Several popular minivan models performed poorly in a new type of crash
test, according to a new report by the Insurance Institute for Highway
Safety (IIHS). The results are concerning, particularly given how popular
the vehicles are among families.
The small overlap front crash test was first introduced in 2012. It simulates
what would happen when 25 percent of a vehicle’s front end on the
driver side strikes a rigid barrier at 40 mph. This type of crash focuses
the impact force in a small area of the vehicle and often causes the vehicle
to spin. By comparison, in standard front impact tests, 40 percent of
the car’s front bumper strikes the barrier.
The new crash tests are important because approximately 25 percent of all
serious and fatal accidents are attributed to “small overlap”
impacts, according to the IIHS. The accidents often result in severe foot
and leg injuries when the car’s front wheel is pushed back into
Unfortunately, the IIHS has discovered that many cars are not designed
to protect passengers in this type of accident. In the latest round of
tests, the minivans often collapsed around the dummy. In one test, the
intruding parking brake pedal gauged the skin on the dummy’s lower
leg, and the head barely contacted the front airbag before sliding off
and hitting the instrument panel.
“Minivans are a popular choice among safety-conscious parents, but
three of them fail spectacularly in the small overlap front crash test,” the
IIHS report states.
The IIHS found the Nissan Quest, the Chrysler Town & Country and its
twin, the Dodge Grand Caravan, offered little to no protection from side-impact
crashes. They all received poor ratings. The Toyota Sienna earned an acceptable
rating, despite a subpar structural performance. Meanwhile, the Honda
Odyssey was the only minivan to earn a good rating in in the small overlap
crash test. Test results on the Kia Sedona are forthcoming.