Acura has become the first automobile manufacturer to simultaneously earn top government and IIHS safety ratings for every vehicle in its line-up. In late March, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), as part of its New Car Assessment Program (NCAP) testing, awarded the 2009 Acura TL performance luxury sedan a 5-Star rating — its top rating — for side impact crash safety for both front and rear passenger seating positions.
In earlier NHTSA testing, the 2009 TL achieved top safety ratings (a 5-Star rating for frontal crash performance for both driver and front passenger along with a 5-Star rating for Rollover resistance) meaning the 2009 TL now ranks as a top performer in all governmental safety ratings.
In November 2008, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) awarded the 2009 Acura TL performance luxury sedan its top safety rating of “GOOD” for Frontal Offset Crash Test, Side Impact Crashworthiness Evaluation (SICE) and Rear Crash Evaluation.
Furthermore, all Acura vehicles employ Vehicle Stability Assist™ (VSA®), an electronic stability control system that, when combined with GOOD ratings in Frontal, Side and Rear crash protection allow every 2009 Acura model to earn the IIHS’ prestigious TOP SAFETY PICK rating.
The 2009 TL’s top safety ratings, combined with the rest of the Acura line-up’s top safety ratings from NHTSA and IIHS, mark the first time in history that an automotive nameplate has achieved top honors for front, side and rear crash worthiness for all of the vehicles in its lineup.
The NHTSA and IIHS safety ratings are a direct result of Acura’s “Safety Through Innovation” initiative that is based on the brand’s commitment to leadership in safety. The initiative’s goal is for all Acura models to provide a high level of occupant protection along with injury mitigation to pedestrians, as well as increased crash compatibility with other passenger vehicles – regardless of vehicle size or price.
For 2009, all Acura models include as standard equipment the Advanced Compatibility Engineering™ (ACE™) body structure along with a host of other standard safety equipment including Vehicle Stability Assist™ (VSA®), anti-lock braking system (ABS), dual-stage/dual-threshold front airbags, front-side airbags with passenger side Occupant Position Detection System (OPDS), side airbags for all outboard seating positions, front seats with integrated active head restraints, front seatbelts with automatic tensioning system and load limiters, Tire Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS) and Daytime Running Lights (DRL).
Acura’s ACE™ body structure is designed to help absorb the energy of a frontal crash, while also helping to minimize the potential for an “under-ride” or “over-ride” phenomenon that can occur during frontal impact with a significantly larger, smaller, higher or lower vehicle. ACE™ channels frontal crash energy to both upper and lower structural elements, including the floor frame rails, side sills and A-pillars. These specially engineered load pathways help distribute frontal impact forces through a greater percentage of the vehicle’s total structure and away from the passenger compartment.
Acura engineers have the advantage of being able to utilize two ultra-sophisticated crash test facilities, including the world’s first indoor multi-directional car-to-car crash testing facility, located in Tochigi, Japan. This facility has played a crucial role in the development of enhanced designs for occupant and pedestrian safety as well as vehicle-to-vehicle compatibility.
Acura engineers also utilize the company’s Raymond, Ohio, Automotive Safety Research Facility to perform advanced testing on all U.S.-developed models. The facility features the world’s first pitching test sled, which aids efficiency by enabling economical, repeatable and quick crash test simulations with certain interior safety components (such as seats and seatbelts) prior to conducting a crash test with an actual vehicle. The lab also features one of the world’s highest resolution impact barriers, which enables precise measurement of the distribution of impact load forces on a vehicle allowing for even more advanced vehicle designs.
Acura has been the first to market on many safety technologies including: the first production vehicle in the U.S. to offer a 4-channel anti-lock braking system; the first car to have dual-stage driver- and passenger-side airbags; the first luxury SUV to receive a 5-Star crash safety rating from NHTSA; and the first production vehicle to offer Occupant Position Detection System (OPDS) that varies the deployment of the passenger side airbag depending on the occupant’s body location.
Acura has also led the U.S. industry in the application of features designed to reduce injuries to pedestrians in a collision (such as collapsible hood hinges and breakaway windshield wiper pivots) with a focus on reducing severe head injuries which account for 60 percent of pedestrian fatalities. In addition, the company sought to better understand the dynamics of pedestrian collisions, thus it developed the POLAR II safety test dummy which is widely recognized as the world’s most advanced pedestrian safety test dummy.
NHTSA is a United States government agency within the Department of Transportation (DOT). In addition to conducting vehicle crash safety testing, NHTSA also develops standardized crash test dummies used by most testing agencies. NHTSA also develops a wide variety of automotive related regulatory parameters including, but not limited to: Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards, Vehicle Information Number (VIN) standards, automotive defects and recalls, as well as maintaining the Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS) that provides statistical information regarding vehicle crashes.
NHTSA established the New Car Assessment Program (NCAP) in 1979 based on Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards (FMVSS) that serve to improve occupant safety during an automotive crash.
The IIHS is a not-for-profit organization that conducts independent testing to help reduce losses – deaths, injuries and/or property damage – from crashes on the nation’s highways, and provides its findings to automotive insurers. Based on crash test ratings, insurers have valuable information to help determine automotive insurance liability. IIHS has been conducting vehicle testing since 1969, and while it conducts impact crash tests similar to those conducted by NHTSA, IIHS tests make use of offset barriers rather than full-vehicle-width barriers.