The Acura RD-X concept SUV, designed and developed by Honda R&D Americas and making its world debut at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit, combines the street performance of the RSX sports coupe with the 4-wheel drive capability of the MDX and adds high-tech functionality.
Targeted to meet the needs of youthful, urban professionals, the RD-X is both rugged city transportation and weekend sport machine. An innovative 4-wheel drive powertrain produces abundant power for maneuvering through city traffic or negotiating twisty mountain roads, while stow away rear seats leave plenty of room for personal gear, whether it be a laptop and blueprints or duffel bags and mountain bikes.
"The RD-X is the perfect vehicle for young, active people who work hard during the week and play harder on weekends," said Tom Elliott, executive vice president of American Honda Motor Co., Inc. "It has the cargo space and rugged functionality of an SUV, but with 250 horsepower and a sport tuned suspension, it also has the credentials to appeal to the serious driving enthusiast."
The RD-X is designed to be powered by a unique 250 horsepower, 4-wheel drive, hybrid powertrain that combines a high-output i-VTEC™ engine with an Integrated Motor Assist (IMA) system. Under the hood is a high performance 2.4-liter, 16-valve, DOHC 4-cylinder engine coupled to 6-speed, close-ratio clutchless manual transmission, which drives the front wheels, while the advanced IMA system powers the rear wheels.
Inspired by Honda's Formula One race cars, the RD-X's clutchless manual transmission uses computer controls to operate the clutch for smooth engagement. Shifting is accomplished with a paddle shifter conveniently mounted close at hand on the center console while the close-ratio design of the gearbox helps the driver extract maximum performance from the engine.
To boost acceleration and enhance handling, especially in foul weather, the RD-X boasts a newly developed IMA system with twin electric motors to power the rear wheels when extra driving force or traction is needed. This unique configuration increases power and distributes torque similar to an all-wheel drive SUV.
To complement its advanced powertrain, designers gave the RD-X a highly tuned chassis. Fully independent front and rear suspension, large 4-wheel disc brakes, large 18-inch wheels and 235/60R18 tires combine for tenacious grip and an aggressive look.
The RD-X's chiseled exterior styling provides both excellent visibility for driving in city traffic, and a feeling of security when parked on urban streets. To that end, the RD-X employs a compact upper body with an aggressively raked belt line, substantial wheel flares and a unique, glass roof. Run flat tires, retractable headlights, substantial bumpers and plenty of ground clearance add to the strong look of the vehicle and supply the grit to handle the hazards of urban and off-highway driving.
Inside, the RD-X seamlessly combines a driver-oriented cockpit with a large, easily transformable cargo area. Dual front bucket seats, trimmed in durable, high-tech fabrics, are positioned close together rally-style to facilitate easy communication between the driver and the front passenger. Rear action seats angle outward for increased legroom and can be quickly folded forward and stowed when more cargo room is required. While the front seats are fixed, the RD-X's instruments, steering wheel and foot pedals can be adjusted forward and back to comfortably accommodate drivers of different statures.
A heads-up display projects pertinent information such as speed, fuel level, and other warning lights onto the windshield within the peripheral view of the driver allowing the driver to keep his eyes focused on the road. This display is shared with the Acura Satellite-Linked Navigation System, which provides mapping coverage of the entire United States and stores information on more than 3.7 million points of interest. Instead of side view mirrors, the RD-X employs two rear-facing cameras located on the front fenders. These cameras transmit a clear view of rearward traffic on both sides of the vehicle to displays mounted on the steering column.
To enable quick and easy loading of large gear, such as bicycles, kayaks or snowboards, the RD-X has unique doors on the side and in the rear. Since it does not have a B-pillar, the RD-X's "wide open" side doors can open outward from the center to provide the largest possible opening into the vehicle. In the rear, instead of the upward swinging hatch featured on most SUVs, the RD-X boasts two powered doors that slide open to the sides and hug the flank of the vehicle to allow easy access to the rear cargo area, even in tight quarters. These doors combine with a low, flat floor to facilitate extremely easy loading and unloading of gear that might otherwise be unwieldy in cramped urban situations.
A hidden storage area in the side panel of the rear cargo area makes it easy to securely stow briefcases, laptops and other valuables that might be damaged if placed in the main cargo area. Built-in brackets on the floor hold bicycles securely during transport. In addition, the rear portion of the glass roof opens to allow loading and transporting of objects that are too tall to otherwise fit in the cargo area.
"The RD-X is really two vehicles in one," said Elliott. "During the week, it's quick and rugged enough to meet the unique demands of urban driving. On weekends, fold up the backseats, throw in a couple of bicycles or other gear and you've got an SUV that drives like a sports coupe."
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