VIDEO: Chrysler Pacifica Aces Crash Tests

The newly introduced 2017 model-year Chrysler Pacifica is the first minivan to earn a 2016 Top Safety Pick+ award from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.

The minivan, which replaces the Chrysler Town & Country, drew the highest rating of “good” in all five of the institute’s crashworthiness tests. However, its “good” rating in the challenging small overlap front test applies only to Pacificas manufactured after August of this year, when changes were made to prevent the driver door from opening during a small overlap crash, IIHS said.

In the Pacifica’s initial small overlap test, before those improvements were made, the door was torn from its hinges and came open at the front. “Doors should never open in a crash because occupants could be ejected as a result,” IIHS said.

FCA (Fiat Chrysler Automobiles) strengthened the upper hinge and reinforced the joint between the door hinge pillar and inner body panel in front of the pillar. In the second test, the door remained attached and closed, resulting in a “good” rating. (To view footage of the test, click on the photo or link below the headline.) In contrast, the Town & Country was rated “poor” for small overlap protection because of severe intrusion into the driver space, IIHS said.

The Pacifica is available with an optional front crash prevention system, which drew a “superior” rating. In IIHS track tests at 25 mph and 12 mph, the vehicle avoided collisions, according to IIHS. The system also gets credit for a forward collision warning component that meets National Highway Traffic Safety Administration criteria.

The Pacifica’s system is called Forward Collision Warning-Plus. It features sensor-fusion technology, which combines the particular attributes of radar sensors and cameras for greater precision. The system only responds when camera and radar agree that a frontal impact appears imminent.

To qualify for a 2016 Top Safety Pick+ award, a vehicle must earn “good” ratings in the small overlap front, moderate overlap front, side, roof strength, and head restraint tests. The vehicle also must have an available front crash prevention system that draws an “advanced” or “superior” rating.