Vehicles Archive

Safest Family Minivans and SUVs for 2016 with 3rd Row Seats

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Safest 2016 Family Vehicles with Three Rows of Seating

Editor’s Update: Our 2017 Awards are here.

Are safety and seating more than a couple kids your top considerations in selecting a new vehicle?  You aren’t alone!  Last year’s winner, the 2014-2015 Acura MDX, is still a contender to retain its title for 2016.

For 2016, the IIHS now requires a “Good” result in the newer small overlap crash test to qualify for a Top Safety Pick rating.  An “Acceptable” rating no longer qualifies.  The IIHS also requires a front crash prevention system.  These systems are not all created equal, some are only basic warnings that qualify for the basic TSP award, while advanced ones can actually brake in emergency situations and possibly avoid a crash better than lesser systems.  To earn the “TSP+” award, an auto-brake system with an “Advanced” or “Superior” rating is now required.

There are plenty of very safe vehicles.  Most midsize crossover SUVs and minivans provide excellent protection for occupants, likely better than anything on the road 15 years ago.  Side curtain airbags and stability control are now standard features.  In addition to frontal crash protection systems, advanced safety features like emergency crash notification, lane departure warning, cross traffic warning and blind spot warning systems are becoming more common on non-luxury models.

tspplus-bar-2016

So how do we filter the list of so many family vehicles that have earned safety awards?  It’s pretty easy:

  • Must be an IIHS Top Safety Pick+ for 2015 or 2016
  • Must have an NHTSA 5-star overall rating
  • No individual NHTSA crash test results of 3-stars or less
  • Must have at least 6 passenger seats

What vehicles make the cut?  At the time of this writing, it’s a pretty exclusive list.   Two minivans from last year, the Honda Odyssey and Kia Sedona, no longer qualify as they did not achieve a Top Safety Pick+ rating for 2015 or 2016.  Shame on these manufacturers for choosing not to provide even an optional advanced front crash prevention system on these popular family vehicles.  The 2016 qualifiers:

  1. 2014-2016 Acura MDX
  2. 2014-2016 Mitsubishi Outlander
  3. 2016 Honda Pilot
  4. 2016 Infiniti QX60
  5. 2014-2015 and 2016 Toyota Highlander*
  6. 2015 Toyota Sienna*

*The 2016 Highlander was retested with a “Good” small offset crash test result by the IIHS to also qualify in 2016.

And the Safest 2016 3-row Family Vehicle is:

2016 Kia Sorento Video+Photo Review: Kids, Carseats and Safety

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2016 Kia Sorento SUV Review

2016KiaSorentoThe all-new 2016 Kia Sorento is a great option for families who want a slightly smaller vehicle with a third row of seating.  It’s bigger and safer than the previous Sorento.  That gives it a big advantage over compact SUVs, and it’s more maneuverable with better handling than the larger midsize models.  Perhaps best of all, it gets top crash test results.  That means a “Good” score in every rating from the IIHS and a “5-star” rating in all 5 crash test results from the NHTSA.  It earns an impressive 5-star overall NHTSA rating AND a Top Safety Pick award from the IIHS*.  The 2016 model would have qualified as a Top Safety Pick+ on Limited models with the Technology package under previous year’s IIHS requirements, but their new ratings require a front crash prevention system with “advanced” performance to qualify for the “Plus” award.  The optional system on the Sorento Limited only earns a “basic” performance rating.

 

*Correction: Sorento Limited w/ Tech package does NOT earn a Top Safety Pick+ award

As for carseats, there are a couple quick takeaways.

News: Acura Earns Highest Safety Ratings on ALL 2015 models. Two Dorel Boosters Re-Evaluated by IIHS.

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Acura Safety v3.0We commend Acura for achieving top overall ratings from the IIHS and NHTSA on every current model!  We awarded the Acura MDX honors as the safest 2015 SUV in a recent article, and would like to acknowledge vehicle manufacturers that place an emphasis on safety.  Acura claims to be the first and only auto manufacturer to earn a 5-star Overall vehicle score from the NHTSA NCAP program, AND a Top Safety Pick+ rating from the IIHS across its entire 2015 model line (IIHS TSP+ rating when equipped with collision mitigation braking systems).  Congrats!

