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Discussion Starter #1
I've searched the site a bit but been unable to find any testimonial of anyone who's actually rolled over in an MDX or knows of anyone who has. I'm wondering how the roof handles a rollover. Does it collapse? Does anyone out there have any experience with this?

peace
 

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Erik said:
I've searched the site a bit but been unable to find any testimonial of anyone who's actually rolled over in an MDX or knows of anyone who has. I'm wondering how the roof handles a rollover. Does it collapse? Does anyone out there have any experience with this?

peace
You've brought up an excellent point concerning safety.....I've always wondered how the "Japanese marques" would do when it came to engineering safety "from the ground up" as BMW, Mercedes and Volvo do. There was an incident a year or two ago here in the Los Angeles area where an 18-wheeler semi went out of control and "fell" (tipped over) on top of the roof of a Mercedes-Benz E-320 sedan.......and the entire passenger cabin and roof-structure held together perfectly supporting the weight of the semi and the passengers, obviously shaken up (themselves astonished), walked away without a scratch.........needless to say I was dumbfounded by the level of safety engineered into these vehicles.......I'm told the Volvo XC90 has a BORON-REINFORCED roof structure that Volvo tests by dropping it on it's roof from a height (equivavlent to a 5-storey or 7-storey building or something like that) and it supposedly holds up intact

I'm trying to search the web to see if there's any measure of how well roof structures of SUVs hold up....especially with the propensity of these vehicles to rollover
 

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Uh no, LOL, the XC90's roof will not withstand a 5 or 7 storey drop. Even a rally car with a full rollcage will not be able to withstand that! Surfice it to say that the XC's roof structure is sturdier than your typical SUV's, at least equaling the MB M-class's roof and pillar strength. The XC's roof is strategically reinforced with the tough Boron steel, which is 4-5 times tougher than your normal steel.
 

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I have 2 friends that survived a 5 turn rollover when their late model Dodge 4X4 pickup slid off a steep enbankment as the driver tried to tune in the final world series game last year. They were barely going 5 mph at the time.
Driver had not put his belt on yet, and got ejected. Came out with a compound leg fracture.
His friend hiked 11 miles at night to get help, he was banged up but back at work the next day.
So much for the details. I saw the photos of the truck and there was not patch of metal that was not dented. But the 'cage' was intact. Of course, with a pickup you are dealing with a smaller, so likely stiffer top.
 

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It probably can't be summed up as German vs Japanese vs American.

The Lexus RX300 (Toyota Harrior) does not do very well with roll overs. If you search around, you will find plenty of pictures of roof failure on this vehicle. Neither does the BMW X5. Again there are examples of this vehicle where the cabin was destroyed by failure of the roof pillars. It should be noted that both of these vehicles do very well in the IIHS crash test. The BMW is the highest rated.

It should also be noted that many people are injured during rollovers by not being buckled up. You can't do much about keeping the roof from caving in, but you can control the possibility of being ejected. When a vehicle is rolling, there is absolutely nothing you can do to "hold on".

The seats in cars should also be tested. Another common source of injury is from rear enders. The passenger cage may survive the impact, but unfortunately the seat back hinge will break, and the poor individual is thrown through the rear of the vehicle. The medis has not focused on this problem but 60 minutes did a story on it a few years ago. At the time, the program said only Mercedes and Volvo did any testing in this area.

I had heard about the E-class incident. Amazing. The E-class is probably the safest sedan on the road. Even the A roof pillar on that vehicle can support the entire weight of the E-class.

http://www.whnet.com/4x4/W124_Apillar.html
 

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4 Star Rollover Rating

I am happy to say that I have no testimonies to share about rollovers. When I bought my '01 MDX, safety was a major concern for me, and a big reason I chose the MDX.

Talk about feeling good about a decision. The Acura MDX is the "star" of the midsize line of SUV's. It receives the highest crash test ratings, and the 2002 was given a 4 star "rollover resistence" rating by the NHTSA. The 2001 was not tested. But high marks in safety is no surprise. The base MDX framework was built around the Honda Odyssey, one of the safest mini vans out there....not a bad lineage.

The MDX has a number of things working for you. The list goes on: the Acura vehicle structure design, safety cage, front and rear ends that buckle, crush zones....I could keep going......

There are a few major points about rollover safety the MDX delivers to all of us.

The safety cage, weight, width, four pillar beams and suspension all are major components in a rollover. The MDX delivers safety. The Acura is heavy but is not the heaviest SUV out there.....heavy SUV's are not fun in a rollover. The width is also very important and factors heavily with the weight of the vehicle. The MDX is a wide vehicle for its size. The independent suspension gives you additonal resistence to rollover. The safety cage is well designed and those pillar beams would be your "best friend" in a rollover.

