The Truth About Cars » Acura http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. Sat, 18 Apr 2015 14:19:15 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.0.1 The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars no The Truth About Cars editors@ttac.com editors@ttac.com (The Truth About Cars) 2006-2009 The Truth About Cars The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars » Acura http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/wp-content/themes/ttac-theme/images/logo.gif http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/category/reviews/acura/ Review: 2016 Acura ILX (With Video) http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/03/review-2016-acura-ilx-video/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/03/review-2016-acura-ilx-video/#comments Fri, 27 Mar 2015 15:55:11 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1026105 It has been two years since we last looked at the ILX, and my conclusion went like this: The 2.4L engine needs an automatic and some infotainment love, the 2.0L engine needs more grunt and the hybrid needs to be euthanized. Without changes like these, the Acura ILX will remain a sensible Civic upgrade but […]

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2016 Acura ILX Exterior Front.CR2

It has been two years since we last looked at the ILX, and my conclusion went like this:

The 2.4L engine needs an automatic and some infotainment love, the 2.0L engine needs more grunt and the hybrid needs to be euthanized. Without changes like these, the Acura ILX will remain a sensible Civic upgrade but as a competitor to Buick’s new-found mojo, Acura has some catching up to do.

2016 brings what I was expecting: a mid-cycle refresh with a new nose and new rump to keep the photos fresh. What I didn’t expect was for Acura to also address the major mechanical systems that we all complained about. Neither did I expect the ILX to be so transformed by a “simple” heart transplant. Can the ILX live up to the legendary Acura Legend? I snagged the keys to a “A-Spec Technology Plus” model to find out.

Exterior

Acura is not the kind of company that dishes out one daring design after another, especially since the Acura “beak” went over so poorly. As a result this ILX, like its predecessor, plays right to the conservatively styled heart of the traditional Acura shopper.

As has been said in the past, the ILX is related to the Honda Civic, but the relation is more third-cousin than sister. The ILX never shared sheetmetal or glass with its plebeian platform mate, and the ILX isn’t a simple re-skin either. While the wheelbase is shared with the Civic, nearly every hard point was changed from the A-pillar moved 8-inches rearward, trunk and door openings modified to the lowered roofline, the 2016 ILX shares as much with the Civic as the original Chrysler 300 shared with the Mercedes E-Class.

As expected, Acura swapped in a set of full-LED headlamps styled after the multi-beam modules we first saw in the MDX and RLX, and further massaged the front end to look more like the larger TLX. Acura’s quest to give the ILX more of a “wedge like” appearance rather than a tall hood translates to a somewhat pointy front to the side profile. Out back the changes are minimal but the A-Spec trim our tester wore gives the sedate sedan a bit more style and a tasteful chrome strip on the trunk spoiler.

2016 Acura ILX Interior Dashboard.CR2-001

Interior

Interior parts quality is right in line with the Buick Verano which, as expected, is a notch below the more expensive A3, CLA, S60, IS 250 and 320i. As you’d expect in a “near-luxury” vehicle, most of the ILX touch-points are soft plastic but you will find hard plastic lurking below the faux-metal trim and making up most of the center console. Front seat comfort is good but the lack of adjustable lumbar support is surprising. All models get an 8-way power driver’s seat, but only upper trims offer seat memory or a power passenger seat. An important side-effect of Acura’s modifications to the platform’s roof-line is limited headroom. Headroom is further limited up front by the standard sunroof, a nice value feature for sure, but at 6-feet tall my head missed touching the ceiling by millimeters. Acura will no doubt show taller shoppers the TLX.

The ILX’s rear seats are slightly less comfortable than the Verano, but a step above the mainstream compact segment with more thigh support for adults and considerably more legroom than the Mercedes CLA, Volvo S60, and despite the spec sheet saying otherwise, the A3 sedan as well. The key seems to be in combined front and rear legroom where the ILX shines. On the downside, Acura chose to share the rear seat frame with the Honda Civic giving the ILX a 100% folding bench seat that is far less practical than the more common 60/40 variety. This would be less of a problem if the trunk had grown in 2016, but it is still stuck at a smallish 12.3 cubes, smaller than the Verano, Lexus CT or Mazda3.

2016 Acura ILX Interior Shift Paddles

Speaking of the Mazda3, the small Mazda is in many ways a similar vehicle despite Mazda and Acura targeting different demographics. Interior parts quality is quite similar, although the ILX is more of a mixed bag by borrowing switchgear from both the Civic and the TLX. Where they differ notably is the steering wheel, gauge cluster and infotainment systems where the ILX shares more heavily with the more expensive Acuras while the Mazda is a little more constsient but lacks the spendy parts.

To keep things simple, Acura bundles features into packages, leaving essentially no stand-alone options. The base model comes well equipped with dual-zone climate control, 5-inch infotainment display, LED headlamps, Bluetooth/iDevice integration, backup camera, keyless entry/go and a cabin air filter for $27,900. Since the base model is rarely the volume leader, the second trim is the most interesting because the $29,200 “AcuraWatch Plus” trim adds radar adaptive cruise control, collision warning, collision mitigating autonomous braking, lane keep warning, lane keep assist, and electric pre-tensioning front seat belts. This safety system package is included in every trim above as well, making the ILX one of the least expensive vehicles with this kind of tech near-standard. (If you want all that in your TLX it will set you back $42,600.) The $29,900 Premium adds leather seating, blind spot monitoring, cross traffic detection, XM radio and a sub-woofer to the base 6-speaker system, swaps the 5-inch infotainment screen for a dual screen system featuring an 8-inch display high in the dash and a 7-inch touchscreen lower in the dash. The last jump is the $32,900 Technology package adds factory navigation to the 8-inch screen, 10 speakers, AcuraLink (Acura’s answer to OnStar), an upgraded backup cam, color LCD in the gauge cluster and GPS-reading/solar-sending to the climate control system. The only option is the $1,999 A-sped sport trim package netting the buyer 18-inch wheels, fog lamps, faux-suede inserts in the seats, a spoiler and some aluminum pedals.

2016 Acura ILX Interior Infotainment Navigation System-003

Acura’s two-screen infotainment system isn’t as polished as BMW’s iDrive but it is considerably snazzier than you’ll find in any mass-market competitor like the Mazda. The base system lags behind the Verano’s touchscreen radio, while the two-screen system tops it in elegance. Why two screens? The engineers say the concept is as follows: the lower touchscreen handles the audio, freeing the upper screen for navigation and other tasks. My opinion of the system has improved since I first encountered it on the MDX but I still think the casserole needs more time in the oven. You can skip tracks/albums using the touchscreen, but changing playlists or more detailed browsing requires the rotary/joystick lower in the dash and the 8-inch screen at the top. In my mind, this sort of kills the dual-screen sales proposition. On the positive side, the system is very responsive and the graphics are all high-resolution and attractive. Compared to the other entries in this segment, it lacks the online connectivity features found in Volvo’s Sensus Connect and Audi’s latest MMI, but offers more screen real estate and a more modern feel than either connected system.

2016 Acura ILX 2.4l EarthDreams Direct Injection Engine-001.CR2

Drivetrain

When it launched, the ILX borrowed the complete engine line-up from the Civic, including the lackluster 1.5L engine, 5-speed auto, underpowered hybrid, and the rev-happy 2.4L from the Civic Si mated only to a 6-speed manual. The 2.4L engine was the only engine worth buying, but slow manual sales meant it was a small portion of the sales pie. For 2016, Acura dropped all three engines in favor of the direct-injection 2.4L four-cylinder engine from the TLX. Closely related to the 2.4L in the Honda Accord, the  “EarthDreams” engine is tuned for slightly higher output. At 201 horsepower and 181 lb-ft of twist, this looks similar to the Civic Si’s 2.4L until you look at the power and torque curves. Thanks to the new design, and the direct-injection system, both power and torque arrive lower at RPMs and stay strong at higher revs.

Sending power to the wheels is the same 8-speed dual-clutch transmission as the bigger Acura. DCTs are nothing new, but Acura takes things a step beyond Audi and Mercedes with an 8-speed unit and a torque converter tossed in for good measure. The biggest issue with DCTs is their unrefined low-speed / hill-start performance. The torque converter solves that by allowing the clutch to completely engage first gear at low speeds.

2016 Acura ILX Interior Gauge Cluster-002

Drive

On the surface of things, the Frankenstein transmission sounds like the unholy union of all that is wrong with an automatic and a manual. Part of this is because early DCT adopters told us that torque converters were the root of all evil and DCTs were so blindingly efficient that the relatively poor 0-10  performance is compensated by brilliant 10-60 performance. In reality, the combination creates one of the finest transmissions in the world. No kidding. The Acura DCT is at the same level as ZF’s 6-speed and 8-speed automatic. Rather than hamper performance, the torque converter improves off-the-line acceleration because it can transmit more power to the gearset than a slipping clutch can. After the initial start, the converter spends most of the time “locked up” giving the drivetrain a very linear, manual-like feel. When shifting is called for, it delivers the speed of a dual-clutch transmission (slightly faster than most of ZF’s offerings) and the smoothness of an automatic because the torque converter is momentarily “unlocked” to soak up vibration during the shift. My only complaint is that Acura didn’t jam at least a low-pressure turbo on the 2.4L engine because this transmission deserves more power. Or AWD, or both.

The difference in refinement is immediately noticeable when driven back-to-back with the A3′ wet-clutch DSG and night-and-day different from the DCT in the Mercedes CLA. (The Mercedes transmission has been improving, but is still shockingly rough around the edges.) Likely largely to the new transmission, 0-60 times are a full second faster than the 2015 2.4L model and a blazing 3-seconds faster than the 2015 base model. Some of the credit goes to the new engine since the Civic Si engine has to scream like a leaf blower to deliver maximum thrust. This engine has a more luxury car appropriate torque band. In absolute terms, the 6.2 second sprint to 60 is faster than the Verano Turbo we tested, faster than the A3 2.0T, IS 250 and a just 4/10ths slower than the CLA 250 and S60 T5 Drive-e.

2016 Acura ILX Exterior Rear-001

Handling was never an issue with the ILX and that continues for 2016, despite what the folks at CR may say. The light curb weight of 3,093lbs is impressive, not just because it is 100lbs less than the lightest A3 in America and nearly 200lbs lighter than a CLA 250, but because the ILX is 6-inches longer than the German as well. With a similar weight distribution to the A3 and CLA and 225/40R18 tires (A-Spec), you’d expect the ILX to run with the sportier entries in this pack and you’d be right, with a twist. The light curb weight and wide tires provide excellent grip, but even in the A-Spec trim the ILX avoids bruised kidneys with a surprisingly refined suspension. Acura’s “dampers with two valves” allow the damping to be firm and body roll to be well controlled under most conditions while soaking up large imperfections like a sedan with a softer suspension. The system retains 95% of the Civic Si’s road holding ability while delivering a ride more composed than the turbo Verano. Similarly, the steering is a little less direct than the Si but yields better feel than the Buick. The ILX lacks the precision and astonishing grip you find in the CLA, but taken as a whole the ILX is the best balanced since it lacks the jarring ride of the CLA with the sport package but gives up little grip in the process. The CLA is a hoot and a half on your favorite winding mountain road, but the ILX is the kind of car you can also stick your mother-in-law in and she won’t think you’ve gone “all boy-racer” after turning 30. Limits are lower in the non-A-Spec trim largely due to the 215-width tires, but driving the ILX back-to-back with a Audi A3 1.8T made me question the sanity of the folks at Consumer Reports who berated the handling. Go figure.

