By on January 31, 2014

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Everyone is eager to read Acura its Last Rites, but in the United States, it managed to outsell Audi last year. Despite having little to offer enthusiasts and traditional fans of the brand, the RDX and MDX are unqualified successes: the RDX outsells all of the small crossovers from Germany’s luxury bands (Audi Q5, Mercedes-Benz GLK etc.) with the larger MDX outsold only by the Lexus RX and Cadillac SRX respectively. As much as Acura touts the NSX as the future of the brand, what they could really stand to use is another crossover, one that slots below the RDX.

Acura’s sales have been a roller coaster over the past decade. 2006 saw the beginning of a steep decline in sales, with Acura losing nearly half of its volume by 2009, going from 201,000 units annually to just over 105,000 in three years. In the throes of the financial crisis, Acura canned expensive projects like a front-engined, V10 NSX, a planned V8 and rear-drive platforms. There was even talk of shuttering the brand altogether.

Evidently, that didn’t happen, and the brand managed to claw its way back. Last year, it sold 165,000 units, with the RDX and MDX accounting for 59 percent of the brand’s total volume. People are coming to Acura for the crossovers, not for the cars, though that picture should improve now that the RLX has replaced the RL and the moribund TL is on its way out.

That doesn’t change the situation, as much as the Integra GS-R worshiping faithful may not like it. Crossovers are a growing segment, and perhaps the only bright spot in a globally depressed auto market. Even in Europe, the spiritual home of the station wagon, crossovers are practically the only segment that is not shrinking. Acura itself is not a global brand, but the key markets in competes in – North America, China and Russia – are crossover crazy, especially the latter two, where poor roads dictate a higher ride height, and a high driving position and faux-SUV proportions are all desirable traits.

In America, CUVs are already eating into segments like mid-size and large sedans, while small crossovers like the Honda CR-V and Ford Escape are among the most popular light trucks. At the same time, premium small cars like the Mercedes-Benz CLA are gaining conquest sales from mainstream nameplates like the Honda Accord. It would be foolish to assume that the upcoming Mercedes-Benz GLA won’t do the same with the CR-V, Escape and other larger, but comparably priced mainstream vehicles.

Acura is said to be working on a GLA-sized vehicle for the Chinese market, based on the Honda Vezel. From a business standpoint, they’d be foolish not to bring it here. It’s hard to imagine it would fare worse than the awkwardly proportioned ILX, which hasn’t been accepted by the market place, and will likely get its lunch eaten by the CLA.

When it comes to passenger cars, the European nameplates have Acura beaten lock, stock and barrel. But the crossover space is a different story, and it’s only going to grow further and further. A competitor to the GLA, the BMW X1 and an Audi Q3 could be a way for Acura to turn the ship around, adding volume for the brand while maximizing profit for the Fit/Vezel platform and preventing the European brands from owning that corner of the market.

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143 Comments on “Editorial: Acura Needs Another Crossover...”


  • avatar
    HerrKaLeun

    First they need to get rid of their alphabet soup naming and give the cars normal names. Everyone knows what an accord, or civic is and also knows the Accord is a bit bigger than the civic, but a 3-letter thingy? BMW at least has some scheme that tells me which one is bigger (1, 3, 5, 7). Lincoln makes the same mistake, but no one buys Lincoln anyway.

    I’m not into Acura, but couldn’t even tell how many sedans they have, or SUV/CUvs since there seems to be a 3-letter thing here and there. No one outside of TTAc knows which Acura (based ont he 3-letter name) is the larger one. and people that are not on TTAc all day need to be let known what they have.. with consitent names that humans can associate something with.

    I have a CR-V myself, and not really happy with the name (but bought it despite the name, for the practicality). Not even sure what it means, CRossover-Vehicle?

    • 0 avatar

      Nah, the name is fine at this point. Everybody knows what the MDX and RDX is (especially the former, since it has been around since 2001 or so). The same goes for the TL(X), which is their only other really relevant model. Alphabet soup isn’t great, but it works if you stick with the same soup for long enough.

      • 0 avatar
        FuzzyPlushroom

        Pretty much. I knew Acura’s two crossovers, and I’d suggest a third with a three-letter acronym that sort of means something.

        Eventually, if -DX means crossover, that’ll be good enough.

        Thing is, I consider myself a bit of an enthusiast, and I can’t keep track of what Acura’s calling their sedans nowadays. I can remember the different Lincolns and most of what Mercedes builds, so it’s not just that it’s alphabet soup, it’s that it’s inconsistent alphabet soup with no basis in reason.

        We’ll see how Infiniti’s consistent-yet-wasteful strategy works. Acura did something similar in discarding the beloved Legend nameplate, and it may be best for them to do it again with their sedans.

        • 0 avatar

          Well, it’s down to three with Acura, and they’ve retained the same names as before except with an additional ‘X’ added.

          ILX > new
          TL > TLX
          RL > RLX
          TSX > dead

          Infiniti didn’t have a choice on its naming conventions. They simply couldn’t trademark the names they needed and Q/QX was the best they could do.

          • 0 avatar
            CJinSD

            I suspect the 4 cylinder/FWD TLX will be priced somewhere in the TSX’s range.

          • 0 avatar
            HerrKaLeun

            You mean they have 3 seadans? So they use the Accord 3 times and resell it as an Acura? Just looked at the website, the TSX is still for sale. Wow, 4 cars that kind of look the same to me. For honda they are so focussed (make one car in each category, and make it be the best one, or at least in the top 3), but Acura seems to have no control at all…

            And the ZDX, really, does anyone buy that? I’ve never seen one on the street, the same way I don’t see many Aztecs anymore. Maybe I was wrong, it isn;’t just the alphabet soup they need to change, it is the cars. why do they have as many Acuras (or even more) than Hondas, while Honda outsells Acura by a lot? Acura really seems a second Lincoln (even as a reliable Lincoln).

            Here is an idea, take all the Hondas (minus the Fit) and sell them as a fancy version of honda and call them Acura, and call it a day. Maybe only upcharge a few thousand $, but you save all the development cost. If they continue to make the Acuras they will end up like Lincoln.

            and all the development cost you save you use to stay focussed to make the best product in each class.

            I really think this article misses the point, they don’t need more cars, they need fewer, but good ones.

            More Crossovers? why not more sedans, make it 6 Acura Sedans vs 1 Accord, and have each Sedan have a ZDX version while you are at it. / sarcasm

          • 0 avatar
            HerrKaLeun

            After my heart attack of seeing the current Acura lineup I looked at it again. Here is what they need to do (besides making them look nice, like getting rid of the beaks, and giving them names or letter that follow some sort of scheme):
            – if the RLX is a good seller, keep it as large Sedan
            – TL: get rid off
            – TSX: keep as sedan, wagon, maybe add a nice looking Coupe
            – ZDX: do the worls a favor and kill it
            – Maybe add a Civic version, maybe even a hatch (but nice looking!!!!!!!)
            – IDX: not ure what that does, get rid off unless this is what a civic Acura is supposed to be
            – RDX: make it with bigger trunk and base on CRV. Make it a fancier CRV, even rich people value the 36 ft³ cargo, the current RDX only has 26, like a Hyindau Tucson
            – MDX: make ap Pilot based version, that seems to work for all other manufacturers

            And even at the danger of repeating myself, don’t make ugly cars! Also don’t try to emulate every other manufacturer, make a few vehciles that are really good, like you do with most Hondas. All the above measures should help reducing cost, make it a nice car that isn’t as expensive as BMW/Lexus. Make them so that someone who likes the Honda usefulness also could get convinced.

          • 0 avatar

            HerrKaLeun: Erm, a few things.

            – The RLX isn’t and will never be a good seller. It is far too expensive and uncompetitive, if a nice product otherwise. Acura knows this, we know it, I’m not sure why they have it here but that’s fine…its their flagship and feature show.
            – The TL was their top seller not many years ago, dumping all that credit doesn’t make sense and they know it. They are sizing it down and placing it between the TL and the TSX size and price wise, thereby replacing both. They are also now calling it the TLX
            – The TSX is dead. It was just undermining the TL and ILX. The wagon sold in small numbers, and probably just undermined RDX sales a touch. The TLX will replace it by including a 4-cylinder. This seems like a logical move to simplify their portfolio of sedans…a category that is doing them less and less favours as the years go by.
            – ILX – That ‘Civic version’ you wanted? That’s what this is. It’s a Civic SI with nicer tech, a better ride, and a more luxurious/more refined cabin. No hatch, because Honda views hatches as a risk, oddly.
            – ZDX: I find this strangely appealing, but it’s already dead.
            – The RDX IS based on the CR-V. It has a lot of space already. The only reason the CR-V has so much is because it has a freakish elephant rear end.
            – MDX: It’s a significantly dressed up Pilot with a superior AWD system, so basically exactly what you wanted.

            Like it or not, Acura is making logical choices here. They are smartening their lineup and have been doing a pretty good job where it counts (RDX, MDX). But this armchair product planning session was fun.

