Car News

IIHS Crashes Minivans on the Passenger Side

IIHS minivan crash testing showed mixed results on the passenger side. They did generally perform better than the midsize SUV test from the spring, though there were still some "structural deficiencies on the right side that still need addressing."

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety is an independent insurance-industry funded organization that does safety testing on cars and trucks. Most times you see a crash test video, it's probably an IIHS test. Because vehicle safety is constantly evolving, the IIHS adds new tests from time to time. The passenger side offset impact test was added last year.

"In our latest passenger-side tests, we didn't find any performance issues with safety belts or airbags like we did when we evaluated small and midsize SUVs earlier this year and midsize cars last year," says David Zuby, the Institute's chief research officer. "Instead, we saw some structural deficiencies on the right side that still need addressing."

Top score went to the Honda Odyssey. It earned a good rating overall, tops in the test. The Odyssey scored as good nearly across the board, with the top rating for passenger restraints, as well as head and neck, chest, hip and thigh, and lower leg and foot injury likelihood measures. The Chrysler Pacifica also scored good across those categories.

The IIHS rated the Odyssey rated as acceptable for structure. That means that while there was some intrusion of the structure into the passenger area, the IIHS considered the van to maintain passenger space reasonably well. The dash was pushed toward the occupant but by a maximum of nine centimeters.

Scores were lower for the Pacifica and the Toyota Sienna. The Pacifica scored a marginal on the test, with the dashboard intruding 13 to 14 cm into the passenger area. That gave the Pacifica an acceptable score overall.

Results for the Toyota Sienna were slightly lower. The Sienna was rated as good for passenger restraints and for the likelihood of head and neck and chest injuries, it scored a poor for structure and acceptable for hip and thigh and lower leg and foot injury. The IIHS said that the passenger's space was "seriously compromised by intruding structure," with 42 cm of dashboard intrusion at 49 cm at the lower door hinge. The Sienna is the oldest of the three vans in this test.

Also included in the results was testing of the LATCH system, the built-in attachment anchors for child seats found in most vehicles. The system is designed to reduce installation errors but isn't foolproof. The IIHS rated the system on ease of use and number of position anchors. It's a rating of how easy it is to attach a child seat properly.

In this testing, the Odyssey scored as Good+, the top score. The Dodge Grand Caravan, Kia Sedona and Toyota Sienna all scored acceptable. The Pacifica scored marginal because of anchors the IIHS found difficult to locate and that some seats required too much force to latch. The IIHS points out that the LATCH ratings don't directly impact safety, but give a guide as to the degree of difficulty in properly attaching a child seat. Not properly attaching the seat does directly impact the safety of all vehicle occupants.