Acura TLX Sedan Comes Out Swinging with Precision Performance Design Upgrade

 

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Refreshed 2018 Acura TLX to Make World Debut * Image Attributes Acura Division 2017

Judging by Acura’s latest ‘teaser image’ of the 2018 TLX premium midsize performance sedan, the Precision Performance inspired design upgrade should not only elevate lagging TLX sales, but take the maker to the forefront of a very competitive, German dominated segment — where frankly, for many well heeled buyers’ price point is secondary to cutting edge good looks and reasonable road performance.

Already a great car by most discerning buyer’s standards

I count myself fortunate to have gained much seat time behind the wheel of Acura’s upper trim level sedans and SUVs. While arguably, a bit visually understated when compared to the likes of Audi, BMW, and Lexus, every one of Acura’s offerings makes up for conservative looks, with exceptional road handling, cabin comfort, reasonable MSRP, and top of segment fuel efficiency and safety.

Where Acura continues to trail the competition is in engine power output, and body style. Me, I personally like Acura style, but I’m not 40 something, and captivated by the rather futurist styling of Lexus, or the German in-your-face historically correct performance sedans of Audi, BMW and Mercedes. Acura in direct comparison trends towards “boxy,” on the SUV side of the mark, and Honda-like on the performance sedan side of the big “A. That’s all about to change.”

With the advent of NSX hybrid supercar, and the presentation of Acura’s Precision Performance Concept, comes a major change of direction in Acura lineup-wide body language. Gone is the Acura Beak, and by most accounts, it won’t be missed. In its stead, as featured most recently in the 2017 Acura MDX refresh is a diamond mesh 3-D grill design, featuring Acura’s unique moniker, front and center. Read my latest take on Acura MDX sport hybrid here.

We further note a seamless integration of updated L.E.D. headlamp and running light details. And, as seen in recent spy-shot photos, a round to organic, side panel body line, expressing improved engine performance and torque vectoring road handling to come.

Hybrid, new center dash static screen, and expanded active safety features

Perhaps! As of this posting, Acura’s not saying. But truthfully, I wouldn’t be surprised to find a turbocharged 1.5 or 2 liter 4 cylinder gasoline engine rolling down the production line, linked to a new proprietor Acura transmission, or two.

Look for the world debut of Acura’s next advent at the New York International Auto Show in April.

 

North America Production Civic Type-R Debuts in Los Angeles

2017 Civic Type R (European Version)

According to Honda News, Honda tuner fans were afforded the opportunity to view the 10th generation world-compact-car platformed 2017 Civic Type-R, Sunday at 2017 Auto Con in Los Angeles, California. This marks the U.S. debut of the first Honda to ever dawn the Type-R badge, and the first turbocharged 2.0 liter i-VTEC gasoline engine featured in a factory street legal, out of the box, “hot-hatch.”

Next up is the New York International Auto Show in April, where Honda will showcase Civic Type- R and a trio of Clarity electrified offerings. We’re also confident that Acura will have a strong showing, but as of this posting Acura’s keeping their hand close to the vest. Read my latest Clarity adventure here.

While the AWD, FWD debate continues…

Personally, I like the idea of minimizing dead and moving weight, drive line components, and, drive train related drag through FWD when hitting the race skids. Honda Civic in its modified version continues to perform well in Autocross, off-road rally and G.T. track racing world-wide. At the heart of every Honda Civic race car is a front drive differential. Type-R performance will be impressive.

2017 Civic Type R

In the case of the over-the-top 306 horsepower Type-R, motivation comes from a 2.0 Liter 1-VTEC engine, close throw 6 speed manual transmission, and limited slip front wheel drive. The production offering is very close in specifications to the record setting European version, with an uptick in creature comforts, cab accouterments, and E.P.A. compliant safety features. You may find my latest take on Civic Type-R here, including estimated MSRP and specifications.

As for me, I’m looking forward to some Civic Type-R seat time in late Spring 2017, just around the corner. And look forward to putting Honda’s most powerful production Civic through its paces.

2017 MDX Sport Hybrid SUV:  This week we’ll head north and discover what electrification does to take the #1 selling premium SUV in the U.S. up to the next level in fuel efficient, electric-torque driven performance.