          • 0 avatar
            HerrKaLeun

            Echid: thanks for clarifying, I didn’t realy know what they sell, apparently they don’t sell much.

            the lack of their wagon sales shows that all these armchair commenters are just BS-ing about their want for wagons. They have one from Acura (without all the VW problems) and still don’t buy one (probably because it is not brown and in diesel and used)

            I personally think their prices are too high for what they are, if the “Civic” Acura cost $10k more than the civic, this is a 30% upcharge – quite a bit for some better interior material and little larger engine.
            But I guess that is why they sell luxury cars, to make money. Wonder how that sells, i mean buying a loaded Accord proabably would get you a fancier and larger car for less $. If iknew sales numbers, I probably would seethat I’m right.

            then just get rid of the RLX, no one byes a TLX otr hwatever because the RLX exists. They don’t need flaghsip (especially one that one never sees on the streets).

            Not sure why you keep saying all these are dead, they still are on the websote and sure I could buy one (If I was blind and had no taste at all). but if as you say they got rid of 2 of their vehicles, that would be a start.

    • 0 avatar

      Acura is to Honda what Mercury should have been to Ford. My MDX is a Pilot tuned to an X5 target, with a fancier interior. Sadly it was made by the same suppliers who feed GM, and bean counters removed the excess Honda quality from years past. Having said that, the engineers who tuned the suspension did a great job. It’s tossable for a truck. The sway bar bushings are way too small for the forces they take, but they are easy to swap.

      Acura needs a new NSX-the show cars don’t count.
      A new small ute.
      Everyone gets back sh-awd, not the lite AWD version.
      Acura makes a RWD car, keeps it Acura only. The new RDX is very nice, but driven at the wrong end.
      Last, but not least, Acura brings in a diesel, puts it into the MDX. People want fat, fancy SUV for the school run, but 25 mpg with huge ? win-win

      My brother has the ur-CRX Si, a good friend the first Integra. A roommate, the second Accord. All great cars. What happened ?

  • avatar
    thornmark

    Dropping the name “Legend” was almost as bad a mistake as Datsun being dropped in favor of “Nissan”.

    The marketing dopes who did that at Acura, whomever they may have been, should be relegated to the marketing hall of shame.

    To this day people fondly remember the Legend. The RL? What’s that?

    • 0 avatar
      NormSV650

      Those cars are not competitive today. It is almost like Acura is fallen into Saab style stagnation offering the same engines in the Honda line up. When Buick smokes Acura by 45,000 units for 2013 the shiny caliper symbol for precision crafted performance has grown dull. Verano doubles ILX sales and even the Encore has exceeded RDX sales since 2006 except for last year.

      • 0 avatar
        Atum

        Buick and Acura probably sell the same number of personal vehicles; how many Enclaves, Lacrosses, and Veranos have you seen with “Enhance Your Drive: Scan Here” stickers on the driver’s window? Yeah, quite a lot.

      • 0 avatar
        thornmark

        Buicks are GEO. It’s a mutt brand. Lutz wanted to kill it because it was irredeemable – but the Chinese, who didn’t know any better, were buying.

        As you know, their crossovers are not competitive. The Encore defines itself:
        http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=buick%20encore

        • 0 avatar
          NormSV650

          Acura is Civic and Accord. Platforms in drag.

          • 0 avatar
            geozinger

            Actually, Acura is Mercury. They would be happy to have the brand recognition that Accord and Civic do.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            Two things, Honda spends more than $20 dollars to differentiate their Mercury from the parent brand, and they price their Mercurys $10K or more higher (unlike Ford’s Mercury).

          • 0 avatar
            geozinger

            @28: For all of that money spent, it seems not to have worked well. Honda (and Ford are both) headed down that path to one brand.

        • 0 avatar
          28-Cars-Later

          GEO was a mutt brand of inferior products, Buick is more akin to Neo… GEO. Ha a pun!

        • 0 avatar
          Lorenzo

          The Chinese remembered the history of Buick for a long time after they were no longer available. The last emperor owned one, as did the first president, Sun Yat-Sen. The Chinese higher-ups drove them and established Buick as a premium brand in Chinese long memory. It’s GM that forgot it was one step below Cadillac. But then, they forgot Cadillac was a premium brand too. The malaise era was the beginning of the end for GM in a LOT of ways.

    • 0 avatar
      rnc

      “To this day people fondly remember the Legend”

      That’s why they dropped it, people never associated with Acura, they associated with the name “Legend”, was a case of trying to make the brand paramount to the product when the product was doing that quite well on its own and then when it came time to replace the “Legend” there wasn’t one anymore.

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        “Legend” had and probably still has a thousand times more positive brand equity than “Acura”.

        • 0 avatar
          Lorenzo

          That’s like saying Corvette has more brand equity than Chevrolet. Wait – that’s true!

          You could probably say that about Continental and Lincoln, or Fleetwood and Cadillac, maybe even Riviera and Buick. Having an iconic model doesn’t exactly diminish the brand, unless the idiots running the brand forget to keep the connection alive in the public’s mind.

  • avatar
    Tom Szechy

    Noone needs another crossover.
    Crossovers are the worst abominations since the minivan.
    We need station wagons and better roads.

    • 0 avatar
      Syke

      Unfortunately, the people who are actually putting up the money and buying the new vehicles disagree with that opinion. Then again, those people don’t write to blog sites.

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      +1 for better roads.

    • 0 avatar

      Sigh, there had to be one of you didn’t there.

      Have we fulfilled our obligatory CUV-hate quota for the article yet or is there more of this to come? Is there a room of underemployed 20 something “social media specialists” somewhere that just copy-paste this same comment all over the web?

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        Actually there are a thousand monkeys working at a thousand keyboards. Soon, they’ll have finished the greatest novel known to man… oh and also spreading CUV hate.

      • 0 avatar

        It’s ok, they are on the wrong side of history. A couple days ago, a print mag published a piece saying that the station wagon can only be redeemed if we make CUVs disappear entirely. Unbelievable.

        • 0 avatar
          pragmatist

          When I was young in the 60s station wagons were king. But they were profoundly useful with far more usable space than most SUVs today (I remember ads about carrying 4×8 plywood flat) . A family of 5 could take a long road trip with plenty of room for multiple suitcases.

          The modern vehicles are toys, wagons in name only. Hardly any more space than a tiny (EPA approved) sedan. If you have a family, it’s a decent size SUV or a minivan.

          • 0 avatar

            This is a perfect example of the issue with the anti-SUV/CUV argument.

            Those 60s wagons were HUGE cars. Huge, poor handling, soft, gas-guzzling vehicles that could carry anything and anyone. Sound familiar? Yeah, sounds like a modern SUV to me. They only thing that’s changed is now they are higher while having better handling, are much safer, are more fuel efficient, and last a lot longer.

            People seem to argue that a wagon can do anything by somehow combining their memory of two very different types of wagon, the massive American do-all boat of the 60s on one hand, and the fast and small European wagon on the other, into one mythical car that has never existed.

          • 0 avatar
            danio3834

            Why people are so fixated on splitting hairs in an attempt to neatly categorize these types of vehicles into wagon/CUV/SUV completely baffles me. They’re completely ambiguous. It’s thoroughly retarded to argue which is better than the other. Any vehicle that falls into one of those 3 categories are built to varying size and spec to fulfill the same basic purpose. All this don’t call it a wagon (minivan), don’t call it a minivan (CUV), don’t call it a truck (SUV) stuff is pure marketing bullsh!t.

            /rant

      • 0 avatar
        azmtbkr81

        I don’t think the quota has been filled yet so I will gladly pile on. The CUV is a fashion statement, much like the extra-tall stovepipe hat was in the late 1800’s. Like the stovepipe hat, people will eventually realize that making something taller doesn’t make it better (Abe Lincoln notwithstanding).

        There simply is no reason for a vehicle that handles and guzzles gas like an SUV but can’t tow, off-road, or haul a respectable amount of human or inanimate cargo to exist. I can’t think of a single area in which the CUV excels other than being taller which isn’t a categorically positive trait.

        I saw a commercial the other day with a fashionable 30 something couple pitching a luxury CUV as the natural grown up, next-step vehicle to aspire to. As someone who recently passed the 30 mark I can’t imagine a more uselessly foppish vehicle. I won’t claim to be immune to fads but I’ll happily watch this one pass by from the sidelines.

        • 0 avatar
          Zykotec

          Yeah, because trying to look like you are a pragmatic father of three, while living in some place with bad roads is high fashion at the moment ? I think the only thing I could agree with is that they aren’t very fuel-econmic compared to modern sportwagons that can barely comfortably seat 4 (two without legs) and they don’t handle as well as cars you have to crawl into either…

          • 0 avatar
            azmtbkr81

            I’d rather have an AWD minivan with better mileage, extra cargo space, sliding doors, and better visibility if I were in that situation.

          • 0 avatar
            mnm4ever

            @azmtbkr – well good luck finding that mythical AWD minivan that gets better mileage than a CUV.

            I don’t get where all these gas guzzling, lumbering CUVs are?? They don’t get bad gas mileage anymore, they don’t handle bad anymore, and compared to sedans they have more interior room, more cargo space, they have more ground clearance and can be had with AWD, and most of them can tow a small trailer or jet skis or even a small boat.

            CUVs have been popular for like 2 decades now, I think its past the fad point now.

        • 0 avatar
          28-Cars-Later

          “There simply is no reason for a vehicle that handles and guzzles gas like an SUV but can’t tow, off-road, or haul a respectable amount of human or inanimate cargo to exist. ”

          Thank you.

          I’d also watch what I say about [Abe] Lincoln as he’s not dead and actually a vampire hunter, or maybe he’s just a vampire, now I’m not sure.

