Minivan bumpers don't bounce back
Minor impacts cause expensive damage in low-speed crash tests conducted by insurance industry.
NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- Not one of six 2008 model year minivans tested by an insurance industry group was able to withstand a low speed, parking lot style collision without sustaining several thousand dollars in damage.
The best performer in the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety's test was the Honda Odyssey which sustained a total of $5,258 worth of damage in four separate low-speed collision tests.
The worst performer was the Nissan Quest which tallied up a total of $8,102 worth of dents and broken lights in the tests.
"In the event of a crash, all Nissan products are engineered to meet or surpass the safety regulations established by the federal government as well as pass our own rigorous internal safety requirements," Nissan said in a statement. "We will study and analyze the test results to help understand how we can keep insurance premiums low for our customers."
To test how well the bumpers performed, the vehicles were moved backwards and forwards at a speed of six miles per hour into a barrier shaped like a car bumper. Then, to test how well the bumpers protected the vehicle's corners, the minivans were sent diagonally frontward and backwards into the barriers at a speed of three miles per hour.
The tailgates of five of six the vans - all except the Chevrolet Uplander - sustained damage in the full-width bumper test in which the vehicles were pushed straight into the barrier.
In the case of the Nissan Quest and Toyota Sienna, the tailgate was so badly damaged it had to be replaced.
Nissan has not done well in Insurance Institute low-speed damage tests, the agency said. The Nissan Maxima and Infiniti G35 also showed poor results in these sorts of tests compared to their industry rivals.
In front collision tests, the Honda Odyssey suffered damage similar to that seen with the other minivans, but the Odyssey did much better in rear impact tests.
Much of the difference in the test results had to do with differences in repair costs rather than difference in the actual severity of damage. For example, it would cost $347 to replace a plastic radiator support on the Grand Caravan but $674 to replace the same part on the Nissan Quest.