By on April 4, 2012

We all know that the new Acura RLX will have a V6 and a neat SH-AWD system using electric motors and such – but how about the budget model, that revives the long-dormant four-wheel steering system from the Prelude, once known as 4WS!

The all-new direct injection V6 displaces 3.5L and makes in excess of 370 horsepower. While one electric motor provides a hybrid system linked to the V6, two others, one at each rear wheel, act as an all-wheel drive system. Similar to the NSX, the system can add power to the wheels independently, helping the car rotate through turns by applying varying amounts of torque.

A standard model without the SH-AWD system can be had with 310 horsepower and the aforementioned 4WS system, now dubbed “Precision All-Wheel Steer”. This system electronically adjusts the toe angle of the rear wheels. Two screens will feature in the cabin, a 7-inch touch screen that controls vehicle functions, as well as an 8-inch display screen.

Forward Collision Warning,  Lane Departure Warning, Collision Mitigation Braking System and lane-keeping assist all help on the gadget front, while an AcuraLink telematics system with stolen vehicle tracking will be standard.

And yes, this concept is 100 percent accurate; imagine it with the rims from the current RL, and you’ll have the car that I saw back at Honda HQ in January.

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45 Comments on “New York 2012: Acura RLX Concept – Honda Brings Back 4WS!...”


  • avatar
    philadlj

    Glad Honda is getting back to less gaudy, more logical design in their cars. The TL facelift, ILX, RDX, and now this RLX all suggest a welcome toning-down of the “Advance” design language.

  • avatar

    Looks very much like a Lincoln MKS with an uglier grille and an extraneous character line on the front fender. Though the AWD system sounds promising, so was SH-AWD eight years ago. They ought to have renamed it the DOA.

    • 0 avatar
      Dirk Stigler

      Worse than that, it looks like a Hyundai Genesis, but with less power and more unsprung weight – at least in the rear. So it’s an imitation of an imitation, with a different-for-the-sake-of-it powertrain to boot. What a disappointment.

    • 0 avatar
      CJinSD

      It looks like an MKS that has been to weight watchers and lost its bloat. Motor Trend had the MKS, Impala, and Altima looking like three pudgy siblings on their landing page today. This car has better proportions and volumes than any of them, but the surface detailing is almost as bad as the Chevy’s. 370 hp NA V6 puts the rest to shame though.

      • 0 avatar
        mike978

        I was wondering when you would make an appearance and make your obligatory positive Acura/Honda comment, whilst at the same time taking a dig at some of your most hated companies. You are the master at it. How the new Impala looks pudgy compared to this is unknown to me.

        The output of the new V6 is very impressive and will be interesting to see how it performs (NVH as well as speed) when released.

      • 0 avatar

        The V6 is only good for 310. The rest is from the electric motors. A good total, but the power output of the engine alone is nothing special.

      • 0 avatar
        CJinSD

        Too bad. I was hoping they were going to make one more real Honda engine before accepting the feature list driven mediocrity demanded by the ignorant hoards.

      • 0 avatar
        mike978

        Thanks for the clarification.
        So now I know, from CJ, that Honda’s issues are with following the ignorant hordes. I thought blaming the customer was not a good way to stay in business.

      • 0 avatar
        CJinSD

        I don’t think it will be. The new Civic is selling very strongly to people that don’t need direct injection and a 9-speed DSG that they wouldn’t recognize sitting on their dining room tables, but Honda is worried that the dolts in the press are saying they need to chase the brands that use bleeding edge technology to almost match the real world efficiency of Honda’s light and proven designs. There is talk of CVTs in Accords, which pretty much points to a future for Honda that won’t include me as a customer.

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      Agreed on being DOA. Should have gone off and been very different with RL vs TL/TSX etc… gone for the old school boxier Legend look.

  • avatar
    srogers

    This makes the new Impala look better.