        • 0 avatar
          Pch101

          “There simply is no reason for a vehicle that handles and guzzles gas like an SUV but can’t tow, off-road, or haul a respectable amount of human or inanimate cargo to exist.”

          Because people like them.

          “I can’t think of a single area in which the CUV excels other than being taller which isn’t a categorically positive trait.”

          The market obviously disagrees with you. The height explains much of their popularity.

          • 0 avatar

            But they do get better mileage than a BOF SUV, can tow, go off-road and can haul people and cargo. They just lack the authenticity of a BoF (perceived as less rugged. As for handling, drive a brand new 4Runner and a brand new Highlander, and tell me which handles better.

          • 0 avatar
            azmtbkr81

            @mnm4ever – Hardly mythical, the Sienna has AWD and matches or beats every comparably sized CUV in fuel economy.

          • 0 avatar
            azmtbkr81

            @Derek – I can’t think of a single car-based SUV that can tow a respectable amount or handle anything more rugged than an ungraded dirt road.

            Mileage is a little tougher to compare since most SUVs (like the 4Runner) have soldiered on without updates for 10+ years.

            The best representatives of modern SUVs would be the Grand Cherokee and Yukon/Tahoe, both of which have similar mileage to their CUV cousins with much more capability. Why would someone ever choose something like an Acadia over a Yukon? I just don’t get it.

            CUVs are the greatest trick car manufacturers have ever pulled: put a taller body on a high-volume sedan and sell for a large premium. It’s brilliant in its simplicity but as a consumer I don’t see the value.

          • 0 avatar
            mnm4ever

            @azmtbkr – Maybe you are just confused as to the subject matter here. There is no such thing as a CUV that is comparably sized to a Sienna. CUV is COMPACT Utility Vehicle, which is, by definition, compact. Your favorite minivan is anything but mini, its huge. A CUV is like a CRV or RAV4 or CX5 and those definitely get better mileage that the Sienna. But maybe you are talking about SUVs or large crossovers, in which case then yes, it very well might match those larger vehicles in fuel economy. But who cares? Clearly not everyone wants to drive a minivan, if only for the dork factor alone. Which is why the SUVs and CUVs and crossovers sell. And not everyone wants to drive a full size truck based SUV, which is why everyone doesn’t just go buy one of those instead of one of the much smaller CUVs. Around town those big trucks get horrible mileage, only out on the highway do they do OK. They also drive like trucks, and not everyone wants to drive something like that. So the manufactures make the large crossovers for those people. Not everyone shops for cars by the pound or even for pure functionality, so why do you care if the manufacturers offer us all options??

        • 0 avatar
          danio3834

          Personal luxury coupes were really hot in the 70’s. I’m sure the wagon queen enthusiasts of the day had similar rantings about those cars being large but less useful than the clearly superior wagon or 4 door sedan.

          Vehicular fads come and go.

          • 0 avatar
            azmtbkr81

            I agree, CUVs have a lot in common with the Baroque boats of the ’70s. Back then long cars were in now a tall car is thing to have.

          • 0 avatar
            krhodes1

            And the Crossover fad will fad, just as the full-blown SUV is not what it once was. Heck, we might even get cars we can SEE out of again at some point – wouldn’t that be grand?!

          • 0 avatar
            krhodes1

            @azmtbkr81

            It’s like we are back in the mid-50’s with tall upright cars. I can’t wait for “longer-lower-wider” to come back into fashion. It is only a matter of time.

          • 0 avatar
            Pch101

            The crossover has been around for about two decades, and the SUV boom that produced it began before that.

            This isn’t just a fad. A considerable percentage of drivers want the higher seating position, and that probably isn’t going to change.

    • 0 avatar
      Dave M.

      Sorry you feel that way. I love crossovers – they serve a tremendous purpose on a number of fronts, especially ease of entry/exit if you deal with elderly or special needs people. They’re not obnoxiously high like SUVs, and get better gas mileage than the intermediate cars of 20-30 years ago.

    • 0 avatar
      darkwing

      A sub-RDX crossover would basically be a station wagon — like the X1.

    • 0 avatar
      Ryoku75

      I’m only interested in CUVs that can justify themselves via enhanced off-roadability and features not offered on their car cousins, otherwise I too say less CUVs, its just flabbergasting how car companies feel the need to make one for every different customer.

      I disagree on minivans though, they’re spacious and work great as family haulers, I’ll take one over any of todays psuedo-sporty and cramped “wagons”. I don’t get why people like CUVs more.

      I agreed on better roads though, where the heck is my tax money going?

      • 0 avatar
        HerrKaLeun

        Why CUV over Minivan? Fully loaded CRV is $27K, Fully loaded Odyssey is $35K. Add the 4-cylinder mileage of the CRV and the fact that Minivan trannies are more prone to fail (since they are car trannies that get overloaded)

    • 0 avatar
      WheelMcCoy

      >> We need station wagons and better roads.

      Better roads, yes! But I have to agree with the OP and the comments about wagons. I have the TSX Wagon, but that’s just me. The rest of the world is moving toward CUVs.

      I like the wagon’s handling and mpg, but CUVs are getting closer (I’m thinking Mazda CX-5).

      I like the ease of putting bicycles on the wagon’s lower roof, but the CUV answer is a tow-hitch which doesn’t add drag and protects the bikes against bug hits on the highway.

      I find it easier to wash and wax a wagon, but the CUV answer is to take it to an automatic car wash.

      That the RDX and MDX are selling so well is interesting to the identity of Acura. As hard as car companies try to steer their branding, consumers ultimately decide. The appeal of Acura seems to be for soccer moms — growing families in comfortable suburbs. Graduates of the Integra, Legend, RSX, even perhaps the TSX, will go elsewhere. My guess would be Honda, BMW, or in my case, Mazda.

      • 0 avatar

        I think a CX-5 handles better than a lot of passenger cars.

        • 0 avatar
          NormSV650

          I was just comparing the CX5 AWD and Encore AWD on Car & Driver’s website and the objective performance data is a wash. I don’t know where you can say the Encore is slow when the CX5 has similar performance data results. The Encore handledly beat the CX5 in braking Car & Driver’s results with it’s lighter weight. Throw a Trifecta Tune on the Encore that adjusts the engine and transmission for more performance the numbers would be lopsided to Encore. There is no AWD that will bust out almost 40 mpg on the highway.

          • 0 avatar

            Ugh, Norm. What can I say. Just be comfortable in your own skin. We get it, the Encore is a great car for you. You don’t need to feel threatened every time someone says something vaguely negative about the car you own (it’s a car site, they will say negative things about it often).

  • avatar
    kuponoodles

    As a former Honda Fan-Boi,
    Acura itself is in a niche price point. People that bought the MDX wanted some luxury but didn’t want to pay Lexus RX or BMW X5 prices and the Pilot was too bland. OR really wanted a 3rd row that’s usable for small kids/amputees.

    Also, their lease terms were very reasonable during year end.
    Since the Next Pilot is based on the current MDX, some bean counter must’ve figured out a magical formula to justify the R&D costs.

    the Alphabet soup is no doubt, due to an attempt to make the names sound more luxurious. I mean, which “premium” brand has actual names? besides Land/Range Rovers?

    I’m not sure how well the MB R-series did, but what if Acura took the Odyssey, which is damn pricey already, and make it super luxurious?

    As for Acura needing another crossover? pretty sure if the Honda Vezel makes it to the states and does well, we’d see an Acura version of it soon enough.

    And a Teggy replacement? Never happen. It would have to be sporty enough to outpace or be on par with the Toyobaru twins. Luxurious enough to compare to the IS250 and MB C-class.
    And worst of all, Cheap enough not to be considered overpriced by cheap bastards like myself. (or underemployed Gen-whatever’s)

    i.e. It will have to out do the entry-level-sport-lux game better than the BMW 1 & 2 series. That’s a tall order IMHO.
    Even if they built this halo car, people will still b!tch that’s it’s not RWD or AWD and holy-frak if they don’t offer 3 pedals, don’t offer a Type-R, line up chinese manufacturers to make $40 CAI, and a fake tow hook. Yo.

  • avatar
    Pch101

    The Vezel is coming to the US, badged as a Honda with a different name and slotted below the CR-V.

    http://www.autoweek.com/article/20131220/CARNEWS/131229999

    I don’t know whether or not it would be suited to being positioned as a near-luxury Acura. Given the positioning in the Honda lineup, perhaps not.

    I think that you’re onto something that it might behoove them to have a trio of crossovers (the German good/better/best approach). But it would have to be in the high $20’s range in the US, which is crowding onto Honda’s turf. This could ultimately be a cannibalization problem, and the pushing the existing buyers into the RDX or a higher-cost Honda might be a better use of resources.

  • avatar
    fredtal

    First they need to upgrade their seats and dash/center console. At least put some effort into differentiating them from their brother Hondas.

