2004 Acura TSX -- Safety

The TSX uses the latest technologies to offer substantial gains in overall safety. But safety begins with the dynamic traits of the vehicle-in other words, how the vehicle can help its driver avoid an accident. In the TSX, such "active safety" or accident-avoidance capabilities include standard Vehicle Stability Assist (VSA), Traction Control System (TCS) and anti-lock braking system (ABS). All play an integral role in the car's high safety marks.

When an accident is unavoidable, passive safety engineering provides for occupant protection. TSX passive safety begins with the vehicle's structural rigidity-its engineered-in crumple zones and sliding front subframe-and extends to front seatbelt pretensioners and load-limiters, and to its system of airbags. These include front SRS dual-stage/dual-threshold airbags, side airbags with position sensors on the passenger side, and side curtain airbags.

The TSX has many active-safety features, which are described in detail throughout this binder. In broad terms they include:

  • A rigid platform which allows precise suspension tuning and improved road-holding capability
  • Sport-tuned double wishbone front and rear suspension for sure-footed road holding
  • P215/50R17 Michelin MXM4 all-season tires for excellent grip in various weather conditions
  • 4-wheel disc brakes with 4-channel ABS for strong braking performance
  • Vehicle Stability Assist (VSA) to help the driver retain control
  • Traction Control System (TCS) to enhance traction on slippery surfaces
  • Power rack and pinion steering for precise response and road feel

All of these technologies were designed to provide Acura TSX passengers with these projected ratings:

  • Front NCAP (35 mph) = 5 Star
  • Offset IIHS (40 mph) = Good
  • Side impact (38.5 mph SINCAP) = 4 Star

Besides the front offset test, one of the toughest crash-test targets in the automotive business is the side-impact test. The 2004 Acura TSX excels in side-impact (38.5 mph SINCAP) testing with a projected 4 Star rating. To accomplish this, Acura used high-tensile steel around the front passenger compartment that extends behind the B-pillars (center roof pillars).

Improving side crash protection in a 38.5 mph SINCAP test required using high-tensile steel and strengthening the joints around the passenger compartment. This special steel is used in 53 percent of the unit body frame. The result is the extremely high capability to absorb and distribute energy forces in a side impact and other collisions. Of particular note are two extremely strong cross-member stiffeners (under the front seats and rear floor) that markedly improve resistance to side impacts.

Following is a summary of the impressive array of TSX reactive safety and security features.

  • Dual-stage, dual-threshold front airbags
  • Driver and front passenger's side airbags
  • Position-sensing front seat passenger side airbag
  • Side curtain airbags for all outboard seating positions
  • Front seat-belt pretensioners with load-limiters
  • Side-impact door beams
  • Front and rear crumple zones
  • Sliding front subframe
  • Lower Anchors and Tethers for Children (LATCH) system
  • Theft-deterrent system
  • Engine immobilizer system

The TSX is equipped with dual-stage, dual-threshold airbags for the driver and front passenger. These airbags are designed to minimize the potential for airbag injury while providing head and chest protection for the occupants in the event of a collision.

The TSX front airbags deploy at one of two rates depending on the severity of a crash. During a lower speed collision, the airbag inflators are triggered in sequence, resulting in slower overall airbag deployment with less initial force. During a higher speed collision, both inflators operate simultaneously for full, immediate inflation, to correspond with the greater impact force.

The airbags are located in the outboard seat side bolsters and deploy when sensors detect that a side impact is occurring. To prevent injury to a small child or small-stature adult, an innovative passenger position sensing system prevents side airbag deployment if the passenger is leaning into the side airbag deployment path. A total of seven sensors in the passenger seatback determine the height and position of the occupant; this helps the system determine if it is safe to deploy the side airbag. When the passenger returns to an upright seating position, the side airbag will reactivate so it can deploy and protect the passenger in a side impact.

The goal of the side curtain airbags is to help reduce head injury in a side impact. The side curtain airbag module is located in a long, slender compartment positioned along the roofline inside the vehicle. Because the airbag module extends from the A-pillar to the C-pillar, it protects both the front and outboard rear passengers.

Side-impact sensors located below the B-pillar, behind the rear seat area, and the main Supplemental Restraint System (SRS) sensor unit work together to signal a side curtain airbag deployment. A gas generator located in the C-pillar inflates the airbag via a channel in the roofline.

Deployment for the side curtain airbags is extremely quick-deployment takes less than 15 milliseconds (.015 sec.), whereas most competitors' side curtain airbags take more than 20 milliseconds to deploy. In addition, the TSX offers a larger side curtain airbag effective area, lower bag pressure and longer bag stroke, all in the interest of providing superior protection.

The front seat belts include two advanced technologies: seat-belt pretensioners and load-limiters. In the first few milliseconds following an impact, the seat-belt pretensioners automatically tighten the seat belts, since seat belts that are firmly secured around the passengers provide better protection. But if the deceleration forces rise above a predetermined threshold, the front seatbelts are designed to stretch to further mitigate deceleration forces on the body. The combination of seat-belt pretensioners and load- limiters, in conjunction with airbags, has been proven to be the best passive safety technology yet available.

The TSX has a Lower Anchors and Tethers for Children (LATCH) system in the rear seat area. LATCH features ready-to-use attachment points that allow compatible child safety seats to be installed without using the vehicle's seat belt system.

The TSX has advanced the use of deformable crumple zones. Together with the passive safety devices inside the car, these crumple zones contribute substantially to the high projected government crash-test ratings of the TSX. The crumple zones consist of supercomputer-modeled areas designed to provide progressive resistance to impact forces. The front and rear of the car are designed to deform in a collision to safely disperse collision forces, thereby slowing the deceleration of the passenger cabin in a controlled fashion. The sophisticated computer simulations allowed engineers to design structures that spread the impact forces through the floor of the unit body.

In the event of a severe frontal collision, the sliding front subframe that holds the engine and front suspension moves rearward, helping to disperse crash energy. A 3.9-inch increase in the "crush stroke" (the distance that the sliding front subframe moves) over previous standards was made possible by collapsing the parts that joint the subframe to the main frame.

To thwart would-be thieves, the TSX offers a wide array of security features including an electronic engine immobilizer. Security is also advanced by the use of reinforced door lock cylinders to help thwart break-ins, and protectors for the hood and trunk locks (located below front of the hood and inside trunk lid, respectively).

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