  • avatar
    Speed Spaniel

    Looks like another Honda/Acura styling dud to me using technology that can hardly be called innovative, useful and cutting edge. Does this company actually employ engineers and designers? Why do I need or would want the added weight and complexity of an add on system to make my car scoot around a corner better? What’s wrong with building a simple sound suspension system from the get go? Wasn’t the Honda motto at one time about simplicity? Besides, if I wanted a slick handler would I really be looking at a luxury sedan? Oy! Somebody please lead this company and throw a life jacket quick.

    • 0 avatar

      Are you kidding me? If this had been “simple” people who have bitched about how Honda used to be about innovation and technological advancements. Remember VTEC? Not “simple” for the time, neither was their 4 wheel steering system, etc. etc. Honda has always been about being technologically intelligent with their designs…i.e. coming out with good technology that will actually last (unlike say, VW’s DSGs).

      • 0 avatar
        Speed Spaniel

        Oh please. VTEC? Hardly innovative technology at the time.(VVti, VVEL, VANOS, Variocam, Valvetronic, MIVEC). The 4Ws in the 80s Prelude was pure gimmick and really contributed nothing to handling performance (it felt like a shove in the back turning into a corner). The same can be said about the piece of junk RDX I used to own with SH-AWD. That system really did nothing and I can actually hit the same corners at the same speed in my big heavy boxy 2011 body on frame 4Runner Limited (with a better ride). Granted the 4Runner employs a handling system called XREAS and works much less intrusively than the SH-AWD. You don’t feel anything, yet it’s working and there are no XREAS decals all over it, like the SH-AWD decals on the RDX. Modest – nice. BTW – the 4Runner employs direct injection. Hello Honda??

      • 0 avatar
        DannyZRC

        Spaniel, if you can drive a 4runner as fast as you drove the RDX, the problem is likely traceable to the loose nut behind the steering wheel.

        VTEC was the very first variable valve timing system, all of the technologies you list followed it, sometimes by a decade+

        SH-AWD is a very simple and elegant 4WD implementation, the new hybrid SH-AWD system is likewise a very simple and elegant solution for the myriad challenges it addresses. Complaints against it’s complexity because of it’s complex function are truly fruity.

      • 0 avatar
        MBella

        VTEC is the only system that actually changes between different cam profiles, one for low rpm, and one for high rpm. The other systems just advance and retard the timing of the cams. VTEC is probably the coolest piece of technology being used in mainstreem cars and bikes, and is likely the greatest thing we got out of the world of F1.

      • 0 avatar

        The problem is they haven’t come up with much exciting and new since that time. You can’t be the techie premium brand if you tech is all decades old now.

  • avatar
    Volt 230

    All wheel steering, if this is so great why haven’t the masters of sport sedan handling ever used that in their cars? cause it don’t work.

  • avatar
    DannyZRC

    this looks like a home run IMO, it looks just like an LS460 (well, a slightly sharper looking LS460).

    For the segment the RL is supposed to compete in, this couldn’t hit the nail more on the head for styling.

    4WS did great things in the past for the prelude, if good things happen this time around then a lot of the “sporty handling” criticisms vs rear drive competitors may be blunted.

    Looks good, should provide good value and be good to drive. the FWD RL is looking up.

    I’m expecting the hybrid SH-AWD RL to be incredible, super incredible even.

    I think there’s a good chance for the FWD to get legs under it in the market. If the SH-AWD model is priced under or around the 535i, I think it will sell and provide a good Halo for Acura.

    things are looking up for honda fans, I suppose.

  • avatar
    James2

    Along with Lincoln, Acura really needs to change its naming scheme. (And line up its designers against the wall…)

  • avatar
    afflo

    OK… which car is this? The TSX is in the Integra’s old spot, sorta, the RL is the Vigor and the TL is the Legend, right?

    And the MKZ is the Zephyr, right?