Acura injects ‘Precision Performance’ throughout the 2017 linup

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New Acura NSX in Nouvelle Blue

 

Despite the market arrival of 2017 Acura NSX, North America’s only gasoline/electric hybrid supercar, car sales were a bit flat for Honda’s luxury division as consumers opted for crossover/SUV offerings. No worries!

Acura’s MDX and RDX premium SUV variants remain the #1 and #2  best-selling vehicles in Acura’s lineup, and the best-selling premium SUVs available to North America. For 2017 Acura will present a 1 engine, (3 liter V6 motivated) 7 speed duel clutch shifted smart handling all-wheel-drive MDX — the only 3-row midsize hybrid SUV available in North America.

Read today’s Acura-Torque News article here. What does the future hold for Acura’s sedan offerings? Good question. I look to Acura Precision Concept, first revealed to the automotive press at the New York International Car Show early in 2016. Stunning! is the short description here — as one views Acura’s unique slant on a near future drive and ride experience centering around the driver.

Looking to “Acura Precision Concept’s” body design one notes a coupe-like sculpted 4-door sedan inspired by the reinvented second generation NSX supercar with a twist or two. At first look, due to invisible rear door handles, I truly believed the concept a two door coupe. Completing the futuristic yet very doable concept is Acura’s patented diamond grill design, centered 3-D-like- monogram and 22 inch machine cut alloy wheels. Awesome!

While viewing Precision Concept’s interior one discovers Acura’s near autonomous driver centered cockpit and office lounge-like passenger seating, precision integrated soft and hard molded surfaces, eye pleasing color combinations, and a control center akin to that of a modern private jet. What’s not to like?Acura_Precission_Concept

2017 MDX Hybrid arrival slated for Spring 2017

I’ve driven NSX and RDX. Both share a hybrid system similar to the one that will set MDX far a part from am ever-growing field of premium 3-row SUVs. The icing on the cake for me and others that prefer a light truck based drive and ride platform is greater horsepower,(+35) and much improved city fuel efficiency.(+7) At the end of the day while not the highest output SUV in the 3-row segment. MDX will be the most fuel-efficient, best road handling, and least expensive premium midsize 3-row in North America.

As to Acura’s car side: With Honda’s 10th generation Civic comes the opportunity to essential reinvent Acura’s portal sedan ILX. And, with that reinvention will inevitably come turbocharging to Acura’s car lineup. The manufactured in Japan RLX will remain unchanged.

As to TLX: Looking to the timeline we’re a mere 3 years into TLX. And, although with sales not as brisk as originally anticipated, 3,000 + TLX sedans drove off  the lot per month in 2016. I don’t anticipate a major TLX redo prior to model year 2018.

 

2017 Honda Ridgeline only IIHS Top Safety Pick + pickup truck to date

 

 

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In the case of the reinvented Honda Ridgeline Pickup, its latest well earned industry accolade is a ‘one of a kind.’ According to Honda-Torque News and others, 2017 Honda Ridgeline is the first pickup in Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) history to receive the highest available crash safety rating.

As for me, I like the 2nd generation Ridgeline for cabin comfort, decent road handling and control, as well as a measurable off-road, all-terrain capability — when equipped with all-wheel-drive, and Honda’s exclusive push button electronic engaged variable traction drive mode.

As I recall from my time behind the wheel of Honda’s most surprising offering, available in front and all-wheel-drive equipped models.  Read my latest Ridgeline drive review here.

What do NSX, Accord and Civic have in common?

Some how I missed it! Back on December 8, Honda announced the addition of two epic Indycar drivers to the Rolex 25 Hour Acura NSX GT-3 Car. My good buddy Graham Rahal joins Ryan-Hunter Reay teams up with Michael Shank Racing and Honda Performance Development behind the wheel of the all new factory NSX platformed NSX GT-3 car similar to Acura’s choice for the 2017 Pirelli World Challenge Race Series. Take a moment to read my Honda-Torque News update here.

I took a hot-lap or two with Graham earlier in 2016 — damn near lost my lunch, thank you Graham.

In other Honda racing updates: We find rising racing star Shea Holbrook, and team driver Jason Fichter expanding their Honda Accord team efforts for 2017 with the edition of PWC winner Tom O’Gorman and a H.P.D partnered 2017 Civic Si to Shea Racing. With 3 cars on the track in 2017, Shea Racing will be a team to recon with.

