2005 Acura RL Safety

8/31/2004 9:17:00 PM



The RL is equipped with a comprehensive array of the latest technologies to enhance active safety (accident avoidance) and passive safety (crash safety performance). Features like Vehicle Stability Assist (VSA®) with traction control, heightened handling agility, SH-AWD and ABS enhance accident avoidance capability in the RL. Should a collision prove unavoidable, the Advanced Compatibility Engineering (ACE) body structure of the RL is designed to provide a protective cocoon for passengers in the event of a collision with a different sized vehicle (a truck or SUV, for example). Inside, side, side curtain and dual-stage front air bag systems work together with sophisticated restraint systems to minimize injury to passengers in sufficient impacts.

Following are the key passive safety features on the new RL.

Passenger Seating

  • 3-point adjustable height front seat belts with load limiters and pretensioners
  • Front seat belt load limiters
  • Front 4-way adjustable head restraints
  • Driver's seat position sensor
  • Driver's and front passenger's side airbags with front passenger Occupant Position Detection System (OPDS)
  • Rear center three-point seat belt

Child Seating

  • Automatic Locking Retractors/Emergency Locking Retractors (ALR/ELR)
  • Tether anchors (all rear positions)
  • LATCH (Lower Anchors and Tethers for Children) child-seat mounting system (rear outboard seats)


  • Driver's and front passenger's dual-stage, dual-threshold airbag Supplementary Restraint System (SRS)
  • Seamless airbag lid for the passenger airbag
  • Driver's and front passenger's side airbags with front passenger Occupant Position Detection System (OPDS)
  • Side curtain airbag system


The Advanced Compatibility Engineering (ACE) body structure on the 2005 Acura RL is designed to take vehicle front frame construction beyond conventional safety protocols such as the NHTSA NCAP 35 mph frontal barrier test or the IIHS 40 mph offset frontal crash. Its goal is to deliver significantly enhanced occupant protection in a variety of real-world crash conditions. These may include a frontal collision between vehicles of differing heights, weights and frame construction.

The ACE structure uses the engine compartment to efficiently absorb and disperse collision energy during a vehicle-to-vehicle collision. It features a new frame structure composed of a highly efficient energy-absorbing main frame, a bulkhead (upper frame) which absorbs the upper part of the collision energy, and a lower member that helps prevent misalignment of the frames of the vehicles involved. This design disperses collision forces over a larger frontal area, which enhances energy absorption of the engine compartment, reduces the chance of deformation of the passenger compartment and results in enhanced occupant protection. At the same time, by reducing the chance of vertical or lateral misalignment between the RL and other vehicle's safety structures, ACE reduces the vehicle's aggressivity toward other vehicles during a frontal collision.

During a frontal collision, a conventional body structure generally concentrates the loads from the impact through two pathways running longitudinally through the lower portion of the frame. The ACE structure's front-mounted polygonal main frame is designed to prevent cabin deformation by distributing forces through multiple major load bearing pathways-and away from the passenger compartment.


Projected impact test results for the RL are excellent in four separate tests from the federal government and Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS).

  • In the IIHS 40 mph frontal offset test, the RL is projected to return a GOOD rating
  • In the 35 mph New Car Assessment Program (NCAP) full frontal barrier test, the RL is projected to earn Five Stars, the highest rating for both driver and front passenger
  • In the 38 mph US NCAP side test, the RL is projected to earn Five Stars, the highest rating for both front and rear outboard passenger
  • In the IIHS 50km/h (31 mph) SUV side collision test, RL is projected to return a GOOD rating


Dual-stage airbags for the driver and front passenger are designed to provide maximum protection for the head and chest during a moderate to severe front collision, while simultaneously helping to reduce injuries and cost. They do both through the use of a dual-stage, dual-threshold airbag technology. Each airbag inflator has two stages. During a severe collision both stages fire at the same time to provide immediate inflation of the airbag. But during a moderate collision the igniters fire in sequence, slowing the deployment rate of the airbags.

Besides the severity of the collision, the modules interpret a signal from the seat belt buckle switch that indicates whether the occupants are wearing their seat belts.

  • If the front passengers are not wearing their seat belts, the inflators will activate simultaneously to make the airbag deploy more quickly.
  • If the front passengers are wearing their seat belts, the airbags will inflate at a slightly higher threshold.

In the RL, the system also assesses the weight of the front passenger through a seat weight sensor. If the weight is less than a certain amount, the front passenger airbag is shut off. The front passenger's airbag also features a seamless instrument panel cover over the airbag for a cleaner, more elegant look.


New larger size side airbags are mounted in the outboard area of each front seatback. They are designed to provide upper torso protection in the event of a sufficient side impact. The front passenger's seat is equipped with Occupant Position Detection System (OPDS), an innovative system designed to deactivate the side air bag if a small child (or small-stature adult) leans into the side air bag deployment path. When the passenger returns to an upright seating position, the side air bag reactivates so it can deploy and help protect the occupant in a side impact. The 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 air bag.


In a sufficient side impact, the side curtain airbags in the new RL deploy from roof modules, providing head protection for front-seat as well as rear-seat occupants. Side curtain airbags effectively cover the window area from the A-pillar back to the C-pillar. Tests show that the g forces acting upon an occupant's head are far lower with a side curtain airbag.


The 2005 RL includes a LATCH (Lower Anchors and Tethers for Children) child-seat mounting system for the outboard rear seats. LATCH features built-in lower anchors and ready-to-use tether attachment points that allow compatible child safety seats to be installed without using the vehicle's seat belt system. The LATCH system simplifies child seat installation when an owner installs a LATCH-compatible child seat. The center rear seat has a tether point, but no lower anchors.


Acura's safety interests extend beyond care for vehicle occupants. The RL hood area was designed to deform if contact is made with either an adult or a child pedestrian. Underneath the hood are energy-absorbing supports and fender mounts, and the windshield wiper pivots are also deformable in the event that a pedestrian contacts these areas. Research shows that features such as these dramatically improve a pedestrian's chance of survival if struck by a moving vehicle.


In the IIHS low speed crash evaluation tests, the RL is projected to receive top rating in the large-luxury class.