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2016 Acura TLX: Safety and Driver-Assistive Technologies

2015 Acura TLX Unveiled at NYIAS on Everyman Driver with Dave Erickson

A vehicle’s safety performance starts with its dynamic capabilities. Acura engineers targeted a high level of predictability, precision and stability in the TLX’s steering, braking and emergency handling capabilities. In the event of a collision, the many integrated active and passive safety features help to mitigate the potential for injury.

These features include the newest generation of Acura’s Advanced Compatibility Engineering™ (ACE™) body structure and a new one-piece, high-strength steel door stiffener ring, along with advanced airbag and seatbelt restraint systems. Acura engineers also targeted the highest available safety ratings from the National Highway and Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS).

2016 Acura TLX 3.5L SH-AWD on Everyman DriverFurther, the TLX can be equipped with a host of AcuraWatch™ driver-assistive technologies that help to improve the driver’s situational awareness and, in certain circumstances, intervene to help avoid a collision or mitigate its severity. For the 2015 Acura TLX, this includes two available new systems — Rear Cross Traffic Monitor and Road Departure Mitigation (RDM) — both being applied for the first time within the Acura lineup; along with the features listed below.

Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC) with Low-Speed Follow (LSF)
Collision Mitigation Braking System™ (CMBS)
Forward Collision Warning (FCW)
Lane Departure Warning (LDW)
Lane Keeping Assist System (LKAS)
Road Departure Mitigation (RDM)
Blind Spot Information (BSI)
Multi-View Rear Camera with Dynamic Guidelines
Rear Cross Traffic Monitor
Next-Generation Advanced Compatibility Engineering™ (ACE™) Body Structure

The TLX utilizes the latest version of Acura’s Advanced Compatibility Engineering™ (ACE™) body-structure to enhance occupant protection and crash compatibility in frontal collisions. The ACE body structure uses a network of interconnected structural elements — now using an even greater amount of high-tensile steel — to absorb and distribute crash energy away from the passenger compartment. The enhanced frontal crash energy management can also help to more evenly disperse the forces transferred to other vehicles in a crash. Additionally, ACE helps minimize the potential for under-ride or over-ride situations that can happen during frontal impacts with a larger or smaller vehicle.

2016 Acura TLX 3.5L SH-AWD on Everyman DriverCollision Safety Targets
Based on internal testing, the new ACE body design is expected to help the TLX achieve the highest available crash safety ratings. In federal National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) testing, the TLX is anticipated to achieve a 5-Star Overall Vehicle Score. In Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) testing, the TLX is anticipated to achieve a GOOD rating in all categories, including the extremely rigorous new IIHS small overlap front crash test, which involves 25-percent of a car’s front end on the driver’s side striking a 5-foot-tall rigid barrier at 40 mph. The new TLX is also anticipated to achieve the TOP SAFETY PICK+ rating based on these GOOD ratings along with available Collision Mitigation Braking System™ (CMBS) and Forward Collision Warning (FCW), essential features for meeting the IIHS autonomous crash-avoidance capability.

2015 Acura TLX Revealed at New York Auto Show on Everyman DriverCrash Energy “Pathways”
Unlike most conventional designs that direct frontal crash energy only to the lower load-bearing structures in the front end, the next-generation ACE body 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 body can more effectively route crash energy around and away from the passenger compartment to help limit cabin deformation and further improve occupant protection.

2016 Acura TLX 3.5L SH-AWD on Everyman DriverStructural Safety Improvements
Meeting the TLX’s top crash-safety rating targets required numerous structural engineering advancements. Details include:

  • Frontal — The next-generation Advanced Compatibility Engineering (ACE) body structure is projected to help the TLX pass the most stringent latest IIHS Small Overlap Front Crash Test with a highest available result of GOOD.
  • Side — The use of sophisticated advances in collision-load pathways and the use of hot-stamped high-strength steel — including a one-piece door opening stiffener ring — helps improve occupant protection in side impact collisions.
  • Rear — Rear-impact performance meeting the federal FMVSS301 standard is achieved by sophisticated engineering design and specifications, and the strategic use of lightweight high-strength steel.
  • Rollover/Roof Strength — The TLX achieves the federal FMVSS216a standard and anticipated IIHS Roof Strength GOOD test rating by adopting hot-stamped high-strength steel and optimized engineering specifications.
  • IIHS Small Overlap Front (Narrow Offset Barrier) — The ACE structure integrated into the TLX is expected to aid in the compliance with the latest rigorous IIHS Small Overlap Front Barrier test.

