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Safest Minivans of 2012

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Minivan buyers have safety as one of their top priorities. They want their family and other passengers to be well protected in the event they are in an accident. The good news for minivan buyers in 2012 is they have numerous very safe models to choose from.

IIHS Minivan Crash Testing

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) has released its crash results and ratings on 2012 minivan models. The list constitutes the safest minivans of 2012, each of which was awarded with an IIHS Top Safety Pick designation. To qualify for the award, vehicles must have the highest rating of “Good” in all crash tests and have electronic stability control, which is required in the U.S. for all new 2012 cars.

According to the IIHS, the safest 2012 minivans are: Chrysler Town & Country, Dodge Caravan, Honda Odyssey, Toyota Sienna, and the Volkswagen Routan. Each scored “Good” in head-on off-center, side impact, rear, and rollover tests.

OC Auto Show - Honda
Creative Commons License photo credit: digitizedchaos

Roof Test Results

In roof strength tests, the Honda Odyssey bested the field with a 5.15:1 strength to weight ratio followed by the Dodge, Chrysler, and Volkswagen models at 4.51:1, Toyota Sienna with a 4.12:1, and Nissan Quest with a 3.36:1. A 4:1 ratio was needed to receive a “Good” rating. The Chrysler Town & Country, Dodge Caravan, and Volkswagen Routan all share the same platform.

2012 minivans that were found to be not as safe were the Nissan Quest, which received an “Acceptable” roof strength rating, and the Kia Sedona, which received a “Poor” roof strength rating, which is the worst possible score. It scored a low 2.3:1 ratio. However, U.S. law requires auto manufactures to attain only a 1.5:1 minimum ratio.

Volkswagen Routan
Creative Commons License photo credit: crazytales562

Why Roof Strength Is Important

Roof strength tests are used to gauge how a vehicle would stand up in a rollover accident. The test is performed by pushing a metal plate against one corner of a vehicle’s roof at a constant speed. To earn the “Good” rating, the roof had to withstand a force of 4 times the vehicle’s weight before it caved in 5 inches.

Roof strength is important as rollover accidents lead to many deaths each year. According to the IIHS, in 2009 there were 8,000 deaths due to rollover accidents. A vehicle with a strong roof crushes less and reduces the risk of injury. Vehicle occupants need to be as protected as possible against roof damage.

Nissan and Kia still have an opportunity to improve their roof strengths in their respective models for the 2012 model year. Thus, they still could be included in the group of safest minivans of 2012 if the necessary corrective action is successfully completed. To see how other vehicle fared, check out our Safest 2012 Cars article.

The 3/4 side view from the front.
Creative Commons License photo credit: nthdesign

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