You assume you’re safe. You’re surrounded by acres of sheet metal and protected by a sturdy steel frame. You’re riding higher than most other vehicles and under the impression that you’re nearly invincible.
Your most valuable possessions, including your new 60-inch television, your sporting equipment, yesterday’s leftovers and probably even your children, are along for the ride. You might smile to yourself, because you think you’re riding in one of the safest vehicles on the road.
But if you’re driving one of three popular minivans, you’re not.
The people who work at the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) have some of the greatest jobs around. They get to strap dummies into cars and crash the cars into walls, then study the wreckage to see how badly a human would have been hurt. It’s every 12-year-old boy’s dream job.
In one of the latest smash-ups, 5 of the most popular minivans in America were tested, and the results were surprising to say the least. Only one rated as Good, while one received Acceptable, 3 received Poor ratings and one got the extra unofficial rating of “One of the worst crash tests we’ve ever seen.”
Let’s start from the bottom.
The small-overlap test simulates when an item, whether it is a tree, utility pole or another car, clips the front corner of a vehicle. In this test, the IIHS said,
A person experiencing this would be lucky to ever walk normally again. The corner of the driver’s door was pushed in two feet during the crash. As a result, the floor and instrument panel pinned the dummy into its seat. We had to remove the seat to cut the dummy out of the vehicle.
To be fair, the Quest has received Good ratings in other tests, so your leftovers should be fine, as long as they weren’t in either of the front seats.
The Caravan is being discontinued anyway, but still a Poor rating won’t go far to increase sales in its remaining days. The Town & Country will live on. The IIHS statement is a little long, but it’s important. It says,
The Town & Country’s structure also collapsed around the dummy. Intrusion measured 15 inches at the lower hinge pillar and the instrument panel. The skin on the dummy’s left lower leg was gouged by the intruding parking brake pedal, and its left knee skin was torn by a steel brace under the instrument panel. The head barely contacted the front airbag before sliding off and hitting the instrument panel, as the steering column moved to the right. The door sill and the steering column both moved in toward the driver. The side curtain airbag deployed but lacked sufficient forward coverage.
Measures taken from the dummy indicate that injuries to the left hip, left knee and left lower leg would be likely in a crash of this severity. As with the Quest, some of the forces were off the scale.
There’s better news here. The Sienna received an Acceptable rating, only because the side curtain airbag had enough forward coverage to protect the head from intruding structure. The van didn’t hold up much better than the Chrysler twins, but, thanks to the airbags, risk of any injuries would be low in a crash of this severity.
The Odyssey is the champion of this round. With an overall Good rating by the IIHS, it’s the best choice for safely getting you and your possessions where they need to go.
Does this latest crash test change how you’ll shop for a minivan?