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IIHS Calls Several Minivans Top Picks for Safety

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author photo by Jeffrey Archer November 2011

The Insurance Institute of Highway Safety recently tested today's minivans, doling out several "Top Pick" ratings to the safest models based on roof strength, front crashworthiness and side impact protection.

According to the IIHS, a non-profit organization funded by insurance companies, the 2012 Honda Odyssey, Toyota Sienna and Chrysler Town & Country all earned "Top Pick" scores - the agency's best available rating. Also included are the Dodge Grand Caravan and Volkswagen Routan, which are mechanically identical to the Town & Country.

To earn "Top Pick" scores, the minivans were subject to a battery of tests. First up was a roof strength test, which measures the strength a vehicle's roof can take before collapsing. While the government mandates a score of 1.5 to 1 - meaning a vehicle's roof must withstand 1.5 times its weight before caving in five inches - the IIHS's "good" rating requires a score of at least 4 to 1, which was easily surpassed by its "Top Pick" models.

Next up is a frontal crashworthiness test, which is based on a 40 mph crash that isn't directly head-on, but rather offset slightly. Vehicles whose occupants have a low chance of serious injury receive a "Good" rating, while "Acceptable" and "Poor" scores correspond to higher injury rates. Finally, the IIHS measures side impact protection by assessing vehicles hit from the side by an SUV or truck travelling 31 miles per hour. According to the IIHS, side impact tests use a special dummy designed specifically to measure forces on the head and neck.

While all 2012 model minivans achieved high marks on front and side impact tests, the Kia Sedona and Nissan Quest each lagged in the IIHS's roof strength test, preventing them from also achieving "Top Pick" scores. According to the IIHS, the Quest received only an "Acceptable" rating in the test with a roof strength score of 3.36 to 1, while the Sedona achieved a "Poor" rating thanks to a 2.3 to 1 roof strength score. The firm started including a roof strength rating in its battery of tests last year to help assess injury risk in rollover accidents.

This image is a stock photo and is not an exact representation of any vehicle offered for sale. Advertised vehicles of this model may have styling, trim levels, colors and optional equipment that differ from the stock photo.
IIHS Calls Several Minivans Top Picks for Safety - Autotrader