You should go to the following sites and check them out. While they are not definitive "testimonials," they should give you some serious peace of mind about the MDX in a rollover:

1. The Nat. Hwy. Trans. & afety Admin. Rating of the 2001 Acura MDX is at http://hwysafety.org/vehicle_ratings/CD/html/0113.htm

2. 2002 Rollover Rating for Acura MDX by NHTSA:
http://nhtsa.gov/NCAP/Cars/2022.html

3. The Gallery of this Website. Check out paul123's posting of "MDX Hits Tree at 55 MPH" Wow.....you can see the crumple zones worked and the integrity of the passenger compartmentis pretty much in tact.

That's about it. The Acura MDX is one of the safest SUV's out there.....Oh yeah, accurate tire pressure is critical in prevention. We all learned that one with the Ford/Firestone tragedies.

I guess that goes without saying.....

-Mark
 

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I think the question posed, was how does it hold up if a rollover occurs, not rollover resistance. All vehicles will roll particularly on non-flat land. The items you site really do not indicate how well the MDX will handle rollover. The RX300 and X5 are examples of this.
 

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Tech555 said:
I think the question posed, was how does it hold up if a rollover occurs, not rollover resistance. All vehicles will roll particularly on non-flat land. The items you site really do not indicate how well the MDX will handle rollover. The RX300 and X5 are examples of this.
You give a link for a Mercedes sturctural test, but none for the M Class, Lexus RX300 or the X5 which you say are inferior.
I am not aware of any for the MDX, or any other vehicle except the Mercedes you gave the link for, which is not an SUV.

There is new legislation for 2003 which will require actually roll-over tests to be performed.
 

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My Apologies to Erik and Tech555

Tech555 is right. I was wrong.

I missed the whole point of your question. I only had answers to rollover resistence....nothing on actual rollover results. Thought you, and some of the other MDX owners, might have found the information I presented as interesting....but it didn't answer your question.

I didn't mean to imply the MDX is safer than the E-Class sedan or the Volvo. I only said it was one of the safest. Nor did I mean to imply the MDX will not rollover. No vehicle can say that, on flat or hilly terrain.

I am sure that everyone has an opinion as to which vehicle is safest. vicpai's story about the E-Class Sedans roof holding up to a semi rollover is compelling. paul123's photos he posted on this website about the MDX hitting a tree at 55 and the driver living to tell about it is another fantastic testimonial.

I just can't find any rollover information, nor any case studies, on MDX rollovers and how well the roofs held up

Sorry.
 

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Very long post ...

As I've said many a time, I think the MDX is, overall, a very safe vehicle. In my personal opinion, I think the M-class is a notch above in safety, and I think the new Volvo XC90 will even exceed the M-class by another notch (just like I think the next-gen M-class due in 2004 will leapfrog the Volvo).

It comes down to not which is the safest vehicle, but which combination of safety and other vehicle attributes fits a buyer's priorities. Again, no SUV wars here please, but everyone likes and dislikes other attributes of all the aforementioned vehicles.

It may sound strange to not buy the safest vehicle out there, but we don't hide in our homes either. One could argue that if maximum safety was the requirement, perhaps one shouldn't even buy an SUV because of the their natural predisposition to roll over more readily than most sedans. Though one thing the anti-SUV lobby misses is that the higher riding position of most SUV's actually protects the SUV's occupants significantly in side-impact collisions.

It is always difficult to assess safety on paper, in the absence of scientific testing. And even scientific testing can be somewhat misleading (e.g. can one readily trust a manufacturer's statements about its internal testing?). That said, comparative testing is certainly better than unsubstantiated claims and even anecdotal crash info if it isn't in sufficient quantity and if the details about the crash are not fully verified.

It is definitely true that Volvo and Mercedes-Benz have consistently demonstrated the highest commitment to safety, and have been very innovative and have "overengineered" safety in to their vehicles. I have a mixed view of the overengineering because while much of the safety reputation is well-deserved, there's some aggressive marketing behind it and things can be deceiving -- aggressive claims from the manufacturers, and from some overzealous loyalists (as is true with all vehicles). E.g. stability control is definitely beneficial but it can't defy the laws of physics. It simply raises the vehicle's capabilities, but not to absolute heights. I cringe when I see comments that "these teenagers might be alive if their vehicle/that vehicle had ..." because it's much too speculative. I think their vehicles are generally safer, but they're not the last word in safety, which is why their research and the research of others continues.

