Since the people who usually buy minivans are the ones with kids, it’s good to pay extra attention to which ones are the safest. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety recently conducted its passenger-side small overlap front crash test on the Honda Odyssey, Chrysler Pacifica and Toyota Sienna. The latter posed some concerning results.
This is the the most challenging aspect of the IIHS’s most challenging test. Prior to the IIHS’s update to its safety test, testing the safety of the passenger side was largely neglected. The test now subjects the right-most portion of a car’s front to a wall at 40 mph. It’s meant to recreate what would happen if the vehicle were to depart from its lane and hit something like another car or a tree.
In the crash test video, the IIHS noted that the Sienna’s safety cage collapsed, there were possible injuries to the test dummy’s right thigh and leg and gave it a “marginal overall” rating when it came to protecting right front-passengers.
It found that the Sienna’s structure “allowed as much as 20 inches of intrusion in the lower occupant compartment and more than 16 inches of intrusion at the dashboard.”
“A safety cage must be strong enough to resist intrusion in a crash to protect the people inside, no matter where they sit in the vehicle,” David Zuby, the Institute’s chief research officer, said. “The intruding structure crumpled around the test dummy’s legs. A real right front passenger would sustain possible injuries to the right thigh and lower leg in a crash of this severity.”
According to the agency, Toyota had altered the structure of the Sienna to improve the driver’s side protection starting with its 2015 models, but failed to make those same changes on the passenger side. This resulted in a “poor” rating for the passenger test.
Conversely, the Odyssey earned a “good” rating and the Pacifica earned an “acceptable” rating for the same test. This was because cabin intrusion was also a problem for the Pacifica. The IIHS reported, “Marginal ratings for structure held this minivan back from achieving the top rating in the passenger-side small overlap test. Measures from dummy sensors indicated low risk of injury, helping to offset the less-than-stellar structural rating.”
Toyota gave us the following statement:
The IIHS passenger-side small overlap test is a severe, specialized test that goes beyond federal vehicle safety requirements. However, after the introduction of the small overlap test, Toyota has taken steps to improve the performance of its vehicles in the test. To date, IIHS has awarded ten Top Safety Pick (TSP) and two TSP+ ratings to Toyota’s 2018 line up. In addition, the Toyota Sienna is one of many 2018 model year Toyota or Lexus vehicles, to receive a 5 star rating on NHTSA’s NCAP assessment. Looking ahead, we’ve incorporated enhancements on both the driver’s and passenger’s side for vehicles built on Toyota’s New Global Architecture platforms as the safety of our customers is a top priority. We continue to be transparent with IIHS throughout this process including the steps we have taken to improve the performance of Toyota vehicles on the small overlap test.
You can read the rest of the findings here.