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Insurance Institute for Highway Safety shows popular minivans have serious safety problems.

Posted in News

Minivans Fail Miserably In Small Overlap Crash Test
Insurance Institute for Highway Safety shows popular minivans have serious safety problems.

— If you own a minivan you should pay attention to this. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety performed crash testing on some of the most popular minivans and the results are scary.

The Nissan Quest, Chrysler Town & Country, Dodge Grand Caravan, Volkswagen Routan and Toyota Sienna were put through the small overlap frontal crash test. The test replicates what happens when 25 percent of a vehicle's driver-side front-end hits a rigid barrier at 40 mph, a test considered more challenging than the head-on test conducted by the government.

It's a test that can be a problem for a minivan because a minivan is usually built on a car platform but is wider than a car. That puts more of the minivan outside the main structure where it's difficult to protect from crash forces.

Toyota Sienna (Rating: Acceptable)

After making modifications to the front structure of the 2015 Sienna, the structure still intruded over five inches at the upper door hinge pillar and instrument panel. The head of the dummy did hit the front airbag but quickly went off the left side of the airbag.

However, the side curtain airbag protected the dummy's head and measurements taken from the dummy showed a low risk of injury.

Chrysler Town & Country, Dodge Grand Caravan, Volkswagen Routan (Rating: Poor)

All three minivans rated the same (poor) because the vehicles are considered triplets in design and structure. The poor rating applies to the 2008-2015 Town & Country, 2008-2015 Grand Caravan and the discontinued 2009-2012 Volkswagen Routan.

The "poor" rating on the minivans was caused by numerous factors witnessed during and after the crash test.

The structure collapsed around the dummy and metal intrusion measured 15 inches at the instrument panel and lower hinge pillar. The skin on the left lower leg of the dummy was stabbed by the parking brake pedal and the left knee was torn by a piece of steel under the instrument panel.

The dummy's head also took a beating because it missed the front airbag and hit the instrument panel. Further bad news came from the steering column moving to the right and toward the driver. The side curtain airbag deployed in the test but IIHS says it didn't have enough forward coverage.

Measurements of the dummy showed likely injuries to the left hip, left knee and left lower leg. IIHS said some of the crash forces "were off the scale."

Nissan Quest (Rating: Poor)

Saying a person would be lucky to ever walk normally again, IIHS says the 2011-2015 Nissan Quest held the dummy in place really well, but not in a good way. The dummy was trapped by the intruding structure which was pushed inward almost two feet at the lower hinge pillar, with the airbag jammed into the dummy's face.

After the test, technicians had to cut out the seat and use a crowbar to remove the right foot from the minivan. The left leg was trapped between the instrument panel and the seat, and the right foot was stuck between the tow pan and brake pedal.

The crash-test dummy has sensors everywhere to measure impact forces, but IIHS says the dummy in the Nissan Quest suffered crash forces so high the sensors were overwhelmed.

Kia Sedona (Not Rated)

IIHS says the Kia Sedona minivan hasn't been rated yet because Kia wants to make changes to the minivan before it's tested.


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