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Safety in a minivan is typically one of the top priorities for most consumers. Minivans are uniquely geared toward families with small children that could grow up and enjoy these vehicles for several years. Strangely, only the 2023 Toyota Sienna meets the requirements in a new safety category.

What is the new safety category with most minivans falling short?

The latest safety tests conducted by the IIHS now include a seat belt reminder system test. Vehicles with a second-row seat must include audible alerts if the driver or front passenger isn’t buckled. These alerts are also required if a rear seatbelt that was previously buckled becomes unbuckled.

Only the 2023 Toyota Sienna meets these requirements.

What are the specifications for the seatbelt reminder system?

These new minivan safety requirements are extremely specific regarding the alerts and duration. Once a vehicle reaches six mph, an audible alert must sound for unbuckled occupied front seats and a rear seat that was previously buckled.

These alerts must be loud enough to be heard over other cabin noise and last at least 90 seconds. Additionally, a visual indicator must show second-row belt use when the vehicle is started.

Not all car brands offer superior minivan safety

2023 Toyota Sienna, one minivan with the best gas mileage parked in a covered area.
2023 Toyota Sienna | Toyota Motor Sales, U.S.A., Inc.

The IIHS tested four 2023 model-year minivans, and only one received Good ratings. The other three each hit different levels of failure in the new seatbelt reminder testing.

The Kia Carnival meets the requirement for the front row but only receives an Acceptable rating because it’s missing the second-row alerts.

The Chrysler Pacifica received a Marginal rating in the seatbelt reminder portion of the minivan safety test. The front-row reminder failed to start within two seconds after the vehicle reached 25 mph. The audible alert couldn’t be heard over other cabin noise. The Pacifica does not include the required second-row alerts.

The Honda Odyssey receives a Poor rating because its front-row seatbelt reminder lasts less than 8 seconds. The Honda minivan is also missing the required second-row alerts.

Only the 2023 Toyota Sienna meets all requirements for minivan safety and is in line with the seatbelt reminder system. In fact, the Sienna not only includes alerts for the second row but also includes alerts for the third row as well.

Why are seatbelt reminders so important to minivan safety?

Over one-third of children ages 4-12 killed in car accidents in 2020 were unrestrained. Properly buckled seat belts could have saved many of these children’s lives. IIHS research shows a persistent seatbelt reminder alert increases the use of seatbelts among passengers that typically don’t use them. This increase is as much as 34 percent, which translates to nearly 1,500 prevented fatalities per year.

Is the 2023 Toyota Sienna a safe minivan?

Front angle view of green 2023 Toyota Sienna minivan
2023 Toyota Sienna | Toyota

The IIHS rated the 2023 Toyota Sienna as Good for seatbelt reminders and safety.

“Effective seat belt reminders are especially important for minivans since the owners of these vehicles often buy them specifically because they have young children, while some of its competitors are falling short, Toyota deserves credit for going above and beyond.” – IIHS Senior Research Scientist David Kidd, who led the development of the seat belt reminder rating program.

Minivan safety is paramount for family travel, and only the 2023 Toyota Sienna exceeds the IIHS requirements in this category.

Next, check out important safety features for driving in the snow, or learn more about the 2023 Toyota Sienna in the video below:


2023 Toyota Sienna Has 1 Big Thing Kia Carnival Doesn’t Offer