IIHS: Most popular minivans flunk rear-seat safety tests

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety says some of the most popular minivans on the market are lacking in rear-seat safety.

None of the four minivans it tested earned “good” or even “acceptable” ratings in updated crash tests. The updated test checks for risks of injury to the head, neck, chest or thigh to back seat passengers.

The crash dummy should remain properly seated during the crash without “submarining” or sliding forward beneath the lap belt.

“In all four minivans, we saw the rear occupant at risk for chest injury either because of high belt forces, or poor belt-positioning,” said Jessica Jermakian, vice president of vehicle research for IIHS.

The Honda Odyssey was rated “poor” for rear-seat safety -- the lowest of the group. In the Odyssey, forces on the head and neck were high and the seat belt let the passenger’s head come too close to the front seatback.

The IIHS also tested the Sienna, Carnival and Pacifica -- which were all rated “marginal.”

In the Carnival and Pacifica, there were increased risks to the passenger’s chest, and a rear-seat airbag did not deploy in the Pacifica, during the test.

In the Sienna, the rear dummy submarined beneath the lap belt. Another test also found the van lacks seat belt reminders for second-row seats.

“Many consumers choose minivans specifically to transport their families. So, it’s disappointing that the automakers haven’t focused their attention on backseat safety in this vehicle class,” Jermakian said.

The IIHS updated its crash tests last year after finding a higher risk of backseat injuries in newer vehicles. This is not because rear seats have become less safe but because front-row safety technology has improved.

The group says all car makers need to focus on increasing safety for backseat passengers.

They expect automakers to respond quickly and make improvements as they’ve seen when they release other tests.

About the Authors:

Lifetime Jacksonville resident anchors the 8 and 9 a.m. weekday newscasts and is part of the News4Jax I-Team.

Amanda DeVoe joined the News4JAX team in March 2022 as a morning news and traffic anchor