Jump to content
Clubplanet Nightlife Community

2005 Acura RL-300hp, AWD; hybrid possible

Recommended Posts

Acura plays catch-up with upcoming awd, 300 hp RL sedan


Automotive News

Acura this fall will equip its flagship RL sedan with all-wheel drive and a 300-hp V-6 engine to challenge luxury rivals who offer rear-drive and V-8s, dealers and analysts say. A hybrid gasoline-electric powertrain also could be part of the package.

Acura would not confirm the plan. But at least eight Acura dealers say the division has told them about the 300-hp V-6 with awd. And two analysts, citing conversations with suppliers and people close to the company, support dealer reports that the RL will have a hybrid powertrain.

Such a move would show that American Honda Motor Co. is taking a unique approach - a hybrid geared as much for performance as fuel economy - in a bid to elevate its luxury brand's flagship sedan.

"The next RL will show that Honda continues to think out of the box with powertrains, and that you don't necessarily need a V-8 for luxury cars," says analyst Michael Robinet, vice president of global forecast services for CSM Worldwide in Northville, Mich.

The current RL - with front-wheel drive and a 225-hp, 3.5-liter V-6 - has undersold comparable sedans from import rivals Lexus, BMW and Mercedes-Benz. Most high-end luxury cars in the United States have V-8 engines and rwd.

The 2004 RL begins at $43,725, including destination. The nameplate's U.S. sales peaked at 16,004 in 1997.

Last year, Acura sold 6,829 RLs, down 27.3 percent from 2002. Lexus sold 23,895 LS 430 sedans; BMW sold 46,964 5-series cars; and Mercedes-Benz sold 55,683 E-class models.

A concept of the redesigned 2005 RL will be shown at the New York auto show in April.

In the past, Acura and Honda concept vehicles have closely resembled the production version.

Acura dealers will see the new RL at their annual dealer meeting Aug. 26 in Chicago. "This will be a big step for us," said one dealer, who, like other dealers, didn't want his name used. "A V-8 is not crucial."

Honda Motor Co. Ltd. does not make V-8 engines. All Acura vehicles are fwd, with the exception of the MDX SUV, which has awd, and the NSX premium sports car, which has rwd.

In an October interview with Automotive News, American Honda Executive Vice President Thomas Elliott said the company was near its limit for increasing horsepower on its fwd platform and soon would decide how to increase power for each of its Acura models.

"We're really close to making a decision on a hybrid," he said, adding that the vehicle could be powered by a 300-hp engine in the front plus 100-hp electric motor in the back. He also said the company was considering awd but not rwd.

At this month's Detroit auto show, Honda Motor Co. CEO Takeo Fukui said the company's strategy was to develop cleaner and more fuel-efficient engines that are fun to drive.

He said the company's cylinder deactivation system, which is designed to deliver greater fuel economy with no sacrifice in performance, would be introduced in the United States this fall on the new Honda V-6 Accord hybrid.

The Accord would be the first V-6 model to use the company's hybrid technology and the first hybrid to use the cylinder deactivation system. He said the deactivation system also would be applied to another V-6 model that would be introduced this year, but he would not identify that vehicle.


Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.
Note: Your post will require moderator approval before it will be visible.

Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

  • Create New...