The dreams of getting a V-8 engine, rear-wheel-drive platforms and a sports car to replace the NSX have died for Acura dealers. Now the question is whether Acura can follow Audi's lead and elevate its brand from premium to luxury with front- and all-wheel-drive platforms.
Meanwhile, Acura may return to two segments that it had abandoned by adding a compact car and a coupe.
Compact car: An Acura compact would be based on the next-generation Honda Civic, which means a spring 2012 launch as a 2013 model at the soonest. Acura left the compact segment at the end of the 2006 model year when it dropped the RSX. Acura doesn't want merely to homologate the Canadian market CSX, which is a badge-engineered Civic.
TSX: A wagon variant comes this fall, based on the European market Honda Accord wagon. The wagon will be available with fwd only and a four-cylinder engine. The sedan version of the TSX offers awd and a V-6 option.
TL: The mid-sized sedan is due for a redesign for the 2014 model year. At that time, Honda's large-platform hybrid system should be ready. Expect a freshening for the 2012 model year.
Coupe: Although the CL coupe was dropped several years ago, Acura is considering re-entering the segment on the TSX platform, shared with the European Accord. But there are no plans now.
RL: The rwd V-8 sedan that had been expected won't happen, the result of recession-driven cost-cutting. Honda Motor Co. has said the RL is not going to be redesigned, but U.S. executives insist that there will be another edition.
The RL is based on an outdated, stand-alone platform that may be re-engineered for the 2013 model year to make it last a couple of years more while the brand figures out what to do next. The RL also would be restyled at that time. The solution may be to stretch the next TL platform. So much for a flagship.
RDX: A redesign is slated for the 2012 model year.
ZDX: No significant changes are planned.
MDX: The redesign was planned for the 2012 model year, but that may be pushed back a year, when Honda's large-platform hybrid powertrain will be ready. The MDX currently comes only with a 3.7-liter V-6 engine, which may raise concerns about fuel economy.