Just like you, we always want to know what's coming next from Detroit, Tokyo, Stuttgart, Munich, Los Angeles, and all the other places where automotive engineers and designers dream and scheme on our behalf. Car companies, of course, are loath to share information on new products lest their competitors try to copy them--or you decide not to buy the cars they already have on dealer lots. Car companies, though, are simply groups of people, and some of them have a hard time keeping secrets. So, we poke, we prod, we cajole, and we uncover information that becomes the basis for our annual Sneak Preview issue. As always, some of our information is educated guesswork based on hints, insinuations, hunches. Make no mistake, though, these cars are on their way, even though details may change. Ladies and gentlemen: our list of 136 cars coming over the next few years...
2010 Acura ZDX
One could argue that what Acura needs is a really good-looking sedan rather than a really good-looking crossover, but a four-door crossover coupe is what Honda's luxury division has cooked up. It's the first Acura to have been conceived and executed entirely within the confines of the new Acura studio in Torrance, California, which was split off from the Honda studios in California a few years ago in an effort to imbue future Acuras with their own identity. Judging from the ZDX, this was a worthwhile move on the part of American Honda, because the newest Acura, all sinewy and modern, looks terrific. It also represents by far the most successful use of Acura's double-pentagon grille, although one wonders if Acura will ever have a facial identity that is at once attractive and readily identifiable.
In any case, the ZDX prototype that debuted at the New York auto show is nearly identical to the MDX-based production vehicle that will go on sale this October. Exterior designer Michelle Christensen was inspired by the tension and shape in a slingshot that's about to be fired, and she translated this notion into the shape of the roof structure. Seen from above, the roof rails are wide in front, where they form the A-pillars, and are drawn tightly inward as they are pulled taut at the rear of the vehicle. The ZDX's haunches themselves invoke the flanks of a wide-body Porsche 911, which is not bad company to keep. A full-length, panoramic glass roof will be standard.
"The ZDX is a four-door luxury sports coupe," explains the project leader on the exterior design, Damon Schell. "But it is a celebration of the front passengers. We tried very hard to hide the fact that the rear door is even there, hiding the door handles in the C-pillars." Yet since the ZDX is roughly the size of an Infiniti FX, there's room for three passengers in the rear seats or, when the seats are folded down, a decent amount of cargo. Up front, the ultramodern instrument panel is bisected by a cleaned-up version of Acura's T-shaped center stack and is copiously accented in pearlescent white leather. The MDX's 3.5-liter V-6 and all-wheel drive will be standard.
WEAPONS-GRADE: In addition to a slingshot, Acura designers say they were inspired by the motion of a bullet shot through water - the way the ripples affect all of the surfaces around it - when they drew the ZDX.
2010 Acura TSX-V-6
Since day one, Acura's TSX sedan has used a relatively small, high-revving, four-cylinder engine to maximize both its fun-to-drive and fuel economy marks. There's little doubt, however, that the lack of an optional V-6 has cost the brand some sales. Power freaks will soon be able to explode out of Acura dealerships engulfed in tire smoke, because the TSX gains an optional V-6 for 2010. The 280-hp, 3.5-liter unit joins the base TSX's 201-hp, 2.4-liter four-cylinder. The V-6's additional refinement and midrange power will help the TSX appeal to more luxury-focused buyers, so the short-throw manual transmission that's so well-matched to the frenetic four-cylinder won't be available. The only transmission is a five-speed paddleshifted automatic. Larger, eighteen-inch wheels and tires should help put the additional power down. We've long applauded Acura's decision to keep a four-cylinder in the TSX, but the optional V-6 is a good idea now that the next-size-up TL sedan has grown so much larger.
2010 Acura MDX and RDX
It's plastic surgery time at Acura. Except unlike most nose jobs, the company's two crossovers will be getting a more pronounced schnoz. Look for the new, and controversial, chrome grille to find its way onto the 2010 MDX and the 2010 RDX.
2010 Acura TL
On sale this fall is a six-speed-manual version of Acura's midlevel TL sedan. Available only with the top-of-the-range 305-hp, 3.7-liter V-6 and SH-AWD torque-vectoring all-wheel drive, the sedan is a riot on a racetrack - and surely a good time on back roads, too.