Safety is often the priority for families shopping for a set of wheels, but those considering the Toyota Sienna might want to pump the brakes. According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, the minivan earned a marginal score in the tough new passenger-side small overlap front test, lower than the acceptable score it earned for driver-side small overlap protection.
The test simulates a crash that occurs when just the front corner of the vehicle strikes another vehicle or an object such as a tree or utility pole, and it's been tough to ace. Other minivans have fared better, however. The 2018 Chrysler Pacifica earned an acceptable rating in the test, and the 2018 Honda Odyssey scored the best with a good rating.
In the test, IIHS said the Sienna's front passenger compartment did not stand up well to the crash forces.
"The intruding structure crumpled around the test dummy's legs," David Zuby, IIHS chief research officer, said in a statement. "A real right front passenger would sustain possible injuries to the right thigh and lower leg in a crash of this severity."
The Pacifica and the Odyssey have already been awarded Top Safety Pick status. Each van earned the top score of good in all of the agency's other crash tests, as well as a superior rating for front crash prevention and an acceptable rating for headlights. Better-rated headlights would have bumped them up to Top Safety Pick Plus status. To earn the Plus rating, a vehicle also must earn an acceptable or good rating in the passenger-side small overlap front test and a good headlight rating.
Because of its low score in both front overlap tests, as well as its acceptable headlight score, the Sienna is ineligible for any of IIHS' safety awards. It does, however, have a superior- rated front crash prevention system, as well as good scores for several other crash tests.
Another competitor, the Kia Sedona, was revised for 2019 and has not yet been tested, but IIHS media relations associate Joe Young told us that the agency expects the Sedona to perform well in this test based on improvements Kia made for the 2019 model year. The 2018 model is a Top Safety Pick.
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