2015 Minivan Safety Comparison: Sienna vs. Odyssey

Choosing a safe minivan is a priority for parents and families, but it can be difficult to figure out what’s safest when every manufacturer claims to be doing everything every other manufacturer is doing. Let’s cut to the chase and take a look at how two of the most popular minivans currently available as 2015 models in the United States, the Toyota Sienna and Honda Odyssey, compare with each other when it comes to keeping you and your loved ones safe. Of course, we’ll also take a look at car seat compatibility along the way.

I’ve looked at a lot of collisions involving vehicles over the years, and minivans have consistently stood out as some of the safest vehicles on the road. A big part of that is inevitably how they’re driven, as people are less likely to use aggressive driving behaviors when behind the wheel of a minivan compared to when behind the wheel of a pickup, SUV, or regular car.

However, that’s not the whole story. minivans also tend to come with a number of safety features that aren’t always present in other vehicles. Minivan manufacturers know who they’re marketing to, and if they’re paying attention, we might as well reap the benefits in order to keep our loved ones safe. Here’s a look at safety scores for the Sienna and Odyssey based on IIHS and NHTSA testing.

2015 Toyota Sienna Family Safety and Car Seat Review

sienna--publicdomain The  2015 Toyota Sienna is an excellent choice for most families when it comes to reliability, and it’s certainly a flexible vehicle when it comes to 3 across installations. However, while its safety scores are good in most areas, they are somewhat lacking in others. Let’s take a closer look:

Front moderate overlap: The Sienna does well here with a good score.  This indicates that in a 40 mph crash with a Sienna or similarly-sized vehicle, such as another minivan, you could expect properly-restrained adult occupants in the front seats to survive with minimal injuries.

Front small overlap: The Sienna has an acceptable score here as of 2015. This means that in a 40 mph crash with a Sienna or similarly-sized vehicle, such as another minivan, you’d expect a properly-restrained driver to survive the collision with minimal injuries, but that slightly different collision circumstances could significantly increase the risks of injury.

Side impact: The Sienna has a good score here.  What’s simulated is a 31 mph side impact by a 3300-lb SUV-like vehicle, and in such a collision, you could expect a properly-restrained driver and rear near-side passenger to survive the collision with minimal injuries. This kind of collision regularly kills people in vehicles without side impact airbags and strong vehicle cells, so this is a huge level of progress compared to where we were just 15 years ago at the turn of the millenium.

Frontal crash: The Sienna received 4/5 stars overall in 2014 here, with 5/5 stars for the driver and 3/5 stars for the passenger, which I don’t find acceptable for the passenger. What’s simulated here is a direct head on collision at 40 mph with a similarly-sized vehicle, and per the score, the likelihood of death or serious injury for the passenger is around 20 to 40%.

Roof strength: The Sienna has a good roof score, which means its roof is capable of supporting up to 4x the weight of the vehicle before caving in by 5 inches or more. This reduces the odds of roof crush in rollovers, which is great.

Car seat compatibility: The Sienna is a very friendly vehicle for 3 across installations, and I’ve been able to install many seats without any issues at all. The Clek Fllo is an example of a car seat that’s easy to 3 install in 3 across configurations in the Sienna. You can view the 3 across car seat guide for various years of the Toyota Sienna here.

2015 Honda Odyssey Family Safety and Car Seat Review

odyssey-2011-publicdomainThe  2015 Honda Odyssey is the newest iteration of what’s been another successful and reliable minivan from one of the two Japanese giants (Toyota and Honda). It does well in 3 across installations and it also does well in safety scores, as outlined below.

Front moderate overlap: The Odyssey does well here with a good score. This indicates that in a 40 mph crash with an Odyssey or similarly-sized vehicle, such as another minivan, you could expect properly-restrained adult occupants in the front seats to survive with minimal injuries.

Front small overlap: The Odyssey has a good score here as of 2014. This means that in a 40 mph crash with an Odyssey or similarly-sized vehicle, such as another minivan, you’d expect a properly-restrained driver to survive the collision with minimal injuries. This is great!

Side impact: The Odyssey also scores well here. What’s simulated is a 31 mph side impact by a 3300-lb SUV-like vehicle, and in such a collision, you could expect a properly-restrained driver and rear near-side passenger to survive the collision with minimal injuries. This kind of collision regularly kills people in vehicles without side impact airbags and strong vehicle cells, so this is a huge level of progress compared to where we were just 15 years ago at the turn of the millenium. Here is an example of a survivable side-impact collision.

Frontal crash: The Odyssey received 5/5 stars overall in 2015 here, with 5/5 stars for both the driver and the passenger, which makes me feel a lot better about their odds of survival in a head-on collision. What’s simulated here is a direct head on collision at 40 mph with a similarly-sized vehicle, and per the score, the likelihood of death or serious injury for driver and passenger is low.

Roof strength: The Odyssey has a good roof score, which means its roof is capable of supporting up to 4x the weight of the vehicle before caving in by 5 inches or more. This reduces the odds of roof crush in rollovers, which is great.

Car seat compatibility: The Odyssey is a very friendly vehicle for 3 across installations, and I’ve been able to install many seats without any issues at all. The Clek Fllo is an example of a car seat that’s easy to 3 install in 3 across configurations in the Odyssey. You can view the 3 across car seat guide for various years of the Honda Odyssey here.

Which is the safest minivan of 2015? The Honda Odyssey

While the Toyota Sienna is an impressive vehicle on paper and in practice, the Odyssey has the edge when it comes to crashworthiness, both in terms of its small overlap performance and in terms of its head on crash performance. Both of these vehicles are among the safest passenger vehicles on the road, without a doubt, but if you’ve got the opportunity to choose between the two of them, I’d give the edge to the Odyssey.

You’re unlikely to notice a difference in either vehicle in crash performance if you’re a child sitting in one of the rear seats, but your odds of injury as a front seat passenger in the Sienna in a head on collision are significantly higher than they would be as a front seat passenger in the Odyssey. Similarly, your odds of escaping injury in a small overlap collision are greater in the Odyssey than they are in the Sienna as a driver.

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