New Lexus RX300 Makes Its World Debut | Part Four

Safety

The new Lexus RX offers a wealth of features to set new standards in both active and passive safety. Uppermost are the excellent driving dynamics, aided still further by Vehicle Stability Control, Traction Control and Brake Assist technology, but additionally the new RX carries more safety equipment than any other vehicle in its segment.

AFS, Adaptive Front-lighting System, is one of the several safety features available in the new Lexus RX. For the first time in an SUV, AFS uses an electronic controller to calculate from the vehicle speed and steering angle, the optimum swivel of the lighting area for better visibility while cornering. Unlike earlier systems which were merely linked to a car’s steering, the AFS controller controls the lighting direction independently and is combined with HID (High Intensity Discharge) headlights with an automatic levelling system for optimum night-time vision.

Rain sensing windscreen wipers will be available and a timed spray windscreen wash system is fitted to ensure the best possible visibility in poor weather. This is further aided by the use of water-repellent glass, which is specially coated to maintain clear vision through the front side windows.

The original RX remains one of the best-performing sport-utility vehicles in terms of passive safety performance, as confirmed by crash-tests conducted by independent organisations in the United States, like IIHS (Insurance Institute for Highway Safety). Lexus engineers have ensured that the new model protects its occupants even more thoroughly. Standard equipment includes multi-stage driver and front passenger SRS airbags. For the first time, the driver airbag features three deployment modes, adapting the inflation pressure according to information gathered from the seat position sensor, crash severity sensor and seatbelt buckle switch. Standard side curtain shield airbags offer supplemental head protection for occupants in side impacts.

The side protection is further enhanced by "Thorax-Abdomen-Pelvis" side airbags. This new type of airbag features a capacity of 13 litres, compared with 10 litres for the conventional side airbags. For this reason, it can reduce the risk of chest and abdomen injuries by spreading the forces over a wider area.

Injuries to the legs, common in major frontal impacts are likely to be significantly reduced by the RX’s provision of a knee airbag for the driver, for the first time in the segment.

The main purpose of knee airbag adoption is to reduce injury from contact with steering column and lower dashboard structures, but they have also been found to reduce head and chest injuries by reducing the pelvis displacement and rotation of the torso in a major impact.

The overall structural strength of the new RX also plays a significant part in protecting its occupants. Over 80 cars were crash tested, achieving optimal results in impacts far greater than the mandatory crash test requirements.

The new RX300 will go on sale in the UK in May 2003. Further details regarding exact specification, grading structure and pricing will be available closer to launch date.

continues... | Part Five
Published 5 January 2003 Melanie Carter

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