Most people purchase minivans because they have a family, and parents naturally feel protective of their children. For that reason alone, many are disturbed by the recent news from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) which said three models miserably failed a crash test. Those minivans are the Nissan Quest, Chrysler Town & Country, and Dodge Grand Caravan.
The test in question was the notorious small overlap front, which is designed to simulate the front corner of a vehicle striking something like a pole or tree trunk. Quite a few other vehicles have fallen victim to the test, with some automakers complaining that it is too extreme. Others, like Honda, have revised vehicle designs in the middle of a production year to address weaknesses that have been uncovered.
According to IIHS, minivans perform especially poor in the crash test because of their design. The vehicles are based on a car platform, yet weigh more and are wider. That means more of a minivan is located beyond the main structure, making it prone to severe damage in a wreck.
By far the worst was how the Quest faired in the test. Dave Zuby of IIHS said that a person driving the minivan would “be lucky to ever walk normally again” after the wreck. He went on to state that the Quest was one of the worst performers out of all vehicles that have gone through the test. Passenger compartment intrusion was measured at nearly two feet, crushing the dummy’s leg so severely a crow bar was used to free it. Just to get the dummy out of the minivan, IIHS had to cut out the seat. As for the Town & country, the crash dummy’s left leg was pinned and gouged by the parking brake pedal.
Toyota beefed up the front end of the Sienna specifically to address the small overlap test. Those measures still resulted in 5.5 inches intrusion into the passenger space. The Odyssey earned a good rating in the test when it was subjected to it last year, outshining the competition.