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I further look forward to reporting on RealTime Racing as they take on the GT class in 2 HPD equipped and Acura factory co-built NSX GT-3 cars. Reportedly approaching 600+ horsepower, rear-wheel drive and track sticky contenders, 2017 should be a winning year for P.D. Cunningham and the RealTime Racing Team.

 

2017 Acura RDX Advance may be maker’s best kept performance secret

When Acura installs their rendition of Honda’s near mechanically bulletproof VTEC V6, in a 2 row CUV the size of a Honda CR-V, great things happen! You won’t discover much if any acceleration or torque lag behind the wheel of Acura RDX. And yet RDX remains well balanced.

Also, thanks to optional AWD (all-wheel-drive) very road sticky. While not a torque vectoring super handling all wheel drive like this car, 2017 Acura RDX takes Honda’s time proven all-wheel-drive AWD with Intelligent Control System ™, to the next level in performance, by sending torque from primary front wheel drive to rear wheels when it’s most needed.

In this system up to 50%  of the generated torque is dedicated to the rear wheels when slippage is detected — it’s seamless, and very effective on slick, muddy or icy road surfaces.

The beauty here is when driving RDX, there’s virtually no torque steer noted by the driver when pushing the ‘pedal to the metal.’ In essence, RDX ‘feels” like a live rear axle performance car, without the rear wheel “burnout!” It’s a beautiful thing! And I do love that V6 exhaust growl, as well as the engines interaction with what some in the industry will consider out dated, the 6 speed automatic transmission, with standard equipped sequential steering wheel mounted paddle shifting.acura_rdx_dash

As noted by my fellow automotive journalist, while 2017 Acura RDX is not the most powerful or sophisticated 9 luxury) offering in the luxury segment, when weighing the total package that is RDX, this crossover is effectively a drive and ride purchase value.

O.K., where’s the wood and the bling?

Granted, Acura’s held the path with RDX as to their philosophy of “precision driven performance,” and understated elegance. The style is there, but it’s Acura styling, a bit plastic rich, and either you’ll like the front end (grill) design, or you won’t. For me it’s not a deal breaker. But then again, I’m not buying or leasing RDX. Did I mention how much we enjoyed RDX in Phoenix?

I appreciate the light and bright confines of what is arguably the most comfortable interior in the segment. What truly stands out for me is the touch and ‘feel’ of the 10 way power adjusted driver’s seat, the sweeping curve of the soft-touch dash, the uncluttered 2 dial, i-MID instrument cluster, and the historically correct placement of the stick shift.

Plush, but not posh, that’s Acura. If I have but one gripe here, it’s that Acura retains the dual screen center stack layout for 2017. And, this kills me — manual knobs for climate control, fan speed, mode selection and ?

As with most vehicles on the market today, there exists more than a bit of redundancy in the overlapping of sometimes less than intuitive smart-wheel-controls, touch screen interface, voice command, and manually manipulated directives — as  to mechanical and electronic conveniences and personal electronic connectivity — ‘beam me up Scotty, now!”2017_acura_rdx_lights

It all works well enough with exception of “smart phone” pairing. I don’t know, there may be a glitch in my personal hard drive.

What’s frustrating for me as a Honda aficionado, Last weeks run in the all new 2017 Ridgeline Black Edition was seamless — Acura has the technology to take its lineup to the next level of personal electronics connectivity.

Very comfortable, reasonably quiet, keyless entry, ignition, power liftgate and more

Our 2017 Acura Advanced AWD came fully equipped, and then some. Stacked on top of what is arguably the most comprehensive trim-level-option in the segment, were 18 inch black alloy rims, color matched roof rails, cargo bars, running boards, rear bumper applique, light door sills, and a waterproof cargo tray — making for a near sinister looking RDX package with a total price as equipped of $47, 094 + prep, licence, registration, applicable sales tax and optional extended warranty, etc.

On the convenience and ease of access side, I found Acura RDX very accommodating, especially in the second row. Even at 6 foot 5 inches tall, I discovered a very comfortable 40/60 split rear bench with ample shoulder, head and legroom. Acura claims that 5 adults and their luggage can travel in comfort in RDX. After spending a week in the seat, sure, why not?acura_rdx_interior

Room with a view

Thanks to a slightly elevated seating position, view to the front is good, as is ease of conversation while in motion. Thanks to electronic active noise control and amble road noise and vibration abatement, conversation between the front and rear row passenger occurs in normal tones. While not a s quiet as MDX, it’s close.

