November 7, 2005
With more SUVs and pickup trucks on the road, the chance that your minivan could be hit by one increases. Your van may not be as safe as you think when it is hit by a heavier vehicle like this.
A side-impact car crash in a minivan could be fatal if children were sitting in the backseat. That's why the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety conducted a new study on minivans to test the risks of serious injury. This barrier simulates the height and weight of an SUV or pick-up truck that slams into the minivan's side at 31 miles an hour.
Overall the minivans faired well. The Toyota Sienna, Nissan Quest and the Honda Odyssey all earned the highest rating - good.
"The measurements from the dummies indicated that the risk of serious injury was fairly low in this kind of a crash and the head airbag was deployed in a time to provide protection for the head from the intruding barrier," said David Zuby, the President of the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.
Two minivans earned a rating of acceptable. The Mercury Monterey, that comes equipped with head airbags, and the Ford Freestar, with the option for head airbags. Without those airbags the Freestar wouldn't be a star at all, it would have gotten a poor rating just like the Mazda MPV did.
David Zuby said studies like this are important when purchasing a new minivan. You can't always rely on the manufacturer to make the cars 100 percent safe during a side impact collision, or the government.
The government side impact test rated all of the vehicles good but that's only because the barrier they used is in the shape of the front of a car as opposed to an SUV or pick-up truck that the Insurance Institute used.
"One of the things we're trying to do by running this test with this particular barrier is to give vehicle manufacturers an incentive to fit side impact airbags that can protect the head in side impact crashes," said Zuby.
That incentive has sparked many car makers to equip their minivans with head airbags or curtains.
While others still stick by their vehicles, Ford released a statement, saying, 'The Freestar is designed to provide and protect a wide ranges of crashes. The Mazda says that it stands behind the safety and quality of that MPV.