Auto Tech

Acura adds hybrids to revamped lineup

Automotive News reports on Acura's upcoming model lineup.

Fascia on the Acura TL sedan changed for the 2012 model year.
Acura TL
Fascia on the Acura TL sedan were changed for the 2012 model year. Acura

Sales have begun to rebound for American Honda Motor's luxury brand, and a product renaissance in 2012--complete with a big entry into hybrid power trains--could provide a further boost.

Acura's two crossovers will be redesigned. And while the RL flagship won't have the rear-drive V-8 version--those plans were killed in 2009--it will be significantly re-engineered. Subsequent model years will see other major redesigns and other lineup changes.

Acura also will take a step back from its polarizing "keen edge" design philosophy. An early hint of a more refined look can be seen in the 2012 TL midcycle change. The angular front "beak" was replaced by a more traditional grille.

RSX: An entry-luxury sedan will come in the spring of 2013, to compete with the Lexus CT 200h and BMW front-drive cars. The RSX is based on the Honda Civic platform and will be powered by a 210-hp version of the Civic Si's four-cylinder engine. After the failure of the Canadian-market CSX, Acura knows it can't just deliver a warmed-over Civic. This model will be larger and have more differentiated sheet metal.

RSX coupe: Plans call for a midcycle addition that arrives in the spring of 2015. Dealers have asked for a convertible hardtop.

TSX: There is talk within Acura that the TSX will go away after its cycle ends in 2013. Four low-volume sedans that are close in size may not be a healthy business plan.

TL: The Honda Accord-based midsized sedan got a major fascia change this year, meaning a redesign won't come until the fall of 2013. Because it is too close in size to the RL, expect a shorter wheelbase and less overall length.

At launch, Honda's large-car hybrid system will be available as an option on the base V-6. The V-6 will be lighter and will include a new cylinder deactivation system and stop-start ignition. The 3.7-liter V-6 may come down in displacement to 3.5 liters.

RL: Look for a re-engineering of the all-wheel-drive RL in late 2012 as a 2013 model. Pride will not let Acura get rid of its flagship--which is on an expensive standalone architecture--even though Honda is looking to kill the vehicle in Japan, where it is called the Legend.

RDX: After a six-year cycle, the small crossover will be redesigned for the summer of 2012. It will be offered in both front- and all-wheel drive. The twitchy turbo-four version will go away, replaced by a standard 2.5-liter inline-four engine on the base model, and a hybrid-four as an option. There won't be a V-6 because the Civic platform that underpins the RDX can't accommodate it. A midcycle addition of a seven-speed sequential transmission is possible.

ZDX: It was new for the 2010 model year, so no changes are planned for now.

MDX: A redesign is scheduled for the fall of 2012. A running change will include a hybrid version to augment the base V-6 engine. For fuel economy, the base 300-hp 3.7-liter engine may be replaced with a new 270-hp, 3.5-liter V-6. The MDX mostly missed out on the keen edge design era and will stay with more restrained luxury styling.

NSX: Honda Motor President Takanobu Ito says a new version of the Ferrari-fighter is in the works. He should know; he was an engineer on the original. But killing the sports car in 2009, after misfires on two concepts, means it will likely be 2014 before one hits the road.

(Source: Automotive News)