Is Kia’s safety rating for minivans better than Toyota’s?

The race between Chrysler Pacifica and Honda Odyssey was so close that declaring a winner is difficult. Safety features can lower auto insurance rates by up to 8%.

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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
Licensed Auto Insurance Agent

UPDATED: Nov 2, 2021

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Things to remember...

  • Families around the world have found an elegant and convenient method of transportation, minivans
  • Regardless of the many positive features of minivans, occasionally, they tend to lack in safety areas due to their weight and sheer size
  • The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IITH) works to provide a qualified review that comes from real-life tests conducted on vehicles, including minivans
  • Comparing Kia and Toyota results in a close match-up as these two brands are both manufacturing quality minivans

Minivans are created to appeal to those that must transport more than a few people frequently. As such, they are built with a three-row seating pattern that often includes as many as eight seats.

The ceiling of these vehicles is lifted higher than in many other ones, which provides ease of entry that starts with the sliding door. Minivans are also packed with a couple of hundred horse-powers providing the necessary strength to move these 4,000-5,000-pound giants.

The size of minivans is where safety issues start becoming mention-worthy.

Basic driving can become a hazard when one is attempting to control a multi-ton vehicle in poor conditions. Taking sharp turns can yield in hydroplaning and simple parking can become a minor wreck.

Interestingly, however, people who transport family members often tend to pay little attention to this as they are star-struck by the size. Surely, keeping one’s closest out of the harm’s way is worth some research that facilitates the right purchase!

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Putting Numbers on Safety

As mentioned, the IIHS operates in the field of vehicle-testing for safety. Their assessments range from a speed reduction test to a full-frontal high-speed collision with a concrete wall.

The end goal is to place every vehicle somewhere on the range of good to poor performance, thus enabling buyers to make educated decisions before driving off in a new minivan.

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The Battle of South Korean and Japanese Manufacturers

As South Korea’s second-largest automobile company, Kia offers some of the most prominent minivans in the market. This avid company has a production output of over 2.8 million vehicles a year that generate over $45 billion in revenue.

Toyota, however, resides in Japan. This brand leads operations that make Kia’s endeavors appear small, as Toyota’s production output is over 16 million a year and revenues exceed $250 billion.

Regardless, matching Kia’s 2017 Sedona model with Toyota’s latest Sienna is a minivan show-off worth reading up on.



The IIHS starts off their review with the loudest test. Crashworthiness is assessed by grading a vehicle’s performance against a concrete wall.

A human-like, sensor-ridden dummy is placed in the driver seat and his post-accident injuries hint to the areas that the vehicle failed or succeeded on.

Grading is based on poor, marginal, acceptable, and good score, and there are five subcategories which are:

  • small front overlap
  • moderate front overlap
  • side strength
  • roof strength
  • head restraints

Starting with Kia, the Sedona attained all of the highest scores across every single category of this test. The dummy was not exposed to any head or neck injuries as the survival space was maintained well.

The lower body was not put in harm’s way, although some intrusion of the instrument panel occurred.

Toyota was not capable of a score this high since its small overlap front test indicated that the survival space was compromised.

Drivers who come in contact with anything other than an airbag will potentially suffer potent head and neck injuries, thus Toyota’s repeated “acceptable” rating on this test might be worrisome.

Crash Avoidance

Unlike the crashworthiness, crash avoidance is tested on a three-grade scale — basic, advanced, and superior performance. Minivans’ accident prevention systems are tested by having the car auto brake as the potential danger is detected.

Continuing a dominant performance, Kia obtained all six points for the category where Toyota only scored three. Toyota was able to reduce its impact speed by nine mph in a 12 mph test, and seven mph in a 25 mph test.

Notably, however, Kia Sedona received a “poor” grade for their headlight

This reduction was not enough to avoid a collision, which Kia managed to do. performance while Toyota Sienna did not have that score at all.

Child Seat Anchors (Latch)

The last test goes back to the same grading scale that IIHS used in crashworthiness. Testing for latch accessibility is a non-invasive procedure, unlike the previous two.

Both brands scored an “acceptable” rating for their child seat anchors as it was hard to locate them. Thus, this is the only category where Sedona and Sienna were equally matched.

2017 Top Safety Pick and/or 2017 Top Safety Pick+

Out of the two cars, Kia won the Top Safety Pick. This recognition belongs to those vehicles that achieve perfect ratings across the entire crashworthiness category.

Thus, Toyota Sienna came one category short because of its “acceptable” small overlap frontal test. Sedona could have won the 2017 Top Safety Pick+ if its headlights were not rated “poor”, thus the brand has room for improvement in the future.

Does Kia Sedona or Toyota Sienna have better safety?

What might have started off as an even match-up, evolved into a great win for Kia. The Sedona outperformed by having five crashworthiness’ subcategories rated “good” as opposed to the four of Sienna.

Also, the crash prevention score was six to three for Kia, which performed as good as one can on this test. The last test was an even match, though not giving an advantage to either of the cars.

The Kia won two out of three categories and tied one, which makes it an evident better option for safety!

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