Fuel economy was a concern of mine because of the torque converter, and indeed I averaged 2 MPG lower than the EPA combined 29 MPG, but that may have had something to do with my driving style. Treating the ILX gently it was possible to get 35 MPG out of the baby Acura on the open highway besting most of the entries in this segment and matching Volvo’s new Drive-e engines.

Despite sharing quite little with Honda’s Civic and not looking like a fancy Civic, the 2015 ILX felt like a fancy Civic. Now there’s nothing wrong with that per se (after-all the success of the Lexus ES is largely due to the fact that for many years it was little more than a fancy Camry), but that’s not the Acura that the brand’s faithful remember. This ILX however is that Acura. The drivetrain and excellent pricing scheme, more than the infotainment system or LED headlamps, are the reason. Sure the ILX has some discount plastic, but the interior on the whole feels like a TLX that’s been discounted than a Civic that’s been “tarted up.” While the old ILX could only be compared with the Verano, Mazda3 and similar vehicles with a straight face, the 2016 model is different. No, I would not call it direct competition to the 320i, IS 250, CLA 250 or S60 per se, but with pricing up to $10,000 less than those models comparably equipped, the ILX is unquestionable the value alternative. While the Acura RL may have replaced the Legend in 1995, the 2016 ILX is its true successor.

Acura provided the vehicle, insurance and one tank of gas for this review

Specifications as tested

0-30: 2.4 Seconds

0-60: 6.2 Seconds

1/4 Mile: 14.8 @ 95 MPH

Interior sound level: 72db @ 50 MPH

Average observed fuel economy: 27.1 MPH over 981 miles

 

2016 Acura ILX 2.4l EarthDreams Direct Injection Engine.CR2 2016 Acura ILX 2.4l EarthDreams Direct Injection Engine-001.CR2 2016 Acura ILX Exterior A-Spec Wheel.CR2 2016 Acura ILX Exterior Front.CR2 2016 Acura ILX Exterior Front 2016 Acura ILX Exterior Front-001 2016 Acura ILX Exterior Front-002 2016 Acura ILX Exterior Front-003 2016 Acura ILX Exterior Front-004 2016 Acura ILX Exterior Front-005 2016 Acura ILX Exterior Grille.CR2 2016 Acura ILX Exterior Headlmap Turn Signals.CR2 2016 Acura ILX Exterior Headlmap Turn Signals.CR2-001 2016 Acura ILX Exterior Headlmap Turn Signals 2016 Acura ILX Exterior Headlmap Turn Signals-001 2016 Acura ILX Exterior ILX Logo 2016 Acura ILX Exterior Rear Side 2016 Acura ILX Exterior Rear Side-001 2016 Acura ILX Exterior Rear 2016 Acura ILX Exterior Rear-001 2016 Acura ILX Exterior Rear-002 2016 Acura ILX Exterior Side 2016 Acura ILX Exterior Side-001 2016 Acura ILX Exterior Side-002 2016 Acura ILX Interior 2016 Acura ILX Interior AcuraLink Telematics 2016 Acura ILX Interior AcuraLink Telematics-001 2016 Acura ILX Interior AcuraLink touchscreen.CR2 2016 Acura ILX Interior AcuraLink touchscreen 2016 Acura ILX Interior CMBS 2016 Acura ILX Interior Dashboard.CR2 2016 Acura ILX Interior Dashboard.CR2-001 2016 Acura ILX Interior Dashboard 2016 Acura ILX Interior Dashboard-001 2016 Acura ILX Interior Gauge Cluster 2016 Acura ILX Interior Gauge Cluster-001 2016 Acura ILX Interior Gauge Cluster-002 2016 Acura ILX Interior Gauge Cluster-003 2016 Acura ILX Interior Glove Box 2016 Acura ILX Interior Infotainment Navigation System 2016 Acura ILX Interior Infotainment Navigation System-001 2016 Acura ILX Interior Infotainment Navigation System-002 2016 Acura ILX Interior Infotainment Navigation System-003 2016 Acura ILX Interior Rear Seats Folded 2016 Acura ILX Interior Rear Seats 2016 Acura ILX Interior Rear Seats-001 2016 Acura ILX Interior Seat Controls 2016 Acura ILX Interior Seat Controls-001 2016 Acura ILX Interior Seats 2016 Acura ILX Interior Shift Paddles 2016 Acura ILX Interior Steering Wheel Controlls.CR2 2016 Acura ILX Interior Steering Wheel Controlls.CR2-001 2016 Acura ILX Interior Steering Wheel Controlls 2016 Acura ILX Interior Steering Wheel 2016 Acura ILX Interior Trunk 2016 Acura ILX Interior Trunk-001

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Review: 2015 Acura TLX http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/03/review-2015-acura-tlx/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/03/review-2015-acura-tlx/#comments Thu, 19 Mar 2015 13:00:05 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1023361 Some time ago the Acura brand has lost its ways. The recent regroup of the brand’s car lineup resulted in the small ILX, midsized TLX, and top-dog RLX in a tried and true same-sausage-in-three-lengths setup. I recently had a chance to sample both the entry-level 4-cylinder TLX, as well as the loaded V6 all-wheel-drive version. […]

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2015 acura tlx profile side

Some time ago the Acura brand has lost its ways. The recent regroup of the brand’s car lineup resulted in the small ILX, midsized TLX, and top-dog RLX in a tried and true same-sausage-in-three-lengths setup. I recently had a chance to sample both the entry-level 4-cylinder TLX, as well as the loaded V6 all-wheel-drive version.

Acura TLX headlight led

The TLX is a combination of the TSX and TL models, which only makes sense because those two cars were so similar. The new vehicle retains the wheelbase of the old TL but gets a few inches chopped off its front and rear overhangs. Increased use of high strength steel and aluminum results in a stiffer chassis and a slight reduction of weight. Style wise, the TLX adopts the brand’s design language seen in the ILX and the RLX, with the much disliked beaked slimmed and trimmed. The headlights, too, get the brand treatment first seen on the MDX, with five bright LEDs per side.

The displacement of each engine remains the same but both get upgraded to direct-injection for the TLX duty. The result is a very slight bump in power to 206hp and a flatter torque curve with a peak of 182 lb-ft at 4500rpm for the four-cylinder. The V6 gains power over the whole rev range but only a small peak gain of 10hp, for a total of 290hp at 6200rpm and 267 lb-ft of torque at 4500rpm. Fuel economy ranges from 24mpg city/35mpg highway for the four-cylinder to 21mpg city/31mpg highway for the AWD V6.

Acura TLX shifter engine wheels

Honda seems to have gone all out on its new transmissions. The I4 is mated to an 8-speed dual-clutch, which cleverly uses a torque-converter for smoother take offs and low speed maneuvering, with typical DCT action afterwards. In daily driving it works great, as all the side effects of a typical DCT are gone, but when the vehicle is really pushed the paddle-shifter requested shifts were not as fast as some of the competitors’ DCTs. This combination is available only in front-wheel-drive.

Often criticized by auto-journalists, and frankly no one else, for its lack of gears, the V6 ditches the 6-speed automatic now gets hooked up to a new 9-speed automatic, probably for no other reason than to shut those guys up. Honda says that the shifts are now five times faster and the gearbox is over sixty pounds lighter than the 6-speed it replaces. The V6 also gets start/stop and an odd, unnecessary in my opinion, push-button and toggle switch shifter which is somehow supposed to inspire performance as it will also be featured on the upcoming NSX. The V6 can be had in front-wheel-drive or in the torque-vectoring Super Handling all-wheel-drive configurations, last of which gets its share of updates.

2015 acura tlx side

Both cars feature adjustable driving modes; Econ, Normal, Sport, and Sport+ modes. The Econ mode must be evil so I didn’t even attempt to drive in it. The Normal mode is good for people who use cars as appliances and are never in the hurry. The Sport was my preferred street mode with liberal shift points and a quicker throttle response. The Sport+ turns each transmission into full manual mode. The four-cylinder is not much faster than my stock ’95 Integra GS-R but on the street I never found it to be really short on power. I would say that the four is more fun to drive than the V6 because it requires more focus from its driver. The V6 is smooth and quiet at highway speeds, but even with its flat torque curve, the 9-speed transmission is forced to kick down a few gears during passing maneuvers.

The front-wheel-drive TLX models feature a four-wheel-steering system cutely named P-AWS. The system supposedly provides better low speed agility and increased high speed stability. Between this and the fancy Super Handling AWD system, these new Acuras should out-handle anything with an M badge on it. But they don’t. The suspension is set for comfort and does a phenomenal job of absorbing road imperfections. Further, Honda took all this fantastic suspension and steering technology and innovation, and topped it off with highway touring tires that belong on a minivan.

2015 acura tlx dash interior

Acura played it safe with the interior, with a focus on function. Front and center are two gauges with a small display in between. On the center pod is a control wheel with function buttons around it, and four climate controls buttons with two toggle switches below the primary touch-screen button. Seats are comfortable, heated, heated and ventilated on the top model, and each occupant has plenty of head and leg room. There is a nifty cubby for cell phones, two cup-holders, big center and glove compartments, deep door pockets with space for bottles, and a sunglass holder. The rear seat has an armrest with cup-holders and the seat 60:40 split seat back folds down.

I have experienced Honda’s new two-screen infotainment center before and found it frustrating. This time I set aside thirty minutes to set everything up; radio presets, phone configuration, Pandora, “favorites”, and such. Then I took my time to learn the basic soft-key placement on the main screen and subsequent menu pop-ups. Even then, even when utilizing the steering wheel controls to the max, there were functions that required me to take eyes off the road for too long to look for something on one of the two screens. The system can also be controlled by voice commands, but I have not tried that. This is a system of great capabilities, but like the similar two-screen system in the Infiniti Q50, it is just too complicated and most buyers will only utilize a fraction of it.

2015 acura tlx interior details

The TLX is a better vehicle than both the TSX and the TL it replaces. It is roomy and comfortable but not big. It is very quiet and it has an amazing audio system. It is a vehicle full of wonderful technology that will never be appreciated. Both engines have good power and fuel economy. On the road the TLX is so reserved that deep thoughts will start going through your mind as if you are Matthew McConaughey, but it is nowhere as dreary as the Lexus ES. For those reasons, the TLX will keep the vast majority of returning TSX and TL buyers very happy. It is the people who are expecting a sport sedan that Acura says this is who will be disappointed.

Kamil Kaluski is the East Coast Editor for Hooniverse.com. His ramblings on Eastern European cars, $500 racers, and other miscellaneous automotive stuff can be found there. He owns a mint and rather original Acura Integra GS-R. He hauls his two kids around in an Acura MDX.

American Honda provided vehicles for the purpose of this review.

2015 acura tlx profile side rear

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Chicago 2015: 2016 Acura RDX Debuts http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/02/chicago-2015-2016-acura-rdx-debuts/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/02/chicago-2015-2016-acura-rdx-debuts/#comments Thu, 12 Feb 2015 17:08:58 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=998114 An hour after Honda debuted its new Pilot, the refreshed 2016 Acura RDX took to the ramp at the 2015 Chicago Auto Show. Much like the Pilot, the RDX gains a nine-speed automatic to direct power to the front or all corners. Said power comes from an updated 3.5-liter V6 generating 279 horsepower and 252 […]

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An hour after Honda debuted its new Pilot, the refreshed 2016 Acura RDX took to the ramp at the 2015 Chicago Auto Show.

