# Minivans Aren’t As Family Friendly As You Thought They Were
In today’s fast-paced world, family vehicles have become an essential part of our daily lives. Among the most popular choices for families are minivans, often touted as the epitome of family-friendly transportation. However, recent revelations from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) have cast a shadow over this perception. It turns out that minivans may not be as family-friendly as we once believed, especially when it comes to second-row safety. In this article, we’ll delve into the IIHS’s latest findings and what they mean for families who rely on these vehicles to transport their loved ones.
## The IIHS’s Concerning Discoveries
The IIHS recently conducted an updated moderate overlap front crash test, and the results were far from reassuring. This round of testing included 2023 models of some well-known minivans such as the Kia Carnival, Chrysler Pacifica, Honda Odyssey, and Toyota Sienna. Unfortunately, none of them fared well when it came to second-row safety.
### Chest Protection: A Marginal Rating
Across the board, all four minivans received a “Marginal” rating for chest protection of rear-seat occupants. This rating is the second lowest available, indicating a significant cause for concern. While front seat protection received a “Good” rating, only the Toyota Sienna earned the same rating for head and neck protection. The Kia Carnival was rated as “Marginal,” and the Honda Odyssey received the lowest possible score – “Poor.”
## Back Seat Safety: A Critical Concern
IIHS President David Harkey emphasized the importance of back seat safety, especially in vehicles designed for family transport. He expressed disappointment that automakers haven’t been quicker to implement the best available technology for the second row in minivans.
The Toyota Sienna stood out as the only model equipped with technologies designed to reduce belt forces. However, even in the Sienna, the dummy seated in the second-row seats experienced issues. It submarined beneath the lap belt, and the shoulder belt “transferred” toward the dummy’s neck.
### Front Occupant Protection
Despite the concerning findings regarding rear-occupant protection, all the minivans performed well in front occupant protection. Only the Toyota Sienna showed some weakness, with an “Acceptable” rating for leg and foot protection. The rest of the minivans received top marks in this category.
## The Overall Verdict
In summary, while minivans excel in protecting front occupants, their second-row safety measures are far from adequate. The IIHS’s findings have resulted in poor overall safety ratings for these family-centric vehicles. The Toyota Sienna, Kia Carnival, and Chrysler Pacifica received “Marginal” ratings, while the Honda Odyssey was rated as “Poor.”
### The Impact of Subpar Second-Row Safety
Jessica Jermakian, IIHS Vice President of Vehicle Research, highlighted the grave consequences of subpar second-row safety. She explained that the restraint systems in these vehicles leave second-row occupants vulnerable to chest injuries, either due to excessive belt forces or poor belt positioning. These injuries can be life-threatening and are a cause for concern.
For the Pacifica and Carnival, the belts exerted excessive force on the test dummy’s chest area. Although the dummy’s neck was fine in the Sienna and Pacifica, the chances of neck or head injury were significantly higher in the Carnival. Additionally, it was noted that the side airbag did not deploy in the Pacifica during its crash test.
## A Broader Safety Concern
While these findings may raise alarm bells for minivan enthusiasts, it’s essential to note that they are not alone in displaying subpar second-row safety. Earlier reports have highlighted the failure of midsize cars in terms of rear-seat occupant safety. In July, a report also pointed out unsafe second-row seats in small trucks.
In conclusion, while minivans have long been celebrated for their family-friendly features, the IIHS’s latest round of crash tests has exposed significant shortcomings in second-row safety. Families should carefully consider these findings when choosing their next vehicle, prioritizing the safety of their loved ones above all else.
1. Are all minivans equally unsafe in the second row?
– While the IIHS’s findings show that most minivans have subpar second-row safety, there are variations among models. The Toyota Sienna performed better than the others in this regard.
2. Should I avoid buying a minivan altogether?
– Not necessarily. Minivans can still be suitable for families, but it’s crucial to prioritize safety features when making your choice. Look for models that excel in both front and rear occupant protection.
3. Are there any safety improvements expected in future minivan models?
– Automakers are continually working to improve safety features in their vehicles. It’s possible that future minivan models will address the issues raised by the IIHS in their crash tests.
4. What other vehicles have been flagged for rear-seat safety concerns?
– In addition to minivans, reports have highlighted rear-seat safety issues in midsize cars and small trucks. It’s essential to research and compare safety ratings when considering any vehicle.
5. How can I ensure my family’s safety in a minivan?
– To enhance your family’s safety in a minivan, make sure to choose a model with advanced safety features, including robust rear-seat protection systems. Additionally, always ensure that seat belts are properly adjusted and used by all passengers.