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Note to mom: Don't be a cheapskate, spring for the side curtain air bags. Side-impact tests by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety found 2006 Ford Freestar and Mazda MPV minivans without side air bags pretty much blow, as far as safety goes. Both vehicles received "poor" ratings on the test, which indicates the level of damage injuries that could be sustained during crashes at intersections. When equipped with side air bags, a $695 option on the Freestar and $400 on the MPV XL, both minivans received "acceptable," the second highest rating. Side air bags are standard on the Freestar's FoMoCo sibling, the Mercury Monterey, as well as the Honda Odyssey and Toyota Sienna.

Related:
Minivans Receive Poor Crash-Test Ratings for Neck Injury [internal]