AutoGuide News Blog
The AutoGuide News Blog is your source for breaking stories from the auto industry. Delivering news immediately, the AutoGuide Blog is constantly updated with the latest information, photos and video from manufacturers, auto shows, the aftermarket and professional racing.
Driving a Ford Explorer Sideways has Never Been So Educational
“First thing I do when I get in my car is turn off the stability control and traction control”.
Many of us have heard someone, at some point, utter this. Or maybe we ourselves are the guilty party. When asked why it was turned it off, the typical response is along the lines of “’cause I’m a real driver,” or, “it gets in the way of driving”.
AutoGuide’s last installment of “Under the Hood” investigated traction control; today it’s time to look at another safety feature. This one has nothing to do with gripping the road and everything to do with keeping your vehicle shiny-side up.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has issued a recall for 4,077 Buick LaCrosse sedans after finding issues pertaining to the electronic stability control system. The issue only pertains to 2012 model year cars, built between June 9 and July 2.
According to the recall notice, “The StabiliTrak system has an incorrect calibration that may cause the system to not properly detect if a sensor were to malfunction, and the warning light indicating that the system is not operating would not illuminate, as required in the safety standard”.
If the ESC malfunctions, there is a possibility the system could falsely activate, resulting in sudden changes to the vehicles driving dynamics. If this were to happen, there is a higher probability in loss of driver control, which could lead to a crash.
The recall will begin towards the end of August, and affected vehicles will have the electronic brake reprogrammed free of charge.
Ford‘s new Curve Control system is arguably a bigger competitive advantage for the 2012 Explorer than the crossover’s new sheet metal, but for some reason, the Blue Oval was happy to demonstrate their new technology while covering the exterior of the car in black material.
Essentially, Curve Control is an extra layer of protection on top of the vehicle’s stability control system. While there’s no new hardware involved with the system, new algorithms were developed to help detect if a driver was trying to negotiate a large radius turn (such as an on-ramp) at too high speeds. Curve Control can apply the brakes with 5 times more power and speed than standard stability control systems, giving it the ability to slow the car by 10mph in less than a second. With a big, heavy SUV and a winding on ramp, that could be the difference between life and death. Ford estimates that 50,000 accidents occur per year due to driving too fast through a curve, and the Curve Control system could become a pioneering bit of safety equipment if it actually meets Ford’s claims.
On the other hand, systems like this (and the upcoming Continental Steer Assist)the onus should be on the driver to drive at a responsible speed through a turn, especially in a big, unresponsive SUV, and most importantly, on public roads.
No manufacturer has ever received the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), Top Safety Pick rating for every car it produces… until now. With a top crash rating for the new 2009 TL, all five Acura cars and SUVs (including the RL, TL, TSX, MDX and RDX) carry the prestigious Top Safety Pick rating.
To get the top rating, each vehicle has to score a “Good” for each of the three test categories, which are: Frontal Offset Crash Test, Side Impact Collision Evaluation (SICE) and Rear Crash Protection.
For several years now the IIHS demands that Top Safety Pick winners be equipped with stability control. That being said, all Acura models now come with the company’s Vehicle Stability Assist (VSA) system.
Starting in 2009 every Acura also comes with the following safety features: Advanced Compatibility Engineering (ACE) body structure, anti-lock braking system (ABS), dual-stage/dual-threshold front airbags, side airbags with front passenger Occupant Position Detection System (OPDS), active head restraints for front seats, front seatbelts with automatic tensioning system and load limiters, a Tire Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS) and Daytime Running Lights (DRL).
Acura also scores highly in the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) tests, with a top rating for front crashes – the most common type of accident.