Hot-Stamped Stiffener Ring
The 2015 TLX uses a new hot-stamped stiffener ring around the door opening. There are three major advantages of this construction method: (1) The one-piece door-opening ring has no joints, so crash loads are transferred more efficiently; (2) the single-piece construction improves the fit and finish of the door opening; and (3) weight is reduce by 9.0 pounds compared to a conventional multi-part ring.

To form the ring, a single steel blank is loaded into an oven and heated to 940º Centigrade and then formed and quenched in a single stamping and tempering process. This same technology has been applied to the 2014 Acura MDX.

2015 Acura TLX on Everyman Driver with Dave EricksonAirbag System
The TLX is equipped with seven airbags, including dual-stage, multiple-threshold front airbags, front side airbags, side-curtain airbags with rollover sensors, and a new driver’s side knee airbag.

Driver’s Side Knee Airbag — The driver’s knee airbag is designed to better position the driver in the event of a frontal collision, to take greater advantage of the protection provided by the front airbag and seatbelt. The knee airbag is contained beneath a panel on the underside of the instrument panel. For improved knee clearance, the panel is contoured away from the driver’s knees.

Dual-Stage, Multiple-Threshold Front Airbags (SRS) — Every TLX is equipped with dual-stage, multiple-threshold front airbags (SRS). If deployed, the airbags are capable of being inflated at different rates depending on crash severity, seat-belt usage and other factors. Front airbags are designed to supplement the seat belts to help reduce the likelihood of head and upper body injuries in frontal crashes.

Front Passenger Airbag-Off Indicator — An indicator light marked “PASS AIRBAG,” located on the right of the upper display, illuminates to indicate that the passenger’s front airbag is off and will not deploy during a frontal impact. This happens when the weight of the front-seat passenger, or an object on the seat, is 63.8 pounds or less.

Driver and Front Passenger Side Airbags — Driver and front passenger SmartVent™ side airbags mounted in the outboard area of each front seatback are designed to help provide pelvis and thorax protection in the event of a severe side impact and also allows the side airbags to inflate with a low risk of injuring an out of position occupant. This eliminates the need for the previous-generation TL’s Occupant Position Detection System (OPDS).

Side Curtain Airbags with Rollover Sensor — All outboard seating positions include a side curtain airbag system. In the event of a sufficient side impact or rollover, the side curtain airbags deploy from the ceiling, providing a significant level of head protection in the window area. Compared to previous systems, the TLX’s new side curtain airbags have a wider deployment profile, and remain fully deployed for an extended time to further mitigate the possibility of an occupant being ejected from the vehicle.

E-Pretensioner Front Seatbelts
Another new TLX safety feature on models with the Advance Package is a driver and front-passenger seatbelt e-pretensioner system. During normal driving conditions, the e-pretensioner system provides a reduced tension seatbelt experience, enhancing driving comfort. During sporty or aggressive driving, based on speed, yaw rate and lateral G, the system uses motors to subtly tighten the seatbelt and firmly hold the driver and front-seat passenger in their seat.

2015 Acura TLX 2.4L on Everyman Driver

In addition, the e-pretensioner system tightens and holds the seatbelts during sudden steering inputs like those that may occur during an emergency maneuver, skid or minor collision. The e-pretensioner system is fully automatic and requires no intervention from the driver or front passenger, aside from the initial fastening of the seatbelt.

The front passenger seatbelt e-pretensioner system included in the TLX’s Advance Package is supplementary to the load-limiting seatbelt retractors with pyrotechnic pretensioners that are featured on all TLX models.

Adjustable Head Restraints
All five front and rear seating positions feature individually adjustable head restraints, all of which are FMVSS 202a compliant. Compared to the Active Head Restraints in the previous TL model, the 2015 TLX’s front head restraints feature the latest generation of neck protection performance and are lighter and less complex than previous Active Head Restraints.

The previous TL’s rear head restraint folding feature is eliminated, reducing complexity and weight without compromising safety or comfort.

Child Safety Features
Two Lower Anchors and Tethers for CHildren (LATCH) child seat-mounting positions are built into the outboard rear seats. The LATCH system utilizes both an upper child-seat tether anchor and dedicated lower-anchor points that are built into the body of the vehicle. These help ensure correct mounting of a compatible child seat. A third upper tether is located in the rear center position. The TLX also features childproof rear door locks. When engaged, they permit the rear doors to be opened only from the outside, thereby helping to prevent accidental opening by a child.

Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC) with Low-Speed Follow (LSF)
Included in the TLX’s Advance Package, Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC) allows the driver to set a desired speed and distance interval behind the vehicle ahead, allowing the use of cruise control in light traffic conditions. This significantly reduces the driver stress of driving in traffic. The system uses the Millimeter Wave Radar and a Monocular Camera to continually track the distance to the vehicle ahead, and then adjusts the TLX’s speed to maintain a safe distance interval. A short, medium, long, or extra long interval can be selected. When required, the TLX autonomously brakes using the Vehicle Stability Assist (VSA) modulator.

Integrated Low-Speed Follow (LSF), which uses the same Millimeter Wave Radar, Monocular Camera, and VSA modulator, extends the automatic following capability to stop-and-go traffic situations (down to 0 mph). ACC with LSF functions include the following:

  • A preceding vehicle is detected ­in the lane ahead — Decelerates automatically, if required, and then controls the following distance.
  • The preceding vehicle stops — Stops automatically and remains stationary.
  • The preceding vehicle accelerates from a stop — Resumes following when the SET or RES switch or accelerator pedal is operated.
  • Another vehicle merges in between the TLX and the preceding vehicle — Automatically switches “targets” to the nearest preceding vehicle.
  • The preceding vehicle exits the lane — ACC with LSF system continues at cruise-control speed previously selected by driver (25 to 90 mph).

A Multi Information Display (MID) message and audible warning alert the driver when either ACC or LSF functions are activated.

Collision Mitigation Braking System™ (CMBS)
Included in the TLX with Advance Package, Acura’s newest version of its Collision Mitigation Braking System™ (CMBS™) is one of the most sophisticated driver-assistive technologies available. It continually scans traffic conditions ahead of the TLX, alerts the driver of a potential collision, and then takes emergency autonomous braking action to help reduce the severity of a collision if drivers don’t take corrective action on their own.

When CMBS detects a potential collision, visual, audible and tactile (driver seatbelt e-pretensioning) alerts prompt the driver to take corrective actions. The visual alerts appear on the Multi-Information Display (MID), with another visual warning on the windshield via the head-up warning display. If the system determines that a collision is imminent, it applies the brakes to help reduce vehicle speed and eventual collision forces.

Further distinguishing the new TLX, its CMBS also recognizes shapes, and can differentiate between a vehicle and a pedestrian, warning the driver in each case. A Millimeter Wave Radar unit located behind the front grille and a Monocular Camera mounted at the upper portion of the windshield is used to detect vehicles and pedestrians. The radar unit and camera work simultaneously and cooperatively to control the VSA modulator, which provides any required braking. This “fusion” of radar and camera allows the system to more quickly determine a potential collision, significantly increasing the likelihood of bringing the car to a complete stop and avoiding impact.

It is important to note that CMBS cannot detect all objects ahead, nor is it intended to replace the driver’s assessment of traffic conditions and control of the vehicle. The driver must intervene in certain situations, and must always be attentive when using the system. Although in many cases CMBS will stop the car, it is not intended to apply enough braking force to prevent all collisions. Based on the conditions, the system also may not perform all visual-, audible- and tactile-alert stages, and may instead automatically engage the brakes if the system deems it necessary.

Forward Collision Warning (FCW)
Included in models with the Technology Package or Advance Package, Forward Collision Warning (FCW) uses a camera mounted in the upper portion of the windshield to detect vehicles and pedestrians ahead and to determine whether a collision is imminent. If the FCW system detects a vehicle or pedestrian in front of the TLX and then determines that a collision may occur (due to a speed differential between the TLX and the object), it will trigger a “BRAKE” message on the Multi-Information Display (MID) and an audible alert. The FCW system in the TLX with Technology Package will not automatically brake, and the driver remains responsible for safely operating the vehicle and avoiding collisions.

Drivers may adjust the distance at which FCW alerts occur and may choose between “Long,” “Normal,” or “Short.” Drivers may also select “Off” to disable the FCW system entirely.

Note that the FCW system cannot detect all objects ahead; accuracy will vary based on weather, speed and other factors.

Lane Departure Warning (LDW)
Included in the Technology Package and Advance Package, Lane Departure Warning (LDW) is designed to alert the driver if the vehicle is leaving a detected lane without the turn signal being activated. The system functions at speeds from 45 to 90 mph on straight or slightly curved roads, alerting the driver of deviations from a detected road.

In TLX models equipped with the Technology Package or Advanced Package, the same upper front windshield camera is used for LDW, FCW, and LKAS.

