Ford 2006 Freestar and Mazda MPV minivans have received poor ratings by the Insurance
Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), an insurance industry-funded research group. The IIHS
said that the vans, neither of which offers standard side airbags, fared poorly in recent
side-impact crash tests.
The research group added that many competitive minivans offer the
bags as standard equipment. When a Freestar fitted with the optional side airbags was
re-tested, it earned an “acceptable” rating. Models with standard side and curtain airbags,
such as Toyota’s Sienna minivan, garnered the IIHS’ top “good” rating.