CarseatBlog emphasizes crash test ratings and advanced safety features in all our auto reviews.  We strongly encourage other manufacturers to put safety first and to make crash test ratings a top priority for ALL vehicles, as Acura has done.  To put it simply, an NHTSA “5-star” overall rating and IIHS “Top Safety Pick” rating is something every buyer should require in a vehicle.  No new vehicles today should earn anything less than a “4-star” rating from the NHTSA or less than an “Acceptable” rating from the IIHS in any individual crash test result.  Period.

We also encourage all auto makers to equip advanced crash avoidance technologies as standard whenever possible, especially on top trim levels and luxury vehicles.  On economy models and lower trim levels, these features should be readily available in a relatively low cost options package.  All too often, collision mitigation braking systems necessary to qualify for the IIHS Top Safety Pick “+” aware are a hard-to-find option and only on the most expensive trim level.  Then you must tack on thousands of dollars more for a safety technology package, if you can even find one at all on dealer’s lots!  That type of obsolete marketing is NOT putting customers and safety first.

http://www.acura.com/PressReleaseArticle.aspx?category=general&year=2015&id=8699-en#~prcSoSMD1munS6

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booster_safety-1st_summit-65In other news, the IIHS is correcting two “BEST BET” booster recommendations from 2014.  The Eddie Bauer Deluxe Highback 65 and Safety 1st Summit 65 were given the top rating in error.  The revised rating is “Not Recommended”.  According to the IIHS:

The concern about the Eddie Bauer Deluxe Highback 65 and Safety 1st Summit 65, both manufactured by Dorel Juvenile, is that while the shoulder belt crosses the child’s body at the middle of the shoulder, it is positioned too far forward. In that position, the shoulder belt would be less effective in a crash.

The IIHS states that these models were inadvertently evaluated to the protocol used prior to 2014.  They also note that these ratings only apply to these models in booster mode, and DO NOT apply when used with the 5-point harness system.  Below, you can see the difference between a Good (left) and Poor (right) shoulder belt fit in regard to contact at the shoulder (courtesy of IIHS):

Booster-GOOD-FIT-IIHS (00000002) Booster-POOR-FIT-IIHS

www.iihs.org/iihs/news/desktopnews/iihs-corrects-booster-ratings-2-best-bets-awarded-in-error

2016 Honda Pilot Review: Kids, Carseats & Safety

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It’s Bigger, it’s Better, and it’s no longer Boxy.  For some, the more rugged appearance of the previous Pilot was a nice departure from most crossover SUVs on the road today.  For most, the sleeker styling of the all-new 2016 Honda Pilot is a long-awaited improvement.  And the changes only start there.  Almost everything else is also improved in this re-design, borrowing various enhancements from the Acura MDX that was introduced for 2014.

2016-honda-pilot-suv-side-view

Starting with the inside, it’s more spacious than before and is now among the leaders in the midsize class.  Honda added 3.5 inches to the new Pilot, helping to increase both legroom and cargo space in back.  That’s great for carseats and kids.  Thankfully, Honda didn’t change one of the best things about the Pilot: Four of the 6 rear seats have the LATCH carseat attachment system, while all six have top-tether anchors.  That makes it one of the most flexible SUVs for carseats in back.  Most trim levels seat eight, with only benches available in back, but the Elite trim is only available in a 7-passenger version with an aisle between two second row captain’s chairs.

Other improvements include a cabin that is much more refined and competitive than before, with softer materials all around.  The access to the third row is improved, so even adults can get back there more easily than before.  Cargo space behind the third row is 1.3″ longer than before, and even more spacious when you flip the stowable lid covering the deep storage area below.   If you have a lot of stuff to put behind the third row, the Pilot has more room than almost any midsize competitor.  You’d have to go to a minivan or huge full size SUV to do much better.  And there are lots more charging outlets for all those devices, too!

Safety:

Update: The 2016 Pilot earned a Top Safety Pick rating from the IIHS, and a Top Safety Pick+ when equipped with the Honda Sensing Package.  In addition, it earned the top “Good” rating in every individual crash test and a “Superior” front crash protection score.  The NHTSA rated the 2016 Pilot “5-stars” overall, and it earned 5-stars in all individual tests except for the Frontal Barrier Crash Rating for the Female Passenger and the Rollover Rating, both of which were 4-star results.  Very impressive overall.

As for features, there are a full array of airbags and standard safety features, like a multi-angle backup camera and hands-free bluetooth for taking calls on the road.  Only the base LX trim lacks optional advanced safety features. On the EX and EX-L, the Honda Sensing package offers a great array of safety enhancements as an option.