Much like the Pilot, the RDX gains a nine-speed automatic to direct power to the front or all corners. Said power comes from an updated 3.5-liter V6 generating 279 horsepower and 252 lb-ft of torque, with cylinder deactivation adding 1 mpg on the highway for both FWD and AWD models; the most efficient highway star garners 29 mpg.

Other features on the premium crossover include: LED projector headlamps; AcuraWatch safety system; heated front seats; remote start; front/rear parking sensors; and second-row air vents. The 2016 Acura RDX is due in showrooms this spring, hoping to continue where the crossover left off in 2014, when 45,000 units took to the highways of the United States.

2016-Acura-RDX-2 2016-Acura-RDX-4 2016-Acura-RDX-5 2016-Acura-RDX-7 2016-Acura-RDX-9

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2016 Acura MDX Hits Showrooms With Nine-Speed Auto, Safety Tech Suite http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/02/2016-acura-mdx-hits-showrooms-nine-speed-auto-safety-tech-suite/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/02/2016-acura-mdx-hits-showrooms-nine-speed-auto-safety-tech-suite/#comments Wed, 04 Feb 2015 12:00:57 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=993562 Starting today, the 2016 Acura MDX will hit U.S. showrooms with an assortment of power and technological upgrades. Power for the new premium crossover comes from its 3.5-liter, 24-valve, direct-injection i-VTEC V6, which now paired with a nine-speed automatic with Acura’s Sequential SportShift. The new transmission not only replaces the former six-speed auto, but weighs […]

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2016 Acura MDX 02

Starting today, the 2016 Acura MDX will hit U.S. showrooms with an assortment of power and technological upgrades.

Power for the new premium crossover comes from its 3.5-liter, 24-valve, direct-injection i-VTEC V6, which now paired with a nine-speed automatic with Acura’s Sequential SportShift. The new transmission not only replaces the former six-speed auto, but weighs 66 pounds less than said unit. Colin Chapman’s philosophy is also applied to the MDX’s Super Handling All-Wheel Drive system, where its rear differential is now 19 pounds lighter than the previous part.

The other major upgrade for the MDX is the AcuraWatch package, which comes by itself on all MDX, and is standard when part of the Advance Package. The suite includes adaptive cruise control, collision mitigation, lane departure/lane keeping/road departure, blind-spot information with rear cross-traffic monitor, and multi-view rear camera.

Other features include: Siri Eyes Free voice recognition; easy-entry/exit driver’s seat that moves 35 mm back when the door is opened; bi-directional remote engine starter; start-stop; and a tire-pressure monitor that alerts when tires are inflated to the correct pressure.

Price of admission begins at $42,865 for the base MDX, $57,080 for the top-end MDX SH-AWD with Advance, Entertainment and AcuraWatch Plus packages on-board. Fuel economy for most AWD models amounts to 18 city/26 highway/21 combined, with start-stop adding 1 mpg to the city and combined figures. FWD models do slightly better at 19/27/22, 20/27/23 with start-stop.

2016 Acura MDX 02 2016 Acura MDX 01

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Capsule Review: 2015 Acura RLX Sport Hybrid http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/02/capsule-review-2015-acura-rlx-sport-hybrid/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/02/capsule-review-2015-acura-rlx-sport-hybrid/#comments Mon, 02 Feb 2015 13:20:13 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=991370 Everything you see here is painfully normal. Much of what you can’t see is charmingly whimsical. Turning the easily forgotten and forgettable Acura RLX into an RLX Sport Hybrid involves the employment of a cooperative seven-speed dual-clutch transmission, a front-mounted electric motor, and an unorthodox all-wheel-drive system that takes advantage of two more electric motors, […]

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2015 Acura RLX Sport Hybrid frontEverything you see here is painfully normal. Much of what you can’t see is charmingly whimsical.

Turning the easily forgotten and forgettable Acura RLX into an RLX Sport Hybrid involves the employment of a cooperative seven-speed dual-clutch transmission, a front-mounted electric motor, and an unorthodox all-wheel-drive system that takes advantage of two more electric motors, one at each rear wheel.


• USD As-Tested Price: $66,870

• Total System Horsepower: 377 @ 6400 rpm

• Observed Fuel Economy: 21.8 mpg


It’s unlikely that you’re entranced by the RLX’s conservative exterior or in love with its dual-screen infotainment unit or in favour of the way it slowly engages reverse or thrilled with its shrunken trunk and cramped middle seating position.

But the RLX Sport Hybrid showcases Honda engineering prowess, and it does so in a way that’s not emulated by any other Honda product. The RLX Sport Hybrid doesn’t feature the new eight and nine-speed transmissions from the TLX, this is not a de-tuned 2016 NSX powertrain, and it’s not hiding the unique transmission-less hybrid kit fitted to the latest Accord Hybrid. This is a whole ‘nuther thing. This is Honda being Honda.

Unfortunately, the 2015 Acura RLX Sport Hybrid is not a big sports sedan, it’s not very good at serving big car duties, and it fell far short of our fuel economy expectations. The RLX Sport Hybrid is strangely fun, strangely disappointing, and strangely unpopular. Maybe the RLX Sport Hybrid is simply strange. In and of itself, I’m not sure that’s such a bad thing.

2015 Acura RLX Sport Hybrid rearHowever, it’s clear that from a marketplace perspective, this just isn’t the way to do business. See, to make a point, we’re prone to saying things that don’t remotely correspond to reality: “There ain’t nobody buying Dodge Darts.” Well, actually, there are 7000 Dart buyers in America every month. In the case of the RLX lineup, the same statement lands much closer to the truth. Chronically unpopular, the RLX’s 32.5% year-over-year U.S. sales decline translated to fewer than 300 monthly sales in 2014. Those are Porsche Cayman-like numbers from a car which competes in a category where even mid-pack cars like the Audi A6 generate 2000 sales per month.

Of course, it could be argued that the RLX Sport Hybrid’s exclusivity adds a cool factor to the equation. It’s a rare version of a rejected car that observers won’t understand. (Or likely even notice.)

The rear electric motors add power to an already swift car and provide a form of four-wheel steering that causes the RLX to be tossed understeer-free into a corner with immediacy. All-wheel-drive cars which suffer from torque steer, like this Sport Hybrid, engender a measure of uneasiness in my RWD-loving soul – torque steer is for Saturn Ion Red Lines, not refined luxury sedans – and the sensation is worsened because the RLX isn’t a bastion of total traction in the snow. Nevertheless, with judicious use of heavy throttle, the RLX Sport Hybrid reveals itself to be a capable back-road burner, allowing a surprising degree of extra throttle application as it makes its way through a corner, feeling more and more like a much smaller car than it is.

2015 Acura RLX Sport Hybrid sideBrake feel isn’t as predictable as you’d like, something we’ve come to expect in most hybrids. And in the RLX Sport Hybrid, the lifeless steering is the usual tell-tale sign that, regardless of its tricks, you are still driving a 4354-pound car. Yet viewed as a large car with sporting credentials, the RLX offers quite a bit of fun when called upon to do so, just not the level of aggression one would encounter in, for example, the latest Cadillac CTS Vsport.

From a refinement perspective, the RLX is disarmingly quiet but not as serene on rough roads as you assumed a heavy car with a 112-inch wheelbase would be. Perhaps the low-profile Michelin X-Ice (245/40R19) winter rubber is to blame for the marginal loss of tranquility.

Compared with the TLX we reviewed at Christmastime, there’s greater tranquility inside the car, as the heated seats are controlled by a conventional button just ahead of the different-for-the-sake-of-difference shifter. Rather than operating the frustrating screens – the lower one with fingers; the higher one with controls mounted below the lower screen – to call up basic controls, the RLX allowed me to turn on the cold car and press a button with no waiting period for a computer to come to life. Ah, winter’s pleasures.

2015 Acura RLX Sport Hybrid interiorEven the driver who forgives the RLX its modern Acura dashboard layout won’t enjoy the benefits of big-car living. At 196.1 inches long, the RLX is only five inches shorter than a Chevrolet Impala; it’s six inches longer than Acura’s own TLX. But the rear seat is built for two, as the centre floor hump is nearly as high as the seat cushion itself, and the middle seat cushion is perched up too high above the outboard positions for any kind of comfort. Window seat occupants are blessed with bountiful space, but the Sport Hybrid feels like a four-seater. The trunk, meanwhile, has been chopped down from the regular RLX’s decent 14.9 cubic feet to a tiny 11.6 cubic feet, 6% less than the capacity in the trunk of Acura’s small ILX sedan. Cross-country journey for five? No way. For four? Perhaps, but don’t pack too many extra pairs of underwear.

Of less importance to the well-heeled buyer of Acura’s most expensive current car (but surely of some interest to hybrid buyers?) was the disappointing mileage returned by our RLX Sport Hybrid tester over its week-long stay. The car, supplied to us by Honda Canada, is rated by the EPA at 28 mpg in the city and 32 on the highway. With bitterly cold weather, winter tires, and a mix of city/highway driving, we measured 21.8 mpg. Not bad for a genuinely quick car, but well below expectations.

Acura RLX backup cameraWith Acura’s disdain for actually designing its flagship sedan with some semblance of style being the worst of the RLX Sport Hybrid’s drawbacks, I progressively enjoyed driving the car more and more as the week wore on. But with supremely comfortable seats, 377 horsepower, keen turn-in inspired by the Integra Type-R, high equipment levels, and no questions from nosey neighbours who surely didn’t even notice the car parked in our driveway, why wouldn’t I?

Then again, I didn’t pay the USD $66,870 asking price, which is surely too much for a wallflower in a class full of attention grabbers. Acura needs to allow its designers to exercise their artistic talent the same way their R&D staff is permitted to concoct powertrain compositions. Marry the best of those two departments, especially if the car is truly capable of producing this much power with the stated fuel efficiency ratings, and they’d sell far more than a handful each month.

As it stands, there ain’t nobody buying this thing right now.

Timothy Cain is the founder of GoodCarBadCar.net, which obsesses over the free and frequent publication of U.S. and Canadian auto sales figures.

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Chicago 2015: 2016 Honda Pilot, Acura RDX Debuting http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/01/chicago-2015-2016-honda-pilot-acura-rdx-debuting/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/01/chicago-2015-2016-honda-pilot-acura-rdx-debuting/#comments Thu, 22 Jan 2015 13:00:22 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=987034 Within an hour of each other on February 12, Honda and Acura will debut the 2016 Pilot and RDX at the 2015 Chicago Auto Show. Honda says the redesigned three-row, eight-passenger Pilot — which is teased above — is meant to represent “a dramatic shift in design while showcasing new standout technologies, versatility, and dynamics […]

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All-New 2016 Honda Pilot SUV to Make Global Debut at 2015 Chicago

Within an hour of each other on February 12, Honda and Acura will debut the 2016 Pilot and RDX at the 2015 Chicago Auto Show.

Honda says the redesigned three-row, eight-passenger Pilot — which is teased above — is meant to represent “a dramatic shift in design while showcasing new standout technologies, versatility, and dynamics currently unavailable in the mainstream SUV segment.” Like the previous two generations, the upcoming Pilot was designed in Los Angeles and Ohio. The SUV will leave the Lincoln, Ala. facility for showrooms this summer.

Over at Acura, the RDX’s own redesign is expected to blend “numerous fresh exterior and interior design elements to further enrich its sport and luxury qualities, all with a cohesiveness that speaks to its new capabilities.” Said capabilities include new premium and safety features, as well as improvements to performance and comfort. No word on when the premium crossover will arrive in showrooms as of this writing.

