2009 Honda Pilot: Safety

Overview

Honda has consistently challenged itself to pursue vehicle safety as part of its core business strategy. The company seeks to provide a high level of occupant protection and pedestrian injury mitigation in all of its cars and trucks through a comprehensive and evolving approach to vehicle safety. This process benefits all new Honda vehicles - regardless of size or price - while also increasing compatibility with other types of vehicles in a frontal collision.

The 2009 Honda Pilot exemplifies the Honda approach to safety. Every Pilot incorporates side-curtain airbags and dual-chamber, front-side airbags with a passenger-side Occupant Position Detection System (OPDS); and active front seat head restraints that are designed to help reduce the severity of neck injury in the event of a rear collision.

An Advanced Compatibility Engineering™ (ACE®) body structure in the front of the vehicle, now added to Pilot for the first time, makes the new Pilot highly effective at absorbing the energy of a frontal crash and helps minimize the potential for under-ride or over-ride situations that can occur during head-on or offset-frontal impacts with a significantly larger or smaller vehicle. Vehicle Stability Assist™ (VSA®) and an Anti-lock Brake System (ABS) with brake assist are standard equipment on every Pilot.

Additional standard safety features include dual-stage, dual-threshold front airbags, front seatbelts with automatic-tensioning systems and load limiters, and a pedestrian injury mitigation design in the front of the vehicle. Driver and front passenger seatbelt reminders and daytime running lights are also standard equipment. A class-leading total of four Lower Anchors and Tethers for Children (LATCH) positions provide rigid attachment points for up to four child seats.

The 2009 Pilot safety features include:

Standard active safety systems

  • 4-wheel disc Anti-lock Brake System (ABS), Electronic Brake Distribution (EBD) and brake assist
  • Standard Vehicle Stability Assist™ (VSA ®) with traction control (Electronic Stability Control)
  • Tire Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS)

Standard passive safety systems

  • ACE body structure
  • 3-point seatbelts at all positions
  • Front seatbelt load limiters and automatic tensioning system
  • Dual-stage, dual-threshold front airbags
  • Advanced dual-chamber front-seat side airbags
  • First, second and third row side curtain airbags for outboard occupant positions
  • Active front seat head restraints
  • Head restraints for all second and third row seating positions
  • Lower Anchors and Tethers for CHildren (LATCH) system (four seating positions total)

Advanced Compatibility Engineering™ (ACE®) Body Structure

At the heart of every new Pilot is an exceptionally strong foundation based on the latest version of Honda's Advanced Compatibility Engineering™ (ACE®) body structure technology. New on Pilot for 2009, the revolutionary ACE system makes the new Pilot highly effective at absorbing the energy of a frontal crash and helps minimize the potential for under-ride or over-ride situations that can happen during head-on or offset frontal impacts with a larger or smaller vehicle. Using a sophisticated computer-assisted design process, the ACE system creates a network of fully 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.

Unlike most conventional designs that direct frontal crash energy only to the lower load-bearing structures in the front end, the ACE system actively channels frontal crash energy to both upper and lower structural elements, including the floor frame rails, side sills and A-pillars. By creating specifically engineered "pathways" that help distribute these frontal impact forces through a greater percentage of the vehicle's total structure, the ACE system can more effectively route them around and away from the passenger compartment to help limit cabin deformation and further improve occupant protection. Integral to the ACE concept is its unique front polygonal main design structure.

Structural Enhancements

Comprehensive structural enhancements can be found throughout the Pilot unit body, which now contains 52 percent high-strength steel. New and more robust rear structural elements add rigidity and help the Pilot meet the stringent FMVSS 301 regulations.

The new FMVSS 301 regulation is more severe than the previous standard. This regulation began its phase-in during September 2006 and must be applied to all production vehicles after September 1, 2008. In the new requirements for the FMVSS 301 standard, a 1,360 kg (2,992 lbs.) deformable barrier strikes 70% 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.

Pedestrian Safety Design

Structures in the front of the Pilot are designed to help absorb energy in the event of a collision with a pedestrian. Research by Honda shows that the following features can dramatically improve a pedestrian's chance of survival if struck by a moving vehicle.

