The Acura MDX SUV is engineered to meet and often exceed all applicable safety standards. Safety, security, and accident avoidance are top Acura priorities. With that in mind, various systems - body structure, chassis, driveline, passenger restraints - interact positively to help the driver steer clear of hazards whenever possible and enhance occupant protection in the event an accident is unavoidable.
An innovative Variable Torque Management (VTM-4) all-wheel-drive system is the key to sure-footed handling and straightforward controllability whether the pavement is dry or wet and slippery. Combined with MDX's four-wheel independent suspension, torque sensing power rack-and-pinion steering, and four-wheel-disc brakes with ABS, VTM-4 delivers best-in-class traction to enhance the driver's ability to guide an MDX safely out of harm's way.
To help safeguard occupants from injury when a collision is unavoidable, MDX provides multiple layers of protection. The computer-engineered body structure features front, side and rear crumple zones, a high resistance to offset and side impacts, and a well protected fuel tank. Extensive use of high-strength steel yields a robust safety cage surrounding passengers without incurring an awkwardly heavy curb weight.
All seating positions have three-point seat belts. Front seat belts are equipped with pretensioners and automatic load limiters that are activated in certain collision conditions. The MDX comes with standard driver's and passenger's front air bags. The dual-stage passenger's front air bag can deploy at the most appropriate of two rates depending on the severity of the crash. In addition, if the driver's or passenger's seat belt is not fastened, the air bag deploys at a lower collision speed to help offer more protection to the unbelted occupant.
The driver's and front passenger's seats also feature side air bags mounted in the seat bolster closest to the door. The passenger's seat is equipped with a system designed to disable side air bag deployment and prevent injury to a small child (or small-statured adult) if they lean into the side air bag deployment path. Once the child returns to an upright seating position, the side air bag will reactivate so it can deploy and protect the child in a side impact.
MDX engineers used powerful computers to assure that this vehicle's safety cage structural design would perform well even before physical prototypes were built. Crash simulations helped reveal areas of the design that needed more - and sometimes less - reinforcement to absorb energy while resisting intrusion.
MDX has an especially robust floor construction to optimize both rigidity and resiliency. Two longitudinal rails run continuously from bumper to bumper. The rails are buttressed by a total of eight box-section crossmembers and two bumper bulkheads. This provides the strength needed to resist standard barrier impacts at the front and rear, offset crashes (wherein most of the load is applied longitudinally to one corner of the vehicle), and side impacts.
A four-ring shell-type safety cage is used to help protect occupants with A, B, C, and D pillars that run continuously to avoid intrusion during side impacts. To meet 2002 federal head-impact requirements, roof-pillar trim and headliner materials absorb energy and help reduce the likelihood of occupant head injury. Stiffeners inside the doors at the beltline provide a continuous horizontal connection between the first three pillars. Tubular beams are welded inside the doors at wheel height to provide additional intrusion resistance.
One quarter of the body structure - longitudinal rails, floor crossmembers, pillar reinforcements, and bumper beams - is made of high-tensile steel for maximum strength with minimal weight. Acura has applied for a patent on the roof-mounted reinforcement used to secure the second-row-center passenger's seat belt.
MDX's fuel tank is made of highly puncture resistant,six-layer,high-density molded-polyethylene. It is located ahead of the rear axle and for protection, high-strength, box-section floor reinforcements help guard it from side collision damage.
The bottom line is best-in-class collision performance. Based on internal simulation and testing, the MDX is expected to earn five stars in federal government New Car Assessment Program (NCAP) frontal barrier tests and Side Impact (SINCAP) tests. A good rating is expected from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety's offset barrier tests.
FRONTAL RESTRAINT SYSTEMS
Unlike some SUVs, MDX provides a three-point restraint system for all seven seating positions. A special roof-mounted reinforcement, positioned between the C and D pillars, serves as a rigid mounting point for the second row, middle passenger's shoulder belt.
Front seat belts are equipped with pretensioners and automatic load limiters that are activated in conjunction with the front air bags. The MDX comes with standard driver's and passenger's front air bags. The dual-stage passenger's front air bag can deploy at the most appropriate of two rates depending on the severity of the crash. In addition, if the driver's or passenger's seat belt is not fastened, the air bag deploys at a lower collision speed to help offer more protection to the unbelted occupant.
ADVANCED SIDE AIR BAG SYSTEM
Like other Acura products, MDX is equipped with seat-mounted side air bags to help safeguard the driver and front passenger from side-impact injury. An innovative occupant position detection system is used to assure that the passenger's side air bag has a clear path for deployment. In the event a child (or a small-statured adult) leans into the deployment path of the side air bag, a seven-segment antenna system built within the backrest signals this condition to an electronic control unit (ECU) also located within the seat. The ECU then deactivates the side air bag from functioning and triggers a "SIDE AIR BAG" indicator light in the instrument cluster. After the front occupant returns to a normal seating position, the side air bag module automatically resumes full-functional status.
ANTI-THEFT ALARM SYSTEM
MDX has a standard keyless-remote entry system that locks and unlocks all doors and the rear hatch at the push of a button. To enhance theft protection, only one key lock mechanism is provided for the driver's door position. The same key fob used to lock the doors also activates the MDX's security system. In response to any attempt to enter the vehicle without the key fob or ignition key, the horn sounds, and the flasher lamps are activated. If need be, the alarm system can be triggered to summon help by depressing a "panic" button on the remote-keyless fob.
Imbedded within MDX's ignition key is an electronic microprocessor circuit that communicates with a receiver in the ignition switch to enable the vehicle's electrical systems. Forcibly vandalizing the ignition switch, hot-wiring, or attempting to start the car with a key lacking the microprocessor circuit will result in immobilization. Without proper key-to-immobilizer communication, the MDX will simply not start.
LOWER ANCHORS AND TETHERS FOR CHILDREN (LATCH) SYSTEM
For 2002, the Lower Anchors and Tethers for Children (LATCH) system has been added to the second row of outboard seats. The LATCH system features ready-to-use tethers imbedded at the top and bottom of the seats allowing compatible child safety seats to be installed without using the vehicle's seat belt system. The LATCH system increases child safety by reducing shifting of a compatible child seat while the car is in motion.