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Phoenix Car Accident Chiropractor Dr. John Quackenbush 2014 Crash Test Review

Mini Van Driving Moms and Dads everywhere beware!

The Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) just released their safety crash test findings and only one of four mini van style vehicles performed in what the IIHS considers acceptable and that vehicle is the 2015 Toyota Sienna.

The crash testing primarily involved what are called “small overlap front crashes” where the vichle is propelled and crashed into a wall that only covers approximately half the width of the vehicle and typically and shows some of the worst possible outcomes for this type of crash. This type of test is intended to duplicate what happens when the front corner of one vehicle collides with another vehicle or a stationery object like a tree or utility pole. More specifically the crash forces bypass the vehicle’s main energy-absorbing structure. These crashes are considered specifically difficult for minivans to handle, because minivan bodies are typically built on car frames but are much wider than car bodies. Resulting in more of the mini van body is located outside the main structure. Minivans also are heavier than cars.

The Nissan Quest, the Chrysler Town & Country and its twin, the Dodge Grand Caravan, all earn poor ratings. The exception to the disappointing pattern is the 2015 Toyota Sienna, which earns an acceptable rating. It joins the Honda Odyssey, which last year earned a good rating in the small overlap crash test, in the ranks of Top Safety Pick+ award winners. Minivans are popular among parents, a group that tends to be safety conscious, but we’ve only seen two so far that offer decent protection in small overlap crashes,” says David Zuby, IIHS executive vice president and chief research officer.


So the IIHS is intentionally putting these vehicles in a worse case scenario to obtain the most prudent crash test data and this is especially important information for Moms and Dads who transport children and loved ones in  mini vans.

Even though Toyota beefed up the front structure of the 2015 Toyota Sienna to improve it’s performance in these over lap type crashes that happen in every day life as well as on the IIHS test tracks, check out what happened in the test because it didn’t really fare all that well.

  • Front end intrusion (how far the dashboard and components moved in) measured as much as 5½ inches at the upper door hinge pillar and instrument panel.
  • The crash dummy’s head bounced off the front airbag & immediately slid off the left side thankfully the side curtain airbag deployed and was able to protect the dummies head from the forward movement of the vehicle caused by the intrusion as mentioned above.
  • The safety belt also allowed the dummy to move too far forward so add this forward movement to the 5.5 inches of dashboard intrusion and the numbers are staggering.
  • On the positive side, data taken from the dummy indicated that the risk of any injuries would be low in a crash of this severity.

However the Nissan Quest didn’t do so well.

The Nissan Quest receives what the IIHS describes as a deceiving for it’s restraints and kinematics of safety belt structures. This part of the safety rating measures how well the safety belt and airbags work to control the dummy’s movement.

Here are the good and bad for the Quest:

  • PRO: The crash dummy was held in place by the intruding structure, and the airbag was shoved into its face therefore keeping head injury at low risk.
  • CON: The crash dummy’s left leg, from the thigh to the foot, damages were very high, in some cases exceeding the limits of the sensors.
  • CON: These poor ratings are attached to model years 20011-2015

Here are the bad and good for the Chrysler Town & Country:

  • The Town & Country’s structure buckled around the crash dummy.
  • Vehicle Intrusion a whopping 15 inches at the lower hinge pillar and dashboard.
  • The crash dummy’s skin on the left lower leg was lacerated by the parking brake pedal.
  • The left knee skin was torn by a steel brace under the instrument panel.
  • The head barely contacted the front airbag then shanked off  hitting the dashboard and the steering column was forcefully moved to the right.
  • The door sill and the steering column both moved in toward the driver. (The side  airbag deployed but provided insufficient forward protection.
  • Crash dummy measurement  indicated injuries to left thigh, left hip, left knee and left lower leg would be inherent in a crash of this severity.
  • Both Town & Country & Quest showed crash dummy measurement some of the forces  off the chart.
  • Results apply to the 2008-15 Town & Country and the 2008-15 Grand Caravan. ( also apply, the 2009-12 Volkswagen Routan.)

I don’t see very much good in these test results. Except more than likely there would be little head trauma however it is apparent that there would be  severe lacerations, possible fracture of the femur and or the Tibia (Thigh and Leg) and in all probability loss of limb for Nissan Quest and Chrysler’s Town & Country.

Vehicles with a good or acceptable small overlap rating, along with good ratings in the moderate overlap front, side, roof strength and head restraint tests, qualify for the 2014 Top Safety Pick award. Vehicles that meet those criteria and also earn a basic or higher rating for front crash prevention qualify for the Top Safety Pick+ award.

The Sienna earns its “plus” on the basis of an advanced front crash prevention rating. Its optional system includes forward collision warning and an automatic braking function that reduced impact speeds by an average of 9 mph in the Institute’s 12 mph test and by 7 mph in the 25 mph test.

In my opinion these crash tests should be critical in decision making when purchasing a mini van type motor vehicle. Remember you can replace your vehicle but you can’t replace your children and loved ones. How much is the cost difference worth for the safety of your loved one’s, especially in Phoenix traffic.

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