  • avatar
    Arminius

    Having recently purchased an ’14 MDX I can put some personal perspective on this. Let me first start by saying I am neither an Acura or Honda fan boy. My prior vehicles have been Nissan, Chevy, and VW. Major life changes pushed me to get rid of my beloved GTI. Specifically I now have 4 kids and a wife and recently moved to the upper Midwest (6 inches of snow last night). As a result my must haves were seating for at least 6 and AWD/4WD. And yes, I’m aware that you can do just fine getting through snow with 2WD and a good set of snow tires. But the AWD makes it so much easier with a lot less worry. The large number of vehicles I see spun out on the side of the road attests to this.
    So with those must have, what are your choices? As far as I know there is no new station wagon or sedan being built that offers seating for 6. As a result you are left with the SUV/CUV/truck segment. I don’t plan on towing a lot and todays full size pickups and SUVs are huge. While the extra storage and passenger room would be nice, it didn’t seem worth the trade off of exterior size or gas mileage.
    Why the MDX out of a very crowded CUV market? Kuponoodles hit the nail on the head. I wanted some luxury but wasn’t willing to pay the extra $20K to jump into the German brands. And as an all new platform the MDX seemed to be a better all around vehicle than the Lexus or Infinity. I almost went with a Durango but the better resale value, historical reliability and dealer experience pushed me to the MDX.
    As for the CUV hate/station wagon love, I kind of get it. Assuming manufacturers once again made a 6 passenger station wagon (and that’s a big if) I basically traded better ground clearance for slightly worse gas mileage and handling. I get the gas mileage, but the handling? It’s a family station wagon! Do you really intend to track it or go canyon carving? So what if my lateral G times aren’t as good. I have no intention of driving it at 11/10ths anyway. I’ll be shocked if I ever drive it at 5/10ths. Besides, assuming you get the seating for 6 by putting in a third row, I would argue that would make the mileage and handling difference negligible.

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      I agree with you on the handling as I have seen few Taurus wagons doing autocross, but mileage is generally where the wagon is superior. What sort of mileage of you been getting?

      • 0 avatar
        Arminius

        The mileage has been disappointing, somewhere around 18mpg. However that is likely due to the fact that temperatures around here have been averaging in the low single digits and as low as 19 below. The other day it got into the low 20’s and my mpg for the commute to/from work jumped from an average of 18 to 22. And this was with driving through the aforementioned snow which increases the rolling resistance. I should get a better read on mileage if it ever gets above freezing. One thing I have noticed about the new MDX is that thing will coast forever assuming the roads are clear.

        • 0 avatar
          28-Cars-Later

          I agree the more data the better. I suppose it if could consistently beat 20mpg city it would be a coup. I occasionally see the older gen 1 MDXs at my friend’s shop and the trip computers are usually in the 15-16mpg range. For this mileage (and size of the MDX) I’d go Tahoe/Suburban, minivan, or possibly Expedition.

          • 0 avatar
            Arminius

            As way of comparison my wife has a 07 Expedition EL. She has been averaging 10-12 over this cold spell. Lifetime it has been averaging 14-15.

          • 0 avatar

            Considering that I beat 20 mpg in a Wrangler, I would rather hope it’s the temperature. However, MDX shares the platform with Ridge and Pilot (and Oddy), and its siblings are not known for fuel economy. MDX is no less than quarter heavier than my BOF SUV with live axles! Amazing but true! So it may not be just the temperature, sadly.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            This is what I personally am quick to point out about these big heavy CUVs, you pay out the ass for them, pay SUV/truck fuel economy for them, but get non of the benefits of an SUV/truck. Folks might quickly point out 90% SUV buyers don’t utilize the benefits much either, but at least its there and you got something for your money. Now you get the illusion of “tough” but with nothing to back it up. One of my exs had a term for her somewhat belligerent son, “telephone tough guy”. He had behavioral problems and was quick to be disrespectful to her, his father, other children etc, on the telephone but effectively had no confidence or balls to back up his assertions in person. This also defines the CUV. If you need a people hauler suck it up and buy the van, or failing that the real quad-cab truck/SUV. If enough people reject these big CUVs the industry will find ways to accommodate buyers.

          • 0 avatar
            mnm4ever

            @28 – the problem with your idea is no one is clamoring to reject anything. Typical buyers LIKE the CUVs and don’t like wagons so the car companies are going to give them what they want.

            But what I find interesting is you talk about big heavy CUVs. Where? Compared to the RDX the TL is longer, wider, has a longer wheelbase, is heavier, and has less cargo room, less passenger volume, less legroom, less headroom, and gets slightly less fuel economy. You get the same results comparing the Accord to the CRV, except the CRV is about 100 lbs heavier in that case. And interestingly, the heaviest version of the TL is about the same weight as the lightest MDX while being smaller everywhere and getting almost identical EPA MPG ratings.

            I am more surprised people still buy regular cars anymore.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            That’s the problem, buyers are rubes because they fail to understand the facts. I’m not suggesting a wagon over CUV here, I’m suggesting new car buyers get a fricking clue and either accept minivans or opt for a capable vehicle for their $30-60K purchase because they incur the same mileage and model costs vs the large CUV.

            In your example, you compared an RDX and a TL, while they are extremely similar as we will find out, I was referring to things like MDX, Ford Explorer, Chevy Traverse etc. Sedan based CUVs like RDX get similar mileage but still less than their car brethren.

            Lets compare FWD RDX to TL only. Wheelbase, width are similar, height is only up seven inches on RDX and weight is up 18lb on RDX. Both use a V6 motor with the RDX and evidently the same 3.5 is available on both. In a 50/50 mix the TL came out at 26.7 and the RDX in 60/40 at 23.4 and 20.4 respectively. Even if 23 even is an accurate figure in 50/50 vs the 60/40 city/hwy presented, that’s still 3.7 mpg shy of the TL car so in my book RDX being almost identical in dimensions, drive train and weight has failed vs the car. Nearly 4mpg adds up over time, over 1000 gallons of fuel that’s 4000 miles your missing out on or 149.8 additional gallons of fuel, at $3.50/gal that’s $524.

            Now lets look at MDX (true delta only lists an ’11 not a ’13 and its AWD). The average of all five isn’t quite 50/50 but its close at 5/8/34/53 and its given as 16.7. Now compare an ’11 Tahoe, at 10/50/10/30 effectively 60/40 city/hwy the avg is give as 16.0 mpg. For a V8. The MDX’s 3.7 V6 in AWD only edges out the GM V8 4×4 by 0.7 mpg while weighing 1,126 lbs less?

            I rest my case.

            MDX:
            Curb weight 4,025-4,103 (FWD)
            4,255-4,322 (AWD)

            Tahoe: Published curb weight 5,448

            Wheelbase 109.3 in (2,776 mm)
            Length 194.0 in (4,928 mm) (2012-)
            195.5 in (4,966 mm) (2009-2011)
            Width 74.0 in (1,880 mm)
            Height 57.2 in (1,453 mm)
            Curb weight 3,699 lb (1,678 kg) (Base)
            3,948 lb (1,791 kg) (SH-AWD)

            http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Acura_tl

            Wheelbase 105.7 in (2,685 mm)
            Length 183.7 in (4,666 mm)
            Width 73.8 in (1,875 mm)
            Height 64.2 in (1,631 mm)
            Curb weight 3,717 lb (1,686 kg) (FWD)
            3,838 lb (1,741 kg) (AWD)

            http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Acura_RDX

            2013 4dr Sedan 280-horsepower 3.5L V6
            6-speed shiftable automatic FWD flat med light 0 0 50 50 75 26.7
            Averages flat med light 0 0 50 50 75 26.7

            http://www.truedelta.com/Acura-TL/mpg-5

            2013 4dr SUV 273-horsepower 3.5L V6
            6-speed shiftable automatic FWD flat light hvy 0 70 0 30 60 22.1
            flat light hvy 0 35 0 65 60 24.9
            flat light hvy 0 60 0 40 60 23.4
            flat light hvy 0 60 0 40 60 20.6
            flat med hvy 0 5 0 95 70 28.6
            Averages flat light hvy 0 46 0 54 62 23.9

            http://www.truedelta.com/Acura-RDX/mpg-16

            2011 4dr SUV 300-horsepower 3.7L V6
            6-speed shiftable automatic AWD flat light none 3 0 2 95 60 16.0
            flat light none 18 22 27 33 60 19.0
            hills med none 0 9 27 64 65 15.5
            hills light none 0 0 80 20 60 16.2
            Averages hills light none 5 8 34 53 61 16.7

            http://www.truedelta.com/Acura-MDX/mpg-293/2011

            2011 4dr SUV 320-horsepower 5.3L V8
            6-speed shiftable automatic 4WD w/low range flat med light 10 50 10 30 80 16.0
            Averages flat med light 10 50 10 30 80 16.0

            http://www.truedelta.com/Chevrolet-Tahoe/mpg-61/2011

            http://www.motortrend.com/cars/2013/chevrolet/tahoe/specifications/exterior.html

          • 0 avatar
            mnm4ever

            That was a lot of facts to gather together, but honestly it doesn’t matter one bit. You summed it up in your first sentence: “buyers are rubes”.

            You can cherry pick all the information you want from true delta. Most buyers don’t put that much effort into car buying. They are going to look at the EPA ratings on the cars. And the EPA says the MPG between the TL and the RDX or even the MDX is nearly identical. They also don’t even bother to look at weight or even read the capacity numbers we are throwing around. They open the back of the CUV/SUV and declare it to be “really huge” compared to a trunk, and they sit way up high in the seat of the SUV/CUV and declare it to be really roomy. They are not going to compare the utility of a large truck-based SUV to a semi-luxury crossover because they don’t look as stylish or they are too hard to learn to drive, etc. They are not going to “just embrace the minivan” because it is the most practical because they don’t want to be practical they want to look sporty and feel young. And lumping CUVs with large 3-row SUVs isn’t fair, the CUVs are not getting much worse fuel economy than similar sized cars while having more cargo room. But I do agree that some of the large SUVs are pretty pathetic for MPG in the real world, and those big truck-based ones like the Tahoe are better than you’d think.