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NAIAS 2015: 2016 Acura NSX To See Limited Annual Production http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/01/naias-2015-2016-acura-nsx-see-limited-annual-production/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/01/naias-2015-2016-acura-nsx-see-limited-annual-production/#comments Tue, 13 Jan 2015 22:05:57 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=982401 Were you hoping to take a 2016 Acura NSX home when the hybrid supercar leaves Ohio this fall? You may need to get in line. According to AutoGuide, NSX project chief Ted Klaus says production will be on terms of “demand minus one,” with no plans to add more manpower or shifts to the car’s […]

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Were you hoping to take a 2016 Acura NSX home when the hybrid supercar leaves Ohio this fall? You may need to get in line.

According to AutoGuide, NSX project chief Ted Klaus says production will be on terms of “demand minus one,” with no plans to add more manpower or shifts to the car’s annual production. No word thus far on how many will leave Marysville per year.

Right now, the NSX is undergoing final validation prior to production, but Acura announced that the exotic’s twin-turbo hybrid V6 system is expected to deliver at least 550 horsepower. As far as price of admission goes, nothing firm has been confirmed, though one insider says the brand is shooting for a target of $150,000.

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NAIAS 2015: 2016 Acura NSX Revealed At Last http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/01/naias-2015-2016-acura-nsx-revealed-last/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/01/naias-2015-2016-acura-nsx-revealed-last/#comments Mon, 12 Jan 2015 17:30:42 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=978529 Two years after the concept bowed — and 25 years after the original — the production-ready 2016 Acura NSX has finally arrived [Live photos now available – CA]. Power for the hybrid exotic comes from a twin-turbo DOHC V6 paired with the three-motor Sport Hybrid system, two of which power the front axle while the […]

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2016-Acura-NSX-8

Two years after the concept bowed — and 25 years after the original — the production-ready 2016 Acura NSX has finally arrived [Live photos now available – CA].

Power for the hybrid exotic comes from a twin-turbo DOHC V6 paired with the three-motor Sport Hybrid system, two of which power the front axle while the third is located between the V6 and its nine-speed dual-clutch automatic, and aids in acceleration, braking and shifting. Alas, horsepower and torque were not mentioned at this time.

The body is composed of carbon fiber, ultra-high strength steel and aluminum, and is covered by panels made of aluminum and sheet molding composite.

Inside, the driver is greeted by Acura’s Human Support Cockpit, aimed at making driving easier while maintaining the performance expected out of the NSX. The system includes a dynamic TFT instrument cluster display, intuitive controls, and improved ergonomics.

Price of admission will be announced at a later date. Acura will begin accepting orders this summer, with deliveries to commence later this year. The NSX will be assembled by 100 employees at Honda’s Performance Manufacturing Center in Marysville, Ohio.

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BMW Takes US Luxury Sales Crown Back From Mercedes http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/01/bmw-takes-us-luxury-sales-crown-back-mercedes/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/01/bmw-takes-us-luxury-sales-crown-back-mercedes/#comments Wed, 07 Jan 2015 12:00:48 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=972809 After a year-long battle for the top position on the U.S. luxury sales podium, BMW takes back the crown Mercedes-Benz won in 2013. Reuters reports the Bavarians moved over 9,000 more units by the end of 2014 over the wonder boys back in Stuttgart, coming out to a total of 339,738 for BMW, 330,391 for […]

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After a year-long battle for the top position on the U.S. luxury sales podium, BMW takes back the crown Mercedes-Benz won in 2013.

Reuters reports the Bavarians moved over 9,000 more units by the end of 2014 over the wonder boys back in Stuttgart, coming out to a total of 339,738 for BMW, 330,391 for Mercedes. Both automakers also experienced growth in U.S. sales during the last year, though BMW’s 9.8 percent boost over 2013’s numbers raced past Mercedes’ 5.7 percent increase.

Taking third on the podium was Lexus with 311,389 units sold in 2014, though its rate of growth bested the top two finishers at 13.7 percent over 2013.

Rounding out the rest of the U.S. mainstream luxury pack, Audi took fourth from Cadillac, the latter to be the only make to see a decline in growth in 2014, falling 6.5 percent to 170,750 units; Audi sold 182,011 over the same period, 15.2 percent more than it did in 2013.

Acura and Infiniti took sixth and seventh respectively, with 167,843 to 117,300 units moved. Both also experienced the lowest rates of growth in sales in the outgoing year: 1.5 percent in Acura’s favor, 0.8 percent for Infiniti.

Lincoln finished dead last with 94,474 units sold, but had the biggest rate of growth out of its fellow competitors compared to 2013 at 15.6 percent.

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Capsule Review: 2015 Acura TLX V6 SH-AWD http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/01/capsule-review-2015-acura-tlx-v6-sh-awd/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/01/capsule-review-2015-acura-tlx-v6-sh-awd/#comments Sat, 03 Jan 2015 12:52:49 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=970361 Japanese Automobile History In America 101: The Accord-based Acura Vigor became the Acura TL. The third-generation of that car joined the first Euro Accord-based TSX in Acura showrooms. Both were eventually replaced by less attractive, less desirable sedans, cars which were so much less successful than their predecessors that a new sedan strategy was required […]

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2015 Acura TLX V6 SH-AWDJapanese Automobile History In America 101: The Accord-based Acura Vigor became the Acura TL. The third-generation of that car joined the first Euro Accord-based TSX in Acura showrooms. Both were eventually replaced by less attractive, less desirable sedans, cars which were so much less successful than their predecessors that a new sedan strategy was required for the Acura brand. The fourth-generation TL and second-generation TSX are now extinct.

Alone, the 2015 Acura TLX is stepping in to fill a two-car void.

Bumper to bumper, the 2015 TLX is four inches shorter than the departed TL with which it shares a wheelbase and almost five inches longer than the expired TSX. Official specs tell a different story, but the TLX feels like the roomiest of the bunch. The TLX’s trunk, though not ideally shaped, is more capacious than the cargo holds in the two defunct Acura sedans. The 2015 TLX is about one foot longer than the Civic-based Acura ILX and nearly a half-foot shorter than the roomier Acura RLX.

2015 Acura TLX V6 frontHaving written extensively about the TLX’s early success, I was naturally looking forward to spending time with the car. The 2015 Acura TLX supplied by Honda Canada arrived in our driveway just in time for Christmas. We crisscrossed our city numerous times, drove across much of Nova Scotia for an annual pilgrimage to the House Of The Great-Grandmother (and her homemade doughnuts), and attempted to arrive at some TLX-related conclusions.

The car we tested is the most expensive TLX you can buy, a Canadian-trim SH-AWD V6 Elite at $49,485. In the United States, TLX pricing ranges from $31,915 (four-cylinder, 8-speed dual-clutch auto) to $36,140 (base V6), $42,370 (V6 AWD), and $45,620 (fully baked). Acura also offers an array of body work and optional wheels to drive the price upward.

Initially, the CAD $49,485 price jarred. Yet with 290 horsepower from a 3.5L V6, a 9-speed automatic transmission, all-wheel-drive, navigation, ELS audio, myriad safety abbreviations and acronyms, perforated leather, remote start, cooled seats, and a very roomy cabin, it’s a lot of car for under $50K. The TLX’s interior craftsmanship doesn’t contradict the luxury price tag, matte black plastic shift paddles and marginally excessive wind noise aside.

2015 Acura TLX interiorMore importantly, equipping one of the European contenders – with their greater sporting credentials and smaller interiors – to match the TLX’s spec sheet would generate a startling MSRP.

Unlike some of those potential rivals, the TLX is a very comfortable, very nicely equipped, very capable car with an injection of sports sedan intentions, not the other way around. The spec chart says the TLX V6 AWD weighs 3785 pounds. It feels like 4000-plus. It’s sufficiently quick, but without the artificially aspirated torque of six-cylinder powertrains from BMW, Audi, and Mercedes-Benz, it doesn’t produce awe-inspiring off-the-line acceleration.

With Acura’s IDS set in Econ or Normal, the transmission’s reluctance to come out and play is all too noticeable. Sport brightens the picture; Sport+ is too aggressive for your morning commute. Never does the 9-speed feel as though Acura finished the programming. It periodically clunks into a higher gear, doesn’t favour paddle participation, and even with eight others to choose from it’s typically not keen on changing into a higher or lower gear. The transmission doesn’t ruin the experience, but it’s a step back from the ZF 8-speed found in many premium cars. Observed fuel economy of 25 mpg, however, was better than the 23.5 mpg we saw in the Audi S4 and the 22.6 mpg in Mercedes-Benz’s new C400.

2015 Acura TLX V6 SH-AWD sideRide and handling are nicely balanced for the real world. It’s not the thrill ride promised by Acura, but the TLX is all the better for it. Our TLX wore Michelin X-Ice winter tires, but a conventionally shod TLX SH-AWD V6 (225/50R18s) likewise won’t be sold with aggressive rubber. This limits the car’s ability to tackle a twisty road at nine or ten-tenths, as does the overall sensation of heft.

But if you’re late for your daughter’s soccer game, driving the Acura with a modest degree of haste but not so much urgency as to attract authoritative attention, the TLX shines. Ride quality remains king, body roll is limited, power is present, it’s never flustered, and the steering is nicely weighted. (Indeed, I suspect the front-wheel-drive 2.4L-powered TLX would be the superior car to drive quickly despite its 84-horsepower deficit, featuring all the comfort-mindedness of this V6 SH-AWD with greater agility.) Not once did the suspension manifest the crashiness intermittently exhibited by many entry-level luxury sedans. And on a highway cruise, a top-end TLX can dramatically reduce driver fatigue by semi-autonomously steering itself with Lane Keeping Assist.

2015 Acura TLX shifterWhile the TLX’s on-road behaviour is largely in keeping with our real world desires (and not actually in keeping with Acura’s marketing statements), the TLX’s complicated interior is a letdown. There are quick access buttons to help the driver find key menus, but Honda/Acura persists with the dual-screen format. Counterintuitively, the controls below the lower screen operate the upper screen. To make matters worse, the system is also consistently slow to react to inputs.

Parallel parking? There’s a slim rectangular button for park, a button pulled back for reverse, a larger rectangle for neutral, and then a circle to depress for drive. Did shifters need to be reinvented? If so, rotary knobs did it better.

2015 Acura TLX gauge clusterStill, the TLX is (thankfully) normal in most ways. This is a FWD-based sedan with a high-tech AWD system. There are no on/off turbos here, just a smooth Honda V6. Its exterior styling will cause TLXs to disappear in parking lots full of ostentatious luxury sedans. It’s very reasonably priced. Visibility? Better than average. Sportiness? Neither emphasized nor absent.

The Acura TLX, regardless of engine and trim, will appeal to premium car buyers who don’t need their car to declare to the world the enormity of their year-end promotion. LinkedIn does a better job of that anyway. For the TLX to appeal to me personally, I would need Acura to simplify the interior and finish refining the transmission. Then I could forget about manual-shift first-gen TSXs and handsomely proportioned third-gen TLs in order to enjoy this car for what it is: a tasteful, powerful, efficient, value-conscious, family sedan. And with optional self-steering, I could enjoy more of Grammie’s doughnuts, too.

Timothy Cain is the founder of GoodCarBadCar.net, which obsesses over the free and frequent publication of U.S. and Canadian auto sales figures. Along with Acura, he recommends you hold on to the steering wheel. You should also limit your intake of doughnuts.

