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Old 18 Aug 2008, 09:50 pm
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Default 2009 Acura TL - Safety

Torrance, Calif. - Aug 18 —


Acura holds safety as a high priority. That means safety for everyone, from the 2009 TL's driver and passengers, to the occupants of other vehicles as well as pedestrians. This commitment to achieving the highest level of safety means that both the 2009 TL and TL SH-AWD® offer the same range of safety technologies as standard equipment.


At press time, the production 2009 TL had not yet been tested by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) or by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). However, Acura internal tests project that the TL will meet all current regulations and achieve the highest marks in crash tests including:

  • Meets new FMVSS214 side crash regulations (three years before mandated)

  • Meets new FMVSS301 rear crash regulations

  • Projected 5-Star* rating in NCAP frontal impact crash test

  • Projected 5-Star* rating in SINCAP side impact crash test

  • Projected GOOD rating in IIHS SICE side crash test

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


As described in detail below, the 2009 TL offers Acura's entire array of currently available passive safety technologies. The list starts with the revolutionary Advanced Compatibility Engineering™ (ACE™) body structure, which enhances frontal collision energy management through a network of load-bearing front frame structures while also increasing the likelihood of two vehicles properly connecting during a collision - including larger and smaller vehicles and those with differing bumper heights. In practical terms, the ACE™ body structure raises crash safety technology to a new standard by better utilizing the front crumple zones and dispersing energy through precise load-bearing channels before it reaches the passenger area.

The new TL also include dual-stage, dual-threshold front airbags with a passenger-side Occupant Position Detection System (OPDS), side-curtain airbags and new dual-chamber front side airbags. The list continues with front seatbelts with an automatic tensioning system and load limiters, and active front head restraints designed to reduce the likelihood and severity of neck injuries for the driver and front passenger in the event of a rear collision. Driver and front passenger seatbelt reminders, daytime running lights (DRL), Anti-lock Brake System (ABS) with Electronic Brake Distribution (EBD) and Brake Assist and Vehicle Stability Assist™ (VSA®) with traction control (Electronic Stability Control) are likewise standard equipment. In addition, the front of the TL is designed to help minimize injuries to pedestrians.

The new TL also include dual-stage, dual-threshold front airbags with a passenger-side Occupant Position Detection System (OPDS), side-curtain airbags and new dual-chamber front side airbags. The list continues with front seatbelts with an automatic tensioning system and load limiters, and active front head restraints designed to reduce the likelihood and severity of neck injuries for the driver and front passenger in the event of a rear collision. Driver and front passenger seatbelt reminders, daytime running lights (DRL), Anti-lock Brake System (ABS) with Electronic Brake Distribution (EBD) and Brake Assist and Vehicle Stability Assist™ (VSA®) with traction control (Electronic Stability Control) are likewise standard equipment. In addition, the front of the TL is designed to help minimize injuries to pedestrians.

The 2009 Acura TL safety features include:

Standard active safety systems

  • 4-wheel disc Anti-lock Brake System (ABS), Electronic Brake Distribution (EBD) and Brake Assist

  • Vehicle Stability Assist™ (VSA®) with traction control (Electronic Stability Control)

  • Tire Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS)

Standard passive safety systems

  • Advanced Compatibility Engineering™ (ACE™) body structure

  • 3-point seatbelts at all positions

  • Front seatbelt with an automatic tensioning system and load limiters

  • Dual-stage, dual-threshold front airbags

  • Advanced dual-chamber front-seat side airbags

  • Side curtain airbags for outboard occupant positions

  • Active Head Restraint System for front headrests

  • Rear head restraints for all seating positions

  • Lower Anchors and Tethers for CHildren (LATCH) child car seat system in the two outboard rear seats

  • Child car seat upper tether in center rear seat

  • 2.5-mph front and rear bumpers


Like all other Acura vehicles, the 2009 TL utilizes the Advanced Compatibility Engineering™ (ACE™) body structure technology. ACE™ is a highly effective way of absorbing 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 a head-on or offset frontal impact with a significantly larger, smaller, higher or lower vehicle. Created with the help of a sophisticated computer-assisted design (CAD) process, Advanced Compatibility Engineering™ uses a network of integrated load-bearing elements that help attenuate peak impact forces by more evenly distributing them across a relatively large area in the front of the vehicle.

ACE™ significantly differentiates the 2009 TL from most conventional designs that direct frontal crash energy only to the lower load-bearing structures in the front end. Instead, Advanced Compatibility Engineering™ actively channels frontal crash energy to both upper and lower structural elements, including the TL's 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, including around and away from the passenger compartment. This helps to limit cabin deformation and further improve occupant protection in a frontal or offset frontal collision.


