The IIHS compared the crash intrusion in a Honda Odyssey, left, with the Toyota Sienna, right. Photo credit: IIHS
The 2018 Toyota Sienna rated marginal in the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety’s latest passenger-side small-overlap front crash tests, while the 2018 Honda Odyssey received a good rating. The 2018 Chrysler Pacifica received an acceptable rating.
In addition to the latest crash test ratings, IIHS rated the lower anchors and tethers for children of five 2018 model year minivans. The Pacifica rated marginal, while the Dodge Grand Caravan, Kia Sedona and Sienna each received an acceptable rating.
The IIHS also evaluates child seat attachment hardware, commonly known as LATCH. The Odyssey received a good+ LATCH rating in addition to its good crash test rating.
A small-overlap crash occurs when the front corner of a vehicle hits another vehicle or a fixed object. The IIHS passenger-side small overlap test is conducted at 40 mph with 25 percent overlap between the vehicle and the barrier it strikes.
“In our latest passenger-side tests, we didn’t find any performance issues with safety belts or airbags like we did when we evaluated small and midsize SUVs earlier this year and midsize cars last year,” IIHS Chief Research Officer David Zuby said in a statement Thursday. “Instead, we saw some structural deficiencies on the right side that still need addressing.”
The Sienna rated poor, because it allowed structural intrusion, resulting in right thigh and lower leg injuries to the crash test dummy.
While Toyota has modified the structure of the vehicle to improve driver-side protection starting with 2015 models, the automaker did not make the same changes to the passenger side, IIHS said. The Sienna is the oldest of the models in IIHS’ recent study.
The Pacifica — introduced in the 2017 model year to replace the Chrysler Town & Country — is rated acceptable because it has received upgraded protection in small overlap front crashes on both the driver and passenger sides, beginning with 2017 models built after August 2016.
The Pacifica also had intrusion issues, but sensors in the test dummies indicated a low risk of injury, offsetting the low structural rating. The Pacifica’s passenger-side rating is based both on the IIHS crash test and a Fiat Chrysler test as part of the IIHS frontal crash test verification program.
Despite inconsistent ratings with overall structure, all three vehicles — the Sienna, Odyssey and Pacifica — rated good in passenger restraints and the head and neck and chest injury measures.
Both the Pacifica and Odyssey are 2018 Top Safety Picks.
Although the group began rating vehicles for driver-side small overlap crash protection in 2012, automakers haven’t always made the same changes to their passenger-sides as they have to their driver-sides. IIHS began rating vehicles with the passenger-side test in 2017.
In June, the 2018 Jeep Grand Cherokee and 2018 Ford Explorer rated poor in the institute’s passenger-side small overlap front crash tests, while the 2019 Kia Sorento, 2018 Volkswagen Atlas and 2018 GMC Acadia received good ratings. The 2018 Toyota Highlander, 2018 Nissan Pathfinder and 2018 Honda Pilot received acceptable ratings.
Ratings of lower anchors and tethers for children, a system of attachment hardware for child restraints intended to simply installation, are based on ease-of-use criteria that minimize mistakes in installation.
However, IIHS research shows child restraints installed with LATCH are more likely to be put in correctly than restraints installed using the vehicle safety belt.
“The Odyssey is a good example of the steady improvements we have seen in LATCH ratings in just three years,” Zuby said. “Honda factored in LATCH when redesigning the Odyssey for 2018, boosting the minivan’s rating from acceptable to good+ by making the second-row tether anchors easy to find and the lower anchors easy to maneuver around.
“In addition, the Odyssey model we tested has two good LATCH seating positions in the second row and two acceptable positions in the third row.”