Need a family hauler? Here are the 3 safest minivans

The 2015 Honda Odyssey is an IIHS Top Safety Pick and has an NHTSA overall 5-Star rating.

The number of minivans on the market is dwindling these days. In fact, there are just six current passenger minivans available for the 2015 model year.

So, if you're looking for a family hauler that seats seven or eight comfortably, the field is pretty narrow. When you look at safety ratings, we'd say there are only three you should even consider as the model year closes.

2015 Toyota Sienna

The Toyota Sienna, dubbed the "Swagger Wagon," made some structural modifications for 2015 to improve front-crash protection. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) says this was the one of the best performers in the crash tests, but still had a little more intrusion into the front cabin than they would like. It gets an "Acceptable' rating for the front small overlap crash test and "Good" ratings in all other tests. With an available "Advanced" front crash-prevention system, it receives top marks from the IIHS - the only minivan to do so. For 2015, the Sienna gets a refreshed exterior and some interior upgrades, including soft-touch materials, a new multi-information display, standard backup camera and upgraded steering wheel. Safety additions include additional LATCH locations and an additional airbag. Feature highlights for the Sienna include a 3.5-liter V-6, 6-speed automatic transmission, 17-inch alloy wheels, three-zone climate control and third-row seats that fold flat. Optional safety features include a pre-collision system, blind-spot monitoring and park-assist sonar.

Base price: $29,585
MPG (city/hwy): 18/25
IIHS Top Safety Pick+
NHTSA Overall 5-Star Rating

2015 Honda Odyssey

The Honda Odyssey also tested well in crash test ratings, with the IIHS giving it "Good" scores across the board. It doesn't achieve top "Plus" status, however, because it only has a basic front-crash-prevention system available. The Odyssey received a number of updates for the 2014 model year including powertrain, styling and safety equipment upgrades. So, it remains largely unchanged for 2015. Standard safety equipment includes stability assist, traction control, rearview camera, dual-stage front airbags, three-row side-curtain airbags and a body structure composed of high-strength steel. The Odyssey is equipped with a 3.5-liter V-6 engine, 6-speed automatic transmission, a third-row "Magic Seat," 17-inch wheels and manual front and rear air conditioning. Optional safety features include Honda LaneWatch, forward collision warning and lane departure warning.

Base price: $30,155
MPG (city/hwy): 19/28
IIHS Top Safety Pick
NHTSA Overall 5-Star Rating

2015 Kia Sedona

Like the Odyssey, the Kia Sedona received "Good" scores across the board in IIHS crash tests. It also doesn't achieve top "Plus" status because of a basic front-crash-prevention system. The Sedona is all-new for the 2015 model year and gets some cool available features such as "first-class" reclining middle seats, fabric seats with anti-microbial protection from spills, high-power USB charging ports and surround-view camera system. Standard safety features include dual front airbags, dual front seat-mounted side airbags, stability control, traction control and side-impact door beams. At a base level, the Sedona is equipped with a 3.3-liter V-6 engine, 6-speed automatic transmission, Slide-N-Stow second-row seats, 17-inch wheels, rearview camera and front-and-rear HVAC controls. Available safety features include blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, forward collision warning, lane departure warning and surround-view monitor.

Base price: $27,295
MPG (city/hwy): 18/24
IIHS Top Safety Pick
NHTSA Overall 5-Star Rating

So what about the other vans on the market?

The Chrysler Town & Country, Dodge Grand Caravan and Nissan Quest have "dire" crash test results according to the IIHS.

After showing the crash test for the Nissan Quest in the above video, David Zuby, executive vice president and chief research officer, explained that they had to cut the seat out of the Quest to remove the dummy and use a crow bar to remove the right foot.

"The forces measured on the left leg were so high that a real person experiencing that would be lucky to ever walk normally again," he added.

Zuby calls the Quest one of the worst-performing vehicles they've ever tested.

According to Zuby, front small overlap crashes are tough on minivans because they are typically built on car frames, but they're wider and heavier. So more of their structure is located outside of the energy-absorbing frame rails.

Confused about what safety ratings mean? We have an article for that.


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