While the Toyota Sienna and Nissan Quest both emerged from side-impact crash tests conducted by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety with the highest ratings possible, the Ford Freestar and Mazda MPV limped away with "Poor" ratings, the Institute's lowest score. The two minivans were tested without their optional side airbags, as the Institute will only test a vehicle with those optional devices if the manufacturer requests it and pays for the vehicle. Otherwise the vehicle is tested in standard trim. Mazda released a statement stating it stands behind the safety of the MPV and notes the minivan received five stars in the NHTSA's frontal and side impact tests. The article by CNN Money notes, however, that the IIHS uses a barrier that better simulates the impact of a large vehicle like a truck or SUV, while the NHTSA barriers are smaller and lower to the ground.

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