From the company that introduced in the 1980s safety innovations such as anti- lock brakes and dual front airbags as standard equipment comes a list of the most important SUV safety features
ATLANTA - With the recent focus on occupant protection, rollover resistance and accident avoidance systems, today's auto consumers are ever more conscious about auto safety. Porsche, also focused on safety and with a proven track record of creating vehicles that are as safe as they are sporty, today announced its list of the most important safety features a consumer should look for when considering an SUV.
When it comes to auto safety, there are two categories: active safety and passive safety. Generally, 'active' safety refers to systems such as anti- lock brakes that are designed to help the driver avoid an accident, while 'passive' safety systems such as airbags are there to help protect occupants in the event of an accident.
If you are considering an SUV for you and your family, look for one that has:
* Four-Wheel Independent Suspension - Four-wheel independent suspension allows each wheel to react individually to bumps in the road, and it increases the chances that all wheels will remain firmly planted on the ground when driving on rough roads or when trying to avoid an accident. The Porsche Cayenne, first introduced in North America in early 2003, features independent suspension at all four corners. The set-up delivers handling similar to that of a sport sedan, with precise and responsive steering that could be vital during an evasive maneuver.
* A Unibody Structure - Most auto experts agree that a unibody structure is superior to traditional body-on-frame configurations for a couple of reasons. First, a unibody offers a lower center of gravity that helps reduce body sway, which helps keep all four wheels firmly on the ground. Second, it provides increased rigidity to help further enhance handling and to provide outstanding crash characteristics. All Cayennes feature extremely rigid unibody construction, thanks to the use of high-strength steel for 60 percent of the structure.
* Electronic Stability Control (ESC) Systems - ESC systems are designed to 'take over' if the system's sensors -- usually yaw and pitch sensors -- detect a loss of control. Most systems do so by applying brakes or power to individual wheels to re-stabilize the vehicle. In 1998, Porsche introduced its Porsche Stability Management (PSM) system on its 911 Carrera 4 coupe and cabriolet models. Today, the Cayenne features PSM, Porsche Traction Management (PTM) and Porsche Active Suspension Management (PASM) as vital parts of its active SUV safety equation. PSM and the PTM four-wheel drive system are in constant communication to coordinate the anti-lock brake system (ABS), the automatic slip regulation (ASR) system and the automatic brake differential (ABD) to help re-stabilize the vehicle in extreme steering conditions. PSM "tells" PTM to open the differential locks and/or apply brakes to individual wheels to help re-stabilize the vehicle, but it also can help stabilize the vehicle by automatically adjusting the engine's ignition and throttle. PASM, part of the Cayenne's air suspension system, further enhances handling by helping to control body sway and dive motions. PASM features a new shock absorber damping system that measures body motion. If the Cayenne's body motion exceeds a certain limit due to driving style or surface conditions, PASM intervenes and helps stabilize the vehicle by stiffening individual shock absorbers.
* Anti-Lock Brakes (ABS) - ABS is a system that prevents brakes from locking up during hard braking. When brakes lock up on wet and slippery roads or during a panic stop, the driver loses steering control and the vehicle can skid. In the past, a driver could manually 'pump' the brake pedal to prevent wheel lockup. In vehicles equipped with ABS, the driver's foot remains firmly on the brake pedal while the system automatically pumps the brakes. This allows the driver to brake hard while still retaining directional control to steer clear of an obstacle. Since SUVs frequently carry heavy loads, it also is important to look for front and rear disc brakes. Porsche first introduced disc brakes on the 1962 356B Carrera 2, and added ABS as standard equipment on the 1985 928S. In 1990 Porsche made ABS disc brakes standard equipment on all of its U.S. models.
* Optimal Aerodynamics - Vehicle aerodynamics is vital to vehicle stability. Simply put, poor aerodynamics generates lift at the front and/or rear of the vehicle, thus creating instability, particularly at higher speeds. The Cayenne behaves like a genuine sports car due to its streamlined shape. Spoilers at the leading edges of the wheels optimize airflow around wheel well openings, the rear spoiler and the vehicle's shape reduce rear axle lift, and an under-floor panel also helps reduce lift and helps enhance stability.
* Airbags and Other Passive Safety Systems - In 1986, the Porsche 944 Turbo was the first European car sold in the U.S. market to have dual front airbags as standard equipment. Dual front airbags became standard equipment on all U.S. Porsche models in 1990. All Cayenne models have dual front airbags, a pair of side impact airbags, and side curtain airbags from the front to the rear of the vehicle. Porsche also uses seat-belt latch pretensioners and the front seats also have belt-force limiters.
(Feb 14, 2005)