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NHTSA Orders Takata To Recall Airbags By December 2 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/nhtsa-orders-takata-recall-airbags-december-2/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/nhtsa-orders-takata-recall-airbags-december-2/#comments Thu, 27 Nov 2014 13:00:28 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=951985 The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is ordering Takata to conduct a nationwide recall of its airbags, while Honda was found to have issued Takata-related recalls as early as 2002. Reuters learned the automaker called back 2,686 vehicles — including the 2000 Honda Accord and Acura TL — in March of 2002, citing a November […]

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2000 Acura TL

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is ordering Takata to conduct a nationwide recall of its airbags, while Honda was found to have issued Takata-related recalls as early as 2002.

Reuters learned the automaker called back 2,686 vehicles — including the 2000 Honda Accord and Acura TL — in March of 2002, citing a November 2001 report from a dealer who witnessed an “improper deployment” of a Takata airbag in an Accord. The incident prompted both the automaker and the supplier to investigate, leading to the recall months later.

The recall, which focused on passenger airbags deploying due to improper welds, could further plunge Honda into hot water with federal regulators, especially since Honda North America executive vice president Rick Schostek testified before Congress that the first time his employer had known of an airbag failure was in 2004. The NHTSA is “actively investigating” the automaker presently, using information going back to 1998 in so doing.

The agency also formally issued an order to Takata to declare a nationwide recall by December 2 of the driver-side airbags at-fault for a number of injuries and fatalities due to catastrophic failure upon deployment. Per Bloomberg, should the supplier fail to meet the deadline, the NHTSA will force the recall, and fine the company $7,000 for every violation found. Takata representative Toyohiro Hishikawa said the company’s execs were discussing how best to respond to the letter.

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Los Angeles 2014: 2016 Acura ILX Fully Revealed http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/los-angeles-2014-2016-acura-ilx-fully-revealed/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/los-angeles-2014-2016-acura-ilx-fully-revealed/#comments Thu, 20 Nov 2014 18:30:15 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=948753 To the soothing strains of The Sex Pistols, Acura fully revealed the second-gen ILX at the 2014 Los Angeles Auto Show [UPDATE – 12:05 p.m. Pacific, 11/20/2014: Live photos now available – CA]. The entry-level luxury sedan’s powertrain is a standard 2.4-liter four sending 201 horsepower and 180 lb-ft of torque through an eight-speed dual-clutch […]

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2016 Acura ILX

To the soothing strains of The Sex Pistols, Acura fully revealed the second-gen ILX at the 2014 Los Angeles Auto Show [UPDATE – 12:05 p.m. Pacific, 11/20/2014: Live photos now available – CA].

The entry-level luxury sedan’s powertrain is a standard 2.4-liter four sending 201 horsepower and 180 lb-ft of torque through an eight-speed dual-clutch transmission — with torque converter for smooth launches to the office park — to the front wheels. A retuned suspension and added sound-deadening help keep things quiet and stable.

Trim levels are also doubled for the 2016 model, with six to select from the catalog. Additionally, one can select the A-SPEC package — which can be combined with the Premium and Technology packages for maximum luxury — to bestow upon the ILX a trunk spoiler, front fog lights, 18-inch alloys, red instrument illumination et al.

Technology-wise, ILX shoppers can use the sedan’s AcuraLink nav system to connect their smartphone to the car for mapping out the best routes to Applebee’s, while AcuraWatch keeps all safe with adaptive cruise control, lane-keeping, lane departure and collision mitigation.

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Acura May Unleash New Integra As Early As 2017 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/acura-may-unleash-new-integra-early-2017/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/acura-may-unleash-new-integra-early-2017/#comments Mon, 10 Nov 2014 13:00:53 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=943465 The last time one could buy an Acura Integra/RSX new off the showroom floor was in the mid-2000s. That time could come again soon to help the upcoming NSX, and the brand overall. Car & Driver reports Acura’s chief designer, Dave Marek, said a performance brand such as his employer “needs a flagship and… an […]

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Honda Integra Type R DC2

The last time one could buy an Acura Integra/RSX new off the showroom floor was in the mid-2000s. That time could come again soon to help the upcoming NSX, and the brand overall.

Car & Driver reports Acura’s chief designer, Dave Marek, said a performance brand such as his employer “needs a flagship and… an accessible sport car. Not a sports car, but a sport car.” While the flagship — the NSX — is set to leave Ohio beginning next year, the reincarnated Integra/RSX would likely begin its return to the showroom floor in 2017 at the earliest.

Though Marek couldn’t be more specific regarding the supporting actor, he did acknowledge that Honda went the wrong way in making Acura too upscale, not at all helped by the Great Recession that turned what would have been the next NSX into a non-homologated Super GT combatant.

Meanwhile, Acura will debut a refreshed ILX next week at the 2014 Los Angeles Auto Show, which he says is a harbinger of things to come:

There are changes coming, and then there are more changes coming. It’s not what our direction is going to be, but it’s a step in that direction. There are lots of resources and activity going into making Acura back into what it was.

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NHTSA Issues Urgent Recall For Takata-Equipped Vehicles In Humid Climes http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/nhtsa-issues-urgent-recall-takata-equipped-vehicles-humid-climes/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/nhtsa-issues-urgent-recall-takata-equipped-vehicles-humid-climes/#comments Tue, 21 Oct 2014 13:00:55 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=934178 If you happen to own certain BMW, General Motors, Honda, Toyota, Mazda and Nissan vehicles, and reside in a humid climate, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is urging you to take it in for repairs linked to the Takata airbags installed. Though the agency didn’t explain exactly the need for urgency, the airbags made […]

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Takata Airbag Cutaway

If you happen to own certain BMW, General Motors, Honda, Toyota, Mazda and Nissan vehicles, and reside in a humid climate, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is urging you to take it in for repairs linked to the Takata airbags installed.

Though the agency didn’t explain exactly the need for urgency, the airbags made by Takata have been linked to humidity-related failures, where upon detonation, metal shrapnel would be sprayed into the cabin, injuring or killing all within.

Owners of the following affected vehicles may need to bring their vehicles in for repairs if they call Florida, Puerto Rico, Guam, Saipan, American Samoa, Virgin Islands or Hawaii home:

Toyota: 778,177 total number of vehicles potentially affected
2002 – 2004 Lexus SC
2003 – 2004 Toyota Corolla
2003 – 2004 Toyota Corolla Matrix
2002 – 2004 Toyota Sequoia
2003 – 2004 Toyota Tundra
2003 – 2004 Pontiac Vibe

Honda: 2,803,214 total number of potentially affected vehicles
2001 – 2007 Honda Accord (4 cyl)
2001 – 2002 Honda Accord (6 cyl)
2001 – 2005 Honda Civic
2002 – 2006 Honda CR-V
2003 – 2011 Honda Element
2002 – 2004 Honda Odyssey
2003 -2007 Honda Pilot
2006 Honda Ridgeline
2003 – 2006 Acura MDX
2002 -2003 Acura TL/CL

Nissan: 437,712 total number of potentially affected vehicles
2001 2003 Nissan Maxima
2001 – 2003 Nissan Pathfinder
2002 – 2003 Nissan Sentra
2001 – 2003 Infiniti I30/I35
2002 – 2003 Infiniti QX4
2003 Infiniti FX

Mazda: 18,050 total number of potentially affected vehicles
2003 – 2004 Mazda6
2004 Mazda RX-8

BMW: 573,935 total number of potentially affected vehicles
2000 – 2005 3 Series Sedan
2000 – 2006 3 Series Coupe
2000 – 2005 3 Series Sports Wagon
2000 – 2006 3 Series Convertible
2001 – 2006 M3 Coupe
2001 – 2006 M3 Convertible

General Motors: 133,221 total number potentially affected vehicles
2002 – 2003 Buick LeSabre
2002 – 2003 Buick Rendezvous
2002 – 2003 Cadillac DeVille
2002 – 2003 Chevrolet Trailblazer
2002 – 2003 Chevrolet Impala
2002 – 2003 Chevrolet Monte Carlo
2002 – 2003 Chevrolet Venture
2002 – 2003 GMC Envoy
2002 – 2003 GMC Envoy XL
2002 – 2003 Oldsmobile Aurora
2002 – 2003 Oldsmobile Bravada
2002 – 2003 Oldsmobile Silhouette
2002 – 2003 Pontiac Bonneville
2002 – 2003 Pontiac Montana

Recall letters are being sent out to affected owners, who can also look up their VIN through SaferCar.gov to determine if their vehicle is under recall.

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Los Angeles 2014: Honda HR-V, Acura ILX To Bow On The Red Carpet http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/los-angeles-2014-honda-hr-v-acura-ilx-bow-red-carpet/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/los-angeles-2014-honda-hr-v-acura-ilx-bow-red-carpet/#comments Tue, 21 Oct 2014 12:00:58 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=934146 Coming soon to an automotive red carpet near you: Honda’s new HR-V and Acura’s 2016 ILX. The former, seen only in photos when announced in New York earlier this year, will be making its North American debut at the 2014 Los Angeles Auto Show. The Fit-based crossover is expected to serve “as the entry point […]

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2016_ILX_to_Debut_at_LAAS

Coming soon to an automotive red carpet near you: Honda’s new HR-V and Acura’s 2016 ILX.

The former, seen only in photos when announced in New York earlier this year, will be making its North American debut at the 2014 Los Angeles Auto Show. The Fit-based crossover is expected to serve “as the entry point to the Honda light truck lineup,” consisting of the Ridgeline, Pilot and CR-V. The HR-V will take the stage sometime after 12:30 p.m. Pacific November 19.

Over at Acura, the Civic-based ILX will be debuting its new look for 2016, with the aim of firming up its appeal with customers in the entry-level premium market. The updates include a “more forceful, sporty exterior,” an unknown-yet-powerful powertrain, and new interior design. The sedan will roll up to the world’s stage at 9:30 a.m. Pacific November 20.

2016_ILX_to_Debut_at_LAAS 16HR_V_Teaser_Final

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Acura May Follow Subaru With AWD-Only Product Plan http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/acura-may-follow-subaru-awd-product-plan/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/acura-may-follow-subaru-awd-product-plan/#comments Tue, 14 Oct 2014 14:00:50 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=930906 Looking for a way to revitalize itself, Acura is considering taking a cue from Subaru by going all in on all-wheel drive. Automotive News reports the plan is one of several backed by the brand’s Acura Business Planning Office — formed earlier this year to rethink and revitalize the brand in the United States — […]

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2012-acura-TL-SH-AWD-badge-2

Looking for a way to revitalize itself, Acura is considering taking a cue from Subaru by going all in on all-wheel drive.

Automotive News reports the plan is one of several backed by the brand’s Acura Business Planning Office — formed earlier this year to rethink and revitalize the brand in the United States — though nothing is set in stone thus far.

Acura boss Koichi Fukuo believes that AWD is the way to go, citing the brand’s need to offer “something different” compared to the competition. That said, premium brands like BMW and Audi already offer AWD, with 58 percent of BMWs and 90 percent of Audis so equipped.

As for taking influence from Subaru’s success with the platform, Fukuo wants to do for what he calls “Acurists” — the loyal customer base he aims to cultivate through the AWD plan — what the Pleiadian automaker has done for its “Subarists”:

Looking at Subaru, I felt that we have to have a strong, clear direction as a brand. What’s important is to have the technology, styling and performance to evolve all together. Otherwise, I don’t think we can increase the number of loyal customers, so-called Acurists.

At present, the TLX and the upcoming hybrid RLX will have the brand’s next-gen Super Handling All-Wheel-Drive system, the latter receiving the Sport Hybrid variant that will also move the second-gen NSX when the sports car leaves Ohio in 2015. The rest of the lineup will follow over the years as each model comes up for renewal and/or refreshing. Power for all will come more powerful engines, none of which will be V8s or V10s due to weight issues interfering with the performance of a given vehicle.