Great sound system, decent ride quality, ease of operation

Acura’s ELS 9 speaker premium sound system is one of the best in the industry. And with 4-wheel independent suspension, hydraulic dampers, and electronic assisted steering, driving and riding in Acura’s compact 2 row crossover is pleasurable.

You need not purchase a top of the line trim level RDX to enjoy premium quality, passive and many of the active safety features presented in the Acura Advance. With a beginning MSRP of $35,570, Acura RDX gives the European entries a run for the dollar.

Next generation RDX scheduled for 2018

With big changes on the horizon slated for Acura’s second best-selling SUV, crossover, It would be just a bit counterproductive for me  to make a change suggestion of two. Throwing caution to the wind, I‘d like to see RDX styling go the way of 2017 MDX, I have little doubt that it will.2017_acura_rdx_advance

The precision diamond grill would look great on RDX. Also, RDX is in dire need of an updated center stack, single static screen display. Furthermore, what can we do to improve “voice command,” navigation, and “seamless” cellphone/vehicle pairing?
And while I’m at it, is there any particular reason  Acura couldn’t offer an air-suspension option for RDX? This would  be great for mild off-road use. Dare we talk hybrid? O.K., I’ll leave that question for a future article. For me, my week in the seat ended with a nod and a smile. I thoroughly enjoyed my RDX experience. But then again, who doesn’t appreciated value priced quality and drive performance?

Takata Airbag News: Fed directs 300,000 Honda owners to ‘park it’ until it’s repaired

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Your 2000 Accord may hold a funky, potentially deadline airbag system.

Although the occasion of “death from airbag” is rare, it does happen, and in the view of Honda Motor Company and the U.S. Federal National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration (NHTSA) once is too often.

Saturday’s Honda News found yet another Takata airbag related warning from the U.S. federal government. According to the source 300,000 high risk turn of the century Honda drivers, those specifically living in wet, hot and humid area’s, have failed to heed Honda’s Takata Airbag recall — a process that’s been in place since 2008, and on hyper drive for the past 24 months. Read the full story here.

8 million Takata airbag systems replaced or repaired in 2015

While that’s a big number, its been estimated by the Fed that 20% of all cars on the road today in the U.S., that’s 50+ million cars and light trucks, have in the past or now carry a defective, possibly life threatening airbag unit.

Why take a chance? The repair, while an inconvenience is free to you the car owner,  And in the long run, could save yours or the next owner’s life in a collision. Also, the day will come (soon) that if your vehicle is not recall compliant, it won’t be transferable at time of sale or trade in.

The models identified by NHTSA include: 2001-2002 Honda Civic, 2001-2002 Honda Accord, 2002-2003 Acura TL, 2002 Honda CR-V, 2002 Honda Odyssey, 2003 Acura CL, 2003 Honda Pilot.

 

 

Honda and Acura racing dominates Pikes Peak and PWC in June

 

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2017 Acura NSX EV Concept

In recapping Honda and Acura news for June 2016, besides the market roll out of several 2017 Honda and Acura car, light truck and crossover models, RACING was the buzz in Honda news.

Coming off of an unprecedented winning streak for Honda powered Indycar, the co-sponsor and safety arm of the 100th running of the Broadmoor Pikes Peak Hill Climb classic came to the annual race to the clouds with three 2017 Acura NSX supercar variants. Catch my latest Acura racing article here.

From what I read

One 4-motor electric and torque monster modified NSX platform racer running in “Electric Modified,” one near stock NSX running in “Time Attack 2,” and the third? I can’t find any news on it. Here’s my read on Pikes Peak.

The short story here is that 2017 Acura NSX in its first official competition of any kind, drove away with a first place finish in its class, as did the all electric modified NSX.

Getting real with Realtime Racing

In other news we find our friends at “RealTime Racing” taking the podium in Pirelli World Challenge round 12 and 13 at Road America in owner Peter Cunningham’s home state of Wisconsin.

