The new "diamond pentagon grille" highlights the changes to the 2018 Acura RLX.

After years of struggle trying to define itself in a crowded luxury market, Acura has finally begun to gain some traction, though most of that has been on the SUV side of its line-up. So, there’s a lot riding on the updated 2018 RLX the Japanese maker will roll out during the week-long extravaganza anchored by the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance next week.

Like the recently restyled Acura TLX, the bigger RLX will draw heavily on the design cues first revealed in the form of the Acura Precision Concept first seen at the 2016 North American International Auto Show in Detroit. That includes the new “diamond pentagon grille,” sculpted hood and LED strips framing the updated headlamps of the 2018 update.

“This redesign…is transformational, creating road presence and styling that better reflect underlying performance capabilities of the vehicle,” said Jon Ikeda, Acura vice president & general manager – and its former design chief.

The 2018 Acura RLX will be offered with a V-6 or a V-6/three-motor SH-AWD package.

(Click Here to check out the latest Acura TLX update.)

From a visual perspective, the updates are moderate but more obvious than with many mid-cycle updates. The grille is a new signature for the brand and is accented by an oversized Acura logo. It’s framed by headlights with distinctive LED running lamps. The taillights also have been updated for 2018.

There’s plenty of chrome accenting the updated lines of the new Acura RLX, including a strip at the base of the rocker panels that climbs up into the front fascia. Along with the new taillights, there’s a new gloss black rear diffuser and dual exhaust finishers.

Inside, look for updated and more premium finishes and materials, with new seats featuring contrast piping and stitching.

Acura, you may recall, was the first Japanese luxury brand, but the Honda subsidiary has been eclipsed in recent years by Toyota’s Lexus and, to a lesser degree, Nissan’s Infiniti. It has been pushing hard to regain street cred with a wave of new products and technologies. Nowhere has that been more apparent than in the reborn Acura NSX, with its three-motor performance hybrid drivetrain.

The updated 2018 RLX interior.

Like the outgoing version, the 2018 Acura RLX will offer two powertrain options, including a slightly toned-down version of the NSX’s Sport Hybrid Super-Handling All-Wheel Drive, or SH SH-AWD, system. Here, it pairs a 3.5-liter V-6 with three electric motors, the package producing a combined 377 horsepower. The combination delivers a surprising burst of off-the-line power that compares favorably with competing turbo systems.

The system also uses the three-motor layout for enhanced torque vectoring. The concept helps steer through tight corners, but where conventional torque vectoring relies on a car’s ABS system to pulse the brakes on the inside wheels, Acura’s SH SH-AWD technology boosts power to the motors on the outer side of the turn.

The alternative powertrain uses the same V-6, making 310 hp, mated to a new 10-speed gearbox. It offers Precision All-Wheel Steer to enhance cornering.

(Acura looks at change from inside out with Precision Cockpit Concept. For the story, Click Here.)

New head and taillights for the 2018 RLX.

As befits a brand flagship these days, the 2018 TLX boasts plenty of technology – beyond the awkwardly named SH SH-AWD drivetrain. That includes a premium Krell audio package, surround view and rearview cameras, parking sensors, remote engine start, a heated steering wheel and an updated infotainment package.

On the safety side, the AcuraWatch package includes Road Departure Mitigation, Collision Mitigation Braking System, Lane Departure Warning, Forward Collision Warning, Lane Keeping Assist, and Adaptive Cruise Control. There’s also Traffic Jam Asist with Low Speed Follow, both semi-autonomous technologies.

The 2018 Acura RLX is set to roll into U.S. showrooms in November. We hope to hear more details, possibly including fuel economy and pricing, out on the Monterey Peninsula next week.

(U.S. car sales spiral down in July. Click Here to find out what’s happening.)

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