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Honda Dealerships Asked To Issue Waivers Over Defective Airbags http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/08/honda-dealerships-asked-issue-waivers-defective-airbags/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/08/honda-dealerships-asked-issue-waivers-defective-airbags/#comments Fri, 01 Aug 2014 10:00:33 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=877626 Ever wonder what would happen if Dethklok decided to go into the automotive business, especially with the virtual band’s use of pain waivers as a legal means to protect themselves from whatever death and/or dismemberment would likely occur during a concert? Wonder no more: Honda is asking its dealers to ask their customers to sign […]

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Scholfield Honda Dealership

Ever wonder what would happen if Dethklok decided to go into the automotive business, especially with the virtual band’s use of pain waivers as a legal means to protect themselves from whatever death and/or dismemberment would likely occur during a concert?

Wonder no more: Honda is asking its dealers to ask their customers to sign a waiver acknowledging the used car they’re about to buy off the lot may have an Takata airbag that, in the event of a crash, could kill them upon deployment.

Automotive News reports the automaker’s Airbag Inflator Recall Disclosure and Acknowledgment waiver affects the following Honda and Acura vehicles:

  • 2001-2005 Accord V6
  • 2001-2007 Accord I4
  • 2002-2003 TL
  • 2002-2003 CL
  • 2002-2004 Odyssey
  • 2002-2006 CR-V
  • 2003-2006 MDX
  • 2003-2007 Pilot
  • 2003-2011 Element
  • 2005 RL
  • 2006 Ridgeline

Most dealers believe the waiver is a smart move by Honda, citing liability concerns. However, New Jersey lawyer Eric Chase says the waver could prove to be a problem for both parties:

If a dealer called me and said, “We’re talking about something that is under recall but we can’t repair it and it’s dangerous to the point we’d have to warn them about death,” I’d say, “You’ve got to do everything you legally can to make sure a consumer does not get behind that wheel.”

Meanwhile, a Honda representative said that once the automaker has gone through its VIN database and those of all 50 states’ DMVs to find and recall all vehicles affected by the Takata airbag crisis, dealers won’t need to issue the wavers come purchase time, instead using a VIN search to determine any potential problem with a given vehicle.

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2015 Acura TLX To Start At $30,995, Arrives In August http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/2015-acura-tlx-to-start-at-30995-arrives-in-august/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/2015-acura-tlx-to-start-at-30995-arrives-in-august/#comments Fri, 04 Jul 2014 10:00:48 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=858553 After a bit of a delay to sort out a few kinks, the 2015 Acura TLX — the new sedan replacing both the TL and TSX — will finally arrive in August with a base MSRP of $30,995. Autoblog reports the base price of admission is just $360 more than the outgoing TSX, and nets […]

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2015-Acura-TLX-22

After a bit of a delay to sort out a few kinks, the 2015 Acura TLX — the new sedan replacing both the TL and TSX — will finally arrive in August with a base MSRP of $30,995.

Autoblog reports the base price of admission is just $360 more than the outgoing TSX, and nets would-be leasees a 2.4-liter I4 pushing 206 horsepower to the front line through an eight-speed dual-clutch transmission, while its Precision All-Wheel Steer helps the TLX take on corners and parallel parking. Consumers can add a Technology Package to the base offering, bringing the MSRP up to $32,025.

For those who want more, however, the TLX can be had with a 3.5-liter V6 paired with Acura’s nine-speed automatic, delivering 290 horses to either the front or — with the addition of Super Handling All-Wheel Drive — all four corners. Price of admission begins at $35,220 for the base V6, $44,700 for the top-of-the-line V6 SH-AWD Advance.

Finally, Acura is offering early adopters special introductory pricing and a $500 allowance toward purchases of Acura Genuine Accessories through its Acura Advantage program, as well as unique lease and APR rates. The doors are open from July 7 through September 2, with delivery to come no later than Halloween.

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2015 Acura ILX Hybrid Leaves US Market, Stays In Canada http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/06/2015-acura-ilx-hybrid-leaves-us-market-stays-in-canada/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/06/2015-acura-ilx-hybrid-leaves-us-market-stays-in-canada/#comments Wed, 18 Jun 2014 10:00:34 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=845801 Those considering a premium hybrid will have one fewer option in the United States when MY 2015 rolls around: Acura has discontinued sales of the entry-level ILX Hybrid in the land of the free. Autoblog reports the brand is responding to consumer demand — or lack thereof — in its decision to cut the hybrid […]

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ILX vs Verano 4

Those considering a premium hybrid will have one fewer option in the United States when MY 2015 rolls around: Acura has discontinued sales of the entry-level ILX Hybrid in the land of the free.

Autoblog reports the brand is responding to consumer demand — or lack thereof — in its decision to cut the hybrid model from the rest of the ILX lineup, which now will consist of a 2-liter I4 paired with a five-speed automatic and a 2.4-liter I4 with a six-speed manual. Price of admission for 2015 will be between $27,050 and $29,350, depending on options.

The ILX Hybrid arrived in 2012 as a 2013 model, but only 2,660 copies had left U.S. showrooms between then and May 2014. However, the hybrid will still have a home in Canada, where parent company Honda has vowed to continue sales. The 2014 edition of the ILX Hybrid starts at $35,190 CDN, and is powered by a 1.5-liter I4 with an integrated electric motor, both of which are mated to a CVT.

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Acura TLX Launch Delayed Until Later This Summer http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/acura-tlx-launch-delayed-until-later-this-summer/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/acura-tlx-launch-delayed-until-later-this-summer/#comments Wed, 23 Apr 2014 13:15:23 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=808514 Acura fans hoping to ditch their TL or TSX for an all-new 2015 TLX in time for the start of the summertime driving season will have to make do until sometime later this summer, as the automaker has delayed the launch of its newest sedan. Autoblog reports the reasoning behind delaying both press and customer […]

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2015-Acura-TLX-22

Acura fans hoping to ditch their TL or TSX for an all-new 2015 TLX in time for the start of the summertime driving season will have to make do until sometime later this summer, as the automaker has delayed the launch of its newest sedan.

Autoblog reports the reasoning behind delaying both press and customer launches of the TLX — which made its production-ready debut at the 2014 New York Auto Show last week — is due to its various technology needing more work, as explained by an email sent to all Acura dealers:

The TLX has more advanced and customer-relevant technology than on any other Acura model in our history, and we must assure that all systems are ready for mass production. Further, it is critical that we have a stable and sustainable supply of vehicles and components to support the strong customer response that we expect for this all-new Acura sedan.

To achieve these goals, we have determined that it is necessary to modify the production schedule for the 2015 TLX, which will move the on-sale date to late summer.

Spokesperson Chuck Schifsky added the automaker doesn’t view the delays as “major,” but has opted not to bring the TLX to the showroom for sale “until it’s perfect.”

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New York 2014: 2015 Acura TLX Live Shots http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/new-york-2014-2015-acura-tlx-live-shots/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/new-york-2014-2015-acura-tlx-live-shots/#comments Wed, 16 Apr 2014 21:52:16 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=800698 As the Acura TL and TSX are both dropped into the crusher of history, their replacement, the production-ready 2015 TLX, took the stage today at the 2014 New York Auto Show. Having made its world debut at the 2014 Detroit Auto Show earlier this year, the TLX in New York will retain the former’s beak […]

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2015-Acura-TLX-22

As the Acura TL and TSX are both dropped into the crusher of history, their replacement, the production-ready 2015 TLX, took the stage today at the 2014 New York Auto Show.

Having made its world debut at the 2014 Detroit Auto Show earlier this year, the TLX in New York will retain the former’s beak nose and bejeweled headlamps on its way to the showroom later this year.

As for what future TLX drivers will receive, two engines will put the power to either the front or all four wheels: 2.4-liter four-pot with 206 horsepower and 182 lb-ft of torque through an eight-speed dual-clutch transmission, and 3.5-liter V6 producing 290 horsepower and 267 lb-ft of torque through a nine-speed automatic. The four-cylinder FWD model will be augmented by Acura’s PAWS all-wheel steering system, while the V6 receives the SH-AWD handling system when AWD is selected on the options list. Combined fuel economy is expected to be 28 mpg for the 2.4-liter 4, 25 mpg for both FWD and AWD V6 models.

Inside, drivers will enjoy soft-touch plastics, wood and alloy accenting, leather, Acura’s AcuraLink infotainment system, GPS-linked climate control, and premium stereo sound.

And the price? Acura will make that announcement closer to the launch of the TLX.

2015-Acura-TLX-22 2015-Acura-TLX-21 2015-Acura-TLX-18 2015-Acura-TLX-17 2015-Acura-TLX-16 2015-Acura-TLX-6 2015-Acura-TLX-13 2015-Acura-TLX-14 2015-Acura-TLX-11 2015-Acura-TLX-10 2015-Acura-TLX-9 2015-Acura-TLX-7

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Timing Is Everything http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/03/timing-is-everything/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/03/timing-is-everything/#comments Fri, 21 Mar 2014 16:07:57 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=769154 “This life came so close to never happening” -David Benioff, The 25th Hour A bit of fortuitous timing can make all the difference. Just missing a particular wave by even the briefest interval can radically alter a particular outcome. (N.B. Unlike most Sunday Stories, this story is true. Names, dates and other details may have […]

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photo (11)

“This life came so close to never happening” -David Benioff, The 25th Hour

A bit of fortuitous timing can make all the difference. Just missing a particular wave by even the briefest interval can radically alter a particular outcome.

(N.B. Unlike most Sunday Stories, this story is true. Names, dates and other details may have been modified.)

http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/wp-includes/js/tinymce/plugins/wordpress/img/trans.gifI.

“Swipe right or swipe left?”  My father is holding up my iPhone, screen towards me, a thumbnail photograph of a fairly attractive young woman is on screen. We’re sitting in the kitchen after dinner on a Friday night. My brother and I are showing him how to use “Tinder“, the latest online dating app, where users  can view photographs and a brief biography and either swipe right (yes) or left (no) on-screen. If both parties swipe right, then they are notified of a potential match. If there is a discordant selection between the two, nothing happens.

“Right!” comes the cry from my brother and I. My father breaks out into his characteristic cackle as we flick through several more. “Right! Right!” with a few “Lefts” thrown in, intonated with mock revulsion. He’s still howling. “This is great! I love this app!”. I want to tell him how Tinder is the most ruthless manifestation of r-selection, an entirely superficial appraisal of one’s value in the dating market, a place where I am consistently matched with the obese, the tattooed, the homely. My pseudo-intellectual train of angsty thought is interrupted by his display of a woman, pudgy, dressed in bargain basement clothes, clearly from a lower socioeconomic background.  This one is a slam dunk. “Left!” says my brother. I concur. My father swipes right and we break out into laughter yet again.

II.

2014-Acura-RDX-AWD-11

 

Despite my earlier meditation on Tinder, I’m at it again mere minutes later, as I wait for my father to bring my press car back. I’m driving a 2013 Acura RDX, a car so utterly anonymous that I struggle with how I’ll even write about it. “It’s a two row crossover. It’s nice” is about all I have so far.

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While he’s out taking it for a spin, I’m swiping right in a catatonic trance, hoping to be matched with somebody, anybody, with a BMI under 25 and no tattoos. Elizabeth is a year older than me, and resplendent in her main photo, coyly smiling while lounging poolside in a deck chair. Instead of the absurdly contrived faux-candid bikini shot so common to most profiles, she is wearing a white men’s button up shirt, demurely hiding most of her figure – except for a pair of slim, shapely legs. I hit the button to pull up more photos, and I like what I see – a big mane of wavy brown hair, grey eyes and that trademark smile. I swipe right.

