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Auto Show:  2012 New York Auto Show

Acura RLX Concept: New York Auto Show

author photo by Colin Ryan April 2012
  • New Acura flagship debuts in New York
  • Acceleration of a V8, consumption of a four-cylinder
  • Production version slated for early 2013

The Acura RLX serves as a prime example that just because the 2012 New York auto show comes at the end of this season's auto show schedule, it doesn't mean there aren't any new cars left to make their world debuts. Technically, this is a concept, but Acura is touting the RLX as a flagship model - a successor to the aging RL large sedan - set to launch in early 2013.

By that time, who knows what the price of gas will be? The RLX Concept offers some respite to pump-related punishment by running a hybrid drivetrain. This links a 3.5-liter V6 engine with a pair of electric motors to make 370 horsepower, going through a seven-speed automatic transmission.

The company claims "V8 acceleration with four-cylinder fuel economy." Despite being a concept, Acura still has EPA consumption estimates of 30 mpg over city, highway and combined cycles. Which does suggest that things are much further along than Acura is letting on.

If extra evidence were needed, Acura already has production plans for a front-drive, 310-hp version with four-wheel steering. The range-topper, though, will get all-wheel drive to complement that clever steering setup. This combination of hybrid power and parent company Honda's SH-AWD system makes its way into an Acura for the first time.

There are plenty of safety features worthy of a premium marque: lane keeping assistance, forward collision alerts, collision mitigation braking and an airbag for the driver's knees. In independent crash tests, Acura expects the RLX to earn a maximum five stars from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and be a "Top Safety Pick" of the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS).

Naturally, there's also enough tech to rival your local Best Buy, with not one but two screens. Navigation and Internet searches are voice-activated (this latter feature comes via Bing, so someone might actually be using it), while Internet radio comes streaming in over a choice of high-end audio systems.

The RLX is the same length as the current RL, but its wheels have been pushed more into the corners for shorter overhangs and a longer wheelbase. This is good news for ride comfort, legroom and chassis behavior. It's also two inches wider, which is good news for handling characteristics and those with broad shoulders.

On the styling front, it's generally been accepted that Acura's design department hasn't been firing on all cylinders lately, what with some negative reactions to the current TL and its hasty re-jig, plus the unloved ZDX. But it's all down to the eye of the beholder. Speaking of eyes, the RLX has the now-obligatory array of LED headlights that Acura calls "Jewel Eye."

What it means to you: The hybrid treatment is becoming ubiquitous. Automakers are finding that adding electric motors to an already proven gasoline engine will work on more than just small economy cars.

Check out more news from the New York Auto Show.

This image is a stock photo and is not an exact representation of any vehicle offered for sale. Advertised vehicles of this model may have styling, trim levels, colors and optional equipment that differ from the stock photo.
Acura RLX Concept: New York Auto Show - Autotrader