a line of performance and luxury vehicles derived from Honda of Japan, presents
a diverse menu of models in the 2004 mix.
Leading the line is Acura's elegant full-size flagship 3.5RL sedan, which gains
gear and cabin fixtures for 2004 to become the first luxury sedan listing the
XM satellite radio service as well as a DVD-based navigation system as standard
equipment. Acura's TL mid-size sedan shows a make-over this year with dramatic
restyling outside, new high-tech equipment in the plush cabin and a major boost
in power below the hood from a new version of the 3.2-liter V6 engine.
variations of the TL sedan under the CL label fade away in 2004 but Acura adds
to the lineup a new compact-class sports sedan called TSX. Built on the chassis
underpinning European issues of Honda's Accord, TSX has a leather-lined cockpit
and forceful power out of a twin-cam 2.4-liter in-line-four engine with aluminum
block and heads and Honda's remarkable variable timing valvetrain to produce a
robust 200 hp.
ripper from Acura is the race-bred RSX hatchback coupe for the compact class.
Acura pitches RSX in two flavors with a base edition and the high-performance
Type-S. In addition, even Acura's plush sport-utility vehicle aligns toward performance,
as its name -- MDX -- means Multi-Dimensional Cross-Trainer in the image of a
toned athlete accomplished in various sports. This year's MDX comes with a drive-by-wire
throttle plus Acura's Vehicle Stability Assist (VSA) anti-skid controller tuned
to integrate with a standard four-wheel-drive (4WD) system.
full-size flagship sedan matches European machines with sophisticated yet understated
exterior styling. Inside the spacious passenger compartment, luxurious appointments
range from leather-clad bucket seats in front of a bench for three to rich hardwood
trimmings and high-tech electronic controls.
The editions of 2004 gain cabin equipment, such as a premium audio system (the
Acura/Bose Music System with in-dash CD changer for six discs) and power lumbar
support in the driver's plush bucket seat. In addition, the XM satellite radio
service and Acura's navigation system with voice recognition feature score as
brushed metal and chrome accents decorate the cabin with a wood-pattern shifter
knob applied plus burled camphor wood trimming the instrument panel and a dashboard
video screen of the navigation system.
power, the RL employs a single-cam 3.5-liter aluminum V6 that nets 225 hp. Sport-tuned
suspension elements are included, plus big disc brakes and computer linkage to
an anti-lock brake system (ABS).
standard safety equipment includes four air bags, with dual-stage inflation for
the front passenger-side air bag and a smart side air bag that can figure out
the size and position of the seat occupant before deciding to deploy the device.
Acura's VSA anti-skid system is also included.
class of mid-size near-luxury sedans, Acura's TL takes on airs of European cars,
although price points seem downright domestic. The editions of 2004 represent
a significant upgrade with fresh exterior styling evident.
the revamped skin there's a fortified structure with increased torsional rigidity
and additional soundproofing around the passenger compartment with new acoustic
front windshield glass and more plush appointments in the five-place cockpit.
The new gear includes twin zone and dual modes for the automatic climate control
system and the Acura/ELS Premium Surround Sound System with DVD-based audio kit,
a six-disc CD changer and eight speakers. Xenon high intensity discharge (HID)
headlights are also aboard, plus a power-operated glass moonroof and the cabin
is trimmed in brushed aluminum accents with perforated leather seats.
60-degree V6 engine in the TL displaces 3.2 liters with overhead camshafts and
high-tech controls. Horsepower increases from 225 to 270 and there's more useful
torque too as directed to a close-ratio six-speed manual shifter or electronic
automatic five-speed outfitted with Honda's Sequential SportShift override for
clutch-less manual shifts.
gear ranges from multiple air bags with standard side curtain-style air bags to
Acura's VSA with traction control system (TCS).
new sports sedan fits in the compact class and comes with a forceful four-cylinder
engine that runs up to 200 hp and links to a sporty six-speed manual stick or
five-speed Sequential SportShift automatic. It's fun to drive but has the practical
advantage of a four-door format and seats for five in a plush cockpit.
Yes, the chassis comes from the European version of Honda's Accord and the wedge-shaped
body of TSX carries many of that Accord's fixtures including the basic sheetmetal,
headlamps and taillights plus flank mirrors and door handles. Yet the prow holds
Acura's five-sided grille with xenon HID lamps installed as well as expanded air
intakes in the lower fascia.
the cabin gets the luxurious treatment of an Acura with bolstered sport bucket
seats clad in perforated leather, a leather-wrapped sport steering wheel rigged
with tabs to operate the stereo and cruise control, plus a twin-zone automatic
climate system, power moonroof, keyless entry and premium audio gear.
buckets have concealed heat elements inside, by the way, and a voice-recognition
system is on the list of options for controlling navigation, ventilation and audio
equipment. Engine is the Honda 2.4-liter four-in-line tied to the advanced i-VTEC
system with computer-controlled intelligence for regulating camshaft phasing to
boost performance and fuel economy. An elevated 10.5:1 compression ratio pushes
output to 200 hp for extra kicks.
VSA stability system is included, as are 17-inch
alloy wheels with P215/50R17 all-season performance
our Review: Acura
price-leader, a compact-class hatchback coupe, emerged in 2002 on Honda's global
compact platform as successor to the original coupe, Integra. It continues in
2004 with two different issues as the base RSX and high-performance Type-S edition.
Both stock a twin-cam 2.0-liter four-in-line engine that comes with Acura's i-VTEC
RSX base version makes 160 hp and links to a standard five-speed manual transmission
or optional five-speed Sequential SportShift automatic. Type-S goes further through
tuning to push output to 200 hp and manage the power through a six-speed manual.
Type-S also has track-tuned suspension settings with firmer springs and dampers
plus larger front vented disc brakes.
hatchback styling, the two-door cockpit provides seats for two up front and two
more on a folding back bench. Standards range from automatic climate system and
keyless entry to power controls for mirrors, windows and door locks, a power moonroof
and premium audio with in-dash CD deck.
leather covers seats on Type-S but is optional on the base model.
upgrades worked on Acura's luxury sport-utility wagon last year and carry over
to 2004. Acura makes the MDX as a refined luxury vehicle that provides cushy appointments
and fancy features, yet the three rows of flexible seats permit different uses
as a workhorse hauler and the strong engine allows it tow a boat and trailer,
while sophisticated mechanical equipment enable the wagon to roll comfortably
on pavement as well as dirt or dispel the inherent danger of roads made slick
by spring showers or the snows of winter.
front-mounted engine directs its muscle to the front wheels with an electronic
device on tap to channel some of that power to the rear wheels when front ones
slip. Factor in the relatively short (106.3 inches) wheelbase and a broad wheel
track to create a stable stance. And isolate the independent suspension system
on subframes, add variable-power rack and pinion steering and disc brakes for
all corners with ABS and electronic brake force distribution (EBD). The result:
Uncommon agility for a wagon.
to 260 hp flows from the aluminum six-pack engine through a five-speed automatic
transmission. A drive-by-wire throttle eliminates a mechanical connector between
engine and accelerator.
spacious cabin piles on leather and wood trimmings to set up a luxurious atmosphere.
Two bucket seats occupy the front row on either side of a floor console. A three-person
bench split in 60/40 sections stands in the second row, but two third-row seats
divided 50/50 are also included. Second-row seats drop forward and third-row seatbacks
fold into the floor for a quick and relatively effortless disappearing act to
make room for more cargo. With all second and third seatbacks down, the vehicle
ends up with a flat-floored cargo area that encompasses more than 80 cubic feet
of storage space.