            I am not arguing with you, personally I would either buy a small CUV or a big crew-cab truck, nothing in between. But we are not typical consumers so our opinions don’t really count.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            @mnm4ever

            Agreed.

            I had no work to do today at work which is why I became professor and gathered all of the data. I wish car buyers spent about ten percent of the energy I did before entering into expensive purchases. Minivans are certainly unpopular but I’ve gained wisdom as I have aged, and if you have more than one child/person to run around, just having one available makes life so much easier.

            Feeling young is a state if mind and feeling “better” is a combination of appropriate vitamins, exercise, and diet. My uncle had a saying “take care of the car and it takes care of you” and the human body is no different. I’m 32 and I feel better than I did when I was 21, as recently as last May I felt like s*it most of the time and weighed in at 213. After the lunch exercise run this afternoon, I weighed in at 198. While this isn’t the “I lost 50 lbs” BS on TV I look and feel better and I know I’ll make the next milestone (195). High protein meals, whole grain bread, seeds/nuts, liquid vegetables from Costco, Greek strained yogurt (120cal/13g protein) and distilled water. Trying to stay under 100g sugar inc natural fructose, no soda, very little liquor, and the occasional beer. I realize this is off the subject of cars now but if people are buying cars to fill the holes in their mental or physical health instead of for enjoyment, they have succumb to the evils of consumerism. Big, fat, ugly pseudo cars with numb steering and horrible handling are a metaphor for the unhealthy American people. Fix the root cause of the problem, don’t use consumer products as a crutch.

          • 0 avatar
            dal20402

            You can’t directly compare Fuelly or TrueDelta mileage figures for different classes of vehicles because uses are so different. CUVs and sedans are almost exclusively bought by people in urban areas. A very significant chunk of pickups and BOF SUVs are bought by people in rural areas, who get much better mileage (although they spend more on fuel because they drive further).

            My typical usage, for instance, is mostly city with the occasional highway trip. My G8 GXP, in this usage, gets about 15.5. There’s no way a Suburban with essentially the same engine and gearing, much more weight, and barn-door aero is going to do better. I’d expect the Burban to get 14 or so. Meanwhile, I have a friend with a Pilot who does similar driving and gets about 18-19. That’s a huge difference.

          • 0 avatar
            mnm4ever

            haha I had a lot to do today but was feeling lazy, and on Fridays I can put things off until the weekend.

            I see what you are saying but I can’t really agree. We got a minivan when our kids were smaller. It was an amazingly comfortable and practical vehicle. And we hated it, hated every second of our ownership. My wife actually told me we should have kept the Land Rover and never gotten the Grand Caravan. I’ve owned several SUVs, a couple of CUVs, a couple of pickups, multiple hatchbacks and even a couple honest to goodness station wagons. The van was the most practical, sure. But I couldn’t find a really compelling reason to own it over a SUV, truck or CUV. They aren’t nice to drive, if a car drove like a minivan it would be slaughtered by the B&B, but for some reason because its practical it gets a pass. I can definitely say my SUVs were more pleasing to drive, if not quite as smooth. I like having the option to tow things even if I don’t tow much. I do like the higher driving position too, even though apparently that’s embarrassing to admit here. The newer CUVs get better gas mileage and the SUVs and trucks are on a par with the vans too. I can count the number of times I actually NEEDED 7 seats on one hand, and 3 row SUVs have solved that problem anyway. And yea, minivans aren’t cool. You can justify them all you want but they are soul sucking to a car guy. It sounds shallow and immature but I really hated leaving work in my minivan, or arriving at friends houses. Driving an SUV or a CUV or a truck gets you probably 80% of the practicality of a van without the dork factor. So I guess if you are the kind of person who really doesn’t care about that then hell yea the minivan is a spectacular choice to do it all. I’m just not that guy.

          • 0 avatar
            NormSV650

            I saw a Pilot next to Dodge truck on the highway the other day and it looked likke they were moving the same amount of air the Pilot was so large.

            Not sure is what so great about SH AWD as the RDX(turbo) is worse around the skid pad as an my Encore AWD matches or betters it. Plus the Encore out brakes the RDX. The Encore is slower obviously since it down 100 horsepower/torque. But the Encore only looses half a second in the 5-60 mph where the RDX looses a full second compared to 0-60 mph times. With the Encore’s Trifecta Tune on the ecu abd transmission the straight line performance should be close. The Encore is as quiet or quieter at highway criuise for almost half the price of the RDX.

            http://media.caranddriver.com/files/2007-acura-rdx2007-acura-rdx-long-term-road-test.pdf

            http://media.caranddriver.com/files/2013-buick-encore-awd.pdf

          • 0 avatar

            Norm:They removed SH-AWD in the newest gen RDX, so you wouldn’t see the benefit of it there. Also, the RDX has a lot more interior space than the Encore and is therefore significantly larger, which is why a comparison between the tiny Encore and the RDX isn’t really that useful. I get that you like to defend your vehicle and point out its benefits, but I’m not sure these are ever going to be cross shopped.

    • 0 avatar

      There is the M-B E-Class wagon with the rear seat that technically seats 7 in total…but I think you would’ve been paying a sight more for it (not sure though). And you probably wouldn’t get the reliability you wanted.

      • 0 avatar
        baggins

        The E350 wagon is quite a bit smaller, and I doubt many people want to plan having someone in the rear seats on a everyday basis. Since Arminus has 4 kids, I doubt a E350 wagon is big enough.

        Of course, the E350 also probably 10-15K more when comparably equiped

  • avatar
    cargogh

    Mazda called. They want their swoop back.

  • avatar
    noxioux

    Sorry, Derek, but anyone who says, types or thinks that the world needs another crossover should be horsewhipped in public. Just sayin’.

    • 0 avatar
      Syke

      Easy situation to correct. All that’s needed is that all those who go into print and decry the lack of real station wagons, actually reach into their wallets, pull out the money, and BUY a NEW station wagon from what’s available. The immediate uptick in station wagon sales will get a few more manufacturers interested in bringing out models. Then the station wagon lovers go back, trade in their current models and BUY NEW models. And it continues to snowball.

      Opinions typed into a blog without the writer’s personal money backing up the opinions are worthless.

    • 0 avatar

      A journalist covering the auto industry that advocates for a station wagon is intellectually dishonest at best, incompetent at worst. Spend enough time around the people who make decisions and you realize that there is no business case for wagons, the world beyond the autoblogosphere really does like CUVs and the most vocal wagon supporters are not going to put their money where there mouth is and buy a new one.

      When Mark Reuss calls for a new affordable wagon, he is pandering to the auto writers and internet fanboys. He has extensive media training and knows that this throwaway statement costs him nothing, while gaining him “car guy” credibility. No member of the media that advocates for more wagons and fewer CUVs is taken seriously in the car industry. This essay approaches things from an industry-based perspective, based on data and the realities of the market. Writing yet another piece along the lines of “Company X should build wagon XYZ solely because I like wagons” is the mark of a dilettante.

      • 0 avatar
        mike978

        I agree with Derek. I have a Subaru Legacy wagon which I am looking to replace in the next year or so. And I find myself looking at CUV’s like the CX5 and CRV. They have a larger passenger space (the Legacy for a mid-size car is small inside), as much cargo space and are shorter. Fuel economy is better and a slightly elevated ride height is OK with me as I have a minivan too and have got used to it.

        It is a big change from when I came to the US eight years ago from the UK and all I looked at were wagons (Mazda 6, Passat, Subaru and Volvo – they have all gone).

      • 0 avatar
        Dave M.

        Great answer Derek. Let’s see how the new Volvo does. I don’t see the Jetta wagon flying off the shelf despite a pretty reasonable price.

        As much as I love the concept of wagons and their utility (and always wished they stuck the Chrysler 300 nose on the Magnum body), the reality is that my money went crossover for a host of reasons.

        • 0 avatar
          cargogh

          Google Chrysler 300 Estate. They look great.

        • 0 avatar

          I grew up in a wagon family. Accord wagons were a staple of my childhood. Then my folks got an Odyssey, then a CR-V and never looked back.

          • 0 avatar

            You too!? My family had a ’93 Accord wagon that went forever. I’m glad that’s what my parents chose (following a diesel 240), but I doubt my brother and I would fit something like that today with modern car seats.

            My parents now drive an Accord and a Civic (which, admittedly, my mom wishes was a hatchback).

        • 0 avatar

          From what I’ve seen, the V60 is the kind of lifestyle vehicle that crossover haters love are quick to criticize CUVs for being: it’s small, doesn’t have a lot of cargo space and only gives the image of a wagon.

          The real wagon in the lineup is the XC70, which has a substantial cargo area, and drives just fine despite the “raised ride height” and cladding that everyone is quick to rag on.

          I would say the real issue is armchair product planners having no idea what they hell they are talking about.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            I say niche brands who then develop further niche’d products have no idea what they are talking about. Lifestyle vehicles don’t always take off, Subaru Baja, Honda Element, and Toyota FJ more than likely provided a net loss to their mfgs. Volvo is not in a position to spend a hundred million or more on re-purposing a model like S60 as a niche pseudo wagon and then only sell 10,000 or 20,000 a year.