It's also hard to know when a claimed advantage of a vehicle is realistic and will provide safety in all situations, and whether the competitors lack such features. E.g. it is true that some vehicles have had the front seats snap and go backwards in collisions, killing the occupant (often a child) behind them. However, whether or not the RX300, MDX, etc. have this issue is unknown, at least until some anecdotal crash information is available. One would hope that Acura has recognized the limitation of some of the older vehicles that may have had this problem, and addressed this with the MDX.

(Honda/Acura itself has made nice strides in safety, with their recent vehicles doing much better in crash tests than previous models. However, Honda/Acura has been slow with a number of safety innovations, e.g. better-designed headrests to prevent whiplash, stability control, and head-protection airbags. Indeed, i think Toyota/Lexus is somewhat ahead of Honda/Acura in this vein, making side curtain airbags available in even a Camry, achieving great crash test results earlier -- Camry vs. Accord in this example -- and making VSC available on many of its vehicles -- all SUV's but the RAV4, the Camry.)

Another example of possibly-overstated safety engineering are the vaunted patented door latches on the MB's that prevent the door from popping open in the accident. Despite this long-standing safety enhancement, the driver's door of a 1997 E420 opened in an IIHS crash test. Fluke? Overrated feature? Can one really know? Who can you trust?

Citation:

http://www.iihs.org/vehicle_ratings/ce/html/97005.htm
(please note this is a previous generation E-class, but I understand it had that door latch design)

Another example is the European crash test of the C-class, which has tremendous safety in a smaller package. Despite this, the European testers felt that the side curtain airbags (not that you can get these in an MDX, mind you) didn't deploy fully and could fail to prevent injuries in all cases. See:

http://www.euroncap.com/details.php3?id=merc_cclass_2001

Yet another example is the fact that initially the M-class did not come with child safety locks or true childseat top tether anchors. However, MB has nicely corrected this, and earlier M-classes can be retrofitted. Having a correctable safety deficit is much better than a non-correctable one.

And then there's the Volvo S40 which didn't quite get the highest rating in its recent crash test. See:

http://www.iihs.org/vehicle_ratings/ce/html/0124.htm

But, as Volvo points out, the S40 has a ton of safety features that other vehicles don't have. That's why it's hard to judge safety. Crash tests don't do it alone, though they are important.

And that's where I think Volvo and MB shine. I don't think they own a monopoly on safety, and I don't think that their vehicles represent absolute safety. E.g. I think MB needs to put better ergonomics in their vehicle to lessen driver distraction. But I think that overall they pack more safety technology into their vehicles (sometimes at the expense of other things) than other manfacturers. The M-class and the upcoming XC90 have things like side curtain airbags (though I think their benefit in higher-riding SUV's isn't as strong as they are with sedans), pretensioners in most if not all seating positions, rear side airbags (on the M-class; somewhat controversial when children are involved, up to the parent to decide), bi-xenon headlamps, and of course reinforced roof supports.

All MB's are subjected to factory rollover testing, of two different types, I believe. This is the famous "Stayin' Alive" M-class commercial where there is a brief clip of an M-class being rolled over.

http://www.off-road.com/mbenz/Staying_Alive.avi

Now, is this irrefutable proof of rollover resistance? Not irrefutable, I think, but I think it's a strong indication. I'd like to see Acura issue similar video. I understand that Lexus tried to copy the "Stayin' Alive" commercial but couldn't show the rollover test. Given anecdotal RX300 rollover stories and photos, I think one can guess why.

I don't doubt that a manufacturer can doctor video results, though. E.g. remember those old Volvo commercials where a vehicle was driven over the roofs of Volvos, and the roofs didn't crush? Then the scandal that broke when it was revealed that Volvo had reinforced the roofs to film the commercial, because the roofs were crushing?

However, I highly doubt MB would fake something like that with so much attention focused on rollovers and the suspicions from the Volvo-doctored video.

In a way, I hope I don't see any Acura MDX rollover photos or video, because regardless of whether the roof stands up to a rollover or not, a rollover's not a good thing for the occupants.
 

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FYI William, all of the clips that MB used in the Staying Alive video were internal crash test videos of the prototypes that the MB engineers used to test out their designs, so it is definitely authentic. The tests were not specially done for the commercial :)

As for the door latches, I do think that it was a fluke since none of MB's internal crash tests of the same car had this happen. Nonetheless, it is curious as to why it did happen on that E420, even though it happened very late in the crash after the impact (which is an important point). I'm told that MB safety engineers flew to the IIHS facility to examine the vehicle, after they were informed of the results. Not sure as to what conclusions they came to though.

