• Aug 30, 2013

Minivans should aspire to be the safest cars on the road.

There's no other vehicle more tailored toward carrying children, ostensibly our most precious cargo, than the classic family hauler. So it's notable, then, that Honda achieved a rarity earlier this week, earning a Top Safety Pick+ ranking from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety on its 2014 Odyssey minivan.

It's the first minivan in history to achieve the Pick+ status, the highest possible ranking on the IIHS scale. IIHS is an independent, not-for-profit organization dedicated to reducing traffic fatalities, and its crash tests are often considered benchmarks within the auto industry.

The Odyssey also earned a "good" ranking on the organization's new small-front overlap crash test, which replicates what happens when the front corner of a vehicle hits a stationery object, such as a tree. It's the first minivan to earn that ranking too, though none of the others in the segment have been tested yet.

"Honda established a new standard for minivans when the 1999 Odyssey was introduced, and the company has maintained that leadership position through innovative features and advanced safety technology," said Karl Brauer, senior analyst at Kelley Blue Book. "By acing the newest, most stringent IIHS small overlap crash test, the 2014 Odyssey maintains its segment-leading role in an area that's particularly important to family shoppers."

Competitors like the Chrysler Town & Country, Dodge Grand Caravan and Toyota Sienna all earned Top Safety Pick rankings, which is one notch below the "Plus" on the IIHS scale.

What's interesting about the improvement in Honda's ranking is the company achieved its new status without completely overhauling the vehicle.

The '14 Odyssey isn't a next-generation minivan. It's a refresh of the same vehicle that was redesigned in 2011. Engineers bolstered the car by redesigning the door ring that helps protects occupants in the front seat.

Instead of using a ring made of separate parts and held together by joints, it is now pressed as a single part in high-strength steel, helping to prevent the cabin from buckling in a crash.

Viewers can see this in the crash-test video provided by IIHS. The front of the Odyssey absorbs much of the accident's energy and crumbles. This is by design. The door area is intact, and the cabin is not penetrated by shrapnel.

Overall, six Honda current models have earned the Top Safety Pick+ designation, the highest number of any automaker.

Pete Bigelow is an associate editor at AOL Autos. He can be reached via email at peter.bigelow@teamaol.com and followed on Twitter @PeterCBigelow.



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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 16 Comments
      drakkusshadows
      • 1 Year Ago
      Why does Honda have to make the ugliest cars on the planet?
        Gregory
        • 1 Year Ago
        @drakkusshadows
        To give you something to complain about? Make you happy for it? Remember the song "Make an Ugly Your Wife"? Goes for vehicles too. There is another benefit. Who wants to steal an ugly vehicle? Cheaper insurance. Better to have ugly and safer than a sexy and unsafe vehicle? Just thoughts.
          itsmegp46
          • 1 Year Ago
          @Gregory
          As a matter of fact, certain Honda models were some of the stolen vehicles in the country. So much for your ugly theory.
      Gregory
      • 1 Year Ago
      Yes, Bravo Honda! Make it a goal for all Honda models to achieve.
      • 1 Year Ago
      Why didn't the passenger airbag came out ?
      car4068043
      • 1 Year Ago
      They may be ugly but they run forever, have great resale value and are as reliable as a St. Bernard!
      klavezo
      • 1 Year Ago
      Like most auto mechanics and auto parts people say, Toyota and Honda products are the best.........
      RED SKULL
      • 1 Year Ago
      Great car for a boring old lady.
        itsmegp46
        • 1 Year Ago
        @RED SKULL
        Or a Mom with a van full of 15 year old hockey players.
      amp81803
      • 1 Year Ago
      the Honda lineup though safe and reliable very, very stale plain and ugly
        hugozoon
        • 1 Year Ago
        @amp81803
        Don't forget the highest comprehensive insurance rate.
          itsmegp46
          • 1 Year Ago
          @hugozoon
          Absolutely not true. I've owned Hondas since 1980.
        itsmegp46
        • 1 Year Ago
        @amp81803
        Just another Honda hater. Hondas are some of the most popular cars on the road. What do you drive, a 1995 Impala?
      jjtierney
      • 1 Year Ago
      It's still one ugly looking vehicle.
      • 1 Year Ago
      I just bought a 2014 Honda Odyssey I am so pleased with it. And full insurance so cheap.
      Rick
      • 1 Year Ago
      Good show Honda! By the number of Odysseys I see on the street I'd say they struck a chord with many who want to move their families places.
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