            Speaking of Subaru, this V60 model is very similar in pseudo wagon layout to the Impreza 5 door which can be had with luxury options and comes in stick for the enthusiast crowd. I took a trip to Toronto as a rear passenger in one, I was quite impressed.

      • 0 avatar
        sportyaccordy

        You should make this post another article. I love wagons, but wagon zealots are the worst. They are like toddlers. Mark Reuss should be publicly shamed for trolling them like this.

      • 0 avatar
        danio3834

        “Spend enough time around the people who make decisions and you realize that there is no business case for wagons”

        Sure there is, you just can’t call it a wagon. After all, CUVs are wagons with a different name.

      • 0 avatar
        krhodes1

        I bought a new wagon. I’ve bought two in the past 5 years, actually. I’d buy another one *tomorrow* if BMW would stop being stupid about how you can configure a 328d. Wouldn’t be brown though.

        How many more wagons would Acura have sold if they offered it with a stick? The intersection of stick drivers and wagon buyers is LARGE. They appeal to the same types of people.

        If you don’t offer the cars, you won’t get any buyers. Chicken, meet egg.

        • 0 avatar

          Kevin,

          Sadly, it’s not. You are one data point and extrapolating that into evidence that an entire market exists. If it did, Subaru wouldn’t have canned the LGT 2.5 wagon, there would be a 6MT 328i in this generation, etc. I don’t like it any more than you do, but my job is to report the realities of what’s happening, not use it as a bully pulpit for my own narrow and specific tastes.

  • avatar
    J.Emerson

    What Acura needs is a credible entry-level luxury car at a bargain price point, not a Civic in drag. As well as a flagship that people actually want to buy.

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      Agreed.

    • 0 avatar
      sportyaccordy

      The flagship market is dying. And one of Acura’s best cars was a Civic in drag (Integra). The only thing wrong with the ILX is that it isn’t a Vezel crossover.

      • 0 avatar
        Pch101

        The ubersedan is needed to build the credibility of the brand. Few people buy them, but they help to establish the pedigree of the cars underneath it.

        • 0 avatar
          sportyaccordy

          Nobody cares about flagship credibility. Infiniti outsold Audi for years and still outsells Jaguar dang near 10 to 1 with no flagship. Audi recently surpassed Infiniti in sales handily. Their sales have almost doubled since 2009. Was it the new A8? No, they only sell 6000 of those a year. It was the Q5. The Q5 sold ~42K last year. Nobody cares about cars they don’t want and cant afford. Big luxury sedans like the 7, S etc are down in sales and never coming back up to peak volumes. Flagships are irrelevant.

          • 0 avatar
            Pch101

            The lack of a flagship knocks at least a few grand, if not more, off of the price of everything below it.

            Infiniti is not in great shape, by the way. Nissan came very close to cancelling it. If it doesn’t make headway as a global brand, then Ghosn may very well put it back onto the chopping block.

            Audi is now outselling Mercedes in many other markets. The US, being the odd bird, is more traditional in its brand loyalties and is a harder nut to crack.

          • 0 avatar
            sportyaccordy

            No, the lack of a flagship doesn’t knock the price off. Cadillac doesn’t have a flagship, and they are charging 3/5 prices for the ATS/CTS. Nissan almost cancelled Infiniti… when they had a flagship. When they dumped the flagship and focused on the products people were actually interested in and positioned to buy, Infiniti became a cash cow. Nobody cares about flagships, and I have the continually declining sales figures to prove it.

          • 0 avatar
            krhodes1

            Is Cadillac GETTING those prices? The ads running locally to me offering big discounts suggest not.

          • 0 avatar
            Pch101

            An Acura TL is about the same size as a 5-series BMW, and has more horsepower.

            Yet the BMW carries a sticker price that is about $10,000 higher than the Acura.

            Not only that, but the BMW outsells the TL by about 2:1.

            This helps to illustrate the degree to which the lack of cachet harms brands such as Acura. The brand weakness contributes to both low volumes and low prices, and that is not a sustainable combination — cars need to have either volume or pricing power, and Acura’s passenger cars have neither.

            Luxury brands are aspirational. The big sedan helps to define the ladder of aspiration within the brand, even though the smaller cars in the lineup (3-series, C-class, etc.) will be the bread and butter.

        • 0 avatar
          danio3834

          Agreed. The halo effect is a powerful one. Cadillac seems to agree and is brining a large flagship to market as well.

    • 0 avatar
      Dave M.

      The Integra was a Civic in drag, as is the ILX. In a couple of years when my daughter starts driving, it we don’t go CRV/Forrester, I’d definitely look at a gently-used ILX for her.

    • 0 avatar
      WaftableTorque

      Having driven a flagship for a while, here’s the thing: I am totally cross shopping them with luxury 7 seat crossovers. As much as I’d like another Lexus LS or maybe an Equus, I’d think an LX or QX80 would be even better. I’d lose out on rear seat comfort, but gain ground clearance, seating for 7, and cargo capacity.

      The Tesla Model X is like fap-worthy porn to me. Prius-like running expenses, Cayenne Turbo S handling and acceleration, SLS-like doors, Escalade-like capacity, never-rust body. I’ll, I’ll be right back…

  • avatar
    DevilsRotary86

    “Acura’s sales have been a roller coaster over the past decade. 2006 saw the beginning of a steep decline in sales, with Acura losing nearly half of its volume by 2009, going from 201,000 units annually to just over 105,000 in three years.”

    Could it be coincidence that the start of the sales decline coincides with the discontinuation of the Integra (renamed RSX, but a rose by any other name is just as sweet)? The Integra, even if it was just a factory modded Civic, was one of their best selling models.

    • 0 avatar
      sproc

      I think they completely realized that, but the ILX was too little, too late. Oh, and it didn’t help that it’s too expensive and the performance offers nothing above and beyond the Civic line. My ’02 RSX-S will run rings around it.

      Moreover, not offering it as a hatch was absurd. A tossible small car that can actually fit a flatscreen or a lawn mower on occasion is invaluable.

      Sell a fun, useful car to a 20-something and you build brand loyalty. The Integra was perfect in that role, and this is where I think the GLA will be a grand slam. Like it or not, I completely agree that Acura needs a small, competitive CUV.

      • 0 avatar
        mnm4ever

        @sproc – why is it absurd? Most US buyers still think of hatches as cheap cars. Acura doesn’t want to portray that image, and when they did offer the RSX hatch no one bought it. Everyone wanted the TSX or they wanted a CUV. 15 yrs ago 20-somethings wanted hot hatchbacks. Now they want sedans and SUVs/CUVs. And they don’t mow lawns either. And what flatscreen can’t fit in a sedan with the seat folded down? The RSX-S was $24k or so back then… I think that makes it actually more expensive than a ILX with the 2.4 when adjusted for inflation. And will it really run rings around one?? I am sure it is a more pure driving experience but I suspect the actual performance will be about the same.

        • 0 avatar
          sproc

          Peace! I’m agreeing with you (mostly). My point was that the Integra was the right car for a certain era, and nostalgia aside, a sport-y CUV is the right one for this era, and a good one would likely be a smart move for Acura. However, I’m not totally convinced that a well-sorted, swoopy (think A7 rear end) five-door ILX would have been a flop.

          • 0 avatar
            mnm4ever

            :) I don’t know, I think the TSX wagon is the best looking one but no one buys it either. So I don’t know if a swoopy rear-end on the ILX would help sales, but I would bet the B&B would like it better.

            Now I DO agree they dropped the ball not offering some type of hatchback version of the Civic. Making the Civic coupe more of a fastback like the original Integra or current Scion Tc would satisfy both camps. And offering a sportwagon Civic similar to the Protege5 I believe would sell like hotcakes. I just don’t think it has to be an Acura.

      • 0 avatar
        sportyaccordy

        How is the ILX any worse than the RSX? It is more practical, it gets exactly the same performance but better gas mileage, and is most likely cheaper after inflation too. I agree it should have been available as a hatch, but this Vezel based crossover will fill that role.

  • avatar
    mnm4ever

    I will admit it, I grew up a Honda/Acura fanboi. I always loved their products until they lost their way. I was the first one to deride the company as they started cutting out the sportiness and changed naming, cheapened the product, etc. But now I am older, and I am done dredging up all the old cliches about using real names and offering wagons and hatchbacks, etc. But after car shopping with a couple relatives recently, I fail to see why everyone hates on Acura and Honda so much.

    I thought the ILX was a terrible idea, until I actually checked one out. Its a Civic Si for grownups. What’s the problem? The Civic Si is still available too for those who want more sport and less maturity. It has the 2.4L/6sp from the TSX. You know, the one that everyone who loved the RSX wishes they had put in the RSX in the first place. Well now you can have it without an engine swap. Apparently there are still plenty of Honda tuners available to mod the engine just like before. Whats not to like?

    The RDX is basically a more stylish CRV with a big V6. Once again, what’s wrong with that?? The CRV is extremely practical, has legendary reliability, and insane resale value. The RDX is better looking, nicer inside, and has like 100hp more. What exactly is so wrong with either one?

    The TLX looks great, an actual improvement over the outgoing TL, and better looking than the most recent TSX too. It ticks every box that a typical almost-luxury buyer wants. The newest Accord is a great car that even comes as a low-priced 4cyl stick shift Sport model to satisfy the now grown up fanbois… under $25k. Wow yeah that’s terrible of them.

