NEW YORK – Acura’s RLX concept car unveiled today at the New York auto show is an advanced look at the brand’s new flagship sedan due to hit the market in early 2013.

“We have created a true luxury sedan based on our Acura DNA,” American Honda CEO and President Tetsuo Iwamura says in a statement.

The RLX replaces the RL in Acura’s lineup and “will offer a level of connectivity, comfort and advanced performance demanded by today’s luxury buyers,” he adds.

The RLX will be available in a 310-hp, front-wheel-drive version when it debuts next year and offer new Precision All Wheel Steer technology that provides independent steering-angle control of each of the rear wheels via electronically controlled actuators.

The concept shown here is powered by a new 3.5L direct-injected V-6 engine and Acura’s new Sport Hybrid Super-Handling All-Wheel-Drive System that together generate 370 hp. A 7-speed dual-clutch transmission delivers power to the wheels.

Acura says the 3.5L/Sport Hybrid powertrain provides V-8-like acceleration but 4-cyl.-like fuel economy of 30/30/30 mpg (7.8 L/100 km) city/highway/combined.

Sport Hybrid SH-AWD, first shown on the NSX supercar concept unveiled in December in Tokyo, incorporates a dual electric motor drive unit and a bilateral torque adjustable control system that sends positive or negative torque to the rear wheels in cornering maneuvers.

The RLX concept “builds on Acura’s Keen Edge design motif,” the auto maker says, billing the car’s shape as “taut and aerodynamic” with “carefully detailed proportions.”

The RLX gains 2 ins. (5.1 cm) in wheelbase, overall width and track vs. the current RL sedan. However, the RLX’s front overhang is 2 ins. shorter.

The concept wears Acura’s new Jewel Eye light-emitting-diode headlamps, which have a dual-stacked array of eight separate LED lamps with “ultra-reflective optical lenses and high-gloss trim…for a bright-eyed look in daytime and nighttime conditions.”

The concept RLX weighs less than 4,000 lbs. (1,814 kg), Acura says, thanks to high-strength steel and aluminum usage.

The RLX concept rides on an all-new double-wishbone front and multilink rear suspension, while using Amplitude Reactive Dampers and electronic power steering with a variable gear ratio.

Collision-mitigation braking and lane-keep assist will be offered, while forward-collision warning and lane-departure warning will be standard.

Dual liquid-crystal-display screens, one 8 ins. (20 cm) and one 7 ins. (18 cm), will be featured, offering one-touch access to audio, heating and cooling, navigation and voice-to-text SMS text-messaging functions.

The next generation of the AcuraLink Communication System, which includes new convenience features such as stolen-vehicle tracking and concierge service, debuts in the RLX.

The new Acura will offer two audio systems, including a 14-speaker “ultra premium” system. Both will feature USB ports, HD Radio, Pandora and Aha Radio interfaces via a Bluetooth-paired smartphone. Aha Radio creates personalized web radio stations and audio updates that can be received via Facebook or Twitter, Acura says.

By pairing a smartphone to the head unit, email, contacts and text messages are accessible via the RLX’s touchscreen, and text messages can be answered with pre-loaded replies.

A voice-controlled navigation system is available on the RLX and has a Bing search feature and real-time traffic for highways and surface streets.

Acura does not disclose its sales target for the new RLX. The best year for the RL in the U.S. was 2005 with 17,572 units sold, WardsAuto data shows. Last year, Acura delivered 1,096 RLs, a 46.2% decline from 2010.

Acura expects 2012 brand volume to rise nearly 50% from last year, to 180,000 units, due to a normalized supply chain following last year’s earthquake and tsunami in Japan and floods in Thailand, as well as the availability of the new RDX and ILX.

cschweinsberg@wardsauto.com