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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
Just finished watching NBC Dateline featuring Insurance Institute for Highway Safety bumper tests on Acura TSX and TL as well as few other cars.

Bottom line: TSX did poor, the TL did marginal. :eek:

You can read about it here
Here's the write up from their website:

Putting bumpers to the test
Cost of car not always most important indicatorBy Lea Thompson
NBC News
Updated: 6:49 p.m. ET Feb. 29, 2004

From stop-and-go traffic, to the grocery store parking lot, there's always the chance you'll have a fender bender.

“We're seeing millions, no, not millions, billions of dollars of damage just from these minor fender benders,” says Adian Lund of the insurance institute For Highway Safety, a nonprofit research group, funded by insurance companies whose goal is to keep their costs down.

“We do four crash tests to look at how bumpers perform in the real world,” says Lund. “We do a front and rear into to a flat barrier, and we do a rear into pole crash test. Then we do a front corner into an angle barrier, all at five miles per hour.”

This time the Institute ranked six midsize 2004 cars based on the average repair costs on all four tests. First up, the Mitsubishi Galant. At $19,600 it's the least expensive car in the test.

“Now, this would have been much worse,” says Lund, “except that Mitsubishi did make a last minute design change to the bumper system changing how things are attached.”

While that change did make a difference just the angle test will cost $853 to repair. So the car gets the Institute'ssecond highest rating, “acceptable.”

The 2004 $20,000 Suzuki Verona and the $28,000 Nissan Maxima both also do poorly in that angle test. They both get a “marginal,” the second lowest rating.

But what about the Acura TL? Does the $33,000 car have a better bumper?

“It may not look too bad,” says Lund, “but the big problem is that the bumper system underneath this is badly damaged.”

It was so badly damaged, it will cost $1,381 to fix. So the expensive Acura TL only gets a “marginal.”

Meanwhile, the new $21,000 Chevrolet Malibu doesn't do well on any of the tests. It gets the Institutes lowest rating, a “poor.”

Acura tried to outsmart it by inserting extra padding in the bumper right where the test pole normally hits.

The test produces $1,559 in damage, with $1,269 for the front angle test. The Acura TSX gets a “poor.”

All in all, there were no “good” ratings this time around, just one acceptable, three marginals and two poors.

Manufacturers of the cars tested say the institute's tests is not related to safety and their cars meet or exceed all federal standards for bumpers.

And what about what the Institute calls strategically placed padding in the ACURA TSX's bumper? Acura writes "there is absolutely no merit to the suggestion that padding was applied to the TSX bumpers simply to influence the IIHS test results."

“This isn't brain surgery,” says Lund. “Manufacturers know how to build better bumpers.”

In fact, the Institute says the least expensive car in this round -- the $19,000 Mitsubishi Galant -- has better bumpers than the more expensive cars.

“How much you pay for the car doesn't indicate how good your bumpers are going to be,” says Lund.
 

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Just a little nutty
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Discussion Starter · #2 · (Edited)
Here are the damage figures:

Acura TSX
Front into flat barrier: $550
Rear into flat barrier: $579
Front into angle barrier:$1,269
Rear into pole: $1,559
Total damage in 4 tests: $3,957
Average damage per test: $989
Rating: Poor

2004 Acura TL
Front into flat barrier: $362
Rear into flat barrier: $451
Front into angle barrier:$1,381
Rear into pole: $765
Total damage in 4 tests: $2,923
Average damage per test: $731
Rating: Marginal

2004 Chevrolet Malibu
Front into flat barrier: $394
Rear into flat barrier: $898
Front into angle barrier:$1,366
Rear into pole: $1,149
Total damage in 4 tests: $3,807
Average damage per test: $952
Rating: Poor

2004 Mitsubishi Galant
Front into flat barrier: $384
Rear into flat barrier: $153
Front into angle barrier:$853
Rear into pole: $709
Total damage in 4 tests: $2,099
Average damage per test: $525
Rating: Acceptable

2004 Suzuki Verona
Front into flat barrier: $405
Rear into flat barrier: $496
Front into angle barrier:$897
Rear into pole: $743
Total damage in 4 tests: $2,541
Average damage per test: $635
Rating: Marginal

2004 Nissan Maxima
Front into flat barrier: $416
Rear into flat barrier: $369
Front into angle barrier:$964
Rear into pole: $702
Total damage in 4 tests: $2,451
Average damage per test: $613
Rating: Marginal
 

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Yeah, sort of suspected that... :(

When I first saw the TSX I remember thinking, how can they get away with those flimsy bumpers, they hardly stick out past the body?

