Honda Automobiles: 2012 Honda Civic

2012 Civic Sedan body with ACE body structure

Honda has consistently challenged itself to pursue vehicle safety as part of its core business strategy. The company seeks to provide a high level of occupant protection and pedestrian injury mitigation in all of its cars and trucks through a comprehensive and evolving approach to vehicle safety. This process benefits all new Honda vehicles, regardless of size or price.

The 2012 Civic exemplifies the Honda approach to safety. Every Civic incorporates as standard equipment the newest generation of Vehicle Stability Assist (VSA), an Anti-lock Braking System (ABS) with Brake Assist, side-curtain airbags, front-side airbags with a passenger-side Occupant Position Detection System (OPDS) and a front seat design that can help reduce the severity of neck injury in the event of a rear collision. Similar to the previous-generation Civic, an Advanced Compatibility Engineering (ACE) body structure in the front of the vehicle helps make the vehicle highly effective at absorbing and disbursing the energy of a frontal crash.

Additional standard safety features include dual-stage, multiple-threshold front airbags, front seatbelts with automatic tensioning system and load limiters, and a pedestrian injury mitigation design in the front of the vehicle. Driver- and front-passenger seatbelt reminders and daytime running lights (DRL) are also standard equipment. Lower Anchors and Tethers for CHildren (LATCH) child seat mounting system is present for the outboard locations of the rear seats.

Standard active safety systems

  • Advanced Vehicle Stability Assist (VSA) with traction control
  • ABS, Electronic Brake Distribution (EBD) and Brake Assist
  • Tire Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS)

Standard passive safety systems

  • Advanced Compatibility Engineering (ACE) body structure
  • 3-point seatbelts at all seating positions
  • Front seatbelt load limiters and automatic tensioners
  • Dual-stage, multiple-threshold front airbags
  • Front-seat side airbags
  • Side curtain airbags
  • Lower Anchors and Tethers for CHildren (LATCH) system in second-row outboard seats

Advanced Compatibility Engineering (ACE) Body Structure
At the heart of the Civic is an exceptionally strong foundation based on the latest version of Honda’s Advanced Compatibility Engineering (ACE) body structure technology that enhances occupant protection and crash compatibility in frontal collisions. The ACE design utilizes a network of connected structural elements to help distribute crash energy more evenly throughout the front of the vehicle. This enhanced frontal crash energy management helps to reduce the forces transferred to the passenger compartment and can 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 head-on or offset frontal impacts with a significantly larger or smaller vehicle.

Unlike most conventional designs that direct frontal crash energy only to the lower load-bearing structures in the front end, the ACE system 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 system can more effectively route them around and away from the passenger compartment to help limit cabin deformation and further improve occupant protection. Integral to the ACE concept is its unique front polygonal main design structure.

Advanced Vehicle Stability Assist (VSA) with Traction Control
Vehicle Stability Assist (VSA) is an Electronic Stability Control system that works in conjunction with the Civic’s Drive-By-Wire throttle system and its 4-channel ABS systems to enhance control while the vehicle is accelerating, braking, cornering or when the driver makes a sudden maneuver. VSA functions by applying brake force to one or more wheels independently while simultaneously managing the throttle, ignition and fuel systems to help the vehicle maintain the driver’s intended path of travel.

The VSA system constantly analyzes data from six sensors that monitor wheel and vehicle speed, steering input, lateral G forces and yaw rate. VSA compares the driver’s inputs with the vehicle’s actual response. Whenever the actual response falls outside of a predetermined acceptable range, VSA intervenes with a corrective action. For example, if VSA detects an oversteer condition, the system may apply braking force to the outside front and rear wheels to counteract the unintended yawing effect. In the event of understeer, VSA may apply braking to the inside rear wheel while reducing engine power to help return the car to its intended course.

