Is Dodge’s safety rating for minivans better than Honda’s?

When comparing Dodge and Honda minivans, it's no contest. The Honda Odyssey 2018 models placed first, while the Dodge Grand Caravan 2017 models placed fifth.

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Leslie Kasperowicz holds a BA in Social Sciences from the University of Winnipeg. She spent several years as a Farmers Insurance CSR, gaining a solid understanding of insurance products including home, life, auto, and commercial and working directly with insurance customers to understand their needs. She has since used that knowledge in her more than ten years as a writer, largely in the insuranc...

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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 and Safeco. He reviews content, ensuring that ex...

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Reviewed by Daniel Walker
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UPDATED: Nov 5, 2021

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Things to remember...

  • Safety ratings are especially important in minivans because they are popular among families with children
  • Although trailing Honda, Dodge minivans have seen improvements in crashworthiness tests
  • If you will be using child seats, a minivan’s Child Seat Anchors score is a prime consideration

Just a few short years ago, Dodge minivans were not performing well when rated for safety by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety and the Highway Loss Data Institute, the IIHS and HLDI respectively.

In 2014, the Dodge Grand Caravan earned poor ratings along with Chrysler’s Town & Country and Nissan’s Quest.

Current data suggests that Honda minivans may still be safer, but Dodge has made radical improvements worth mentioning over the past few years.

At one point it was announced that Chrysler would stop production of the Dodge Grand Caravan in 2016, but that never came to pass. Today this American-made minivan is safer and more popular than ever, but still not as safe as Honda’s Odyssey.

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The American Family’s Love Affair with Minivans

It would be a reach, by any stretch of the imagination, to say that minivans are among the sleekest and most stylish vehicles on the market. In fact, they are not even among the most fuel-efficient of automobiles either. So, why do American families love minivans so much?

Among the most important factors in this love affair would be the roominess they afford along with ease of access. When it comes to carting kids around, nothing offers the same amount of space as a minivan. 

Also, parents with children small enough to require a child restraint seat appreciate just how easy it is to buckle young children safely in their seats.

Nonetheless, roominess and ease of access aside, it is imperative to recognize potential safety issues so that you can make the right choice for your family’s needs.

Before looking at cost, color, style or even digital extras, take the time to research a vehicle’s IIHS safety score. Your children’s lives could very well depend on choices you make today.


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What to Look for in Minivan Safety Scores

Have you ever wondered why insurance companies place such high emphasis on safety scores issued by the IIHS in conjunction with the HLDI? The bottom line is simply this. Safe vehicles withstand or avoid crashes better. As a result, fewer claims are likely to be filed.

Not only will a safe vehicle be easier to insure, but it will almost always be cheaper to insure as well. When rating a minivan, the Institute looks at Crashworthiness, Crash Avoidance & Mitigation, and the LATCH tests.

Five Areas of Focus within the Crashworthiness Test

The Crashworthiness determines how well a vehicle can withstand the impact of a crash. The IIHS looks at:

  1. Front Small Overlap – Tested at an impact traveling 40 mph.
  2. Front Moderate Overlap – Tested at an impact traveling 40 mph.
  3. Side – Side of SUV struck at an impact when deformable is traveling 31 mph.
  4. Roof Strength – Amount of rollover protection.
  5. Head Restraints & Seats – Rear end impact tested at 20 mph.

The IIHS issues scores of Good, Acceptable, Marginal, or Poor.

The one area parents may wish to take into consideration when comparing Dodge with Honda minivans is that the Grand Caravan scored poorly on the Small Overlap Front Crashworthiness portion of the test.

Also, the Dodge minivan’s Front Crash Prevention score was rated Not Available.

Crash Avoidance & Mitigation

When testing a vehicle’s ability to avoid a crash, the Institute looks at design and technology. This category consists of 2 main tests including Front Crash Prevention and Headlights. 

They will seek to determine if a vehicle’s technology is sufficient to warn of an impending forward crash. The IIHS will also test an automobiles ABS, if available on a given model.

Here again, each area is graded as Good, Acceptable, Marginal, or Poor.

When comparing Honda and Dodge minivans, only the Honda Odyssey scored a Superior grade on the Crash Avoidance and Mitigation tests, whereas scores for the Dodge Grand Caravan were not available.

The LATCH Test

One of the main issues in past child seat safety assessments was the fact that some cars had belts and restraints that were difficult to connect.

Within the past few years, the IIHS and HLDI also began looking at ease-of-use as an integral part of the child restraint safety score.

You can have the safest child car seat on the market, but if it is too difficult to secure due to inadequate latches in the vehicle, your child is no safer than in any other seat.

When it comes to your children’s safety, nothing less than Good is acceptable.

IIHS Minivan Safety Rankings for 2017

As mentioned above, it has only been in recent years that Dodge has earned a top 5 position on the IIHS list of safety contenders in the minivan arena. However, Honda has consistently held a place at, or near, the top of the list.

This year, the Honda Odyssey 2018 models are in first place with highest scores across the board. The Dodge Grand Caravan, 2017 models, is in fifth place.

Since the Dodge Grand Caravan was the only minivan with a poor rating in any category, you may wish to consider other minivans within the top five picks.

Although not scoring as highly as Honda’s Odyssey, the IIHS also found Chrysler’s Pacifica, Toyota’s Sienna and the Kia Sedona to be safe enough to be awarded honors in 2017.

The Bottom Line

Whether you are a parent of young children or simply in the market for a minivan with lots of room for passengers, it is going to be in your best interest to compare safety ratings.

Many minivans don’t fare well in safety tests, so take the time to check IIHS ratings and awards. Safer vehicles may cost a bit more, but safe vehicles may cost less to insure.

You can compare insurance quotes all day long, but nothing compares with a safe ride. That, in the end, is the bottom line. If you are looking for safety, Honda is the hands-down winner.

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