As Acura’s flagship model for the decade, the 2017 Acura RLX in Edmonton, combines loads of tech with your preference of gas or hybrid power. While the gas model delivers 310 hp, the hybrid is even more persuasive with its gas-powered V-6 driven front wheels, 7-speed transmission, electric motor, and separate controls for the rear wheels for a combined 377 horsepower. Both models offer swift performance and great handling.
Today, Honda is back at the cutting edge of hybrid tech, introducing innovative systems. The new Honda Accord hybrids feature a groundbreaking Honda-exclusive powertrain with no transmission. It’s complex, yet seamless, and works great in day-to-day use.
When the Acura RLX Sports Hybrid SH-AWD was first announced, many assumed that it would share its hybrid internal components with the NSX. That’s not the case, except maybe philosophically. The only common component between the two is what Acura dubs its twin motor unit (TMU). In the RLX, the TMU is fixed to a subframe at the rear axle that enables the RLX hybrid to deliver four-wheel drive through two 36-hp electric motors coupled together with a planetary gearset to produce 54 lb-ft of torque.
Below 78mph, each motor will supply torque to the wheel assigned it independently using torque vectoring, or they can work together to contribute to either thrust or braking. Over 78mph, the TMU will still vector torque but will abandon its acceleration and deceleration functions. Controlled by electronics and connected to the powertrain by wires, the TMU makes it possible for the RLX to function without a driveshaft. It stands out among torque-vectoring differentials as it can render power to just one tire while the other generates torque. To put it another way, it produces negative torque and feeds that energy back into its regenerative braking system.
Acura took some creative license with the rest of the powertrain too, a 310-hp, 3.5-liter V-6 that’s almost identical to the 3.5 in the front-drive version. Small changes in the camshaft net an additional pound-foot of torque, with 273 lb-ft delivered at 200 rpm higher. Engine torque is transferred to the front wheels via a 7-speed dual clutch automatic transmission. A 47-hp electric motor that puts out 109 lb-ft of torque has been integrated with the trans-axle, but it’s not in the typical center position as in most hybrids. Instead, it’s at the farthest outboard location possible, fastened to the odd gear input. When in an even gear, torque is directed to the wheels through the odd shaft. It’s worth noting that this isn’t the gearbox that Acura will use in the NSX. The RLX uses a transverse application rather than NSX longitudinal layout.)
With all this performance pushing innovation, in a fuel efficient hybrid, car shoppers are sure to pounce on the 2017 Acura RLX in Edmonton this year.