VSA also provides a limited-slip differential effect for the front wheels by applying braking force to a slipping wheel, thereby redirecting driving force to the wheel with more traction. VSA is calibrated to function in a nearly transparent manner, and in many cases a driver will not be aware of its operation. However, any time that the system is enhancing vehicle stability, an indicator light flashes in the instrument cluster. While the driver can deactivate the VSA stability enhancement and traction-control functions via a switch located on the instrument panel, ABS remains fully operational at all times.

Honda is applying a new and additional type of control algorithm to the Vehicle Stability Assist (VSA) system for the 2012 Civic that enables more responsive handling under icy or slippery conditions. The concept for this additional algorithm is based on patented Honda know-how gained from its humanoid robotics research and development work.

The conventional VSA feedback loop, which operates by comparing the actual vehicle course with the intended course based on an ideal vehicle response, is augmented by additional control applied via a secondary feedback loop. This additional feedback loop is a type of filter that in effect quickens the estimation of the intended path based on the drivers inputs and acts in parallel to the conventional actual versus intended course stability control, and is used to augment that control.

Like conventional VSA, the additional control loop also considers steering wheel angle, yaw rate, wheel speeds, throttle pedal angle, vehicle acceleration and other variables. It then lightly brakes individual wheels as needed, to predictively control the vehicle along its intended path, and is able to induce more yaw more quickly than conventional VSA on low friction roads.

This advanced VSA system control loop results in faster reacting stability control and reduced transient understeer which may occur on icy or other slippery roads, compared with the previous Civic VSA system. This makes the vehicle more responsive, improving path accuracy, and enhancing the fun-to-drive character that is a trademark of Honda vehicles.

Brake Assist
A function of the VSA system, the Brake Assist feature recognizes emergency braking situations and almost instantly applies full braking force. This Brake Assist feature is controlled by a special logic in the system that evaluates the pedal application rate and force to recognize a panic stop situation. At that point, the VSA modulator pump increases braking pressure while the pedal is still being pressed to ensure maximum stopping force, an action that helps shorten braking distance as much as possible.

Advanced 4-Channel ABS with Electronic Brake Distribution
Civic DX, LX, Natural Gas, HF and Hybrid models are fitted with front disc brakes with vented rotors and rear drum brakes, while the Civic EX and EX-L and Si models have 4-wheel disc brakes with vented front rotors and solid rear rotors. (See Chassis section for more information.) The ABS system also incorporates Electronic Brake Distribution (EBD) circuitry that automatically proportions brake force based on the vehicle’s weight distribution.

Dual-Stage, Multiple-Threshold Front Airbags
Both the driver and front passenger are protected by advanced front airbags (SRS) that incorporate dual-stage, multiple-threshold activation technology. One or both of these airbags will be deployed only in the event of a sufficient frontal impact. If deployed, these airbags are capable of being inflated at different rates depending on crash severity, seatbelt usage and/or other factors. Like other Honda vehicles, the driver’s front airbag is located in the steering wheel while the passenger airbag is located on the top of the dashboard.

Driver and Front Passenger Side Airbags with Front Passenger Occupant Position Detection System (OPDS)
Driver’s and front passenger’s side airbags mounted in the outboard area of each front seatback are designed to provide thorax protection in the event of a severe side impact. In addition, the front passenger’s seat is equipped with the Occupant Position Detection System (OPDS), an innovative system designed to deactivate the side airbag if a child (or small-stature adult) leans into the side airbag deployment path. When the passenger returns to an upright seating position, the side airbag reactivates so it can deploy to help protect the occupant in a side impact. This unique system utilizes weight sensors and sensors in the passenger seatback to determine the height and position of the occupant, and determine if it is safe to deploy the side airbag.

Side Curtain Airbags
All outboard seating positions include a side curtain airbag system, which is standard equipment. The side curtain airbags deploy from modules in the roof in the event of a sufficient side impact, providing a significant level of head protection in the window area. Like the other airbag systems in the vehicle, the side curtain system utilizes sensors to determine the most appropriate timing and rate of deployment of the airbags.