“You have a match!”

Before I could even revel in my moment of triumph, I catch a glimpse of her bio.

“Location – Calgary, AB. Visiting for the weekend.”

We message anyways. She’s here visiting friend and family. Works in Oil & Gas. Went to a good school. “You’re cute,” I message her, trying to sound like the aloof, cocky archetype that so frequently brings success, “but you live in Calgary. Poor ROI for me.”

“Trying to throw around business terms to impress me?” she replies. “Noted.”

We meet that night, and she is just as attractive and charming as she was on Tinder. She tells me that I came so closing to blowing it all up with my attempt at arrogant humor. And then she returns to visit me in Toronto, twice.

III.

“When you’re here, I want you to drive my car. Driving is a blue job.”

Not long ago, it was my turn to visit her, and the anticipation gnawed away at both of us in the weeks leading up to it. We kept in touch via Skype and FaceTime, but the internet connection in my condo wasn’t always the most stable – for example, the garbling of the word “blue” made is sound like something else entirely. The term “blue job” connotes something undesirable, like pumping gas, or apparently, driving her car around while I stayed with her. Who was I to argue?

“What do you drive?” I asked

“I have an RDX. Is that a good car? I wanted a CR-V, but I also wanted leather. By the time you optioned it up, it was as much as a two-year old RDX, so I got one from Acura with a warranty. Certified, or whatever they call it.”

“That’s what I drove down to the bar on the night I met you.”

“I really like mine. It feels sporty. Is it a good car?”

One of the most dreaded questions a woman can ask. Almost as bad as “does this make me look fat”. How do you tell them their 2005 Cavalier is not a shining example of automotive engineering, and not risk getting kicked to the curb?

“Well, yeah, but the new one is a lot different. More of a mom car.”

“That’s ok. The turbo is really bad on gas. I think I’d like an MDX when it’s time to upgrade. But not for a while – I want to drive my car into the ground.”

photo (12)

Having never been to the Rockies, Elizabeth and I decided to take a weekend trip to Banff and Lake Louise, a couple of hours north of Calgary. Both sites are some of the most popular tourist destinations within Canada, attracting visitors from around the world who are looking to take in the majesty of pristine Canadian wilderness. I was ashamed that I had been to all points in Canada except Alberta.

Elizabeth’s car is about 5 years old and has barely 30,000 miles on it. Aside from a small scrape on the rear bumper, it might as well be brand new. Elizabeth doesn’t know a lot about the RDX, just that is has a turbo and takes premium gas. I don’t think many consumers or enthusiasts understood it either. When it launched in 2006, it had the first turbocharged engine that Honda had ever brought to the North American market, a 2.3L 4-cylinder engine that put out 240 horsepower and 260 lb-ft of torque.

Mated to a 5-speed automatic, this motor was never used on any other product in the Honda or Acura lineup, even though it’s possible to think of countless applications where it would have been appropriate. Putting that power to the ground was a trick torque-vectoring all-wheel drive system dubbed SH-AWD. At the time, SH-AWD was novel for being able to send as much as 70 percent of torque to the rear wheels and distribute torque laterally between the rear wheels. Inside, heated seats, XM Radio, navigation and an ELS sound system added up to a pretty generous equipment list for the time.

But it all added up on the scales, with the RDX weighing a hair under 4,000 pounds despite being the size of a Honda CR-V. The difference between Elizabeth’s first-generation example and the new one is a great contrast in how quickly the automobile has changed in the few short years that separate the pre and post recession environment.

The road to Banff is a fairly smooth and straight, but it gave me a chance to sample what the first-gen RDX was made of. As the air thinned out and the grades got steeper, the turbo engine kept chugging away, and with careful throttle application, it was possible to stay out of the boost enough to maintain a decent 23 mpg (on winter tires and in unfavorable terrain, cruising at a steady 80 mph). The hydraulic steering is a bit light but transmits a fair amount of feedback, while the chassis is keen to tackle curves with enthusiasm. The only conditions that unsettled the RDX were the harsh cross winds in the low-lying areas approaching Banff, which blew the Acura around as if it were a Fiat 500.

The new RDX feels lifeless by comparison, with numb steering, and well-appointed, well-finished but anonymous cabin. It’s 3.5L V6 gets the job done, but is rather unremarkable in operation, and still requires premium fuel. Fuel economy is up, thanks to a conventional, less-complex AWD system and the V6 engine. Ironically, this is the kind of car that you’d expect to have existed prior to the wave of engine downsizing and technology bloat that flooded the post-recession market.

Instead, it’s Elizabeth’s 2009 model that, on paper, seems more modern, with the turbo engine, the torque vectoring all-wheel drive and the sophisticated technology. In many ways, it was the analogue of the current Ford Escape, but launched five years too soon. In 2006, the market wasn’t willing to accept poor fuel economy in exchange for sophisticated mechanicals and an engaging driving experience.

IV.

When we left Calgary, the temperature was close to 40 degrees and the sun was shining. Two hours later, we were standing on the now-frozen Lake Louise, with overcast skies, blowing snow and temperatures back into the high twenties. In my naivety, I imagined that I’d be able to enjoy the magnificent views of the lake, so common in Canadian iconography. Instead, I found cross-country skiers, families building forts and snow men, Japanese tourists posing for pictures and snapping away with telephoto lenses.

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Elizabeth and I wandered hand in hand along the frozen lake and the grounds of the Fairmont hotel, pausing to watch a pond hockey tournament on the lake. I tried my best to shut my brain off, to purge thoughts of cars, TTAC, the auto industry, and I was mostly successful.

But I was left with a nagging notion about timing, about how with the RDX, Acura had been too far ahead of the market and suffered for it, while Ford had launched a similar crossover at just the right time and enjoyed massive sales. I thought about how the new RDX, launched in the midst of a recovering luxury market,rapidly outsold the old car. It was a safe, affordable choice, dull, charmless but competent.

“What are you thinking about?” she asked me. This was a common question. I have a bad habit of staring off into space, getting lost in my own head, of not being present. “I want to know everything that goes on in your head,” was something she said to me time and again. “No you don’t. It’s a mess,” was my constant reply.

I snapped out of it, stopped thinking about sales volume, scale, emissions regulations and everything else that normally occupies my mind. I thought about Elizabeth, and how fortunate – in the most literal sense of the word – I was to be with her in this setting, with the snow softly blowing, the natural wonders of the wilderness obscured in a soft focus of hazy fog. I thought about my silly pickup line and how for the first time in my life, I didn’t need to put on any kind of persona or hide who I really was. I was with someone who liked me for my vulnerabilities, my anxieties over the future, my job and my family, who forgave me for my mistakes, who asked for nothing more than communication and some company while she watched the kind of reality TV I normally disdained. And in return, she gave me everything.

I thought about timing, and how it all came so close to never happening.

But what I told her was “nothing.”

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Honda Establishes New Acura Planning Arm For Brand Overhaul http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/02/honda-establishes-new-acura-planning-arm-for-brand-overhaul/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/02/honda-establishes-new-acura-planning-arm-for-brand-overhaul/#comments Wed, 26 Feb 2014 10:00:04 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=754849 A 10 percent drop in sales experienced by Acura in 2013 has led parent company Honda to form a new business planning and development group with the long-term goal of overhauling the brand’s identity. Bloomberg reports Honda R&D Americas president Erik Berkman will be appointed as division manager of the new Acura Business Planning Office, […]

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2015-Acura-TLX-Concept-First-Look-Video-Main-Art

A 10 percent drop in sales experienced by Acura in 2013 has led parent company Honda to form a new business planning and development group with the long-term goal of overhauling the brand’s identity.

Bloomberg reports Honda R&D Americas president Erik Berkman will be appointed as division manager of the new Acura Business Planning Office, whose top priority near-term will be to solve the issues leading to a combined 10 percent drop in sales of Acura’s sedan lineup. The drop not only overshadowed the luxury brand’s successes with the RDX and MDX SUVs, but prevented Honda from hitting their record sales goal in 2013.

Though Honda remains mum on how exactly the new division will operate, the automaker is readying the TLX — which will replace both the TL and TSX in June — to aid in boosting sales for 2014, as well as improving upon the entry-level ILX (reportedly, a more powerful engine is in the works), and unleashing the second-generation NSX from its home in Ohio come 2015.

Long-term, the brand may be overhauled to help establish its identity in the luxury market, as AutoPacific industry analyst Ed Kim explains:

Acura for many, many years has been a brand without an identity. They are good, solid, dependable, somewhat premium cars that don’t communicate any clear message about what they are. The best luxury brands stand for something.

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Acura’s TL, TSX Out, TLX Coming Next Summer http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/12/acuras-tl-tsx-out-tlx-coming-next-summer/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/12/acuras-tl-tsx-out-tlx-coming-next-summer/#comments Fri, 20 Dec 2013 11:30:46 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=684642 We’re a bit late on this one, but it’s still worth noting that both the Acura TL and TSX will soon fade into history, and will be replaced next summer by the TLX. Acura’s newest mid-sized offering — slotted between the Civic-sized ILX and the automaker’s RLX flagship (what do these letters mean, B&B?) — […]

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2015 Acura TLX Spy Shot

We’re a bit late on this one, but it’s still worth noting that both the Acura TL and TSX will soon fade into history, and will be replaced next summer by the TLX.

Acura’s newest mid-sized offering — slotted between the Civic-sized ILX and the automaker’s RLX flagship (what do these letters mean, B&B?) — will be underpinned by the current Honda Accord, which will also make the sedan smaller than the TL it will replace; the TSX, underpinned by the outgoing European Accord, will simply be phased out.

Under the hood will be the Honda’s Earth Dreams 3.5-liter V6, which, in spite of the granola name, makes 310 horsepower under the bonnet of the RLX. The TLX will most likely also include AWD, an eight-speed dual-clutch transmission, and all-wheel steering like the system used in the aforementioned RLX.

Though no price has been given as of this writing, the TLX will make its worldwide debut as a prototype during the 2014 Detroit Auto Show alongside the new Honda Fit, and will be assembled at Honda’s Marysville, Ohio plant.

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First Drive Review: 2014 Acura RLX Sport Hybrd (With Video) http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/12/first-drive-review-2014-acura-rlx-sport-hybrd-with-video/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/12/first-drive-review-2014-acura-rlx-sport-hybrd-with-video/#comments Fri, 13 Dec 2013 14:00:00 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=675970 It wasn’t that long ago I had an Acura RLX for a week. If you recall that review, I came away liking the car but found little joy in the price tag. Despite wearing a fantastic stitched leather interior, there was just no way I could justify the $10,000 premium over the AWD turbocharged competition […]

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2014 Acura RLX Sport Hybrid Exterior

It wasn’t that long ago I had an Acura RLX for a week. If you recall that review, I came away liking the car but found little joy in the price tag. Despite wearing a fantastic stitched leather interior, there was just no way I could justify the $10,000 premium over the AWD turbocharged competition from Lincoln, Volvo and others. Can a new dual clutch transmission and three electric motors turn the RLX from being a good car with the wrong price tag to a value proposition?

Click here to view the embedded video.

Because of the RLX’s FWD drivetrain, I was forced to view the RLX with an eye towards the Volvo S80, Lincoln MKS and the Lexus ES. With the Sport Hybrid model, Acura has done two things to take the RLX out of that pool and dive into another: AWD and a hybrid system. On paper a 377 horsepower hybrid system should put the RLX head to head with the Lexus GS 350, Infiniti M35h, and BMW AciveHybrid 5.