The 2009 Acura TL's unit body features significant structural advancements and now contains a record 47.6-percent high-strength steel. One particularly significant change is that the main longitudinal frame rails have been redesigned and repositioned above rather than below the floor panel to improve the vehicle's ability to withstand severe side-impacts, while also helping to improve aerodynamics. Acura's continued efforts to advance safety mean the 2009 TL meets the all-new side-crash and pole-impact regulations three years earlier than is federally planned.

In addition, robust new rear structural elements add rigidity and controlled energy absorption to help the TL meet the stringent new FMVSS 301 high speed rear-collision standard detailed below. A gusseted rear bulkhead ties directly into the car's exceptional performance in this demanding new rear-collision standard by accurately channeling collision forces. Its increased rigidity also helps protect the fuel-filler area during a collision.


The 2009 TL SH-AWD® employs a new 3-piece driveshaft system and engineered-plastic front mounts for the rear differential that are designed to break when a specific impact force is experienced - such as during a serious frontal collision. This orchestrated "breakage" of driveshaft and/or rear suspension mounts helps prevent crash energy from being transferred into the TL's passenger cabin.


The 2009 Acura TL meets the new government FMVSS 301 regulation for offset rear collisions. More severe than the previous standard, the FMVSS 301 regulation began phasing in during September 2006 and must be applied to all passenger vehicles after September 1, 2008. In the new FMVSS 301 requirements, a 1,360 kg (2,992 lb.) deformable barrier strikes 70-percent of the vehicle's width at 50 mph. In contrast, the previous FMVSS 301 used a 1,814 kg (3,991 lbs.) flat rigid barrier that struck the full width of the vehicle at 30 mph. The new standard requires more body energy absorption than before to protect critical fuel system components.


Acura's safety interests extend beyond care for vehicle occupants. The TL hood area is specially designed to deform if contact is made with a pedestrian. Underneath the hood are energy-absorbing supports and hood hinges, 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.


Standard equipment on the 2009 Acura TL is Vehicle Stability Assist™ (VSA®), an Electronic Stability Control system that enhances controllability while the vehicle is accelerating, braking or cornering, or when the driver makes a sudden maneuver. VSA® works in conjunction with the vehicle's drive-by-wire throttle and its 4-channel ABS system to help the vehicle maintain the driver's intended path of travel. It functions by applying brake force to one or more wheels independently while also managing the throttle, ignition and fuel systems to reduce engine power output.

Vehicle Stability Assist™ constantly analyzes data from seven sensors that monitor wheel and vehicle speed, steering input, lateral G-forces and yaw rate, and compares the driver's control inputs with the vehicle's actual response. Whenever the vehicle's actual response falls outside of a predetermined acceptable range, VSA® intervenes with corrective action. If VSA® detects an oversteer condition, the system may apply braking force to the outside front and rear wheels to counteract the unintended yawing effect. Or in the event of understeer, VSA® may apply braking to the inside rear wheel while reducing engine power to help return the car to its intended course. For the front-wheel-drive Acura TL, VSA® also provides a limited-slip differential effect for the front wheels by applying braking force to a slipping wheel, thereby redirecting driving force to the wheel with more traction.

Emergency Braking

Brake Assist, another key VSA® function, recognizes emergency braking situations and almost instantly applies additional braking force to help the driver slow the vehicle more quickly. This important accident-avoidance system is controlled by special computer logic that determines when the speed and stroke of the brake pedal exceed a typical range - as they would in a panic stop. At this point the VSA® modulator pump increases braking pressure to ensure maximum stopping force and help shorten braking distance as much as possible. Brake Assist functions only when the driver is pressing the brake pedal; the additional braking force provided by the system ceases when the driver releases pressure on the brake pedal.

Vehicle Stability Assist™ (including the Brake Assist function) is calibrated to work in a nearly transparent manner, meaning that drivers may not even be aware of its operation. Therefore, to keep the driver informed, an indicator light flashes on the instrument panel anytime the system is enhancing vehicle stability. While the driver may deactivate the VSA® and traction-control functions via a switch on the instrument panel, ABS and Brake Assist remain fully operational at all times.


The 2009 Acura TL is equipped with 4-wheel disc brakes and a sophisticated new 4-channel/4-sensor anti-lock braking system. The system helps improve active safety by offering a firm brake-pedal feel and a short activation stroke, as well as Electronic Brake Distribution (EBD) circuitry that automatically proportions braking force between the front and rear wheels based on the vehicle's weight distribution. EBD helps maximize braking effectiveness whether the TL is transporting only the driver, or is fully loaded with passengers and luggage. (Please see Chassis section for more information.)


