Minivan bumpers may not protect much, but they sure do cost a lot to repair, according to the Insurance Institute For Highway Safety. The IIHS smashed six minivans to test their bumpers and found that all racked up repair bills exceeding $5,000. The Nissan Quest was singled out as a “miserable failure,” costing $8,000 to patch-up.
Minivan designs help in bumper tests: The minivans performed somewhat better in the 4 bumper tests than the midsize cars the Institute tested earlier this year. This is in part because the minivans’ front bumpers are an inch or so higher off the ground, compared with car bumpers (about 17 inches versus 16). The extra height means the minivans’ front bumpers usually didn’t underride the test barrier, which exacerbates the damage.
Another important design aspect is that most of the minivans the Institute tested have third-row seats that fold into the floor, which requires pushing the vehicles’ frame rails out wider. Because the bumper systems attach to the ends of the rails, the rear bumpers (but not the front ones) also are wider. This means they do a better job of protecting the rear corners of the minivans from damage in low-speed collisions. For example, the taillights on the minivans weren’t damaged in any of the rear corner tests while the headlights were damaged in 4 of the 6 corresponding front corner tests.
The Insurance Institute claims, “it’s damage that consumers shouldn’t have to pay for or put up with the aggravation of having to get their vehicles repaired,” but their crocodile tears are really geared towards boosting their own profit margins by reducing the cost of insurance claims. At least they posted slow-motion footage from the test crashes on YouTube.
Minivan bumper test results: Nissan Quest is by far the worst performer [Insurance Institute for Highway Safety]
Insurance Institute For Highway Safety Reveals Results Of Minivan Bumper Tests [YouTube]