It's no secret that Honda's been developing a successor to their J-Series SOHC V6 engine family, an engine that's been with us since the days of the very first Acura 3.0 CL (which was introduced nearly 22 years ago). The J-series made its mark by offering a combination of a very compact package, light weight, excellent fuel economy, good NVH, and typically class-leading specific output numbers.
It's remarkable that the J-series has had such a good run and remained competitive during the entirety of the run. But now the time has come where Honda (especially Acura) needs a next-generation V6 which can deliver more performance while maintaining CAFE-friendly efficiency and EPA-friendly emission figures. We have heard whispers of a new DOHC V6 being under development for quite awhile, and now a recent (Dec 7, 2017) patent filing confirms that there has in fact been some work done in this area. Now the patent talks a lot about the fact that this proposed engine design uses the same cylinder head casting for each bank, and what it all means when it comes to the layout of the various oil passages, but there is some discussion concerning the valvetrain, including a reference of VTC on both intake and exhaust camshafts as well as variable lift and a VCM-like cylinder-cut capability. And of particular interest, it should also be noted that a turbocharger is specifically mentioned in the patent Description of the Preferred Embodiments. Also, from the drawings included with the patent, it appears that this engine has a 60-degree V-angle.
Ok, so where are we going to see this engine?
Acura is in the middle of another rework of the brand, and we've seen early returns of their efforts in the form of styling updates to the TLX, MDX, and most recently, the RLX. Acura's new design direction is modeled after the Acura Precision Concept sedan, which debuted at the 2016 North American International Auto Show. In a few weeks, we expect to see this design philosophy applied to the all-new Acura RDX concept, rolling across the stage at the upcoming 2018 North American International Auto Show in Detroit. We could be wrong, but we're not expecting to see the new V6 in the RDX, however. Instead, we're expecting to see a version of the 2.0L Turbocharged engine that's currently found in the Civic Type R and 2018 Honda Accord 2.0T. Honda's new 10-speed automatic transmission will likely be the sole offering in the new RDX, and don't be surprised if SH-AWD is also a part of the RDX feature set. As part of the new 'Precision' direction, Acura is extremely keen to emphasize the "Performance" part of the brand's identity, and SH-AWD is one feature that the current RDX lacks.
So we will likely have to wait a bit longer before we can drive anything with this new V6 engine family. The question is, how long will it be? We're fully expecting to see the new engine in the next generation MDX and RLX and probably the TLX in some form. Also, the Honda Odyssey, Ridgeline, and Pilot are likely benefactors at some point. One thing to note is that the patent document describes the cylinder banks in terms of "front" and "rear" orientation, which suggests a transverse layout. There had been some speculation that Acura may have had a north/south layout under development for the next generation RLX/MDX platform, so this new info could serve as a minor setback for those hopes.