Three minivan models, in particular, fared poorly in the small overlap front crash test. This test simulates crashes where the front corner of the vehicle takes the brunt of the impact, similar to collisions with lamp posts or trees. These types of collisions bypass the vehicle’s primary shock-absorbing structure.
The collision left a two-foot deep dent on the Quest that trapped the test dummy’s left leg between the seat and instrument panel and pinned its right foot between the toe panel and brake pedal. Removal of the entire seat and use of a crowbar was required to free the foot. A broken right femur is another possible injury as a result of this crash. Technicians worry that a person might never walk normally again after experiencing such a crash in the Quest. As a result of the research findings, Consumer Reports withdrew its recommendation of the Nissan Quest.
The structure of the Chrysler Town & Country, also sold under the Dodge name as the Grand Caravan, collapsed around the test dummy. An intruding brake pedal gouged the skin of the dummy’s lower left leg, and skin on the left knee was torn by a steel brace under the instrument panel. The airbags failed to provide adequate protection to the driver during a crash as the dummy’s head barely made contact with the airbag prior to sliding off and striking the instrument panel as a result of movement of the steering column.
Chrysler defended their line of minivans stating that all models meet, or exceed, government-imposed safety mandates, and that determinations about safety performance should be made only after multiple tests.
The 2015 Toyota Sienna was tested as well, and earned an acceptable rating. Vehicles with a good or acceptable small overlap rating, in addition to good ratings in the moderate overlap front, side, roof strength and head restraint tests earn the TOP SAFETY PICK+ award. The Sienna joins last year’s Honda Odyssey as one of only two minivans with decent crash test safety ratings.
Outcomes of the small front overlap tests are not especially surprising because minivans are traditionally built on car platforms although they are wider than cars and more of the vehicle over-extends the frame. Additionally, minivans are heavier than cars.
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