Key pedestrian safety features:

  • Hood is designed to deform if contact is made with either an adult or a child pedestrian
  • Sufficient clearance exists between the hood and hard engine parts
  • Energy-absorbing fender mounts and supports
  • Deformable windshield wiper pivots
  • Deformable hood hinge

Standard Vehicle Stability Assist™ (VSA ®) with Traction Control and Brake Assist

Vehicle Stability Assist (VSA) is an electronic stability control system that works in conjunction with the Pilot's drive-by-wire throttle and its 4-channel ABS systems to enhance controllability while the vehicle is accelerating, braking, cornering or when the driver makes a sudden maneuver. VSA functions by applying brake force to one or more wheels independently while also managing the throttle, ignition and fuel systems to help the vehicle maintain the driver's intended path of travel.

The VSA system constantly analyzes data from seven sensors that monitor wheel and vehicle speed, steering input, lateral G forces and yaw rate. It compares the driver's control inputs with the vehicle's actual response. Whenever the actual response falls outside of a predetermined acceptable range, VSA intervenes with a corrective action.

For instance, 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. 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. 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

Another key VSA function is recognizing emergency braking situations and almost instantly applying added braking force. This brake assist feature is controlled by a special logic in the system that determines when the pedal stroke and speed exceed a typical range - as they would in a panic stop. At that point, the VSA modulator pump increases braking pressure while the pedal is still being pressed to ensure maximum stopping force, an action that helps shorten braking distance as much as possible.

VSA is calibrated to function in a near-transparent manner, and in many cases a driver will not even be aware of its operation. However, anytime the system is enhancing vehicle stability, an indicator light flashes in the instrument cluster. While the driver can deactivate the VSA stability enhancement and traction-control functions via a switch on the instrument panel, ABS remains fully operational at all times.

Advanced 4-Channel ABS with Electronic Brake Distribution

A new and enhanced anti-lock braking system has been developed for the 2009 Pilot. This sophisticated 4-channel/4-sensor anti-lock package replaces the system found on the first generation Pilot. All Pilots are fitted with 4-wheel disc brakes that have vented front rotors and solid rear rotors. (Please see Chassis tab for more information.) Thanks to a more rigidly mounted master cylinder, the 2009 Pilot's brake pedal has a firmer feel and a shorter activation stroke. The new ABS system also incorporates Electronic Brake Distribution (EBD) circuitry that automatically proportions force based on the vehicle's weight distribution.

Three-row Side Curtain Airbags with Rollover Sensors

All three rows of outboard occupants are protected by a three-row side curtain airbag with rollover sensor system, which is standard equipment. The side curtain airbags deploy from modules in the roof in the event of a sufficient side impact, providing a significant level of head protection in the window area. In the unlikely event of a rollover, a roll rate sensor, located in the floor, along with multiple G sensors determine the rate of roll and deploy the side curtain airbags accordingly. Like the other airbag systems in the Pilot, the side curtain system utilizes sensors to determine the most appropriate timing and rate of deployment of the airbags.

To provide the optimal level of protection for Pilot occupants, extensive testing was performed to determine the most appropriate timing and rate of deployment in the unlikely event of a rollover. The system uses algorithms to continually evaluate the situation and determines whether a rollover is eminent. The system responds to many types of rollover "events" drivers could potentially encounter including the "curb trip rollover" which as its name suggests, results when one side of the vehicle hits a curb or like object; the "soil trip rollover" which can result when one side of the vehicles suddenly comes into contact with a different surface type, often involving a slight elevation change; and the "screw rollover." This type of rollover is usually the steepest and fastest of the rollovers whereby the vehicle comes upon a sharp angle such as an embankment. The roll rate sensor and multiple G sensors determine the "scenario" and calculate the angle of roll and the speed of the vehicle in order to deploy the airbags at the correct stage for optimum protection. In the case of a rollover, the side curtain airbags on both sides of the vehicle will deploy. However, in the event of a sufficient side impact that does not result in a rollover, only the airbags on the impacted side of the vehicle will deploy. The airbag maintains full inflation for approximately three seconds after inflation to allow for the increased time duration of a rollover accident.

Driver and Front Passenger Side Airbags with Front Passenger Occupant Position Detection System (OPDS)

Side airbags mounted in the outboard area of each front seatback are designed to provide upper torso protection in the event of a severe side impact. In addition, the front passenger's seat is equipped with Occupant Position Detection System (OPDS), an innovative system designed to deactivate the side airbag if a small child (or small-stature adult) leans into the side airbag deployment path. When the passenger returns to an upright seating position, the side airbag reactivates so it can deploy to help protect the occupant in a side impact. This unique system utilizes sensors in the passenger seatback to determine the height and position of the occupant, and determine if it is safe to deploy the side airbag.

