UPDATE: The production version of the all-new Acura RLX is set to be unveiled at the 2012 LA Auto Show, but Acura gave us plenty of information in New York — and a pretty clear look at the car — to hold us over until then.
Providing an early look at an all-new flagship sedan that will launch in early 2013, the Acura RLX Concept got its world reveal in New York. "We have created a true luxury sedan based on our Acura DNA," said American Honda President and CEO Tetsuo Iwamura at the unveiling. "This means achieving advanced performance through engineering efficiency to create a unique synergy between the vehicle and its driver. Inside and out, on the open road or city streets, the sophisticated and elegant Acura RLX will offer a level of connectivity, comfort and advanced performance demanded by today's luxury buyers."
Building off Acura's "Keen Edge" design language, the RLX Concept displays a bolder yet more elegant character with well-tailored lines effectively set off by the automaker's new Jewel Eye LED headlamps and 20-inch forged aluminum wheels wrapped in 255/30 high-performance tires. Roughly the same size as the current RL sedan, the RLX Concept has a 2-inch longer wheelbase and similarly expanded track dimensions, changes that promise to make it more spacious and more stable.
The RLX Concept is based on an all-new platform that makes extensive use of aluminum and high-strength steel to trim weight while increasing rigidity. This new structure provides an ideal foundation for the RLX's equally new suspension that matches double wishbones up front and a multilink design in the rear to deliver enthusiast-grade dynamics that are further augmented by Amplitude Reactive Dampers and electronic power steering with a variable gear ratio.
Acura plans to offer the production RLX in two distinct variations. The primo version will be fitted with Acura's all-new direct-injected 3.5-liter VTEC V6 backed by a 7-speed Dual Clutch Transmission (DCT) and matched with the automaker's Sport Hybrid SH-AWD (Super Handling-All Wheel Drive) system. A variation of the system first seen on the NSX Concept, Sport Hybrid SH-AWD uses an independently controlled electric motor at each rear wheel to add or subtract torque during cornering, as well as to contribute extra power under maximum acceleration. Acura says the system will generate over 370 collective horsepower while delivering estimated EPA city/highway ratings of 30/30 mpg.
Buyers with less of a need for speed or on a slightly tighter budget will be able to opt for a front-drive Acura RLX that packs a 310-horsepower version of the V6 and comes with Acura's all-new Precision All Wheel Steer system. The latter feature will work in concert with the RLX's standard Vehicle Stability Assist (VSA) and Variable Gear Ratio (VGR) steering system. All Wheel Steer uses electrically controlled actuators to independently adjust the toe angle of each rear wheel in a way that enhances both cornering control and steering precision.
The RLX Concept was fitted with a suitably major selection of comfort, convenience and safety features that also will be part of the production mix. A state-of-the-art Acura Navigation System with Voice Recognition and two premium infotainment systems are in the pipeline, as is the first fitment of the next-generation AcuraLink Communication System that features built-in two-way cellular service among its myriad capabilities. Forward Collision Warning and Lane Departure Warning will be standard on all RLX models, and a Collision Mitigation Braking System and the first application of Acura's Lane Keep Assist System will also be offered.