By on January 24, 2012

Today, TTAC was treated to what might be the first look at Acura’s newest flagship. While we saw renderings of the new car, we weren’t allowed to take photographs – but none of the information released was embargoed.

The look of the next RL can best be described as a current TL mated with a Hyundai Genesis. The overall design is still distinctly Acura, though the rear of the car has a very strong Hoffmeister kink and an overall profile similar to the Genesis or Equus, including a very short rear deck. The taillights echo the Buick Lacrosse – while it sounds unappealing on paper, the design as a whole is not unattractive, just extremely conservative.

The new car is said to be about the size of a 5-Series but with the interior space of a 7-Series. Powertrain details didn’t go much further beyond a V6 of undisclosed displacement, a 7-speed dual clutch gearbox and Acura’s SH-AWD system (previewed on the Accord prototype seen in the above photograph) that uses two electric motors in the rear rather than a mechanical linkage to deliver power to the rear wheels and vector torque amongst the left and right rear sides. Acura officials said that the system would not be standard on the new flagship, even though the new technology will be a showpiece for Acura’s new direction as a brand.

Unless Acura has some new super-secret RWD architecture that nobody knows about, the new flagship will have to have an FWD variant. Acura officials wouldn’t comment on the matter, so we’ll have to wait until April’s New York Auto Show for the definitive answer.

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49 Comments on “Next Acura RL Will Not Have Electric SH-AWD As Standard...”


  • avatar
    johnhowington

    kids toys have electric motor’s too, my 50k acura shouldnt.

    • 0 avatar
      bikegoesbaa

      You want a $50k Acura with wind-up windows?

      • 0 avatar
        johnhowington

        bring it on. i want a $50k Acura with the side-hood mirrors too, but apparently most fat americans dont.

      • 0 avatar
        TEXN3

        Please tell me the correlation between weight of a people in a country and mirrors mounted to the side of a hood?

        I think electrically powered rear wheels is a great idea, especially when utilizing a FWD platform as Honda has always done for the Acura division (save the original NSX). Yes, Acura is not what is once was and I do favor the “drive” of my TL to a new TL, but the new one is so far advanced, it’s unbelieveable!

    • 0 avatar
      B.C.

      Does your kids writi’ng have mis’pla’ced ap’ostrop’hes to’o?

      Trolling aside, electric motors aren’t the cause nor the solution to Acura’s problem: nobody wants their stuff.

    • 0 avatar
      redliner

      I disagree. Powering the rear heels with electric motors removes the need for a rear drive shaft and allows for more passenger space. It also allows very precise torque vectoring and regenerative braking, which improves overall efficiency.

      When the current generation of RL came out, it was one of the most technology packed cars on the market. Now its *just* competitive. This will help put it back at the front.

      If it’s good enough for a $55K Infiniti, and a $95k Porsche, then its good enough for a $50k Acura.

      • 0 avatar
        genuineleather

        Acura must want to cash in on the roaring success of those two models.

      • 0 avatar
        ckgs

        Acura can’t seem to win. When they stick with the basics, and they’re too conservative and uncompetitive. They do something innovative, and it’s a kid’s toy.

        The RX and Highland Hybrid AWD models have used an electric motor to drive the rear wheels since 2006. Works great in the snow.

    • 0 avatar
      DeadWeight

      And Acura keeps getting uglier, cheaper & worse, as the symbolically important beak of this ‘new’ RL undoubtedly shows the future.

      Oh Honda, where art thou true Honda? Thou have lost thy way.

    • 0 avatar
      stuki

      I beats being jacked up to make room to fit driveshafts going both front and rear. Assuming the whole electric thingy works, of course.

      Kinda cool to be able to buy hop up parts at Fry’s too, at least for us geeks :)

  • avatar
    MarkP

    There’s nothing wrong with electric motors driving the wheels. Diesel locomotives have been using them for many years.

    • 0 avatar
      tedward

      ahhhh yes, the diesel locomotive, that king of knife edge throttle control and keen enthusiast feedback. Actually I kind of agree that on paper a seperately powered rear axle is a great idea, but in practice I think it’s going to turn out like Haldex awd systems. Great on paper, but needing several generations to even begin approaching the refinement of the tried and trued mechanical systems. For Acura’s sake I really hope this system is ready for prime time.

  • avatar
    deepblue

    Will the new model have a manual transmission?

  • avatar
    TonyJZX

    everyone thought the old implementation was a gimmick

    what have they done to reverse that impression?

    made it optional? lol?

  • avatar
    kvndoom

    So they’re planning to sell more than 1100 a year then?

  • avatar
    carguy

    I wonder why Honda keeps bothering with the Acura branding experiment. The Acura brand is no more prestigious than the Honda brand so why not just sell them as upmarket Hondas like they have done everywhere else in the world?

    • 0 avatar
      Zykotec

      I always thought it was funny that even the name ‘Acura’ reminds me a bit of the name ‘Mercury’

      • 0 avatar
        TEXN3

        Definitely agreed, Honda has never taken Acura seriously. It is just an outlet to sell premium Hondas at a different dealership.
        Time to dump the entire Acura line, move Legend to Honda and it can battle with Genesis, Avalon, and Taurus SHO. Replace Pilot with MDX.
        However, Acuras are a fine vehicle just like Olds and Mercury once were.

