1998 Acura 3.5 RL -- Safety
A great deal of attention was given to the design, materials, comfort features and convenience amenities of the RL interior, from major issues such as control location and passenger head, hip and shoulder room to smaller details such as extra-large beverage holders and a special compartment intended specifically for the driver's sunglasses. The overall design thrust was to give the interior a very open, relaxed ambience, much like the comfortable living room of an elegant, yet casual contemporary luxury home.
The leather seating surfaces that give the RL its luxurious look and feel are carefully hand-selected American hides which are tanned with an innovative process which helps the leather retain its soft, supple feel and resilient strength far longer than conventional auto interior leather. The oils in conventional leather tend to evaporate out of the hides in time, especially when the car is parked in the bright summer sun. This causes leather to prematurely age and dry out over time. It has another annoying side effect-the oil that escapes from the leather is then deposited on the rear window and windshield glass when the interior cools, causing a persistent and hard-to-remove "fogging" effect on the glass over time. The leather used in the RL is specially formulated to resist this phenomenon; it reduces window fogging 90% better than conventional leather.
Painted surfaces in the RL interior are coated with a new "leather-like" paint process that gives those areas a smooth, yet durable matte finish. Containing microscopic particles of pearlescent material and mica, this paint lasts extraordinarily well and imparts a subtle, muted tone. Other interior surfaces are created using an advanced "slush moulding" technique, giving them a soft, luxurious feel.
The driver's and front passenger's seats are the products of extensive research and development. They are designed to absorb vibrations and bumps to provide outstanding comfort without sacrificing the firm support needed in enthusiastic driving.
In testing, the RL seats decreased the upward force felt by test subjects by 50% over conventional seats; that is, the subjects felt the jarring of irregular road surfaces only half as strongly as with a conventional design.
Human factors research revealed that the human body has its own resonant frequency; that is, the vibration frequency at which the internal organs of the body pick up an outside vibration and resonate with it. If felt strongly, vibration in this frequency range is very unpleasant, and human test subjects generally gauge the vibration felt in a moving car on the level of vibration felt in this narrow range, between 5 and 10 Hz, or cycles per second.
To damp out as much of this vibration frequency as possible, the configuration of the springs in the RL seat cushions were analyzed using the NASTRAN finite element analysis program. Six different designs were tried before one was found which performed up to expectations.
Other details in the seat design include gently rounded thigh bolsters at the front, to avoid digging into the driver's and passenger's lower thighs. And the front lateral seam, which often runs across under the thighs, has been moved forward and down, eliminating this possible source of discomfort.
The front seats have even been designed to make the rear passengers more comfortable. The back of the seats are concave, giving rear seat passengers nearly an inch more knee room. And the seat rail structure was designed to give rear seat passengers nearly an inch more horizontal foot room, while the underside of the seat is carpeted to prevent scuffing their shoes.
The driver's seat is 8-way power adjustable. It is linked by a memory system with the outside mirrors and electronic tilt and telescoping steering wheel, allowing one of two preset configurations to be accessed at the touch of a button. The front passenger's seat is 4-way power adjustable. Both front seats are heated in models with the optional Premium Package.
The rear seats are designed and built to fit full-sized adults in total comfort as well. A fold-down center armrest incorporates its own dual beverage holder, and a pass-through to the trunk, along with a ski sleeve, included in the Premium Package, allows long objects to be carried without soiling or marring the interior.
INTERIOR COMFORT AND CONVENIENCE
The RL is the most lavishly equipped Acura ever built. Advances in soundproofing throughout the car make its interior by far the quietest in Acura history. Nearly everything is standard, including cruise control, separate reading lights, power windows, door locks and moonroof, and remote keyless entry. A center console with the adjustable, two-position armrest can hold a cellular phone, or can be used to hold the magazine and player of the optional Acura six-disc CD changer, giving easy, in-car access to CD-changer programming. If the customer prefers, the CD changer unit can also be located out of the way, in the trunk.
