Date: April 06, 2009 16:59
It's that time of year again. The pollen is out, dusting the streets of Atlanta and clinging to your car's finish like cockleburrs. The weather is more temperamental than a pre-teen girl. And who can forget the eye-watering melange of allergic conditions that signal spring's arrival? Not me!
Aside from that, one other thing that traditionally comes about this time of year is our annual "Spring Cleaning" feature, where we provide a sort of info dump on what's expected for the Hondas and Acuras of the upcoming model year. We normally provide that info as we get it, but sometimes it can be difficult to keep up with all of it, so this our attempt to bring everybody up to speed.
For 2010, things are a little bit quiet on the expectations front at Honda and Acura. Some of that is due to the natural ebb and flow of product introductions. Some of it is due to the staggering of model cycles and the increasing tendency for early year model intros (e.g., the 2010 Insight, which was announced with an April 22, 2009 onsale date, is available NOW). A good portion of it could be blamed on the current state of the industry, where the collective wind-sucking of the various car companies is creating so much of a vacuum it seems to be affecting the climate. Nevermind the devastating impact it's having on slashing plans for upcoming "cool" cars. So, this year's update may not be as comprehensive as some that we've done in the past, but I'm going to attempt to be as complete as possible.
MY '09 was a pretty big year for Acura. On top of an extensive MMC (mid-cycle model change) for the RL, both the TSX and TL saw their FMCs (full model change). This year, Acura's getting a brand new nameplate (ZDX), and a couple of MMCs, all involving their growing lineup of crossover vehicles.
UPDATED 11.April with the latest info on release dates
|TSX As expected, Acura announced a V6 version of the TSX. It continues to be driven by the front-wheels, will only be offered with an automatic tranmission, and will be powered by a 3.5L 280hp V6 (borrowed from the base TL sedan) and should appear in showrooms sometime this summer. The diesel version that was previously all but announced has been pretty much scotched for now.|
Summary: The TSX gets beefed up with a much-needed injection of power. Unfortunately, with only a 5AT and FWD layout, this will not be a target for enthusiasts.
Watch For: Enthusiasts will probably have to wait for the FMC for the potential of anything interesting to develop.
Available: V6 model goes on sale Late July/Early August. 4-cylinder 2010 model goes on sale June 15.
|RDX The RDX is due for its mid-cycle model change this year, and so far about all we know about it is that it will be anointed with a Power Plenum to call its own. And we've also heard that a lower priced front-wheel drive version will be added to the lineup for 2010, but we don't know what other mechanical changes that setup will involve. Supposedly, the shift to FWD will improve the RDX's weak fuel economy by around 2 mpg.Summary: Will the market for this segment ever materialize? Acura hopes that a more affordable and more efficient RDX will "turbocharge" sales of the RDX.|
Available: FWD 2010 model enters production in July
Watch For: ??
|TL The introduction of the 2009 TL came along with its share of controversy, mostly centered around the TL's styling. Sales got off to a sluggish start, but in the face of the current economic climate, the TL's sales are actually holding up reasonably well against its competition. As expected, performance increased with the introduction of the 305hp 2009 TL SH-AWD, and for 2010, Acura will introduce the highest performance sedan in its history with the arrival of the 6-speed (manual) TL SH-AWD |
Summary: The 2010 TL's brilliant 6MT will put its performance on an entirely new plane.
Watch For: Extensive styling tweaks at the MMC in 2 years (we're guessing here).
Available: September 2 - 5AT, September 24 - 6AT
Apart from the pending arrival of the MDX's Power Plenum, little else is known at this point about the changes that are in store for Acura's popular premium 7-passenger crossover. As the saying goes, don't fix what ain't broken. We have heard that the upcoming ZDX will debut a new 6-speed automatic transmission, and that this transmission would be shared with the MDX (and we would assume it would eventually find its way underhood of other models in the Acura lineup) but we don't have airtight info on it, yet. |
Summary: Acura got most everything right out of the box with the '07 MDX. Expect the updates to the 2010 version to be minor, though a rumored 6AT transmission would be a welcome update. Just a suggestion: an update to the cylinder head to the newer "intake/exhaust" SOHC VTEC setup that's shared by the '09 RL and TL could help improve the MDX's driveability.
Watch For: If the MDX gets a 6AT, fuel economy AND performance should improve.
|RL As the recipient of an extensive MMC, don't expect to see much for the RL in MY2010. Though providing a marked improvement in the driving experience, the RL's '09 MMC has seemingly failed to generate any meaningful uptick in sales. There have long been rumors that a fully redesigned, proper "flagship" RL is in the works, but with the current economic climate it wouldn't surprise us if those plans are being pushed back a bit.|
Summary: The underloved RL soldiers on.
Available: July 1
|NSX Replacement In the span of a few dark days in December, Takeo Fukui announced that Honda would be pulling out of F1 for the '09 season and then came the announcement that the NSX program had been cancelled. Honda sold the team, but the new owner (Brawn F1) took the chassis that Honda F1 spent untold millions developing, and has won the first two GPs of the 2009 season in dominant fashion. Hopefully the decision to cancel the NSX program will end up with a more pleasant aroma. |
Summary: The program has been "cancelled" but there have been indications by Acura execs that the development has largely been completed and that this car could be brought to market at some later point.
FWIW: It doesn't mean much now, but we've been told that the rumors that Acura was intending to show a prototype of this NSX at the 2009 Detroit Auto Show were actually true. Apparently Acura was as surprised as anybody by Honda's announcement of the program's cancellation.
|ZDX Acura has recently confirmed that they're working on their own version of the premium sport crossover, a mold that has been cast by BMW's odd-duck X6 and Infiniti's (reasonably successful) FX-series. So far, the only official things known about the vehicle are its name and whatever can be gleaned from a series of teaser shots that Acura released on its consumer website a few weeks ago (the image you see here is a composite formed by one of TOV's members, "Siegen"). Apart from that, we've heard that the ZDX will be the first Acura (and Honda) vehicle to offer a 6-speed automatic transmission. The engine is said to be a V6, and a safe bet would be something displacing around 3.7L, but we haven't actually heard anything approaching confirmation on that. Something else we've heard is that the ZDX will introduce some new high-tech features involving enhanced device connectivity. We hope to learn a lot more about these things by Wednesday of this week (April 8th), when the ZDX prototype is introduced at the 2009 New York International Auto Show. We will be there to bring you coverage.|
Summary: Following the limp market response to the RDX (we called it), this could be another sizable gamble for Acura. The Infiniti FX has proven that there is (or was) a decently sized market for this category of vehicles, so if Acura gets it right this vehicle could have some success selling as well.
Watch For: This vehicle will have Acura's (and Honda's) first 6-speed automatic transmission. Also, enhanced device connectivity and features will further "advance" Acura's high-tech ambitions.
Available: November 9
Last edited by JeffX on
April 11, 2009 11:47