Crash tests show that some minivans can be unsafe for rear seat passengers


ONE series of crash tests conducted by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) raises concerns about the safety of 2023 models of four popular minivans: the Honda Odyssey, Toyota Sienna, Chrysler Pacifica and Kia Carnival.

The study by the nonprofit found that none of the minivans tested received an “acceptable” or “good” safety rating, a red flag for anyone considering driving or buying one of the vehicles. The IIHS focused on how rear-seat passengers fare in a frontal collision.

While all minivans performed well in protecting the front seat passengers, the results were significantly less favorable for the test dummy in the back seat, which was the size of a 12-year-old.

Jessica Jermakian, vice president of the IIHS, told “CBS Mornings” that in all four minivans tested, “rear occupants had an increased risk of chest injury, either due to poor seat belt positioning or high seat belt forces.”

Three of the four minivans – Sienna, Pacifica and Carnival – received an overall “marginal” rating. The Honda Odyssey received the lowest rating: “poor”.

The minivans performed well in previous crash tests, but the IIHS raised the standards for testing because it believed rear-seat passengers were being overlooked. The results across different vehicle classes, from small and medium SUVs to sedans and small pickups, show a need to improve vehicle safety.

“People in the back seat are at increased risk of fatal injury compared to those in the front seat. And it’s not that the back seat has become less safe over time. It’s that the front seat has become so much safer by comparison,” Jermakian said.

Automakers say they are reviewing the results and that safety is a top priority and that their vehicles meet or exceed federal safety standards.

The Alliance for Automotive Innovation, a trade association, said “safety is a top priority for the automotive industry.”

“Vehicles on the road continue to become even safer as automakers across the board test, develop and integrate cutting-edge safety technologies that save lives and prevent injuries,” it said.

Stellantis said in a statement: “No single test determines vehicle safety.”

“We engineer our vehicles for real-world performance. We routinely consider third-party reviews and incorporate them into our product development process, as appropriate. We have a long history in the minivan segment. The safety and protection of our customers are paramount concerns at Stellantis. Every Stellantis model meets or exceeds all applicable federal vehicle safety standards,” it said.

Honda said: “American Honda leads the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) safety ratings with ten Honda and Acura models recognized by the institute with their 2023 TOP SAFETY PICK or TOP SAFETY PICK+ ratings, including the 2023 Honda Odyssey. IIHS ‘ updated moderate overlap test with new measurements for rear seat passengers challenges models that were fully developed before the introduction of the new test mode, as seen by the results of each of the models included in the latest minivan evaluations. The all-new 2023 Accord, by comparison , led the IIHS’s moderate-overlap test of midsize sedans as the only one of seven models tested to score GOOD in all rear-passenger injury measures.”

Kia also responded, saying, “Kia America prioritizes vehicle safety, and all Kia vehicles sold in the United States meet or exceed federal motor vehicle safety standards. Protecting occupants is complex and involves a wide range of variables, and Kia is proud Kia will carefully evaluate the results of this test by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety as part of their commitment to continuous improvement in passenger protection.”

Toyota did not respond to CBS News’ request for comment.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *