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2009 Acura RL - Safety Chicago - 2/7/2008

SAFETY OVERVIEW

The RL is equipped with a comprehensive array of the latest technologies to enhance active safety (accident avoidance) and passive safety (crash safety performance). Features like Vehicle Stability Assist™ (VSA®) with traction control, heightened handling agility, SH-AWD™ and ABS enhance accident avoidance capability in the RL. Should a collision prove unavoidable, the Advanced Compatibility Engineering™ (ACE™) body structure of the RL is designed to provide added protection for passengers in the event of a collision with a different sized vehicle (a truck or SUV, for example). Inside the RL, side, side curtain and dual-stage front air bag systems work together with sophisticated restraint systems to minimize injury to passengers in sufficient impacts. In addition, the RL has a host of standard features that improve safety such as SH-AWD™ and an Active Front Headlight System. Also enhancing safety is a new windshield washer system with higher pump pressure and a wider spray pattern to help keep the windshield clean for improved visibility and driving safety.

STANDARD PASSIVE SAFETY FEATURES

Passenger Seating

  • Driver's and front passenger's side airbags with front passenger Occupant Position Detection System (OPDS)
  • 3-point adjustable height front seat belts with load limiters and e-pretensioners
  • Front 4-way adjustable head restraints with Active Front Headrests for front seat passengers
  • Driver's seat position sensor
  • Passenger seatbelt reminder
  • Three-point seat belts for all rear seating positions

Child Seating

  • Automatic Locking Retractors/Emergency Locking Retractors (ALR/ELR)
  • Tether anchors (all rear positions)
  • LATCH (Lower Anchors and Tethers for CHildren) child-seat mounting system for rear outboard seats

Airbags

  • Driver and front passenger dual-stage, dual-threshold airbag Supplemental Restraint System (SRS)
  • Seamless dashboard-mounted airbag lid for the passenger airbag
  • Driver and front passenger side airbags with front passenger Occupant Position Detection System (OPDS)
  • Side curtain airbag system

OPTIONAL TECHNOLOGY PACKAGES

For 2009, Acura offers two optional Technology Packages on the RL:

  • RL with Technology Package: Acura Satellite Navigation System, AcuraLink® Real-time traffic and AcuraLink® weather, rear view back-up camera, Active Front Lighting System (AFS), ventilated front seats, and a wood/leather steering wheel and shift knob.
  • RL with Technology Package plus CMBS™: on top of the Technology Package the CMBS™ equipped model includes Acura's Collision Mitigation Braking System™ (CMBS™) that monitors the following distance and closing rate between the RL and the car directly in front of it, warns the driver when a collision is likely and helps reduce impact when a collision becomes unavoidable, Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC), and genuine wood instrument panel trim.

From a safety standpoint, the features of the two Technology Packages help make the 2009 RL one of the most comprehensively equipped vehicles in North America.

COLLISION MITIGATION BRAKING SYSTEM™ (CMBS™)

In 2006, the RL was the first Acura vehicle to offer an optional Collision Mitigation Braking System™ (CMBS™). This revolutionary safety technology monitors potential rear-end collisions, uses audio, visual and tactile signals to alert drivers to the risk of collision, assists brake operation and pre-tensions the front seatbelts to help reduce impact force on occupants and vehicle damage should a collision become unavoidable. Unlike pre-collision systems on competitive vehicles, CMBS™ automatically applies the brakes to help mitigate the severity of a collision.

Using a millimeter-wave radar unit located inside the front grille, the CMBS™ system monitors the distance between the RL and the car directly in front of it up to a distance of 300 feet along with the rate of closure between the two vehicles. If the closing rate increases to a point where a collision is likely to occur (based on relative vehicle speeds and following distance) the CMBS™ system uses visual and audible warnings to prompt the driver to take preventative action. If, based on the driver's response, the system determines that the likelihood of a collision has decreased to an acceptable level, the system will disengage. If the driver's response does not sufficiently reduce the risk of a collision, the CMBS™ system will issue a secondary warning consisting of audible, visual and tactile elements as well as light braking to alert the driver to take action. If the closing rate increases so much that a collision becomes unavoidable, CMBS™ can initiate hard braking to reduce the vehicle's speed as well as pre-tension the driver and front passenger seatbelts to help reduce the severity of the crash.

Collision Mitigation Braking System ™ (CMBS ™) Overview

  1. Stage one: When there is a risk of a collision with the vehicle ahead or if the distance between the vehicles has dropped below the pre-set level, a buzzer sounds and the message "BRAKE" appears on the Multi-Information Display.
  2. Stage two: If the distance between the two vehicles continues to diminish, CMBS™ applies light braking, and an electric motor activates the driver's seat belt E-pretensioner, retracting the seatbelt gently two or three times, providing the driver with a tactile warning. The buzzer sounds again and the word "BRAKE" appears again on the Multi-Information Display.
  3. Stage three: If, after issuing the primary and secondary warnings, the CMBS™ system determines that a collision is unavoidable, the E-pretensioner retracts the driver and front passenger seatbelts with enough force to compensate for seatbelt slack or baggy clothing and activates the brakes forcefully to reduce the speed of impact in the attempt to mitigate the collision effects on the RL and its occupants.

The CMBS™ system functions only when the RL is traveling at over 10 miles per hour and when the speed differential between the RL and the car directly in front it is 10 mile per hour or more. CMBS™ can be turned off by depressing a switch located on the left hand side of the instrument panel.

TIRE PRESSURE MONITORING SYSTEM™ (TPMS™)

An onboard Tire Pressure Monitoring System™ (TPMS™) with location and pressure indicators warns the driver when the air pressure lowers in any tire. This information helps reduce the chance of losing control of the vehicle due to low tire pressure. This is important because a slow leak (such as might be caused by a nail embedded through the tread) might not be detectable immediately but over time could cause significant air loss, reduced tire grip and potentially a blowout.

A sensor mounted on each wheel continually monitors tire pressure and sends a coded signal to an initiator located inboard of the tire on the chassis. The information is then sent to an electronic control unit that compares the values of each tire against an acceptable set of values.

When a tire's pressure drops significantly below the proper specification, a "CHECK TIRE PRESSURE" alert appears on the MID alert screen. The system can simultaneously display the air pressure in all four tires via the MID, making it simple to locate the specific low tire. If there is a fault in the system, a "CHECK TPMS SYSTEM" alert appears. At the driver's preference the display can continually show the air pressure in all four tires. Regardless of whether the driver chooses to monitor the pressures, a warning will still occur if a tire drops below specification.

ADVANCED COMPATIBILITY ENGINEERING™ (ACE™) BODY STRUCTURE

The Advanced Compatibility Engineering™ (ACE™) body structure on the 2009 Acura RL is designed to take vehicle front frame construction beyond conventional safety protocols such as the NHTSA NCAP 35 mph frontal barrier test or the IIHS 40 mph offset frontal crash. The goal of ACE™ is to deliver significantly enhanced occupant protection in a variety of real-world crash conditions. These incidents may include a frontal collision between vehicles of differing heights, weights, dissimilar frame construction design or differing bumper height.

The ACE™ structure uses the engine compartment to efficiently absorb and disperse collision energy during a frontal vehicle-to-vehicle collision. It features a frame structure composed of a highly efficient energy-absorbing main frame, a bulkhead (upper frame) which absorbs the upper part of the collision energy, and a lower member that helps prevent misalignment of the frames of the vehicles involved. This design disperses collision forces over a larger frontal area, which enhances energy absorption of the engine compartment, reduces the chance of deformation of the passenger compartment and results in enhanced occupant protection. At the same time, ACE™ reduces the chance of vertical or lateral misalignment between the RL and other vehicle's safety structures.

During a frontal collision, a conventional body structure generally concentrates the loads from the impact along two pathways running longitudinally through the lower portion of the frame. The ACE™ structure's front-mounted polygonal main frame is designed to prevent cabin deformation by distributing forces through multiple major load bearing pathways-and away from the passenger compartment.

CRASH TESTING

The RL has received the highest ratings given (5 Stars) by NHTSA in frontal and side impact testing as well as rollover resistance. In addition, the RL rated GOOD in Frontal Offset and SICE impact tests conducted by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). With a new Active Head Restraint system for front seat passengers, the 2009 RL is anticipated to receive a GOOD rating in IIHS rear crash protection evaluation.

  • In the 35 mph NHTSA New Car Assessment Program (NCAP) full frontal barrier test, the RL earned Five Stars, the highest rating for both driver and front passenger
  • In the 38.5 mph SINCAP side test, the RL earned Five Stars, the highest rating for both front and rear outboard passenger
  • In the IIHS 40 mph frontal offset test, the RL earned a GOOD rating
  • In the IIHS 31 mph (50 km/h) Side Impact Collision Evaluation (SICE) test, the RL earned a GOOD rating
  • IIHS rear crash protection rating of GOOD is anticipated for the 2009 RL

*Government star ratings are part of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's (NHTSA's) New Car Assessment Program (www.safercar.gov). Model tested with standard side-impact air bags (SABs).

DRIVER AND FRONT PASSENGER DUAL-STAGE, DUAL-THRESHOLD AIRBAG SUPPLEMENTARY RESTRAINT SYSTEM (SRS)

Dual-stage airbags for the driver and front passenger are designed to provide protection for the head and chest during a moderate to severe front collision, while simultaneously helping to reduce injuries. The airbags do both through the use of a dual-stage, dual-threshold airbag technology. Each airbag inflator has two stages. During a severe collision both stages fire simultaneously to provide immediate airbag inflation. Yet, during a moderate collision the igniters fire in sequence, slowing the deployment rate of the airbags.

Besides monitoring the severity of the collision, the airbag modules interpret a signal from the seat belt buckle switch that indicates if the occupants are wearing seat belts.

  • If the front passengers are not wearing seat belts, the inflators will activate simultaneously to make the airbag deploy more quickly.
  • If front passengers are wearing seat belts, the airbags will inflate at a slightly higher threshold.

In the RL, the system also assesses the weight of the front passenger through a seat-mounted weight sensor. If the detected weight is less than a certain amount, the front passenger airbag is turned off. The front passenger airbag also features a seamless instrument panel cover over the airbag for a cleaner, more elegant look.

DRIVER'S AND FRONT PASSENGER'S SIDE AIRBAGS WITH FRONT PASSENGER OCCUPANT POSITION DETECTION SYSTEM (OPDS)

New larger side airbags are mounted in the outboard area of each front seatback. The airbags are designed to provide upper torso protection in the event of a sufficient side impact. The front passenger seat is equipped with Occupant Position Detection System (OPDS), an innovative system designed to deactivate the side air bag if a small child (or small-stature adult) leans into the side air bag deployment path. When the passenger returns to an upright seating position, the side air bag reactivates so it can deploy and help protect the occupant in a side impact. The system utilizes sensors in the passenger seatback to determine the height and position of the occupant, and to determine if it is safe to deploy the side air bag.

SIDE CURTAIN AIRBAGS

In a sufficient side impact, the RL's side curtain airbags deploy from roof modules, providing head protection for front seat as well as outboard rear seat occupants. Side curtain airbags effectively cover the window area from the A-pillar back to the C-pillar. Tests show that the g-forces acting upon an occupant's head are far lower with a side curtain airbag.

LATCH (LOWER ANCHORS AND TETHERS FOR CHILDREN)

The RL includes a LATCH (Lower Anchors and Tethers for CHildren) child-seat mounting system for the outboard rear seats. LATCH features built-in lower anchors and ready-to-use tether attachment points that allow compatible child safety seats to be installed without using the vehicle's seat belt system. The LATCH system simplifies child seat installation when an owner installs a LATCH-compatible child seat. The center rear seat has a tether point, but no lower anchors.

PEDESTRIAN INJURY MITIGATION

Acura's safety interests extend beyond care for vehicle occupants. The RL hood area is specially designed to deform if contact is made with a pedestrian. Underneath the hood are energy-absorbing supports and fender mounts, and the windshield wiper pivots are also deformable in the event that a pedestrian contacts these areas. Research shows that features such as these dramatically improve a pedestrian's chance of survival if struck by a moving vehicle.