Spring Cleaning Part 1: What's in store at Acura for the 2009 Model Year
Date: May 06, 2008 15:00
2008 was a relatively quiet model year for Honda and Acura, with only one (albeit a BIG one) FMC taking place between the two brands. By contrast, 2009 will be a HUGE year from a new product perspective. Starting with the 2009 TSX (now in showrooms) and the 2009 RL, Acura will be introducing something new every 6 months for the next few years.
With the MDX topping Acura's 2008 sales charts to date, Acura's volume sedans can't get here soon enough. As mentioned above, Acura officials have indicated that there will be something new appearing in showrooms every six months for some time to come. That sounds like a lot of product, but word has it (from the dealer rumormill) that Acura is busy working on several new models to add to the line, including a new sedan, a convertible, a new crossover, and supposedly, even a new SUV. And of course, work continues on the successor to the NSX. Given the climate of the current marketplace, it would seem odd if Acura is putting any sort of resources towards the development of a new SUV, but perhaps it's more than just an "SUV".
TSX Acura's entry-level car has shored up its luxury credentials for model year 2009, gaining a few inches and a few pounds in the process. Though reworked for 2009, the TSX's powertrain specs look very familiar, with a 2.4L DOHC 4-cylinder delivering 201hp to the front wheels via your choice of a world-class 6-speed manual transmission or a quick thinking 5-speed automatic transmission (with SportShift). Despite the additional weight, the TSX's EPA fuel economy ratings have notched up incrementally. A new technology package brings a sat-nav system featuring real time weather AND traffic updates, along with an incredible 10-speaker 415 watt ELS audio system. The TSX is expected to be Acura's first model to receive the new i-DTEC turbodiesel engine next year. Fans of the original TSX that were hoping for more sport might want to wait for details on a more potent version that is supposedly in the works. We're told that the TSX in these spyshots is the more potent version - the tip-off is the wheels.
Summary: Business class for the commuting lane.
Watch For: A more powerful engine to provide more scoot, sometime down the road. Also, a diesel is all but a given next year for the TSX.
Available: On sale now.
RDX While the RDX is only selling at about half of the planned rate of 40000 units/year, it's actually holding its own against its two closest competitors - the BMW X3 and Infiniti EX35. Build-out for the '08 model year is coming up soon, and the first dealer allocation for '09s took place in April, and 09s are scheduled to appear in showrooms in about a month. Changes for the '09 model are expected to be few - if the RDX follows the typical Honda product cycle, the mid-cycle model change won't be happening until next year, for model year 2010.|
Summary: '09 should be status quo for the RDX.
Available: Early June
Watch For: Continued tepid sales + Poor MPG + $4/gallon gas = Really Good Deals on RDXs.
TL The TL redesign is the biggest news at Acura for model year 2009. With the 2004 TL, Acura raised the bar for performance, value, and technology, so there's a lot on the line with the 2009 model. With that in mind, the '09 is expected to be offered in both FWD and SH-AWD configurations. The 2009 TL's engine offering is said to include a 3.5L 280hp V6 and a 305hp 3.7L V-6. Front-wheel drive will be the standard configuration, but Acura's advanced SH-AWD system will supposedly be offered with both the 3.5L and 3.7L engines. The Type-S trim level may be put on the shelf for the time being, but there are already rumors that when it does return, it will be packing 330-340hp. From those who have already seen the new TL's styling, word is that the changes are quite radical, and it looks like nothing currently in the Acura lineup. The new TL is said to have grown quite a bit dimensionally, but we're hoping Acura found a way to keep the TL's curb weight in check. UPDATE: See new spyshots here
Summary: Look for even more performance and technology from a larger 2009 TL.
Watch For: The styling and performance of the 2009 TL is said to set the pace for Acuras to come.
Available: September/October '08
With the MDX carrying the flag for the Acura brand at the moment, and with at least another year to go before it's subjected to its mid-cycle model change (MMC), expect mostly invisible changes to the 2009 MDX.|
Summary: Expect more of the same
RL To the surprise of many, Acura decided to spiff up their range topping sedan for 2009. Though a fine automobile, the RL has performed rather poorly in showrooms during its four years on the market. Why has it performed so poorly? Quite simply, we believe it was fundamentally the wrong car for the market. With the typical model cycle spanning only 5 years, one might think that Acura would have chosen to focus all of its resources on developing the next generation RL rather than trying to rectify a situation that is fundamentally flawed, but they didn't. So, for 2009, the RL's been beefed up with a larger displacement 3.7L V6 that churns out 300hp and 271lb-ft of torque. These numbers don't tell the full tale, however. Supposedly the torque curve has been fattened considerably, thanks to the increase in displacement and for the first time ever, an SOHC VTEC mechanism that provides dual lift profiles for both the intake and exhaust valves. Current iterations of SOHC VTEC provide variable lift profiles on the intake side only. These enhancements are said to result in improved acceleration and a more accessible torque curve. Additionally, the SH-AWD system has been recalibrated to provide more responsive performance, and it is now even capable of side-to-side distribution of rear-biased torque while in first gear - something that was previously impossible. If this all sounds good, and you happen to like the "power plenum" grille that festoons the front of the 2009 RL, be sure to visit your local Acura dealer and check it out. Down the road, the RL's replacement should be appearing in calendar year 2010. Word has it that it will finally be based upon something other than the Accord's architecture. The new architecture would permit an FR or AWD layout and a V-8 engine. We're hopeful that there is truth behind these rumors.|
Summary: Meaningful mechanical improvements. And That Grille.
Available: June 30, 2008.
NSX Replacement The story remains pretty much the same with the replacement for Acura's halo sports car. Rumors have pegged the output of the V-10 engine at around 550hp, with rumored displacements ranging from 4.5 to 5.0 Liters. SH-AWD remains the big story, as does the front-engined configuration. Honda is hoping to debut the NSX replacement at the 2009 Tokyo Motor Show, with an expected showroom introduction some time in calendar year 2010. Pricing is expected to come in well north of $100000.|
Summary: After numerous false starts, the next generation sportscar should finally be taking shape. No word on how the "power plenum" will play into the equation.
Last edited by JeffX on
May 18, 2008 11:11