SPEED-SENSITIVE INTERMITTENT WIPER
To accommodate the differing quantities of water encountered at different speeds, the RL is equipped with an automatic, speed-sensitive intermittent wiper system that slows down the wipers when the RL is stopped or moving slowly, and increases their speed when vehicle velocity increases.
AUTOMATIC HEADLIGHT SYSTEM
In the 3.5RL, a sensor at the front of the instrument panel senses outside illumination level; if darkness occurs, the headlights, taillights and instrument panel lighting are automatically turned on. For nighttime convenience, when the vehicle is parked at night, the lights are left on after the ignition switch is turned off, but go out automatically when the driver's door is opened.
INSTRUMENTS AND CONTROLS
Acura automobiles have always been known for their high level of ergonomic design and control harmony; the 3.5RL takes us to a whole new level of human engineering. The instrument panel is configured with a "trinocular" design. A large, center speedometer and associated gauges monitor driving functions. A left-side, slightly smaller circle contains the tachometer and associated engine function gauges and indicators, and a symmetrical right-side circle includes the fuel gauge and less-used, yet important indicators. The instruments have large displays and are illuminated, even in daytime, for easy recognition. Much time and effort has gone into minimizing the attention needed to understand and operate each particular system, and to make each switch and control nearly as easy to use the first time as it will be after years of familiarity.
The engine's response to the throttle, for example, has been carefully analyzed and developed by fine-tuning the engine powerband, PGM-FI fuel injection system, transmission control unit and the physical layout and geometry of the throttle pedal itself. It has been developed to give a control feel that harmonizes, not only with the brake pedal and steering, but also to subjective human expectations of the effect a given push on the throttle will have on vehicle acceleration and speed. Every system has been optimized to give the driver what he or she asks for the first time, instead of forcing the driver to make a constant series of approximate control movements and subsequent corrections.
AUTOMATIC CLIMATE CONTROL
The RL is equipped with a truly state-of-the-art automatic climate control and air conditioning system. The system is not only powerful, in terms of cooling capacity and efficiency, but it is also extremely quiet, even when quickly cooling the interior on a hot Death Valley day. Even rear-seat passengers have personal control over the direction of heating or cooling air coming their way. Great pains have been taken to ensure cooling uniformity from front to rear, and an innovative subcondenser has been added to the A/C system, improving the efficiency of the unit substantially. In controlled testing, the A/C system cooled the interior from 100 degrees F to 70 degrees F in 15 minutes. Quicker than any other competitor in its class. The system is also more environmentally friendlier, using non CFC R134a refrigerant.
MICROSCOPIC AIR FILTRATION
A state-of-the-art air filtration system removes pollen and other contaminants from the interior environment. The filter medium is so fine, it can trap all particles of 3 microns or larger, including almost all pollen and dust, and inhibits the passage of bacteria as small as .5 microns as well as most components of cigarette smoke and particulates in diesel exhaust. The filter has two layers: both are composed of felt-like, nonwoven fabric fibers, and one layer is electrostatically charged to help attract and trap even more dust and other airborne particles.
Special solar-energy-absorbing, green-tinted glass is used in the 3.5RL, minimizing even further the effects of the hot sun on the interior and its occupants. This reduces the load on the climate control system for better cooling efficiency, delays the temperature rise in the interior when parked, and further protects the interior leather and other materials from the effects of solar radiation.
The Acura/Bose® Music System of the 3.5RL is the most impressive ever designed for an Acura automobile. Developed and tuned by Bose Corporation specially for the RL, the music system is acoustically optimized to provide clear, authentic sound in any seating position of the interior, and to automatically compensate the balance of bass, treble and midrange for any volume level.
Eight speakers are used: two 2.5-inch front tweeters mounted in the front doors, two 6.5-inch single-cone full-range speakers in the lower front door panels, two 5.25-inch full-range speakers, mounted in the rear door panels and two 6 x 9-inch low-frequency drivers in the rear package shelf.
