DETROIT – Honda’s Acura brand is putting a lot of importance on 2012, with two new models, the ILX compact and a next-generation RDX cross/utility vehicle, coming this spring.

But attention also will focus on two of the near-luxury brand’s low-volume models, the aging RL sedan and ZDX CUV.

News about the RL will be made at the New York auto show in April, John Mendel, executive vice president-sales for American Honda, tells media at the North American International Auto Show here. The show also will feature a refreshed ZDX.

The RL, whose current generation has been on sale since late 2004, saw its traditionally small volume fall even further in 2011, down 46.2% to 1,096 deliveries.

The hard-to-categorize ZDX is fresher, launched in late 2009 as a product meant to draw fashion-focused buyers to Acura showrooms.

Sales in 2011 sunk below even Acura’s low expectations, to 1,564 units, a 52% slide from year-earlier’s 3,259, and underperformed rival BMW’s X6, with 6,192 deliveries, WardsAuto data shows.

In an interview last year with WardsAuto, a Honda official could not confirm whether the ZDX would remain in Acura’s lineup beyond the first generation.

Mendel sees Honda spending less on incentives in 2012, although they may spike  for certain models, such as the outgoing Accord.

“We tend to do them only on run-out vehicles. Run-out models tend to draw a little more incentive fire than new ones,” Mendel says of what he calls Honda’s tactical incentives.

However, because Honda’s inventory still is constrained following last year’s Japan earthquake and the flooding in Thailand, he isn’t sure how quickly incentives for the current-generation midsize car may rise.

A new Accord isn't due until fall, leaving the current model on the market for the better part of the year.

 “I think overall you’ll see incentives flat or down for us, in spite of increased volume,” Mendel says.

Honda plans to sell 1.25 million vehicles in the U.S. this year, compared with 2011’s 1.02 million. The Acura brand should grow sales to 180,000 units, up from prior-year’s 123,299, Mendel says.

cschweinsberg@wardsauto.com