in this case would be severe.
The Chrysler Town & Country and Dodge Caravan also collapsed toward the driver with a 15″ intrusion that had the parking brake actually breaking the dummy’s skin. The steering wheel also moved toward the right causing the dummy’s head to slide off the airbag to the left and smack into the dashboard. Severe injury was once again the likely outcome.
The one minivan not tested was the Kia Sedona, which the manufacturer is currently making changes to before providing one to the IIHS for testing. That minivan’s results will likely be available in the coming weeks.