      • 0 avatar
        DeadWeight

        Mercury should have been marketed and planned as the Fords that Europeans get brand, performance oriented and athletic in motion and design, as Acura should have been the similar counterpart to Honda, which was the case when the Legend (the last car that was good enough to warrant a premium status differentiated from its Honda paymaster) was being turned out at its best-ness.

    • 0 avatar
      NulloModo

      I’d disagree about the lack of Acura prestige. It might not carry the same snob appeal as BMW or Mercedes, but I associate Acuras with reliability and technical precision. Hondas also share those attributes, but they’re a dime a dozen, when I see someone driving an Acura I think ‘wow, that guy decided to go against the grain and obviously appreciates that a luxury car doesn’t have to be RWD and German to be good’.

      • 0 avatar
        sckid213

        When I see someone driving an Acura I think “wow that guy was too poor to afford a BMW or a Benz.”

      • 0 avatar
        Zykotec

        The point is really that people who bother to pay this much for a czar is looking for the ‘snob factor’. That’s the problem with all the American luxury cars (with the light exception of some Lexus models) A luxury car isn’t supposed to be more practical, better engineered or a better bargain than other luxury cars, it’s all about showing off what you can afford to live with. In effect, a reliable luxury car might be a ‘bad thing’ in some circles, purely because they make it seem like you can’t afford the upkeep and maintenance and inconveniences of a ‘real’ luxury car.

      • 0 avatar

        And it is not good. Steering is numb and impresize. Interior is a mess. Ugly too inside and outside. Only reason to consider Acura is, actually I cannot find the reason. Not even sure about reliability.

  • avatar
    Zykotec

    tbh, the SH-AWD, (provided it works as proposed) is a brilliant concept, and should be the way any hybrid worked…
    As for Acura’s designs being overly boring or conservative, be glad you don’t live in a country where Passat’s, Golf’s,and a couple of Toyotas you don’t have (auris/Corolla and Carina/Avensis), have been fighting for the best selling car of the year award for 20 years…

  • avatar
    segfault

    No RWD? Will they at least bring back the Legend name? It was so much cooler than RL.

  • avatar
    ClutchCarGo

    What I want to know is, Have they removed the beak?

  • avatar

    two electric motors in the rear rather than a mechanical linkage to deliver power to the rear wheels and vector torque amongst the left and right rear sides.

    The announced new NSX will have a version of SH-AWD with a combustion engine mounted behind the passengers driving the rear wheels and two electric motors up front driving the front wheels, the reverse of the above. My guess is that the NSX, which will have a V6, will share a lot of technology with this car.

  • avatar
    smartascii

    Acura honestly baffles me. “What sells well in the Luxury and Near-Luxury markets,” they tell themselves, “is conservatively-styled, front- and all-wheel-drive cars on the low end, and conservatively-styled, rear- and all-wheel-drive cars on the upper end – with V8s. This is what people buy. Let’s not do that. Let’s build what we think people SHOULD be buying. What? We’re not selling very many of those? Okay, let’s add some electric motors.”

  • avatar
    stuntmonkey

    FWIW, Acura could be what Saab should have been… the mid-upmarket provider of pseudo-sporty FWD sedans that appeal to professionals. I don’t see the great need for RWD if FWD/AWD is executed accordingly. Everything for it’s price point, after all.

  • avatar
    racer-esq.

    As poorly managed as Acura is, I still don’t think that Honda is going to try to move a front wheel drive car for $50K.

    My guess would be mechanical AWD standard, hybrid with electric SH-AWD system optional. The batteries will go where the driveshaft does in the base version.

    I really have no idea why anyone would buy an Acura over a loaded Subaru Legacy, either with the flat-6 or turbo-4.

    • 0 avatar
      carlisimo

      But Acura can’t make the RL spacious if it has mechanical AWD; the driveshaft really gets in the way. The interior of the current model actually feels smaller than that of the previous-generation TL (I haven’t sat in a current TL).

    • 0 avatar
      stuntmonkey

      “I really have no idea why anyone would buy an Acura over a loaded Subaru Legacy, either with the flat-6 or turbo-4.”

      It’s the ‘formal’ factor. The Acura isn’t as haughty as a BMW, but it’s still more crisply pressed than the Subaru.

  • avatar
    donatolla

    Acura *could* differentiate themselves by making SH-AWD standard across all their cars. At least then they wouldn’t just be expensive Hondas. (Disclaimer: I say this as a happy TSX owner)

    I’m a little confused about this one though. When word started appear online that one of the TSX/TL/RL would disappear to make way for a new entry level Acura, I thought it would be the RL going away…afterall, shouldn’t they ditch the car only 12 people bought last year?

  • avatar

    Derek, did the rendering still have FWD proportions or did it look like it could be RWD now? Curious cuz the current TL looks very FWD while the Hyundai siblings definitely look RWD.