    Jesus Christ I’m getting tired of the alphabet soup! The Continental Mark __, and Town Car may have been geriatric dinosaurs, but at least they had names! These alpha designators don’t sound like German Luxury automakers – they sound like hourly-wage basement dwellers on a Civic message board discussing their favorite generation of 15 year old hatchbacks!

    • 0 avatar
      psarhjinian

      In Acura’s case, the TL was the Vigor and the RL the Legend. In Acura’s defence, no one gave a damn about the Vigor while they do know “TL” and the RL’s problem isn’t it’s name.

      I don’t mind the names, but they should at least mean something (like, say, NSX, which was “New Sportscar: Experimental”, or Mercedes’ SLK “Sport, Light, Kompact”, or Saturn’s pre-Ion days of “S”mall “C”oupe, “L”arge “W”agon, etc). Even things like SH-AWD can word. But RLX? IDX? Or BMW’s 335i, which is actually a 3.0L six, or Mercedes C230, which was actually a 1.8L. That kind of thing bugs me.

      Of course, if you don’t have a coherent strategy (like Acura did: what was the point of the RL when the TL was almost as good for much less money?) then naming is really not the issue. BMW sells lots of 3-Series despite stupid naming; Acura (or Lincoln) could have absolutely golden names but still won’t make money until they sort out what it is they’re trying to sell.

  • avatar
    tbhride

    Precision All-Wheel Steer = PAWS

    Sounds less impressive don’t it.

  • avatar
    Wagen

    They just aren’t going to do a rear-wheel-drive flagship (other than NSX), are they?

    I hope it’s more distinctive than the current RL is. I’ve always said, the only thing worse than a $40k Accord (TL) is a near-$50k Accord (or will this new RL go for $60+?).

  • avatar
    Gary Numan

    Can Honda / Acura design anything anymore? One word: UGLY

  • avatar
    acuraandy

    Hhmmm…can’t wait to drive it.

  • avatar
    kvndoom

    The headlights scream Accord. But other than that, it FINALLY doesn’t look like an Accord. I will give Honda a +1 on this design. Maybe they can start selling more than 40 a month now…?

  • avatar
    PJ McCombs

    I wish they’d bring back reasonable styling :-(

  • avatar
    espressoBMW

    Who chose those wheels for this car’s debut? They’re fugly and distracting from the car’s better design elements! When I look at all the photos released yesterday, all I see are the wheels! They jump off the page and blind me!

  • avatar
    Speed Spaniel

    DannyZ – There is nothing simple and elegant about any add on mechanical system. Simple and elegant starts when the vehicle is done right from the get go like using RWD on a luxury/performance car. But when a car company like Honda/Acura calfs out half baked styled abortions all the simple and elegant technology in the world can’t save you. This company is in a 10,000 foot tail spin, but there are Honda loyalists like you stuck in the late 80s/early 90s who still think Honda is the latest and greatest. I hope you have lots of fun tooling around in your sexy vtec Accord. Yawn.

    • 0 avatar
      DannyZRC

      Would you rather we were all trying to browbeat Honda into copying BMW or Mercedes?

      If you think the solution is to build a big RWD platform, then you truly haven’t the first clue about what made Honda great in the first place.

      I call the new hybrid SH-AWD elegant because it accomplishes rear wheel torque vectoring handling benefit, hybrid economy benefits, and AWD traction, all without a giant transmission tunnel or longitudinal driveshaft. It uses 3 electric motors, which are about as simple a device as can be constructed. If anything, the new 3 motor hybrid SH-AWD is even simpler than the 2 clutch mechanical SH-AWD it supercedes, a system that was already accomplishing more power vectoring effect with fewer components than any competitor.

      Maybe you can appreciate why it is that the transverse front engine allows Acura to package 7 series space into the RLX on a 5 series footprint.

      • 0 avatar
        Speed Spaniel

        “Would you rather we were all trying to browbeat Honda into copying BMW or Mercedes?”