    The MDX finally isn’t ugly anymore. The Pilot? Well its still ugly but not any uglier than the competition. The Fit is a great looking and practical little car and its cheap too. Even the much-hated CRZ… good looking car, gets pretty good mileage and is pretty fun to drive, can be had with a stick, not too pricey… essentially exactly what the CRX was, and everyone hates it. “They didn’t put the Civic Si engine in it!!” “Its so slow!!” “It doesn’t get MPG like a Prius!!” Geesh people are never happy. If you want the HP or a back seat then buy the Civic Si coupe, if you want mileage get a Prius. But if you want a return of the CRX Si, then buy a CRZ and get the Jackson Racing supercharger kit for it.

    And to me the best part is that for the most part the entire Honda/Acura lineup is dead solid reliable and has extremely high resale value. You can drive them for 10 yrs and still get good money for it. 20 yrs and they are still good cars. That’s what sells the cars, not the tech or the gadgets or even which wheels are driven. Sure Lexus is just as good but more expensive. Toyota is just as good too, but not dramatically better or worse in any category (except the hybrids, they nailed that one). What other brands have that good of a reputation?

    Sure, I’d love a 4-dr Civic hatchback, not even sure they make one though. And I’d probably never buy it new anyways. And I miss the S2000 too, but I’d probably not buy a new one either. And the NSX was amazing, but I couldn’t afford one then and it isn’t like you can’t find a dozen or so for sale at any given moment, they are just too expensive. They don’t make any muscle cars or RWD cars but aside from the sports cars they never did so how can I fault them for that? I just dont see how their lineup today is any different from what they have always offered.

    • 0 avatar
      Zykotec

      This is the truth. My brother and one of my grandfathers are Honda Fan-Bois, and I have often bought Hondas when I was tired of working on ‘fun’ old crap cars. My CRV now does everything I need a car to do in my situation, even if it’s not the most exciting car in the world. Hondas are even damn safe to crash in too, all the way from the fit to the RLX. The world has changed a lot the last decade, and Honda is now almost where Chrysler was in the early 50’s. everyone else is building something more exciting or better looking, or faster. Honda has played it safe where others have taken big risks, and it’s still uncertain who will finish on top in the end. It’s hard to make sales on reliability in a world where everyone has a 15-minute attention span.

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      Unless it changed for MY14 its only a Civic Si in the top trim which is manual only and $30K+, otherwise its a 150hp/5spd auto Civic rebadge.

      • 0 avatar
        mnm4ever

        The top trim has the 2.4L Civic Si engine and trans, the standard model has a 2.0L base engine, but that’s not the same engine as the Civic, which is only a 1.8L.

        Kind of like how the base RSX had a lower HP engine and the the Type S had more power, and then the TSX has the 2.4L engine without the hot heads and cam of the RSX-S. And the hot setup was to take a TSX 2.4 block and top it with RSX-S heads, which is nice in fantasyland but expensive in real life. So Honda simplified things and offers the equivilent of the hotted-up 2.4 in the Civic Si and the top level ILX, and offers a base engine ILX for people who want a regular car. And the RSX was based on the Civic platform, the ILX still is (although I will admit with a little more obvious sharing than before) but the base Honda still has a lesser engine than the base Acura and isn’t quite as nice, but is less expensive too. I guess the hybrid is the same across the board, didn’t really look at it.

        • 0 avatar
          28-Cars-Later

          Fanbois can feel free to chime in as I am no expert in Honda products, but the NA model Civic uses a Honda R18 I4, the ILX rebadge use an R20 I4. The R20 is shared with CR-V and wiki claims “Civic (FB)” but I don’t know what FB means (other market Civic?). In any event, the 1.8 Civic motor and 2.0 CR-V/ILX motor are in the same engine family are are effectively similar if not the same in terms of engine architecture.

          This setup is a very GM move, same base car, rebadged in a higher brand, with a slight variation of the lesser motor and options on the higher level model.

          “hotted-up 2.4 in the Civic Si and the top level ILX, and offers a base engine ILX for people who want a regular car.”

          I actually looked at ILX last March and for my money I *demand* the better motor in my regular DD non boy racer car from a supposed luxury brand, I was truly shocked when I read the literature. Other commentators pointed out this was not possible because the auto transmission configuration/size in the Civic. Assuming this is true, it’s a huge fail and another classic GM move: not properly thinking through your product. I can just picture GM mindset in the mid to late 80s “stupid buyers, they’ll buy any up trimmed car as long as it says Pontiac/Oldsmobile/Buick/Cadillac”. Wither Acura.

          R18
          R18A
          R18A1

          Found in:
          2006+ Honda Civic (JDM FD1, American/Canadian-market FA1 and FG1)
          Displacement: 1,799 cc (109.8 cu in)
          Compression: 10.5:1
          Bore & stroke: 81.0 mm × 87.3 mm (3.19 in × 3.44 in)
          Power: 140 PS (103 kW; 138 bhp) @ 6300 rpm (Japanese Spec)
          Torque: 17.7 kgf·m (174 N·m (128 ft·lbf)) @ 4,300 rpm
          cruising/ economy 1,500 3,500 rpm
          VTEC window: 4,800 rpm – 5,200 rpm

          R18A2

          Found in:
          2007- Honda Civic (European-market FN1 & FK2)
          Displacement: 1,799 cc (109.8 cu in)
          Compression: 10.5:1
          Bore & stroke: 81.0 mm × 87.3 mm (3.19 in × 3.44 in)
          Power: 140 PS (103 kW; 138 bhp) @ 6,300 rpm
          Torque: 17.7 kgf·m (174 N·m (128 ft·lbf)) @ 4,300 rpm
          VTEC window: 4,800 rpm – 5,200 rpm

          R20
          R20A1

          Found in:
          2007- Honda CR-V(RE1, RE2)
          2012- Honda Civic (FB)
          2008- Honda Stream (RSZ)
          2013- Acura ILX (DE1)
          Displacement: 1,997 cc (121.9 cu in)
          Compression: 10.5:1
          Bore & stroke: 81.0 mm × 96.9 mm (3.19 in × 3.81 in)
          Power: 150 PS (110 kW; 148 bhp) @ 6,200 rpm
          Torque: 19.4 kgf·m (190 N·m (140 ft·lbf)) @ 4,197 rpm

          http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Honda_R_engine#R18

          • 0 avatar
            Zykotec

            The reason it works better for Honda/Acura than for Gm, is probably that Honda actually cares what they build, and try to make it reliable, where GM tried to cut every cost possible…
            sadly, GM is still huge, and still making money…

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            The low level folks on the line I believe do care, but I argue if Honda/Acura as a corporation cared they would not have phoned the ILX in the first place. Integra has been gone for a long time and its not as if this is the 80s and everybody was scrambling to quickly come up with a small fuel efficient sedan. Somebody in a meeting about discontinuing TSX crunched the numbers and said it will cost us X tens of millions to develop a brand new small sedan, 50% of that sum to properly platform share Civic, or 20% of that to do a quick rebadge of Civic and further utilize the Civic plant’s excess capacity. Guess which one won out?

            Free tip for Acura, would have made more sense to bring over the Euro/JDM Civic spec as Integra and build it in Mexico. Yes, I said Integra, not Acura ABCDEFG. All of your brand are belong to us.

          • 0 avatar
            NormSV650

            There is a reason Verano has almost 40% percent of the market in the ILX segment. Badge engineering be damn or is it?

            Truedelta: Verano(?)

            http://www.truedelta.com/Buick-Verano/car-reviews-1086

          • 0 avatar
            NormSV650

            Autoguide: Verano

            http://www.autoguide.com/car-comparisons/2013-buick-verano-vs-2013-acura-ilx-2529.html

          • 0 avatar
            NormSV650

            Motor Trend: Verano(twice)

            http://m.motortrend.com/roadtests/sedans/1210_2013_acura_ilx_vs_buick_verano_turbo/

            http://m.motortrend.com/roadtests/oneyear/sedans/1309_2013_acura_ilx_buick_verano_turbo_mini_comparison/

          • 0 avatar
            NormSV650

            Driving.ca: Verano

            http://driving.ca/buick/verano/reviews/comparison/comparo-2013-acura-ilx-dynamic-vs-buick-verano-turbo-2/

          • 0 avatar
            NormSV650

            Consumer Reports: neither Verano or ILX

            http://www.consumerreports.org/cro/magazine/2012/11/reviews-of-the-acura-ilx-and-buick-verano/index.htm

          • 0 avatar
            NormSV650

            Carsdirect: Verano

            http://www.carsdirect.com/compare/buick-verano-vs-acura-ilx

          • 0 avatar
            NormSV650

            Examiner: ILX(only definitive win I could find)

            http://www.examiner.com/article/comparison-test-2013-acura-ilx-2-4-vs-2013-buick-verano-turbo

          • 0 avatar
            NormSV650

            Carconnection: Verano wins vs TSX, ILX, A3, and C30

            http://www.examiner.com/article/comparison-test-2013-acura-ilx-2-4-vs-2013-buick-verano-turbo

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            Norm, so which GM exec are you?

          • 0 avatar
            CJinSD

            “Free tip for Acura, would have made more sense to bring over the Euro/JDM Civic spec as Integra and build it in Mexico.”