If the vehicle begins to move out of a detected lane without the turn signal activated, LDW illuminates a Lane Departure message on the Multi-Information Display (MID) and sounds an audible warning, advising the driver to take appropriate action. With the Advance package, the driver may select rapid steering wheel vibration (haptic feedback) instead of the audible warning. In either case, the system can be activated and deactivated by pressing the LDW button located on the instrument panel, to the left of the steering column.

There are certain conditions under which the system may not engage or operate, including inclement weather (e.g., snow, ice or heavy rain) and extreme cabin heat conditions (due to operability of the camera). It will automatically suspend operation when the brakes are applied or the turn signals are used. LDW may not detect all lane markings or lane departures; accuracy will vary based on weather, speed and road condition. The driver remains responsible for safely operating the vehicle.

Lane Keeping Assist System (LKAS)
Included in Technology Package and Advance Package, the Lane Keeping Assist System (LKAS) provides a less stressful driving experience by reducing steering correction movements and driving effort on the highway. LKAS uses a camera to read lane markings and uses EPS to assist the driver in keeping in the middle of the lane.

Designed for the U.S. road structure, the system uses a Monocular Camera mounted on the upper portion of the windshield to identify painted lanes, Botts’ Dots and Cat Eye markers at speeds between 45 mph and 90 mph. When LKAS senses that the driver is drifting from the middle of a detected lane, the system generates corrective steering torque to assist the driver in maintaining lane position.

Road Departure Mitigation (RDM)
Included in the Advance Package, Road Departure Mitigation (RDM) is a new technology for Acura. RDM uses a Monocular Camera (mounted on the upper portion of the windshield) to identify solid or dashed painted lane lines, Botts’ Dots and Cat Eye markers. RDM uses both steering force, via EPS, and braking force, via VSA, to help the TLX stay in its lane.

The monocular camera recognizes lane features and identifies the lane. If the RDM system detects that the TLX is about to leave the detected lane, it will provide steering assist (primary) and in rare occasions when steering is not sufficient, braking assist, to help the driver stay on the road. Only lane departure is activated if the driver is passing over a dashed line, bott’s dots or cat eye, while deceleration support is disabled. In this case, TLX uses active steering force to return to the lane. RDM is integrated with the Vehicle Stability Assist (VSA) system to provide moderate braking, and with the Electric Power Steering (EPS) system to provide steering input.

Multiple visual and audible warnings alert the driver when the RDM system is taking corrective action. These include a lane departure warning on the driver’s Multi Information Display (MID) along with an audible warning.

RDM also has a customizable initial warning of either a steering wheel shake/vibration, or an audible alert. This can be customized in the vehicle settings.

Blind Spot Information (BSI)
Included in the Technology Package and Advance Package, the Blind Spot Information (BSI) system uses two radar sensors to continually monitor conditions behind the TLX and alert the driver if another vehicle is detected in close proximity — especially in the blind spot of the driver. The BSI system uses the LED indicators (mounted on the A-pillar) and an audible warning to alert the driver.

There are two warning levels: 1) If a vehicle is detected in the driver’s blind spot then the LED indicator on the incoming side illuminates; and 2) If a vehicle is detected and the TLX turn signal is activated, the LED indicator on the incoming side blinks and a buzzer sounds three times.

To prevent false alarms while maneuvering at low speed, the BSI system is disabled below approximately 20 mph.

Rear Cross Traffic Monitor
Included in the Technology Package and Advance Package, the new Rear Cross Traffic Monitor is a first for the Acura Division. Rear Cross Traffic Monitor works in conjunction with the TLX’s BSI radar sensors to enhance driver confidence and safety when backing up. The system is especially useful when reversing in congested parking lots with an obstructed view from driver’s seat.

The system utilizes a pair of blind-spot radar units located in the rear bumper corners. When Reverse is selected and an approaching vehicle is detected, arrows indicating the approaching vehicles direction are shown on the 8-inch center display’s rear camera image. Simultaneously, an audible warning is emitted if cross-traffic is approaching from either side.

Pedestrian Injury Mitigation
The TLX has an impact-absorbing front body design to help reduce injury in the event of a frontal collision with a pedestrian. Research shows that the following features can dramatically improve a pedestrian’s chance of survival if struck by a moving vehicle:

  • Impact-energy absorbing hood — Space is provided between the underside of the hood and key powertrain components, allowing the hood to bend and deform if contact is made with either an adult or a child pedestrian.
  • Energy-absorbing fender mounts and supports — Front fender mounts and brackets are designed to deform easily to help absorb impact energy.
  • Deformable windshield wiper pivots — Wiper pivots are designed to deform and break away easily.

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