With driver of the #43 TLX-GT car Ryan Eversley taking 1st place in both races and Peter #42

taking 2nd and 4th place respectively, Acura, Honda Performance Development and RealTime Racing just ran their best race in 2 years. Love it!  Catch my latest article on Acura racing here. Wishing you a safe and sane 4th of July weekend.

 

Acura returns to North American Grand Prix with 2017 NSX GT3 car

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Acura NSX GT3 Race Car

As reported Wednesday by (HPD) Honda Performance Development president Mr. Art St Cyr, Acura will return to North American Grand Prix racing in 2017 — for the first time since 2009 — in a factory built and modified 2017 NSX supercar, sans the hybrid drive train.

No big surprise here for those of us that have followed the decade-long unfolding saga of the “next” generation Honda/Acura NSX. We knew a race ready version of Acura’s halo car was in the works from day one, confirmed by track testing in Japan and Europe. I reported on the 2015 Acura NSX Pikes Peak Hill Climb Pace Car here.

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Sitting before us on Acura’s stage at the New York International Auto Show is the culmination of a multi-national design, engineering and track tested effort. According to Art St Cyr: The balance of track preparation and testing for the North America specification GT3 car will be completed by a state-side team, and built by the same folks that bring us the production NSX in Marysville, Ohio.

I recently had the pleasure of touring the Honda Performance Development Center, and the Honda Heritage Museum in Marysville, while speaking with the NSX development team. — my experience there was life changing.

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2017 Acura NSX is North America’s only hand-built hybrid supercar.

I walked away with not only a greater understanding of the complexity of today’s automotive engineering, but a true appreciation of what “personal accountability” brings to the mostly hand crafted one-off supercar that is 2017 NSX.

Looking to the NSX GT3 car sitting next to a production model, it becomes apparent that in practice, Acura NSX technology s not only derived from the disciplines of aeronautic and automotive engineering, but in fact comes straight off of the race track.  When Acura tells you that NSX will roll off of the factory race ready, they’re not exaggerating.

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No hybrid technology for Acura NSX GT3

As learned on the track by Acura Real Time Racing, it doesn’t always pay to push the boundary of race classification guidelines when it comes to racing. In the case of NSX GT3, there will be no hybrid drive train. Instead, Acura has opted for an extreme high output 600 horsepower twin turbocharged 3.5 Liter V6, as found on the Acura TLX GT and Honda Ridgeline Baja Race Truck.

As with the Acura TLX GT, torque will be transferred to track via a rear live axle. As of the posting Acura is not sharing specifications, date of launch or the team chosen to pilot 2017 NSX GT. My money is on Real Time Racing. Only time will tell.

 

2017 Acura NSX Supercar VIN#001 to be auctioned for charity

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Photo Attributions Acura Division 2015. New Acura NSX in Nouvelle Blue

Die hard Acura NSX enthusiasts will have the opportunity to place bids on 2017 Acura NSX, VIN # 001, at Barrett Jackson Classic Car Auction Scottsdale, Arizona, January 29, 2016. The bid competition will be fierce.

The winner will drive away with Acura’s most technically advanced offering since the Honda Luxury Car division launch in 1986. According to our contact at Acura, all proceeds from the sale go to 2 – children’s charities, to be announced at a latter date.

The second generation NSX is arguably the most unique gasoline/ electric hybrid on the market today, for several reasons, one being the price-point. You may read the expanded Honda-Torque News article here.

Looking to the competition, BMW 8 series, Mclaren, Porsche and the soon to arrive Ford G.T., NSX will arrive to market with technologies not available on the aforementioned, at a relatively bargain price of MSRP $156,000 to $205,700+ sales tax, registration and applicable fees. You will find full specifications here.

With Jay Leno and Jerry Seinfeld showing interest in NSX # 001, there’s no telling how high the bid will go. Acura will announce the buyer of the car, as well as the winning bid amount the night of January 29.

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Priciest America auction car ever! Photo: RM Auctions, Thank you.

On a side note, we discovered that a close cousin to Acura NSX’s arch nemeses holds the record for the most expensive American car to ever exchange hands.  That title goes to the one of 3 built 1968 Ford GT40 Le-Mans super lights. The final bid? $11,000,000. We don’t anticipate 2017 NSX surpassing the $1,000,000 mark, but you never know.