Again, I keep comparing the TSX to my wife's older Accord and the differences are dramatic. The old '93's bumpers protrude out at least 4" or more. The TSX looks cool with its integtrated design grill and all, but there just is no protection! :mad:

Honda is not the only one doing this, has anyone noticed the Toyota RAV-4? They actually use the rear hatch mounted spare as the bumper? I know I've seen similar designs on other SUVs so this is not uncommon.

I just wanted to believe that Honda wouldn't succumb to this but as they always like to say... it's just business. :woowoo:
 

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Yes, not encouraging. I'm surprised.
While I'm not as concerned as much about this kind of thing as I am about how well the car protects the driver and passengers in collisions (which seems very good, judging from the few unfortunate collisions we've heard about), certainly we would have wished the TSX would have done better.

BTW I see that these cars were the only ones tested -- they just tested "six midsize cars." (I wonder why.)
Without testing more cars, it's hard to know what the "normal" figures might be, so we don't really know where these 6 cars stand among cars in general.
 

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larchmont said:
Yes, not encouraging. I'm surprised.
While I'm not as concerned as much about this kind of thing as I am about how well the car protects the driver and passengers in collisions (which seems very good, judging from the few unfortunate collisions we've heard about), certainly we would have wished the TSX would have done better.

BTW I see that these cars were the only ones tested -- they just tested "six midsize cars." (I wonder why.)
Without testing more cars, it's hard to know what the "normal" figures might be, so we don't really know where these 6 cars stand among cars in general.

They usually only do 6 new cars at a time.

Acura says that the tsx was designed to get a "GOOD" rating in the frontal offset crash, but we'll see. :)
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Yes, keep in mind that these were the 5 MPH low speed bumper test and not the high speed 40 MPH frontal/side impact tests. Although I had expected the TSX to fare better in these low speed tests, it's the high speed tests that I would be anxious to hear about.

Also, the IIHS sounded a little bitter about Acura adding the extra padding for the pole test. I wonder if they penalized the TSX for this since they claimed the TSX sustained a whopping $1,559 worth of damage on that specific test.

If they indeed penalized the TSX for the extra padding, then I think that was a mistake. If the extra padding gave the TSX good results at the lab, it probably would give me good results in real life too.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
hip said:
Honda is not the only one doing this, has anyone noticed the Toyota RAV-4? They actually use the rear hatch mounted spare as the bumper? I know I've seen similar designs on other SUVs so this is not uncommon.
Yes, my brother has a 2004 RAV-4 and I noticed this too. The rear bumper is shaped so that the spare wheel gets "integrated" into the bumper. The spare is sitting low enough that if that SUV gets rear-ended, the spare tire is the first thing to absorb the impact. . . not that it's a bad thing or anything.

I doubt tying the spare donut to the back of the TSX would look as fashionable though. ;)
 

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Whatchamacallit said:
.....If the extra padding gave the TSX good results at the lab, it probably would give me good results in real life too.
Right! I wondered about that too. I figured somehow it meant that this wouldn't help in most real-life situations but I didn't see why not.
 

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Whatchamacallit said:
The spare is sitting low enough that if that SUV gets rear-ended, the spare tire is the first thing to absorb the impact. . . not that it's a bad thing or anything.
But is it? The spare is mounted directly to the door and I didn't see any "energy absorbing" device on the spare tire mount. So if the spare gets hit, the next thing to absorb the impact is the rear hatch! :eek:

How much cheaper will it be to fix that and possibly the bumper?!
 

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Most new cars today have minimal bumpers... especially when compared to cars from a couple decades ago.

I'd like to see how all cars fare with their tests. If I had to guess, probably about 90% of cars would get marginal or lower.

Why? The current styling of cars doesn't really allow for a decent bumper to be put on.

Although these bumper tests don't really measure the safety of the vehicle... it just shows that if someone bumps into you in a parking lot that the damage may be costly.
 

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sjlee said:
.....I'd like to see how all cars fare with their tests. If I had to guess, probably about 90% of cars would get marginal or lower.

Why? The current styling of cars doesn't really allow for a decent bumper to be put on.

Although these bumper tests don't really measure the safety of the vehicle... it just shows that if someone bumps into you in a parking lot that the damage may be costly.
Yes, yes, and yes. That's why you can't tell how the TSX or any of those other cars really rate from that article. I'd like to see how they compare to the whole field.

And as I also said, it's important to realize that this doesn't necessarily relate to safety.
It seems like it might, at least to some extent, but really we don't know at all.
 