        No need to browbeat because Honda already *attempts* to copy BMW – it’s no secret the current Accord is a weak imitation of the previous gen 5 Series (which is hardly anything to imitate).

        Sorry to say, but what made a company great in the past sometimes can’t translate to what will make it great in the present or the future and this is one of Honda’s problems. Honda finally gave into using V6 engines in the mid-90s after naively thinking their vtec 4 cylinders were as good as 6 cylinders. They weren’t – my 4 cylinder 5 sp Accord coupe couldn’t hold a torch to my Mom’s automatic 6 cylinder Camry in power and refinement. Honda needs to give in now and use a proper large RWD platform and do away with this hybrid nonsense. I hope Honda is using a carbon fiber or aluminum suspension in the RLX because all of those electric motors to do a basic function that a proper simple yet elegant RWD system could do sounds awfully heavy.

        I will also relay some personal experience to you. As a previous owner of an 08 Acura RDX the cooling fan that would snap on at idle was so intrusively loud and caused so much vibration that you would think it was cooling a nuclear reactor. It drove me so crazy between that and turbo lag, and road and wind noise that seemingly wasn’t present in the test drive, and the terrible MPG, and the harsh head tossing ride, I ended up trading it for the 4Runner which is so much more refined, better and purposeful for my needs. To this day I am astounded ANY automobile manufacturer would think and allow the NVH that cooling fan produced as acceptable (it was brought into numerous service depts and I was told “they all do that.” And I asked other RDX owners too who confirmed it). Perhaps Honda needed to build 3 electric motors to power the state of the art balance shaft system in order to minimize that fan harshness. So when a car company can’t do something as simple as a cooling fan right, I find this hybrid system in the RLX amusing and I say “good luck” to the potential suckers who will buy it. All I can say is take it for a LONG test drive. I also find it very amusing how much more “simpler” the new RDX is as I am sure the next generation 6 or 7 years from now RLX will be.

      • 0 avatar
        DannyZRC

        So, you think the FWD Accord is a “blatant copy” of a RWD 5 series, a slushbox V6 Camry is better than a 4cyl stick Accord, you cannot abide a cooling fan, and you think Acura abandoned SH-AWD in the RDX because the system they’re using now is simpler and better.

        Cannot tell if trolling or serious.

      • 0 avatar
        Speed Spaniel

        1. A copy in styling – yes.
        2. Is an auto slush box Toyota 6 cylinder better than a 4 cylinder Accord? A matter of opinion and depends what you like. I could care less about economy and I like power down low and immediate off the line. I’m not a fan of peaky performing Honda 4 cylinder engines. For refinement and power the 6 cylinder wins, a smooth torquey 8 cylinder is even better.
        3. I would accept a noisey cooling fan in a $14,000 Kia, but not a $36,000 “performance” “luxury” crossover. Gotta love Acura resale though for getting me out of that pile of junk.
        4. No comment whether the new design is simpler or better until I drive the new RDX which I have no intention of. My point is the SH-AWD is gone in the RDX as is the crapoid 4 cylinder turbo engine and accompanying cooling fan. If it was so successful what happened to it?

  • avatar
    stuki

    Looks fine enough to me. At least the beltline isn’t too obnoxiously high, which is the biggest faux pas of many late model cars.

    Stuntmonkey’s 7 space in 5 package comment, does present one heck of a case for a car like this.

    Still, while Honda has a tradition for clever technology, this often comes with a bit of a disregard for the fundamentals. As in, making up for stoooopid displacement with excessively fancy valvetrains, making up for lack of sound deadening with various stereo system tricks, making up for FWD handling compromises with all manners of torque vectoring schemes, etc., etc.

    Nothing fundamentally wrong with that approach, but unless the tech meats or beats the old school approach, it doesn’t really appeal to the vast majority of non geeks, who just wants a good car.

  • avatar
    oldyak

    have u ever backed a car with 4ws…
    real interesting!


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