The new 2009 Acura TSX midsize sedan has won the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety's (IIHS) Top Safety Pick award in the Institute’s latest round of testing. To qualify, a vehicle must earn the highest rating of good in the institute's front, side, and rear tests and be fitted with electronic stability control. The new TSX improved in the side test from acceptable to good and in the rear test from poor to good, compared with the previous model.

Huge improvements in protection for people in rear crashes highlight the changes incorporated in the new model. The seats and head restraints in the previous model were rated poor for occupant protection in rear crashes. Honda redesigned the seats in the 2009 TSX to earn a better rating, and when the Institute tested the new seat, it earned the highest rating of good.

The Institute’s frontal crashworthiness evaluations are based on results of 40 mph frontal offset crash tests. Each vehicle’s overall evaluation is based on measurements of intrusion into the occupant compartment, injury measures recorded on a dummy in the driver seat, and analysis of slow-motion film to assess how well the restraint system controlled dummy movement during the test.

Side evaluations are based on performance in a crash test in which the side of a vehicle is struck by a barrier moving at 31 mph. The barrier represents the front end of a pickup or SUV. Ratings reflect injury measures recorded on two instrumented dummies, assessment of head protection countermeasures, and the vehicle’s structural performance during the impact. Structural performance is based on measurements indicating the amount of B-pillar intrusion into the occupant compartment.

Rear crash protection is rated using a test that simulates a collision in which a stationary vehicle is struck in the rear at 20 mph.