            The last JDM Civic was the US Civic sedan. The EURO Civic is a POS by comparison with a heavy hatchback body and a beam axle. The ILX is about as dissimilar from a Civic as any badge engineered sedans ever are. It’s got a completely different IP with conventional gauges, a unique greenhouse and unique sheet-metal. Repeatedly ignoring these facts and always posting the same proclamation of lack of observational function is an odd hobby.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            I saw Civics in Europe and liked them, maybe they are crap I can’t be sure but at least they would be following traditional Acura playbook of bringing over JDM/Euro spec models.

            Regarding ILX the hood and facia are unique, the trunk door might be, but the sedan doors are the same. The dash is also different (and much improved) to their credit but the cloth seats in the base model were of a similar design if not the same as Civic, and the motor is of the same family in the automatic as is offered in Civic. The model is the 21st century Cimmaron and it is the result of either an unwillingness to develop a better offering or a rush job to replace the outgoing TSX in the lineup. Not a bad car but not really worth it vs Civic. If you think its a great buy by all means go lease/buy it, but the facts of the matter are clear.

          • 0 avatar
            CJinSD

            Same doors? It is hard to believe you’re being serious. No wonder you say the ILX resembles a GM product.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            Go look at one as I did and measure the doors. I’ll be happen to be proven wrong but I’m not regarding the MY13, maybe it changed for ’14.

          • 0 avatar
            CJinSD

            OK. Now I know you’re full of it. The windshield rake and door openings that result is distinct for the Civic and the ILX. The front doors of the Civic have more windows due to the steeper windshield that extends much further over the front wheels. The door panels of the ILX have an obvious arching character line absent on the Civic. Different sheetmetal and different DLOs makes for different doors in my book. That a quick glance reveals that the door of one wouldn’t fit in the door openings of the other makes this a commentary on your judgement rather than one on the car.

            http://image.automobilemag.com/f/48759301%2Bq100%2Bre0/2013-Acura-ILX-vs-2013-Honda-Civic-Si-side-view.jpg

            Is it a coincidence that someone with your observational skills thinks the car is GM-caliber? I think not.

        • 0 avatar
          Zykotec

          I think by just looking at pictures (TTAC also made a comparison pic with the Civic and ILX overlayed) they share absolutely no body panels, and the only window that could possibly fit both would be the rear window. But at first glance the cars look so similar that I could forgive someone for thinking the are more similar than they actully are. Which means that the designers have kinda failed. It is near pointless to use that much money on creating something that looks the same, while still not being able to share any parts to cut the production costs.

    • 0 avatar
      Pch101

      The problem with the ILX is that it communicates to the consumer that Acura is not a real luxury brand, which in turn compromises the brand equity of every passenger car above it. (This is the same problem that Mercury, Oldsmobile and Saab had, and we know how well that worked out for them.) The ILX should have been offered as a niche Honda, rather than included in the Acura lineup.

      If I was in charge, I would do one of two things: (a) Get serious about the sedan segment by offering three sedans with bona fide credentials to compete with the Germans, or (b) cut my losses, offer the TL (TLX) as the sole sedan choice, and focus on crossovers.

      At this point, option (b) would be a cheaper option and have the greater odds of success. That might include moving up the ladder, extending the existing larger crossover platform into a more upmarket AWD competitor that could potentially win over the higher end of the crossover-SUV market.

      • 0 avatar
        mnm4ever

        @PCH – How is this any different than when they offered the RSX and the TSX which were based on the Civic platform back then? Same as the Integras have always been?? They have always offered a near-luxury experience with a lot of Honda platform sharing. Why should that change now? The only real difference is they do not have any real halo cars but the new NSX should change that.

        I for one don’t want them to go more upmarket. One of the big appeals of Acura is the bargain pricing compared to other luxury brands while retaining the high quality and reliability.

        • 0 avatar
          Pch101

          Killing off the RSX was a good idea. Acura did it because it compromised the image of the brand. The problem, though, was that cars above it were not made to be more appealing.

          The TSX is not based upon the Civic. But in any case, it’s not really up to the task of being a luxury competitor, either.

          “One of the big appeals of Acura is the bargain pricing compared to other luxury brands while retaining the high quality and reliability.”

          The sales are lousy, which indicates that not many car buyers find that to be very compelling.

          • 0 avatar
            mnm4ever

            The TSX was originally based on the Civic as was the RSX. The new TSX is different, agreed.

            Personally I think Acura sales are not as good as they could be because the cars were ugly for a long time. Fixing that is going to help a lot but we will have to wait and see.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            Incorrect, the TSX was never a Civic.

            “The TSX is badge engineered from the CL-series Accord (also known as the European Accord or JDM Accord) sold in Europe, Japan, South Africa, Australia and New Zealand.[2]”

            http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Acura_TSX

          • 0 avatar
            CJinSD

            The TSX was introduced in 2004. It was a luxury version of the JDM Accord. It didn’t have much of anything in common with a Civic.

          • 0 avatar
            mnm4ever

            Ok ok I stand corrected! I didn’t realize that the first-gen was a different car from the RSX. I guess I have to turn in my Honda fanboi badge now. :)

            But the Integra coupe and sedan was always a Civic underneath, right??

          • 0 avatar
            CJinSD

            Correct. Integras were all Civic-based. When they replaced the Integra, the RSX coupe remained on the Civic platform and the JDM Accord was used for the TSX replacement of the Integra sedan. Killing off the Integra and Legend brands was insipid, but the decision to move their small sedan upmarket was sound.

  • avatar
    romanjetfighter

    They need another crossover to either slot above the MDX or below it, depending on whether they want to go upmarket or not. It’s 193 inches. The GL is 200. The QX80 is 208. Acura needs to cater to American tastes and preferences if they want to succeed. They can’t just follow in BMW or Infiniti’s footsteps just because “that’s how a luxury car brand should be.” Many Americans simply don’t like small, sporty cars, and even though people might SAY they want a European experience that’s reliable, which Acura/Lexus/Infiniti tries to deliver, they MAY actually want something different.

    It’s like how people will say they like dark roasts for its flavor, but overwhelmingly prefer lighter roasts because it’s less bitter. Or how everyone declares they love authentic Italian food and pasta, so most companies tried to make their sauce as authentic as possible by mimicking recipes from Italy to create the “perfect sauce.” It turns out Americans in taste tests like really chunky spaghetti sauce, not the very runny authentic kind. Yet they’ll still make fun of people eating at Olive Garden because it’s so “Americanized.”

    Acura, build another crossover to slot below or above the MDX. Go after what people ACTUALLY want, not what enlightened contrarian enthusiasts want. You don’t have to abandon your core customers by making all of your products big and luxurious. You can have different products target different markets. It won’t make you seem inconsistent, I promise you.

    And for god sakes, upgrade your interior materials just a little bit? Real wood is a start, as is having a separate team design Acura interiors and Honda ones. The Accord Touring, the Odyssey Touring Elite both make Acuras seem not as remarkable or special on the inside. I step into a E350, it looks really nice and dramatic. I step into an RLX and I see slightly more elegant Accord Touring.

    As a young Japanese luxury division, Acura’s got two things against them: ostentatious displays of wealth are taboo and stigmatized in Western society. There’s a reason why the Toyota Land Cruiser is just, if not more popular, than the LX570, and why every Escalade post on Autoblog has some know-it-all commentator saying, “Truly wealthy people have Yukon Denalis. These Escalades are for strip club owners.” Secondly, Acura doesn’t have the cache and the cultural prowess to influence what people want just by introducing a product like BMW, Mercedes, or Porsche. I think this is why the ZDX bombed. And no, simply increasing prices to make it an aspirational good and to appeal to emotions (as Acura tried to do when pricing the RLX) won’t work unless you’ve got the product and the demand to justify those prices!

    A few aluminum body panels here and there and a complex AWD systems are nice (less impressive since the F-150 is going aluminum), but they don’t fundamentally change the product so you can charge an extra $15k over a Honda and have tacky commercials that show tall guys in Brioni suits and nice watches try to convince me Acura is a lifestyle brand.

    Acura chose to have new models be very distinctive looking in 2008, citing that in 2005-2006, people were getting so wealthy they wanted ways to distinguish themselves from the poor. It sucks everything went in the pooper with the financial crash, but even if it didn’t, I’m not sure this move would have been successful. http://www.amazon.com/Distinction-Social-Critique-Judgement-Taste/dp/0674212770 I recommend they re-read this book. I think they’re on the right track with their Jewel Eye LED’s and the tasteful design language.

    My idea boils down to two things:

    1. Chase after what people ACTUALLY want (crossovers and POWER), not what they say they want. Chasing after what the European luxury divisions are doing is a waste of time. The Koreans are doing a better job at copying them, so you’d be competing with even MORE car companies.

    2. If you’re going to be a luxury division, be more distinguished or more luxurious than your very upmarket, just-as-powerful, technologically advanced, luxurious, LED and radar cruise control-equipped Accord Tourings. And when I say distinguished, I mean get a V8 or turbocharger or something in there. I don’t care if it’s against your “philosophy.” Are you there to espouse a philosophy and change the tastes of the American public, or are you there to sell a ton of cars with super high profit margins?

    I’ve got zero expertise in engineering, government regulation, marketing, sales, or research and development so feel free to disregard this as an Adderall-fueled rambling by someone who used to be in the market and frequently talks to 24 year old DINKs at Google and Genentech, mid-career professionals, and who have you.


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