The 2009 Acura TL's driver and front passenger are both protected by advanced front airbags incorporating dual-stage and dual-threshold activation technology. In the event of an airbag deployment, these two features work together to help minimize injuries that can sometimes be caused by the airbags themselves. The sophisticated dual-stage, dual-threshold system optimizes the deployment rate to match both the speed and severity of a crash event. The control logic also takes several other factors into consideration, including the driver's seating position, the weight of the front passenger, and whether the seat belts are in use at the time.

For instance, during a lower-speed collision or if the driver's seat is positioned close to the steering wheel, the inflators in the driver's frontal airbag activate sequentially to help lessen the airbag's deployment force. Then in a higher-speed collision, or if the seat is positioned farther back, both airbag igniters trigger simultaneously for full and rapid inflation.

The passenger-side frontal airbag is designed to operate in a similar manner, except that a sensor located under the seat calculates whether the weight on the lower cushion meets a NHTSA-specified minimum value. If it doesn't, the airbag is deactivated and the driver is so notified by a light on the instrument panel.

The driver's side airbag is located in the steering wheel and the passenger airbag is located on the top of the instrument panel, beneath a thin seamless membrane. To maximize its protective potential while reducing the likelihood of injuries being caused by the activation process, the passenger airbag inflates first upward and then rearward.


The 2009 TL has standard dual-chamber front-seat side airbags offering greater protection for the torso and pelvis in a severe side impact. Replacing the single-chamber airbags of the previous-generation TL, these new dual-chamber units include a larger upper chamber for enhanced protection of the chest area along with a smaller lower chamber covering the lower back and hip area. A single inflator unit fills both chambers. These new dual-chamber airbags are designed to minimize the chances of passenger injuries caused by side impacts from larger vehicles. In addition, the airbags now stay inflated longer which helps provide added passenger protection in longer lasting crash situations such as with a vehicle rollover.


Side-curtain airbags provide head protection for the driver and front passenger as well as for the occupants of the outboard rear seats. Mounted in the ceiling above the side windows, the side-curtain airbags are activated by a central sensor and sensors in the side of the vehicle. An electronic processor interprets collision information from the sensors and determines the appropriate timing and deployment rates based on the severity of the side impact. The side-curtain airbags may also deploy in other collisions, such as a rollover, if the sensors indicate there is a likelihood of side forces posing a risk to vehicle passengers.


Acura TL's front seatbelts are each equipped with an automatic tensioning system and load limiter to help minimize injury potential in a frontal collision. In the event of such a collision, the automatic tensioner tightens the seatbelt (both shoulder and lap) to help hold the seat occupant firmly in position. In addition, each front seatbelt retractor incorporates a load limiter that works in conjunction with the automatic tensioner. After the automatic tensioner tightens the seatbelt, the load limiter introduces a small amount of controlled seatbelt slack to limit the peak restraining forces, thereby reducing the potential for serious injury. The front seatbelts also feature adjustable shoulder anchors, and 3-point seatbelts are standard in all three rear seating positions.


The 2009 TL is fitted with new active front head restraints designed to help minimize the risk of neck injuries in the event of a rear impact. The head restraint is mechanically linked to a lumbar plate located inside of the front seatback. In a rear impact, the passenger's body pushes against the seatback, causing the head restraint to move forward in a carefully prescribed arc. This motion helps equalize the impact forces transmitted to the head, neck and spine as the occupant's head moves backward during the collision. Effectively managing and dispersing this energy is critical to help minimize the potential for injuries. For 2009, the Active Head Restraint System is specifically tuned to further reduce forces imparted in a rear impact.


The 2009 Acura TL features individually adjustable head restraints for all three rear passenger positions. The outboard rear headrests may be folded down when not in use and the center rear headrest is height-adjustable, thereby enhancing the appearance of the cabin and helping to improve (by 7-percent) rearward visibility for the driver.


Lower Anchors and Tethers for CHildren (LATCH) provide a simple and secure method of installing up to two compatible child safety seats in the 2009 TL's outboard rear seating positions. Alternately, an upper tether makes it possible to fit a single child safety seat in the rear center seating position. When a child seat is in the center position, additional child seats may not be used in the outboard positions.


The 2009 Acura TL has a Tire Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS) that alerts the driver whenever the air pressure in one or more of the tires decreases below the recommended level. Using four sensors (one in each tire), TPMS transmits information on tire air pressure to the vehicle's ECU. A low tire pressure indicator located on the instrument panel illuminates when tire pressure drops to a potentially critical level.


The front and rear bumpers of the TL are rated to withstand damage at impact speeds of 2.5 mph. They feature aluminum bumper beams underneath the stylized composite fascias.

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