Acura’s plans ride on RDX, hybrids

Will the U.S. get the Acura CDX? If it does, don’t expect it before the 2019 model year.

After several years of scrubbing its lineup of the long-panned beak grille and revamping its marketing, Acura is about to face its biggest test in recent years: the launch of its first redesigned vehicle under this brand reboot, the RDX crossover in 2018. Like its mainstream brother, Acura also has electrification plans for its lineup in the near future.

Future Product: Toyota and Lexus brand timelines

Future Product: Nissan and Infiniti brand timelines

Future Product: Nissan and Infiniti brand timelines

PDF: Toyota, Nissan and Honda Future Products

Future Product Pipeline

ILX:Riding on the same modular platform as the Honda Civic, Accord and CR-V, a redesigned ILX will likely debut in 2018 as a 2019 model — unless Acura gives it the ax altogether. Never a strong seller, the ILX is down 39 percent this year alone, and it’s on pace to barely break 10,000 units for the year. (Good thing it’s popular in Canada.) A new model would use the same 1.5-liter turbocharged four-cylinder that currently makes 205 hp in the Civic Si. A performance-oriented model could even drop in the Civic Type R’s 2.0-liter turbo four.

TLX: Acura gave its midsize Euro-fighter a freshening for the 2018 model year that added the new corporate grille and new sheet metal in the front and rear, a host of chassis and refinement upgrades and a new A-Spec trim package. The naturally aspirated four-cylinder and six-cylinder powertrains carried over largely unchanged. A redesign is due in 2020 as a 2021 model. It will join the Accord and others on Honda’s modular platform. It will likely ditch the current engine lineup in favor of Honda’s now-ubiquitous 1.5-liter turbo four-cylinder and the 2.0-liter turbo four from the Type R. Look for either a hybrid or plug-in hybrid by then, too.

RLX: Acura’s slow-selling large car is expected to get a freshening in time for the 2018 model year. Look for largely cosmetic upgrades similar to those on the recent TLX update: The metal beak grille will be replaced — by the same diamond signature grille as the TLX and MDX — as will other sheet metal. The current six-speed automatic gearbox will likely be replaced by Honda’s nine- or ten-speed automatic, and hook up to the same 3.5-liter V-6 that’s in the current model. A redesign is due in 2019 that should pack more of a visual punch while keeping the same V-6 and hybrid iterations.

CDX:Despite ultra-hot demand for subcompact luxury crossovers, Acura remains mum on whether it will bring the China-only CDX to the U.S. If it does, look for it for the 2019 model year and expect Honda’s 1.5-liter four-cylinder turbo, optional all-wheel drive and clever interior packaging similar to the Fit/HR-V twins. The biggest question is where will it be built? The current version is built only in China, and Honda’s global capacity is tight. Unless Honda chose its Celaya, Mexico, ​ plant, which builds the HR-V and some Fits, the CDX could be the first Chinese-built Honda product to land in the U.S. (The Canadian Fit was the first Chinese-built model to be sold there.)

RDX: A redesigned RDX will be the first major model change since Jon Ikeda took over as general manager of the brand in 2015 and the “precision-crafted performance” tag line was resurrected. Expected in early 2018 as a 2019 model, this luxe compact crossover will ride on the same modular platform as the Honda CR-V. Expect Honda’s 2.0-liter turbo four to replace the current V-6. A hybrid or plug-in will also join the mix this decade.

MDX: The MDX was re-engineered in 2017 with a new front clip and an optional hybrid powertrain. These changes will carry the crossover through until a redesign lands in 2019 as a 2020 model. A plug-in hybrid version of that new generation is likely, though the V-6 is expected to remain the base engine.

NSX: It’s not a matter of if the NSX variants arrive but when. Likely iterations include an open-top targa model, an all-electric version and a track-focused Type R model that might even follow the GT3 race car’s route and ditch the heavy awd system and perhaps even the electrification, though that would run counter to the current NSX ethos of performance through technology.