  • avatar
    rwb

    Acura schmacura, I want a manual shift, all wheel drive accord.

  • avatar
    alluster

    A new RL? The 16 to 18 people who buy this car a year are thrilled!

    This car at $50K looks so much like the accord no wonder it’s barely selling. Tell me this doesn’t remind you of the accord
    http://www2.picturepush.com/photo/a/7416050/640/7416050.jpg

    Acura needs a from the ground up redesign for the entire lineup, except maybe the MDX which looks pretty good now. The new ilx looks very nice too and may sell well being the only other compact luxury car alongside the Verano. All the luxury brands except bmw, benz and buick have suffered in 2011. There is a complete upheaval in the works across the line at lexus, lincoln, cadillac, and acura.

    • 0 avatar
      DeadWeight

      You are correct.

      I honestly can not think of a more overpriced, underwhelming, shining example of a car that’s anything but luxurious or sport-luxurious, whether American, Japanese, Korean or European, than the RL.

      Most people who have driven one, and are objective, will testify.

      There may be worse cars than the RL, but there have been few or none as bad at anywhere near its MSRP.

      • 0 avatar
        tonycd

        Have you driven an RL? For more than 15 minutes?

        I drove a bunch of new and late-model used sedans at the $35K mark and down, including Genesis and Infiniti M, and I bought a used RL. I don’t like the RL because I own it; I own one because I like it.

        The RL’s curse is that its greatest virtues are too subtle to come out in the showroom or in a test drive. Its SH-AWD (since ripped off by the Germans) was the first with torque vectoring, and it’s magic in keeping you from getting killed in real-world high-speed situations. The electronic toys actually work (see iDrive, or COMAND, or C/D’s recent test of a disastrous Infiniti M). Since they worked out the first-year bugs, the reliability is bulletproof — not all of us care to lease and walk away with nothing 3 years later.

        The seats are excellent, the wood on the dash is real (though they’ve cheaped it out on all but the top variant since), and the gauges are gorgeous (since ripped off clumsily by Ford Fusion and others). As for value, half the body is aluminum. The driveshaft is carbon fiber. Even the friggin’ SEAT FRAMES are magnesium. The paint is flawlessly hand-rubbed. The doors close with one finger. The popular tester at ClubLexus couldn’t stop raving about the quality of the interior and of the whole car.

        Worth 50 big ones? No, there’s not enough room and power, and the “refresh” made it pug-ugly. But “bad”? Not to its owners.

    • 0 avatar

      This car at $50K looks so much like the accord no wonder it’s barely selling. Tell me this doesn’t remind you of the accord
      http://www2.picturepush.com/photo/a/7416050/640/7416050.jpg

      Definitely looks like a car Michael Scott from “The Office” would drive. A company car for those too stodgy for a Lexus.

  • avatar
    Bushwack

    Acura’s only edge was SH-AWD. To now make it an option takes away from any glamour it had. Acura use to be a synonym for Luxury just as Lexus is and has maintained since 1990. If they are trying to tackle away 5 series sales, ain’t gonna happen. This brand needs a complete enema. Its salvagable but get to it before it becomes the next Mazda premium brand…that wasn’t.

  • avatar
    jkross22

    Good Acura: Legend, Integra, NSX, gen 1 TL, MDX
    Bad Acura: everything else

    Want to know who the new Honda is? It’s Hyundai and Kia.

    Honda, get your act together or Acura is toast in the next few years.

    • 0 avatar

      Plus the TSX under ‘good Acura’. Arguably, I would subtract the first TL too. All it had going for it was style – the driving characteristics (handling and steering, to be more specific) are downright awful.

      • 0 avatar
        TEXN3

        Definitely agree on the 2.5 model, but not necessarily the 3.2. The steering can get a bit loose, thanks to a early-generation variable-effort steering rack. But the longitudinal engine placement makes the car feel more balanced and also gives it a tighter turning radius. New shocks on mine, at 139000 miles, and it drives and handles very smoothly. The V6 still has some nice kick, but it could definitely use another gear. A good car, and it has earned that name because it was held up so well after all these years.

        I’d say it’s a good Acura and a typical 90s era Honda.

  • avatar

    http://www.getstudyabroad.com/ …..coooollll

  • avatar
    PeugeotHound

    After 3 Audis I bought a used ’08 RL with 5,000 miles on it because I tired of the Audi repair bills. The RL lacks German solidity and prestige, but Acura has managed to build a comfortable luxury sedan that handles incredibly well without a nut busting suspension and fragile low-profile tires. With SH-AWD handling is neutral. In sharp turns you can stomp on the gas and feel the car pivot around the corner. Acura put a lot of thought into this car, whether it’s the aluminum major body panels, dual-stage exhaust, 90-degree opening rear doors or aerodynamic flaps covering the suspension parts. Problem is, that stuff is hidden beneath a plain Jane exterior. The RL is about artful subtlety which, unfortunately, doesn’t sell many cars in the luxury category. OK by me. I paid a lot less than for a used A6 or E Class, and I know it will be as reliable as a garden rake.


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