Dual-Stage, Dual-Threshold Front Airbags

Both the driver and front passenger are protected by advanced front airbags that incorporate dual-stage and dual-threshold activation technology. These two features work together in the event of a deployment while helping minimize injuries that can sometimes be caused by the airbags themselves. Honda's sophisticated dual-stage, dual-threshold system is designed to optimize 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 relative seat position of the driver and the weight of the front seat passenger, as well as whether the seat belts are in use at the time.

During a lower-speed collision, or if the seat is too close to the steering wheel, the inflators in the driver's frontal airbag will activate sequentially to help mitigate the initial force. In a high-speed collision, or if the seat is positioned farther back, both igniters are triggered simultaneously for full and rapid inflation. The passenger-side frontal airbag is designed to operate in a similar manner, however a sensor under the passenger seat calculates whether the weight on the lower cushion meets a NHTSA-specified minimum value. If it doesn't, the airbag is deactivated, as indicated by a light on the instrument panel.

Like other Honda vehicles, the driver's front airbag is located in the steering wheel while the passenger airbag is located on the top of the dash. When deployed, the passenger airbag inflates upward and then rearward to maximize its protective potential while reducing the likelihood of injuries being caused by the activation process itself.

Front Seatbelts with Automatic Tensioning System and Load Limiters

The front seatbelts are equipped with an automatic tensioning system and load limiters to help minimize injury potential in a frontal collision. When an impact occurs, the automatic tensioner tightens the seatbelt (shoulder and lap) to help hold the seat occupant firmly in position. Each front seatbelt retractor incorporates a load limiter that works in conjunction with the automatic tensioner. The load limiter functions by permitting a small amount of controlled seatbelt slack shortly after the tensioner is activated to limit the peak restraining forces, to help in reducing the potential of serious injury. The front seatbelts and outboard second row seatbelts in all Pilots also feature adjustable shoulder anchors. Three-point seatbelts are standard in all six rear seating positions.

Active Front Seat Head Restraints

Each of the Pilot's front seats are fitted with an innovative active head restraint designed to help reduce the severity of neck injuries in the event of a rear impact. The head restraint is mechanically connected to a lumbar plate located inside of the seatback via special links. If a rear impact takes place, the passenger's body is pushed against the seatback. That action causes the head restraint to move forward in a carefully prescribed arc. The effect of this motion helps equalize the impact forces being transmitted to the head, neck and spine throughout the collision as the occupant's head moves backward. Effectively managing and evenly disbursing these energy spikes is a critical factor in helping minimize the potential for injuries.

Adjustable Rear Head Restraints for All Seating Positions

The first, second and third row seats feature individually adjustable head restraints for all passenger seating positions.

Lower Anchors and Tethers for Children (LATCH)

All second row seating positions and the third row outboard passenger side are fitted with Lower Anchors and Tethers for Children (LATCH) positions that provide a simple and secure method of installing up to four compatible child safety seats. The LATCH system features built-in, ready-to-use anchors and tethers allowing compatible child safety seats to be installed without using the vehicle's seat belt system.

Tire Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS)

A Tire Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS) alerts a driver whenever the air pressure in one or more of the vehicle's tires decreases significantly below the recommended level. Using four sensors (one in each tire) TPMS monitors and transmits information on tire air pressure to the ECU. When the pressure in one or more tires drops to a potentially critical level, it causes a low tire pressure indicator (located in the instrument cluster) to illuminate. A low tire pressure indicator in the vehicle's information display shows the location of the low-pressure tire on a basic map of the vehicle. The Pilot Touring's Multi Information Display provides individual tire pressures, too.

Body-Colored Front and Rear Parking Sensors (Touring)

The Pilot Touring model is equipped with parking sensors that indicate (through a visual and audible warning from the Multi Information Display) that something may be in the path of the vehicle. The parking sensors are integrated into the front and rear bumpers and are body colored. The sensors can detect whether an object is directly behind, in front of, or to the right or to the left of the vehicle.

Safety R&D Facilities

Honda operates two of the world's most sophisticated crash test laboratories for development of improved safety designs and technologies. The Tochigi, Japan, facility is the world's first indoor omni-directional car-to-car crash testing facility and is playing a critical role in the development of enhanced designs for occupant and pedestrian safety, as well as vehicle-to-vehicle compatibility. Honda R&D America's Raymond, Ohio, development center performs advanced testing on all U.S.-developed models. The facility features the world's first pitching test sled, which aids efficiency by enabling economical and speedy crash-test simulations with certain interior safety components, such as seats and seatbelts, prior to conducting a crash test with an actual vehicle. It 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.

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