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I would venture to say a 5 mph test measures nothing about safety if the occupants are restrained. The IIHS test measures bumper damage resistance and therefore, the claims experience for that car. It does impact future insurance rates, which is why we should care about it.

I think they have a valid argument against the padding in the TSX, if the skews the test results without actually increasing real-world crash performance (i.e. if the pole hits another part of the bumper). (A computer equivalent to this is optimizing drivers for a specific synthetic benchmark, which doesn't correlate to real-world performance.)

One of the errors in the article was that it makes the presumption that higher-priced cars are more damage resistant. It's akin to stating "expensive cars are more reliable". It applys the broad stroke of "quality" across the board; that expensive cars are better in all respects than cheap cars.

If one assumes all cars should be equally damage-resistant, then the expensive car should be proportionately more costly to fix.
 

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kiteboy said:
I would venture to say a 5 mph test measures nothing about safety if the occupants are restrained. The IIHS test measures bumper damage resistance and therefore, the claims experience for that car. It does impact future insurance rates, which is why we should care about it.
Just saw the capsulized version on this evenings news and I started to think the exact same thought. We all should care how poorly this or any Honda does in these tests because it affects us all and sets a precedence for future models.

I wonder how the USDM Accord will fare in these tests?

Granted a car should be safe where it counts, in a severe crash. But it shouldn't be so expensive in minor fender benders which drive up insurance costs. To my recollection, I can't recall any Honda coming in this low before? Shortly before the test, it was reported that Mitsubishi made a minor modification to the Galant's bumper fastening system. They feel that this may have saved them thousands in potential damage. Obviously, it shouldn't be that difficult for any manufacturer to reduce the associated damage from these minor collisions.

If this is a result of "cost cutting," I for one am against it. More importantly, people will look and compare these numbers next time it comes time to shop. And if someone who has owned a TSX or a TL and experienced a costly repair, they will think twice before buying another Honda product.

As proud as most of us are to own a "Honda," there are that many more who will cross shop to another brand if they feel it offers better performance in specific areas and is a better value. True cost of ownership isn't only the cost of the vehicle, it includes gas, maintenance, insurance as well other intangibles.

I beleive the days of brand loyalty are over and no manufacturer can afford to take any customer for granted. Excuse the pun but the "roads are littered" with cars that were once the envy of their time.

GM used to believe, 'what is good for General Motors is good for the nation." Let's hope Honda hasn't become so arrogant that they start believing that too!?
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
hip said:
But is it? The spare is mounted directly to the door and I didn't see any "energy absorbing" device on the spare tire mount. So if the spare gets hit, the next thing to absorb the impact is the rear hatch! :eek:

How much cheaper will it be to fix that and possibly the bumper?!
In medium to high energy impacts, it's likely the bumper, hatch, and the spare tire all will be toast.

But in low speed impacts, you may be right. The spare AND the rear hatch might be damaged (unless it's very low speed and the elasticity of the spare tire may serve as a cushion).

Of course, missing from this analysis is the hard cover housing for the spare, which throws another screwball into the equation. ;)
 

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Whatchamacallit said:

Of course, missing from this analysis is the hard cover housing for the spare, which throws another screwball into the equation. ;)
Your right, that's what I was thinking but failed to mention. All the RAVs I've seen have the hard cover over the spare?
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
hip said:
Your right, that's what I was thinking but failed to mention. All the RAVs I've seen have the hard cover over the spare?
Most of the RAV-4s I've seen have the hard covers. But according to carsdirect.com it only comes with the "L Package".

Guess how much it costs to replace it:
http://www.brandsport.com/toy-64771-42060-a0-pk1.html :eek:
 

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kiteboy said:
......One of the errors in the article was that it makes the presumption that higher-priced cars are more damage resistant. It's akin to stating "expensive cars are more reliable". It applys the broad stroke of "quality" across the board; that expensive cars are better in all respects than cheap cars.

If one assumes all cars should be equally damage-resistant, then the expensive car should be proportionately more costly to fix.
Llke hip, I also saw this on the news, just a few minutes ago. They covered it quickly so they couldn't say much, but they mentioned the TSX as coming in worst, and they gave the $989 figure (actually I think they showed 950).

Kiteboy makes some great points there. Yes, cars that are more expensive tend to cost more to repair, I think usually disproportionally more. Kinda like, if one car costs twice as much as another, it costs 3 or 4 times as much to repair, sort of.

It's unfortunate that the testing was limited to those 6 cars and that the TSX was in that bunch. Of course it's possible that even if/when many more cars are tested, TSX will still show so poorly. But I'd be surprised if that will be the case.
 
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