Acura RLX Replaces RL With 370 HP V6 Sport Hybrid SH-AWD: 2012 NY Auto Show

Colum Wood
by Colum Wood

With its flagship RL never much of a rival to traditional luxury saloons and its once hi-tech SH-AWD system now more commonplace in the industry, it’s no surprise that the car was a certifiable failure.

Unveiled today at the New York Auto Show, Acura has switched nomenclature to RLX for it’s big sedan, hoping to wow audiences with a purposeful hybrid system that works in tandem with a next-generation electric SH-AWD system.

Making “more than” 370 hp, Acura has mated a direct-injection 3.5-liter V6 engine with three electric motors. One motor works in unison with the V6 engine as a conventional hybrid drive, while two others power the rear wheels. As a result, the RLX now gets what Acura calls Sport Hybrid SH-AWD, allowing power to be distributed left to right in the rear to help the car rotate. A similar system, though with the gasoline in the rear, will be fitted to the next-generation NSX.

Despite all this performance, aided by a 7-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission, the RLX will get 30 mpg city, 30 mpg highway and a combined 30 mpg rating.

Those on more of a budget will be able to opt for a non SH-AWD model making 310-hp. Helping maintain a level of driving performance, however, the car will get what has been branded “Precision All Wheel Steer”. This system will adjust the “toe” of the rear wheels electronically, allowing for more responsive turns.

“We have created a true luxury sedan based on our Acura DNA,” said American Honda president & CEO, Tetsuo Iwamura. “This means achieving advanced performance through engineering efficiency to create a unique synergy between the vehicle and its driver. Inside and out, on the open road or city streets, the sophisticated and elegant Acura RLX will offer a level of connectivity, comfort and advanced performance demanded by today’s luxury buyers.”

Inside, the RLX will be the first to receive Acura’s next-generation AcuraLink with features like stolen vehicle tracking. Two screens will dominate the cabin with an 8-inch display screen and a 7-inch touch screen to operate everything from the audio system to the navigation, to the heated and cooled seats.

In the safety department, the RLX will receive as standard a Forward Collision Warning and Lane Departure Warning setup, while other safety tools include a Collision Mitigation Braking System and Acura’s first use of lane-keeping assist technology.

True to Acura’s current design and the brand direction in general, styling of the new sedan is sedate, though the car (at least in concept form) does get 20-inch wheels with 255/35/20 tires. Measuring the same end-to-end as the current car, the RLX has a two-inch longer wheelbase and two-inches less overhang. The car is also roughly 2-inches wider.

Look for the production RLX to bow in early 2013.

GALLERY: 2013 Acura RLX

Colum Wood
Colum Wood

With AutoGuide from its launch, Colum previously acted as Editor-in-Chief of Modified Luxury & Exotics magazine where he became a certifiable car snob driving supercars like the Koenigsegg CCX and racing down the autobahn in anything over 500 hp. He has won numerous automotive journalism awards including the Best Video Journalism Award in 2014 and 2015 from the Automotive Journalists Association of Canada (AJAC). Colum founded Geared Content Studios, VerticalScope's in-house branded content division and works to find ways to integrate brands organically into content.

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  • Stephen Marcus Colmar Stephen Marcus Colmar on Apr 04, 2012

    Acura still has a lot to work on with their front end/grille but this is the best Legend/RL yet! Hopefully some of this tech trickles into the next TL (Sport Hybrid SH-AWD with maybe 300 HP and 35+ MPG?). The TL (or TLX if that is what it's called) is more my price range.