On the outside, the RLX cuts an elegant and restrained pose. Although the cars Acura allowed us to drive at a regional event were pre-produciton, fit and finish was excellent. Lincoln has certainly made strides in recent years, but there is a difference in build quality between the MKS and the RLX that didn’t go unnoticed. Acura attempts to further distinguish the RLX from the other near-luxury brands by going aluminum intensive with the hood, quarter panels and all four doors courtesy of Alcoa. I find the RLX unquestionably attractive but the overall form fails to beat the Cadillac CTS or BMW 5-Series in my book. I place the RLX’s exterior form a tie with the Infiniti M and a hair behind the Lexus GS, especially if the GS is wearing that funky F-Sport nose.

2014 Acura RLX Sport Hybrid Interior

Interior

While German interiors continue to be somewhat spartan and cold, the RLX feels open and inviting. Stitched dash and door panels elevate the cabin well above what you will find in a Lexus ES Hybrid or Lincoln MKS. The same is true for the rear of the cabin. Constructed out of the same high quality materials as the front, this is a definite departure from the hard plastics found in the ES and MKS. Most of my day was spent in an RLX with a grey and ivory motif that played to my personal tastes. On the down side, Acura continues to woo luxury shoppers with obviously fake looking faux-wood. This decision is doubly perplexing, as the new MDX is available in Canada with real wood trim, but not in America. Why don’t they offer it in America on either car?

Front seat comfort is among the best in the luxury set, beating the Mercedes E350, Lexus GS 450h and Infiniti M35h that I drove that day, but falling short of the million-way BMW M-Sport seats. Because the RLX rides on a transverse engine platform, there is an inherent space efficiency and the direct beneficiary is the rear cabin where you’ll find 2-3 inches more rear leg room than any of the other hybrids. I had hoped the Sport Hybrid design would allow a low “hump” since there isn’t a driveshaft going rearward, but unfortunately Acura decided to use this space for hybrid drivetrain components. It’s probably just as well, since the middle seat is considerably higher than the outboard rear seats making it impossible for a six-foot passenger to ride in the middle. Thanks to lithium-ion batteries(rather than the nickel-based packs Toyota and Lexus use), the RLX maintains a decently sized trunk capable of swallowing four golf bags.

For reasons unknown, Acura decided to use the Sport Hybrid to re-invent the shifter control. I know that everyone else is doing this, but Acura’s 4-button arrangement strikes me as one of the most unusual. Instead of a flat button bank ala-Lincoln, Acura uses a bank that is designed to have some meaning. Park is a button, Drive is a differently shaped button, Neutral is yet another shape of button and Reverse is a button on its side that you push toward the rear of the vehicle. While that sounds logical, it was far from elegant when we had to make several four-point turns in San Francisco. Anyone else prefer a regular old console shifter?

2014 RLX Infotainment, Picture Courtesy of Acura

Infotainment, Gadgets and Pricing

Like the regular RLX, the Sport Hybrid combines a 7-inch haptic feedback touchscreen with an 8-inch display only screen set higher in the dash. The engineers say the concept is as follows: the lower touchscreen handles the audio, freeing the upper screen for navigation and other tasks. My opinion of the system has improved since I first encountered it on the MDX but I still think the casserole needs more time in the oven. You can change tracks and albums using the touchscreen but changing playlists or genres requires you to use the rotary/joystick lower in the dash to control the 8-inch screen. In my mind this sort of kills the dual-screen sales proposition. On the positive side the system is very responsive and the graphics are all high-resolution and attractive. iDrive is still my favorite in the mid-size luxury segment, but AcuraLink ties with MMI in second.

Base Sport Hybrid models get a speaker bump from the gas-only RLX’s 10-speaker sound system to the mid-range Acura ELS system. As you would assume, the Sport Hybrid model is well equipped versus the gasoline model and all models come with navigation, tri-zone GPS-linked climate control and keyless go. Keeping things simple there is only one option, the “Advance package” (no, Advance is not a typo), which adds Krell speakers, ventilated front seats, sunshades and seat warmers for the rear passengers, front parking sensors, power folding mirrors, radar cruise control, lane departure warning and lane keep assist, a pre-collision warning system and electric front seat belt tensioners.

2014 Acura RLX Sport Hybrid Drivetrain, Picture Courtesy of Acura

Drivetrain

Now for what makes the RLX a Sport Hybrid. First up, we a direct-injection 3.5L V6 producing 310 horsepower and 273 lb-ft of twist that now sports start/stop technology. This engine is mated to a brand-new 7-speed transaxle developed specifically for the RLX. The new transaxle is a hybrid of sorts (and I’m not talking about the motors yet) blending a 2-speed planetary gearset with a 6-speed dual-clutch robotic manual transmission. The two technologies allow the entire unit to be as compact as possible. First gear is obtained by setting the dual clutch gearbox to 5th gear and the planetary gearset to low while “second” through “seventh” use DCT gears 1-6 in order with the planetary set to high. I found this solution particularly interesting because it would, in theory, allow Acura to obtain more than 7 ratios from the same unit with some software programming. 12-speed anyone? After the transmission is the first (and largest) motor/generator, rated for 47 horsepower/109 lb-ft. Thanks to the dual-clutch transmission, the engine can be decoupled from the drivetrain, making this different from Honda’s IMA system where the engine is always spinning.

Linked by a high-voltage electrical system is a rear mounted two-motor drive unit. The single inboard housing incorporates twin 36 horsepower /54 lb-ft motors and a clutch pack. The clutch pack is used to connect the motors together when the system needs to deliver equal power to each rear wheel. Combined with the lithium-ion battery pack in the trunk (the same one used in the Accord Hybrid), you get 377 total horsepower and 377 lb-ft of combined torque. Until you reach approximately 75 MPH at which point you have around 310 horsepower because the rear motors gradually disengage and completely disconnect over 80 MPH. The whole shebang is good for 28/32/30 MPG (City/Highway/Combined).

2014 Acura RLX Sport Hybrid Exterior-006

Drive

Why bother with two motors in the rear? Torque vectoring. The dual rear motor arrangement separates Acrua’s system from the e-AWD systems in the Lexus RX 400h and Highlander Hybrid, or the mechanical systems in the Infiniti Q50 Hybrid or Lexus LS 600hL. Although it produces about the same amount of power as Toyota’s rear hybrid motor and likely weighs more, splitting things in two allows it to vector torque all the time, power on or off. Say what? Yep, you read that correctly, this is the first production system that torque vectors when your foot isn’t on the gas. Think of it like a canoe. If you’re moving forward and you plant an oar in the water, the canoe will rotate around that axis. Instead of oars, the RLX uses motors.

Let’s get one thing out of the way right now – this isn’t a replacement in my mind for Acura’s mechanical SH-AWD system. The mechanical AWD system uses an overdrive module to make the rear wheels almost a full percent faster than the front wheels causing the vehicle to behave like a RWD biased vehicle. In that setup, the front wheels are being “pushed” by the rears and the result is steering feel that is very much like a RWD sedan when under power. When the power was off in the old RL, the car would plow into the bushes like a front-heavy Audi. The RLX Sport Hybrid is completely different.

2014 Acura RLX Sport Hybrid Exterior-007

Under full acceleration, the rear motors in the RLX contribute 72 ponies while the engine serves up 310 to the front wheels. The numerical imbalance between that total and the 377 “system horsepower” is consumed in the power curve of the motors and engine and the use of the front motor to draw a little power off to send to the rear. This means that while the old RL could effectively shuttle the majority of the power to the rear wheels, the RLX hybrid is at best an 80/20 split (front/rear). As a result, flooring the RLX from a stop elicits one-wheel peel, a vague hint of wheel hop and a smidge of torque steer. Once the road starts to bend, the hybrid system starts to shine. By not only accelerating the outside rear wheel in a corner but essentially braking the inside one (and using the energy to power the outside wheel), the RLX cuts a near perfect line in the corners. Point the RLX somewhere, and the car responds crisply and instantly. And without much feel.

The downside to the rear wheels contributing so much to the RLX’s direction changes is that the steering is next to lifeless. The analogy that kept coming to mind was a video game. The RLX changes direction more readily and easily than a front heavy sedan should, yet there is little feedback about the process. When the power is off, things stay the same, with the RLX dutifully following the line you have charted in a way the FWD RLX or the old RL never could.

Acura was confident enough in the RLX to provide a GS 450h for us to play with and the difference was enlightening. The GS is less engaging from a drivetrain perspective thanks to the “eCVT” planetary hybrid system, something the RLX’s dual-clutch box excels at, but the well-balanced GS platform is by far the driver’s car on the road. The Lexus feels less artificial, more nimble, and more connected to the driver. The RLX is not far behind in terms of raw numbers, and is faster off the line, but the RLX feels less connected and more artificial in the process. It is also important to note that the RLX is the only AWD hybrid in this class since the Infiniti Q50 hybrid is Acura TL sized and the Lexus LS 600hL is considerably larger and more expensive. That feature alone makes the RLX attractive to anyone living in areas where winter traction is a consideration.

2014 Acura RLX Sport Hybrid Exterior-002

The 2014 RLX Sport Hybrid is an amazing bundle of technology. Combining a dual clutch transmission, a torque vectoring AWD system and three hybrid motors, the RLX is the gadget lover’s dream car. As a technology geek, the system is an intriguing solution to two problems plaguing near luxury brands like Acura, Volvo and Lincoln: How do we make our FWD platforms compete with RWD competitors, and how do we put a green foot forward. In doing so the RLX Hybrid may have also solved the value proposition I complained about with the FWD model. According to Acura”s thinly veiled charts, we can expect the RLX to be priced the same as the Lexus GS 450h which is $5,000 more than the M35h and about $1,000 less than BMW’s ActiveHybrid 5.

Factoring in the AWD system’s $2,000-$2,500 value and standard features on the RLX and the value proposition gets better. At the high end, the “Advance” package is likely to represent a $10,000 discount vs a similarly configured Lexus or BMW. The RLX Sport Hybrid has caused me to look at the RLX in a different light. Instead of thinking the FWD RLX should be $10,000 cheaper, I now think it is irrelevant. The Sport Hybrid has what it takes to compete with the Lexus and Infiniti hybrids head on and the value proposition to tempt potential BMW shoppers, but that turns the front-drive base model into a potential image liability. I’ll reserve my final judgment until we can get our hands on one for more than a few hours, but until then, it appears Acura has crafted a compelling hybrid system that should be on any snow-belt shopper’s list and may provide enough value to sway RWD luxury hybrid shoppers. Stay tuned for more pricing information in the Spring.

 

Acura provided the vehicle at a regional launch event and one night’s stay at a hotel.

 

2014 Acura RLX Sport Hybrid Exterior-001 2014 Acura RLX Sport Hybrid Exterior 2014 Acura RLX Sport Hybrid Trunk 2014 RLX Infotainment, Picture Courtesy of Acura 2014 Acura RLX Sport Hybrid Drivetrain, Picture Courtesy of Acura 2014 Acura RLX Sport Hybrid Exterior-002 2014 Acura RLX Sport Hybrid Exterior-003 2014 Acura RLX Sport Hybrid Exterior-004 2014 Acura RLX Sport Hybrid Exterior-005 2014 Acura RLX Sport Hybrid Exterior-006 2014 Acura RLX Sport Hybrid Interior 2014 Acura RLX Sport Hybrid Exterior-007

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