Mathew B. Sims is Editor-in-Chief and has authored, edited, and contributed to several books. He has been working in the insurance industry ensuring content is accurate for consumers who are searching for the best policies and rates. He has also been featured on sites like UpJourney.

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Dan Walker graduated with a BS in Administrative Management in 2005 and has been working in his family’s insurance agency, FCI Agency, for 15 years (BBB A+). He is licensed as an agent to write property and casualty insurance, including home, auto, umbrella, and dwelling fire insurance. He’s also been featured on sites like Reviews.com and Safeco. He reviews content, ensuring that ex...

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Reviewed by Daniel Walker
Licensed Auto Insurance Agent

UPDATED: Apr 23, 2020

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Things to remember...

  • As households increase in size, average citizens look for ways to transport their children and relatives in a convenient manner
  • Although they provide spacious and comfortable cabins, many minivans struggle to upkeep genuine safety
  • Testing performed by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety quantifies minivans’ durability and resilience
  • Chrysler and Dodge are some of the most notable names in the car industry, thus their minivans are expected to performed well-above Dodge

Minivans are vehicles that offer a high-roof setting for people who need multi-person transportation. They have been around since 1936 when models such as the Stout Scarab offered something new to the market.

Over the last 80 years, minivans have been modernized to include some features of smaller vehicles such as decent fuel efficiency.

Nowadays, minivans are mostly utilized by average, family-oriented households that tend to overlook issues with safety. As convenient as it is to fit an entire family in this three-row giant, a minivan’s space comes with a price in weight.

Minivans average no less than 4,000 pounds that increases with the accumulated passenger weight. Thus, driving in bad weather conditions, taking sharp curves, or slowing down suddenly might be nearly impossible since accelerated multi-ton mass creates an unstoppable force.

The issue is further amplified by the fact that often minivans are a means of transporting children. So, how does one properly differentiate between safe and dangerous types?

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IIHS

How does one go about properly assessing a vehicle’s crash performance? They crash the vehicle! This is why IIHS provides some of the most prominent results pertaining to minivans’ performance.

They test the vehicle’s ability to maintain the driver’s survival space, the roof and side strength, the frontal crash consequences, the headlights power, the accident prevention sensors, and more.

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Chrysler Versus Dodge

To facilitate a proper comparison, 2017 Chrysler Pacifica and 2017 Dodge Grand Caravan are taken into account. Tests put in place by the IIHS evaluate cars in three categories:

  • Crashworthiness
  • Crash Avoidance
  • Child Seat Anchors

Chrysler was founded in the epicenter of the U.S. auto industry, Michigan, in 1925. They are still headquartered in the same state, and over time they captured a large market share in all types of vehicles.

Similarly, Dodge resides within the same area where they are manufactured by FCA US LLC, formerly known as Chrysler Group LLC. Hence, these two have a lot in common.

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Crashworthiness

This test is the primary evaluation that IIHS breaks in five subcategories: moderate and small frontal overlap test, side and roof power-to-weight ratio, and head restraints. Potential grades are good, acceptable, marginal, or poor.

Impressively, Chrysler Pacifica stormed through the crash simulation and attained a perfect score for every single category. The sensor-strapped dummy used for testing remained firmly positioned in a well-maintained survival space.

Front and side airbags prevented any contact with surfaces that could have caused a head or neck injury.

Dodge Grand Caravan, however, failed to live up to the standards set by the Pacifica. The small overlap front was rated poorly due to the high risk of multiple injuries. The vehicle’s airbags were not properly aimed and the dummy’s head came in touch with the instrument panel.

Also, the dummy’s knees and hips were in grave danger since the intrusion of the car’s front was serious. The other four subcategories were handled well by Grand Caravan.

Crash Avoidance

This test can be declared a no-contest since Dodge had no score on it whatsoever. Chrysler, however, took all six points and achieved a “superior” grade.

The IIHS classifies vehicles as basic, advanced, and superior models based on how well they can detect and prevent an accident.

Both 12 and 25 mile-per-hour tests were handled well since the Pacifica avoided a collision, courtesy of its motion sensors and an auto-brake.

Child Seat Anchor

The last evaluation is in the field of latches. These hooks are used to connect a child’s seat to the vehicle. The cars get tested on how visible they are, how much force one must apply to connect them, and so on.

The grading scale is the same as in crashworthiness. Since minivans often host children, this category might the most relevant one for parents. Here, Dodge Grand Caravan outperformed the Pacifica with an “acceptable” to “marginal” score.

Although both models struggled with the accessibility of latches, Dodge’s anchors did not require an excessive amount of force to use. Furthermore, the Pacifica had some hardware that could be mistaken for a latch.

Top Safety Pick+

Out of the two models, Chrysler performed well enough to be awarded Top Safety Pick+. This is given to vehicles that have a perfect crashworthiness record, superior or advanced crash avoidance, and acceptable or good headlight rating.

The Pacifica achieved the highest grades for all categories besides headlights. They were given an “acceptable” rating, which was still enough to secure this prestigious award that Dodge did not even come close to getting.

Chrysler’s minivan got a perfect score for small frontal overlap test whereas Dodge Grand Caravan performed poorly.

The Pacifica also had a spotless crash prevention evaluation that Dodge had no score on. Although Dodge won the latch category, losing the other two by a margin this large is unforgivable. Hence, Chrysler Pacifica has demonstrated a higher degree of safety as a minivan!

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