A decade and a half of alphabet-soup nomenclature
The letter-happy torque-vectoring AWD tech made its debut in 2004 on the model-year 2005 Acura RL sedan; its primary function is to apportion additional torque to the left or right wheel to “overdrive” that wheel, creating a yaw moment that enhances handling and cornering performance. It’s hardly noticeable around town, but it effectively dials out understeer when driving harder, such as on a backroad or at a track.
Such torque-vectoring systems may be commonplace today, but back in 2004 Acura’s system was cutting-edge tech. To celebrate, a video was created to cover SH-AWD’s performance history, which now also includes electrified Sport Hybrid SH-AWD in certain models. That would be SH-SH-AWD if you really like abbreviations, but don’t tell Acura’s marketing department.
SH-AWD was among the first production uses of torque-vectoring technology, and Acura states that it will sell its 1,000,000th vehicle with the system later this year. While regular SH-AWD uses an electronically controlled rear differential to act on the rear wheel, the hybrid version uses two electric motors to do the same job. Sport Hybrid SH-AWD was first introduced in the 2014 RLX hybrid, and it’s also in use in the second-generation NSX and MDX hybrid. The MDX and RLX models use two rear-mounted electric motors to achieve the effect, while the NSX has its two electric motors up front due to its mid-engine configuration.
The latest version of SH-AWD can be found in the 2019 RDX and offers 40 percent more torque capacity at the rear axle, quicker front-to-rear torque transfer, and 30 percent quicker transfer of torque between the left and right rear wheels compared to the outgoing model, says Acura. Check out the video below for the full rundown on Acura’s SH-AWD system!