Nissan, Dodge, Chrysler Minivans Falter in Latest IIHS Crash Tests

Nov 20, 2014 11:06 AM EST | Jordan Ecarma

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Four minivan models had dismal performances in recent Insurance Institute for Highway Safety crash tests, with only the 2015 Toyota Sienna earning a rating of "acceptable."

Small overlap front crash tests resulted in "some of the worst possible outcomes for this type of crash" for the Nissan Quest, the Chrysler Town and Country and its twin, the Dodge Grand Caravan, the institute . All three models earned "poor" ratings.

Parents who want safe vehicles for their families should definitely take note.

"Minivans are popular among parents, a group that tends to be safety conscious, but we've only seen two so far that offer decent protection in small overlap crashes," David Zuby, IIHS executive vice president and chief research officer, said in a statement.

Small overlap tests involve mimicking a collision where the vehicle's front corner crashes into another car or an object; IIHS notes that these types of accidents may be harder for minivans to handle due to the way the vehicles are built. Minivans are generally based on a car platform while being wider, which means that most of the vehicle is outside the main structure.

Introduced in 2012, the small overlap front test involves 25 percent of a vehicle's front colliding with a vehicle or object while driving 40 mph.

IIHS plans to test the Kia Sedona soon. The one minivan sold in the U.S. that has not yet been rated, the Sedona is going through some production changes to improve front overlap protection.

Here's how the four vans performed in IIHS tests:

Nissan Quest

The Quest was crushed in nearly 2 feet, moving the parking brake pedal 16 inches and trapping the dummy driver's limbs. Intruding vehicle structure essentially pushed the dummy into the air bag.

"That kept the measured risk of head injury low, but that's about the extent of what can be expected from the restraint system when the basic structure collapses so completely," Zuby said.

Chrysler Town and Country

Applying to Town and Country vehicles from the 2008-'15 model years, these crash test results saw the minivan collapsing around the dummy driver as well. Left hip, knee and leg injuries are likely in the event of a similar crash, IIHS said.

Dodge Grand Caravan

Grand Caravan models also from 2008-'15 received the same poor crash test results as the Town and Country.

Toyota Sienna

Despite modifications from the automaker, the Sienna still only received an acceptable rating due to "subpar structural performance"; however, estimations based on the crash test dummy revealed that risk of injury in a similar crash is low.

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