From the easily accessible, dash-mounted control unit, audio output is sent to the auxiliary power amplifier unit located in the trunk. Separate amplifiers are provided inside the unit for each of the six individual front speakers. Each tweeter has a 12.5-watt amp, each of the four full-range speakers has its own 25-watt amp, and the two rear speakers, which act in concert as subwoofers, share a 100-watt amplifier. Total music system power: 225 watts.
The Acura/Bose® Music System in the 3.5RL with Premium Package also includes a six-disc CD changer, located in the trunk.
The antennae for the various receiver systems are all built into the rear window. These include: the AM/FM antenna and the antenna for the radio-based keyless entry system. The elimination of the antenna mast lessens complexity and reduces wind noise for the rear-seat passengers.
ACURA NAVIGATION SYSTEM
A sophisticated navigation system is offered in a number of areas of the U.S. For 1998, the Acura Navigation system is available in California, the East Coast and portions of the mid-west and south. Additional areas of coverage will be added as specific navigation data and software are developed for other U.S. regions.
The system uses Global Positioning System (GPS) data received from satellites, as well as its own inertial guidance system, to precisely pinpoint the location and velocity of the RL. When asked to guide the driver from one location to another, the system provides both audio and visual cues, helping the driver find the proper address quickly and easily, and with minimal distraction. Verbal directions, such as "Keep right," or "Next exit on the right" give the driver basic direction, and a visual LCD moving map with a directional arrow, located high in the center console, gives detailed information on street names, turning instructions and driving distances. Geographic data is stored on a hard disk, making it easy and economical to program the system for a new location or to update mapping information. Furthermore, the navigation system provides information and directions to local restaurants, theatres and points of interest.
A remote keyless entry system is standard on the 3.5RL. The keyless entry system is radio-controlled-this gives much better range than a conventional infrared system, allowing the driver to unlock the RL or activate the "panic button" anti-theft function while still a considerable distance from the car. A special, electronically coded key prevents the car from being started, even if a mechanical duplicate of the proper key shape is used. A transponder, built into the key, signals the immobilizer control unit the key is genuine. If the car is hot-wired, or an unauthorized key is used, it simply will not start. This system is a substantial deterrent to theft. In New Jersey, for example, insurance premiums have been reduced as much as 15% when such a system is used.
The RL is not just the most luxurious, most impressive Acura sedan ever built; it also represents the ultimate in state-of-the-art safety engineering for automobiles in its class. Advances in strength and rigidity of the unit-body structure, as well as innovations in side-impact protection make the RL as safe and secure as it is comfortable and gratifying to drive. And, for increased driver control, standard equipment includes a 3-channel Anti-Lock Braking System and a Traction Control System.
DUAL AIR BAGS AND AUTOMATIC SEAT BELT TENSIONERS
A dual front air bag Supplemental Restraint System (SRS) helps to protect driver and front passenger in a severe frontal impact, and automatic seat belt tensioners help keep front passengers firmly in position in order to take advantage of the protection afforded by the air bag system. For 1998, a three-point lap-and-shoulder primary belt is also provided at the rear center seating position.
Dual anti-intrusion beams in the front doors, as well as expanded polypropolyene hip and shoulder pads, built into the door structure, help protect front- and rear-seat passengers from a possible lateral collision. Anti-intrusion door beams are also used in the rear doors. And innovative, expanded polystyrene liners, installed above the front doors and inside the A-pillars, help give front-seat passengers added head protection in side-impact situations.
FRONT AND REAR CRUMPLE ZONES
The structure is designed to deform progressively in both front and rear impacts, letting the front and rear sections absorb the energy of a collision while helping to keep the highly rigid center passenger section intact. Straight frame rails, front and rear, give the structure the strength necessary to help the RL withstand offset collisions at either end, with reduced possibilities for passenger injury.