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Buzzworthy: A roundup of future product info
 Date: March 04, 2004 15:49
 Submitted by:  JeffX
 Source: Various Sources
 Credibility Rating: N/A

We obtain information regarding future products from a variety of sources throughout the year. Generally we sift through everything as it comes in and report on the stuff that holds some credibility. I thought I'd provide a snapshot of some recent developments and where the rumors stand as of today.

'06 MDX - With all the hubbub of the past few years surrounding the '04 TSX, '04 TL, '05 RL, and ''0? NSX replacement, we've sort of ignored what's going on with the development of the all new MDX, due next year as an '06 model. To be honest, we've heard virtually zilch about it. I would be shocked if Honda isn't planning to offer IMA across the board, in some form or another. The MDX would be a perfect candidate. I would hope to see a strong focus on improving the grade of materials selected for the interior. If all else stays the same, for Pete's sake find better fake wood!

'05 Acura RL - As you probably know by now, a prototype of the production '05 RL is set to be unveiled at next month's New York International Auto Show. As usual, the Temple of VTEC will be in attendance, delivering full coverage. Just recently we've heard some information from several diverse sources and the info seems to be fairly solid. Some of the stuff has already been "confirmed" (by logical interpretation of public statements), but some of it is new. In the first category is the drivetrain - we can say with virtually 100% certainty that it will be a V6 with AWD. The AWD system will almost certainly be based upon the Pilot/MDX's VTM system. One source (in our own forums) goes a step further and reports that the standard torque biasing will be 70/30 front to rear. Current horsepower estimates peg the car at around 300hp. We've heard a number of figures on displacement ranging from 3.4 to 3.8L, but our best guess is that it will use a 3.5L variant of the TL's motor. IMA does not seem to be a part of the equation at the time of launch. Other interesting tidbits: the RL will feature fairly extensive use of aluminum body panels: roof, hood, and trunklid. The car will also continue to build upon Acura's renewed emphasis on performance. The car is said to perform as well or better than the hot '04 TL (recall the TL 6MT's very impressive skidpad and slalom figures). Based upon our sources, it seems the car will be positioned lower than where earlier rumors had it pegged (those rumors indicated it would be a true 7-series, S-class or Lexus LS competitor). While the TL is positioned against the 5-series (yet priced like a 3-series), the RL will very likely fall somewhere in between the 5-series and 7-series in size. Pricing will probably not deviate too far from the current RL's pricing, and the content level will build upon the TL's segment-blasting features. We've heard a few reports that luxury items such as power adjusted rear seats will appear on the RL. It's our understanding that the car's audio system was not developed with ELS. I will personally be surprised if it surpasses the TL's superb ELS system. As in past Legend/RL models, the car's development was carried out almost entirely in Japan and it will be built there as well. update 06.mar: one other item that was rumored to be in the car is "paddle shifters". If true, in all likelihood this means the car has switches mounted on the steering wheel to control the Sportshift function of the automatic transmission - the source of this partiicular rumor did not know anything beyond "paddle shifters".

'05 Acura RSX - The RSX is due for an MMC (minor model change) this fall, and with its current sales pace, it's not a moment too soon. We have only bits and pieces of info on what the MMC will involve and are waiting for more information to corroborate with what we've heard before releasing any info. We can tell you what the RSX needs, however: 220hp 2.0L, 8500rpm, Limited-slip differential, stiffer suspension, lighter vehicle weight, high performance 17" tires wrapped around lightweight BBS wheels, Recaro seats, brembo brakes, Xenon headlights... Seems like Acura could pull it off.

'06 TL With the '05 RL launching with AWD, does that mean we might be able to get AWD in a TL? We haven't heard anything solid about that yet, but we hope it happens.

