Which do you recommend for safety: a Volvo wagon or a Toyota minivan?

Dear Car Talk

Dear Car Talk | Mar 01, 1998

Dear Tom and Ray:

I'm in the process of shopping for a new car and would like your opinion. I'm in
a quandary over safety issues. Our plan all along had been to get a minivan. We
have two young kids, currently own a Sable wagon, and we're ready to move on to
the "minivan stage of life." I've test-driven a few minivans and really like the
new Toyota Sienna. But I also want the safest vehicle I can get, so I drove a
Volvo wagon, which I liked. The problem is that the Volvo is not a van and
doesn't have the space advantage that we want. My question is, will the Sienna
be as safe as the Volvo? I know the Sienna has steel side reinforcements and
other stuff, but I want to know if I'd be making a responsible choice if I opted
for the Sienna over the Volvo. What do you think? -- Jane

TOM: Geez, Jane. This is a difficult decision to make for another person. Is the
Sienna as safe as a Volvo wagon? No. But is it a "responsible" choice? I'd have
to say "sure."

RAY: Most of the minivans are reasonably safe vehicles these days. But you do
trade off a little safety for their convenience and relatively low price (for
the amount of space they afford).

TOM: But if safety is absolutely the most important thing on your list, then a
Volvo wagon probably would be a better choice for you. That doesn't mean a
minivan is unsafe. It's just not as much of a tank.

RAY: On the other hand, if you drive the Sienna responsibly -- which I know you
will -- and keep your kids properly belted or "child-seated" in the back seat
where they belong, you'll probably be fine -- unless you happen to be broadsided
by a Ford Expedition!

TOM: Of course, you could get a Ford Expedition. It's safe because it's huge and
heavy. It's got almost as much room as a minivan, although not as conveniently
laid out. And then YOU can be taking up two parking spaces, getting nine miles
per gallon in town, and sending other families in minivans swerving in fear!

RAY: It's a tough call, Jane. It basically comes down to how you look at life.
If a car accident is your worst fear and you'll sleep better knowing that you've
done everything you possibly can to protect your kids in a crash, then you
should get the Volvo.

TOM: But if you're the kind of person who is comfortable taking reasonable
precautions in exchange for things like convenience, reliability and your
preferred style of living, the Sienna is certainly a responsible choice. Good
luck with your decision, Jane.

* * *

TOM: Well, you asked for it, and here it is. My brother and I sat down and wrote
down everything we know about how to make your car last forever.

RAY: And it only came out to eight lousy pages!

TOM:But now this gold mine of information can be yours....

RAY: Get your copy of "Ten Ways You May Be Ruining Your Car Without Even Knowing
It!" by sending $3 and a stamped (55 cents), self-addressed, No.10 envelope to
Ruin No.1, PO Box 6420, Riverton, NJ 08077-6420.

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