Recent crash tests of four minivan models found them lacking in rear-seat safety, despite the passenger van’s image as a family vehicle ideal for transporting families.
The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety pointed out the irony in its published test results, saying minivans “ought to boast the safest second-row seating on the market.” But, it said, “Instead, they’re lagging behind.”
In fact, it gave none of the four 2023 models it tested either an acceptable or good rating after examining models in its “moderate overlap front crash test,” which emphasizes back-seat safety.
The Honda Odyssey got a poor rating, while the Chrysler Pacifica, Kia Carnival and Toyota Sienna scored marginal ratings. The Virginia-based nonprofit group says that only the Sienna has seat belt fastening reminders for its second row.
“It’s disappointing that automakers haven’t acted faster to apply the best available technology to the second row in this vehicle class,” said IIHS President David Harkey in a press release on the test findings.
The organization last year updated the test used in the evaluation based on research showing risk of fatal injury is higher for belted occupants in the second row of newer models compared to front-seat occupants because of improved airbags and advanced front seat belts that are typically not used in the back.
IIHS, though, maintains that the back seat is still the safest for children because they can get hurt by inflating airbags. It said its rating doesn’t apply for children in child safety seats.