November 20, 2014 / 6:02 AM / 3 years ago

Minivan crash tests: Toyota good; Chrysler, Dodge, Nissan poor

DETROIT, Nov 20 (Reuters) - In a front overlap crash safety tests of four minivans sold in the United States, only the latest model of the Toyota Motor Corp Sienna scored well, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety said on Thursday.

The Chrysler Group LLC Dodge Grand Caravan, the Chrysler Town & Country, and the Nissan Motor Co Quest performed poorly, the IIHS said.

A small front overlap test replicates what happens when the front corner of a vehicle collides with another vehicle or an object such as a tree or a utility pole.

Toyota's 2015 Sienna joins the Honda Motor Co Odyssey, which was tested earlier, as the only minivans to earn the IIHS "Top Safety Pick-Plus" rating that is used heavily in marketing new vehicles.

"Minivans are popular among parents, a group that tends to be safety conscious, but we've only seen two so far that offer decent protection in small overlap crashes," says David Zuby, IIHS executive vice president and chief research officer.

The Nissan Quest from model years 2011 to 2015, Chrysler Group's Dodge Grand Caravan from model years 2008 to 2015 and the Chrysler Town & Country all received scores of "poor" in the tests. The Sienna scored "acceptable" and the Odyssey in its previous test scored "good," according to the IIHS.

Chrysler Group is a unit of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles .

Sienna models prior to the 2015 model year were not tested by the IIHS, and the influential U.S. insurance industry group said it has yet to test the Kia Motors Corp Sedona, the only minivan sold in the United States not yet tested.

Details of the results can be found at the IIHS website, www.iihs.org. (Reporting by Bernie Woodall; Editing by Chris Reese)

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