Less-than-stellar response to the turbocharged Acura RDX raises questions about the future use of forced induction.
Rewind: When the Acura RDX prototype vehicle was unveiled in January 2006, the world gasped in shock at the news that the compact SUV would offer the brand's first factory application of a turbocharger. Civic and RSX enthusiasts balked that forced induction should have been introduced on Honda's lineup of sporty coupes. Others shook their heads and simply asked why. The RDX was supposed to be the ultimate marriage in sports car handling with SUV capability and utility. The turbocharger was designed to give the 2.3-liter engine an extra bit of oomph in lugging around a rather heavy Super Handling All-Wheel Drive system, and is also widely used on small displacement engines to maintain stellar fuel economy. With a well-known reputation for outstanding quality, reliability and Civic-like gas mileage, this new Acura vehicle should have been flying out of dealerships. Needless to say, sales have been disappointing and the future of the K23 engine is now up in the air.
As Acura gears up for the launch of the highly anticipated next-generation TSX (Accord in Europe), they have been casually shrugging off rumors about the possibility of a new turbocharged engine with direct fuel injection that would bring it up to speed with its competitors. There was also talk that the K23 would replace the current generation's naturally aspirated engine. Sources close to the company say that customers' lukewarm reaction to Acura's factory turbo and so-so gas mileage have convinced engineers that there is no need to change the TSX into anything other than a naturally aspirated front-engine, front-wheel drive sedan. Will we continue to see the use of forced induction on future products? It doesn't look good.