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VOL. 38 | NO. 46 | Friday, November 14, 2014

Minivans do poorly in new crash tests

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DETROIT (AP) — The Honda Odyssey was the only minivan to earn the highest safety rating in new crash tests by the insurance industry.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety said Thursday that the Nissan Quest, Chrysler Town and Country, and Dodge Caravan all garnered the lowest rating on the small overlap front crash test, which replicates what happens when a vehicle's front corner collides with another object at 40 miles per hour.

In each of those cases, the minivans' structure collapsed from the force of the crash. In the Quest, both of the dummy's legs were trapped and the air bag was shoved up into its face, the institute said. In the Town and Country, the dummy's head slid off the air bag and hit the instrument panel.

The Toyota Sienna earned the second highest rating of "acceptable." The institute said its structure was weak but the dummy was protected by its side air bags.

Only the Odyssey won a "good" rating. Its structure was damaged, but the dummy was protected from serious injury, the group said.

The Arlington, Virginia-based institute introduced the small overlap test in 2012. This was the first time a group of minivans was tested, and the institute said it was surprised to see some of the worst outcomes possible for this type of severe crash.

Minivans are at a disadvantage because they are wider than the car platforms they're built on. That leaves large areas that are less able to absorb the force of a crash. Minivans are also heavier than cars, so the damage they inflict can be more severe.

One other minivan sold in the U.S., the Kia Sedona, has not yet been tested. Kia is making a change to the vehicle that should improve its performance, the institute said. It will be tested in a few weeks.

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