Safety was a big part of the Pacifica’s design and marketing, but how does it do in real life?

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, a non-government non-profit, crash-tests cars on the insurance industry’s dime, designing their tests to simulate “real life” crashes. They recently tested the Big Three modern minivans — Chrysler Pacifica, Toyota Sienna, and Honda Odyssey.

IIHS Pacifica minivan

The Chrysler Pacifica, unfortunately, only achieved an Acceptable rating in the “Small Overlap” test, which simulates a relatively common frontal crash. If you’re buying a van to keep your kids safe, be warned that the LATCH system — the anchors for child seats — were rated the worst of the pack, “Marginal.”  The body structure was rated Acceptable.

Overall, the Pacifica gained a Top Safety Pick+ rating, because it was rated Good in every test but Structure and LATCH. The Sienna was the only minivan to be rated Acceptable rather than Good on the driver's side, and the only one rated Poor in Structure. Oddly, the 2015 Sienna was revised for better driver’s side protection, but not better passenger-side protection.

The Odyssey did best on these tests, with a Good rating on the small-overlap test, a Good rating for the body structure, and a Good+ rating for the LATCH system (the “+” means it has more seating positions and is easy to use). Sadly, the Odyssey seems to be better for those with child seats. It, too, was rated a Top Safety Pick+.

As for the Sienna, often rated the most reliable minivan and often the best seller in America? It came out dead last. The crash test was Marginal, and the body structure was Poor (with 20 inches of intrusion into the passenger space during side impact tests). The only lighter side for Toyota fans was an Acceptable rating for LATCH, not quite the Honda’s Good but better than the Pacifica’s Marginal.

The lighter side for Chrysler is that it’s easier to change LATCH designs than body structures. Chrysler already upgraded protection, starting with minivans built in September 2016.

Via AutoGuide