By Jeffery Gilbert, CBS Detroit
ARLINGTON, VA — (WWJ) Honda’s Odyssey has become the first minivan to ace a tough new crash test from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. Because of that, the Odyssey is the first minivan to get the new TOP SAFETY PICK + designation from the Institute.
“Safety is high on the list for parents when it comes to shopping for a family vehicle,” says Institute President Adrian Lund. “Consumers look for models with the highest safety ratings. Honda is ahead of many of its competitors in building state-of-the-art crashworthiness into its vehicles.”
Honda asked the Insurance Institute to put the new 2014 Odyssey through its new, more challenging, small overlap crash test. That test simulates a vehicle hitting an object like a phone pole or tree. In the test, 25 percent of a vehicle’s front end on the driver side strikes a 5-foot-tall rigid barrier at 40 mph. A 50th percentile male Hybrid III dummy is belted in the driver seat.
“What we did with the Odyssey, during a mid-cycle refresh, we were able to update the structure of the vehicle to demonstrate and to add more structure to the front of the vehicle,” said Art St. Cyr, Honda’s Vice President of Product Planning.
“In the Odyssey test, the driver’s space was maintained reasonably well. Injury measures on the dummy indicated a low risk of injury in a crash of this severity,” read a statement from the Institute. “Because the structure helped keep the steering column stable, the front airbag stayed in front of the driver dummy during the crash to provide good protection. The side curtain airbag deployed and had sufficient forward coverage to protect the head from contact with the side structure and outside objects.”
Earlier this month, Honda’s Civic received the top score among small cars to go through this new test. The Accord also received a top rating when it went through the test earlier.
While the Odyssey is the first minivan to have its small overlap front test scores released publicly, the Institute has been putting many vehicles through the test, in an effort to encourage carmakers to take safety up another notch.
“Automobile accidents remain a leading cause of injury and death in the U.S., but ongoing improvements in occupant safety will chip away at those statistics until, ideally, they reach a number we can all celebrate,” said Karl Brauer an analyst with Kelly Blue Book.