That wedge shaped door latch design has been proven in the real world over the last few decades that MB has been using it (and improved on it of course), and they have data to back it up. As you probably know, what's special about it is that the door frame latch anchor is two or three times thicker than many other vehicles, and there is a special dual pin and latch system in the door latch mechanism itself. Its secondary function is not to jam, so that rescuers can get into the vehicle after (tying in with the pull style handles).

Interestingly, I noticed that an '88 Jetta has latches that appear somewhat similiar to the original design that MB came out with in the 1960's!
 

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Drew said:
FYI William, all of the clips that MB used in the Staying Alive video were internal crash test videos of the prototypes that the MB engineers used to test out their designs, so it is definitely authentic. The tests were not specially done for the commercial :)
But that's my point. Oh, I think that the tests are legitimate. But please remember that not all of us have the same faith in MB that you have (MB can screw up as badly as any other manufacturer in some areas).

Just saying that they were internal crash test videos of the prototypes automatically introduces some level of doubt. That's one reason standardized government rollover testing is sorely needed.

Drew said:
As for the door latches, I do think that it was a fluke since none of MB's internal crash tests of the same car had this happen.
I'm sure the latches work most of the time. One thing that one never knows from crash tests is whether or not all the results are consistent to other vehicles of the same model (late-firing airbag tests are some of the most debatable). It's obviously expensive to test. Nevertheless, I would have thought that if MB really disputed that test with the door popping open (even late), they should have requested another test. If MB is that committed to safety, the perception of safety, and expenditure on safety, they should have requested another test.

The same goes for the M-class's performance in the IIHS test where it only scored "acceptable" in the neck injury score. A fluke perhaps, but I don't know why MB didn't request another test if MB felt it was a fluke. Until another IIHS test is issued, I don't think most people will care as much that an internal MB crash test didn't find the same problem.

Drew, do you still have some RX300 and X5 rollover pictures? Dale has asked to see them. I've seen them before, but with PhotoPoint dead, I can't get at them.
 

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Discussion Starter #13
Perhaps it is further testament to the safety of the MDX that no one seems able to produce evidence of an actual MDX rollover event.
 

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Erik said:
Perhaps it is further testament to the safety of the MDX that no one seems able to produce evidence of an actual MDX rollover event.
Erik,

Hopefully for MDX owners, that is true. However, the MDX has only been out for about 18 months, including two winters. Whereas vehicles like the RX300 have been out since 1998, and production in some years has been over double what Acura has produced in a single year. I'm sure we'll eventually see some pictures, good or bad.
 

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DaleB said:
Any history on the RX300? it's got a 3 star rating, and the MDX a 4.
I've seen some photos of RX300 accidents where the roof pillar crushed in a rollover. Specifically the A-pillar. I wish I could post them here, but the source of the pictures was on PhotoPoint, which is down. But I have definitely seen the photos, and so have some others here.

Drew also had two X5 rollovers documented (unfortunately, also on PhotoPoint -- again, I saw the photos so all I can say is that they are real). If I recall correctly, one had the A-pillar crushed pretty severely. The other was much worse, most of the roof had collapsed (I think it rolled over 4-5 times).

I've asked Drew if he has any backup copies of the photos but so far no luck.
 

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It would still be hard to draw any conclusions from photographs due to so many factors.
How fast the vehicle was going before it rolled would certainly have an effect on the initial impact to the roof, and then how many times it rolled, and whether it was on a surfaced, or dirt road, etc. and the angle of approach.
It will be interesting to see the government's results once they get some testing done.
 

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On my way to work this morning I saw a rolled over RX300 involved in a 3 car accident. Immediately the 1st thing I noticed was there was very little clearance between the hood and the roof. Then I noticed the A-pillars were crushed. Apparently the accident had occurred not too long ago as emergency vehicles were arriving. There was considerable distance between the RX and the other 2 cars involved which may indicate the RX rolled multiple times or slid after the rollover. Saw few people sitting on the median next to the RX which I assume were occupants. In anycase, there did not SEEM to be any serious injury. This is on a 6 lane highway with 45mph speedlimit.

In a rollover, the A-pillar will probably bear the most stress as it it is closest to the engine.(any structural engineers know?) I did notice the MDX seem to have wide A-pillars at least compared to my Maxima but thats probably comparing apples/oranges. Anyone know how does the A-pillar compares with other SUVs?
 
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