Acura Small SUV (RDX?) - There really isn't a lot of info on this vehicle yet. A few sketches have surfaced, the most recent appearing in Mag-X. Contrary to popular belief, it's almost a certainty that the "RDX" will be based upon the global-midsize platform (Accord, TSX, TL, Pilot, MDX, Odyssey) rather than the global-compact platform (Civic, Element,CR-V). Sources indicate that current plans are for it to be produced in Marysville, OH, with some Accord production moving over to East Liberty. In terms of the drivetrain, there's really not much solid info - some people are saying that it will feature a version of the TSX's 2.4L 4-cylinder motor, possibly incorporating IMA-assist, and (of course) AWD. This is pretty much exactly what was shown on the RDX concept, however, so I think things will change by the time we see the production car. Since it will apparently be based upon the global-midsize platform, I would think that a V6 might be offered. If so, I would expect it to be smaller than the MDX's V6. For what it's worth, word has it that development of the "RDX" began in the US, but has since shifted to Japan due to America's R&D resources being focused on the next generation MDX and Pilot development.

'05 TSX - There's not much to say about the '05 TSX. We don't expect any major changes for 2005. The current car is selling very well, so there is no impetus for Acura to change much of anything else. But we like the TSX a lot, and a lot of our nearly 200000(!) monthly readers seem to as well, so I thought I'd include it in this list here. That said, I would be surprised if the '05 car doesn't get the heated outside mirrors that the '04 forgot. The '05 Accord is said to be getting illumination for the redundant controls on the steering wheel and I would hope the TSX would also benefit from such treatment. An A-Spec package is currently under development for the TSX, but we don't have a release date yet (well, thanks to one of our readers, now we do: June, 2004). Our best guess is that it will be ready in time for the '05 model year, and possibly (hopefully) sooner. As for the wishlist, I don't expect to see this feature, but mirrors that dip down when you engage reverse (as in the TL, RL, and MDX) would be a nice touch. As the happy owner of a 2004 TSX, my personal dream would be to get a slightly stiffened TSX with another 40hp and Brembo brakes (and yes, I'm aware there's a TL available with 70 more hp and Brembos). Lose the painted-plastic-posing-as-metal trim. Everything else can carry on as it is. Mr. P., do you hear us? We'll be sure to keep you abreast of any solid developments

'06 Honda Accord - Believe it or not, we've already heard that the '06 Accord will be the subject of some fairly significant changes for its MMC in MY06. Sources indicate that there will be changes to both the front and rear of the vehicle which go beyond the scope of your typical MMC refresh. And yes, we have double checked - this not related to the announcement of the introduction of the IMA system in the '05 Model Accord.

'06 Honda Civic - The current Civic makes a strong case for Honda to return to a 4-year product cycle for its volume passenger car models. What good is it to stretch it out over 5 years if sales wither for the final 24-30 months? At the moment, there is very little to go on in terms of developments for the '06 Civic. Since the Fit seems to be headed to North America, this provides some freedom for Honda to notch the Civic upmarket slightly. It's unknown whether Honda will do this or not. We do not expect to see the D-series motor in the next generation Civic, but what will replace it? The logical answer would be a derivative of the K-series, as currently fitted in the Civic Si. This would make sense in a premium version of the Civic sedan and coupe, but lesser models might make do with a less expensive motor (the K-series is quite sophisticated with DOHC i-VTEC), but we don't know what that might be yet.

'05 Honda Odyssey - Honda's kept a very tight lid on this product. Amazingly, in its 6th and final model year the current Odyssey's sales are only down about 10% from last year's strong pace, a testament to the strength of this product. We expect adherence to the adage "if it ain't broke, don't fix it", so the new Odyssey will likely be an evolution of the current model, addressing the few shortcomings it has. From a drivetrain perspective, the Odyssey already has best-in-class power, refinement, and acceleration, so we don't see Honda spending too much effort there, with the exception of IMA. It would be a huge coup for Honda if they could get IMA launched on the Odyssey at the very beginning, but the reality is that it might not come until later. There have been mumblings of making AWD available, but not much more than mumblings. This is purely speculative, but it's possible AWD would be part of the IMA setup. NVH improvements will certainly be in the mix. There's still no word on the Odyssey Si model we publicly dared Honda to build.

As always, if you have any information that you would like to share with us, please submit a news item here (you can choose your level of anonymity) or e-mail me directly (check my profile for my e-mail address).

Last edited by JeffX on March 09, 2004 21:19

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