Seat Belts
Three-point seatbelts are standard for all seating positions. The front seatbelts are equipped with automatic tensioners and load limiters to help minimize injury potential in a frontal collision. When an impact occurs, the automatic tensioner tightens the seatbelt (shoulder and lap) to help hold the seat occupant firmly in position. Each front seatbelt retractor incorporates a load limiter that works in conjunction with the automatic tensioner. The load limiter functions by permitting a small amount of controlled seatbelt slack shortly after the automatic tensioner is activated to limit the peak restraining forces, thus reducing the potential of serious injury. The front seatbelts also feature adjustable height shoulder anchors. To help increase seat-belt usage, a reminder for the driver and front passenger has been incorporated into the instrument cluster. After starting the vehicle, a weight sensor detects whether the front passenger seat is occupied. If the driver or front passenger has not already fastened the seat belt, an icon in the cluster illuminates and a chime sounds as a reminder to do so.

Whiplash Mitigation Front Seat Design
Both of the front seats are designed to help mitigate the severity of neck injuries in the event of a rear impact. In general terms, the new seat incorporates a softer design compared to the 2006 2011 seats by using greater spring range settings in both the seatback and bottom cushions. In the event of a rear crash, this allows the seat to more evenly disperse rear impact forces against the occupant as the seatback cushion compresses relative to the occupants head. The seatback springs are optimized so that in a rear crash, when the seatback is pushed forward into the occupant, the seat will more equally absorb the occupants mass in manner that can minimize the severity of a whiplash injury. For greater comfort, the head restraints have been pushed back 9 mm compared to previous model.

The prior-generation Civics active front seat head restraints and the new Whiplash Mitigation Front Seat Design accomplish approximately the same effect. The prior model had a mechanism within the seatback that would push the head restraint up and forward to help equalize forces on an occupant during a rear crash. The new 2012 seat design accomplishes a similarly effective range of motion via the overall spring and cushion tuning of the entire seat relative to the head restraint.

Adjustable Head Restraints for All Seating Positions
The front and rear seats feature individually adjustable head restraints for all passenger seating positions. All rear head restraints comply with Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards (FMVSS) for rear passenger head restraints that took effect for any all-new 2011-model-year-and-later vehicle. The new rules closely specify the size, position and operation of the rear-seat head restraints.

Lower Anchors and Tethers for CHildren (LATCH)
Lower Anchors and Tethers for CHildren (LATCH) provide a simple and convenient method to install compatible child safety seats in a vehicle. In the 2012 Civic, the rear outboard seating positions are fitted with dedicated LATCH attachment points. The LATCH system features built-in, ready-to-use anchors and tethers allowing compatible child safety seats to be installed without using the vehicle’s seat belt system. In addition, the rear center seating position features top tether anchors that can be used to secure a single child safety seat. The ability to choose which location works best for individual needs can help families more conveniently maximize interior space.

Tire Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS)
The Civic is fitted with a Tire Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS) that alerts a driver whenever the air pressure in one or more of the vehicle’s tires decreases significantly below the recommended level. Using four sensors (one in each tire), TPMS monitors and transmits information on tire air pressure to the ECU. When the pressure in one or more tires drops to a potentially critical level, it causes a low tire-pressure indicator (located in the instrument cluster) to illuminate.

Safety RD Facilities
Honda operates two of the world’s most sophisticated crash test laboratories specifically created for the development of improved safety designs and technologies. The Tochigi facility in Japan contains the world’s first indoor multi-directional car-to-car crash testing facility and plays a critical role in the development of enhanced designs for occupant safety, pedestrian injury mitigation and vehicle-to-vehicle compatibility. Honda RD America’s Raymond, Ohio development center performs advanced testing on all North American-developed models. The facility features the world’s first pitching test sled, which aids efficiency by enabling economical and speedy crash-test simulations with certain interior safety components, such as seats and seatbelts, prior to conducting a crash test with an actual vehicle. It also features one of the world’s highest-resolution impact barriers, which enables precise measurement of the distribution of impact load forces on a vehicle.

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