By on January 22, 2008

lat_hygema_almspetit3939.jpgAcura’s finest marketing moment comes halfway through “Pulp Fiction.” Our “heroes” have made a mess of things; the boss has called in “the cleaner.” Cut to an NSX (the sensible man’s Ferrari) pulling into the drive. Clearly “the cleaner” is well paid, always in a hurry and has no time to worry about his car. Who but car geeks remember this seminal moment? Where is the NSX these days? In fact, where’s Acura? As Consumer Reports (CR) reported, the answer is simple enough: nowhere.

Acura executives were reportedly aghast at CR’s brand perception survey. The study placed the Japanese marque third from the bottom, just above Mitsubishi and Mercury. In many categories, such as “performance image,” not ONE of CR’s 1,720 respondents even MENTIONED Acura. A company spokesman claimed the study was inaccurate, unimportant, subject to change (new models are coming). But the simple truth is that Acura is invisible. 

First and foremost, Acura suffers from Honda’s success. Like most automotive brands, Honda offers plenty of toys that were once restricted to luxury cars, from electric windows to premium audio systems. Thanks to trickle down ergonomics, Acura has become a sort of “Mercury done right.” Acura sells a series of gently re-skinned, slightly posher, slightly faster Honda derivatives (sharing platforms, but not bodies). 

While Acura’s lineup resembles Mercury in execution, Acura’s inherent– and unexpressed– sales appeal is slightly different. The brand’s current tagline is Advance? Fuhgeddaboutit. At best, Acura is the sensible person’s BMW. (At worst, it’s the poor man’s BMW.)

Luxury cars generally come in two different flavors: wafters and carvers. Wafters emphasize smooth cosseting ride and rich interior fittings. Lexus is the ideal’s poster child. Jaguar and Caddy aim for it. Mercedes and Audi kinda want it, kinda don’t. Acura can’t do it.

On the flip side, carvers emphasize performance uber alles, selling sporty style and aggressive driving dynamics (again, we’re talking about perception). BMW is America’s upmarket carving King. Again, both historically and practically, this is Acura’s natural stomping grounds. This is why Acura’s line-up neatly mirrors much of the propeller people’s products.

In a Honda-sensible way. BMW’s are built for autobahns (though the top end is restricted to 155mph). Acura is built for highways, where 90-some-mph cruising is enough. BMW sells sedans with fussy controls, ridiculously priced options and penalty box passenger seating. Acura sells cars with virtually no options, intuitive ergonomics and actual rear seats. BMWs are expensive. Acuras are not. 

So, there’s the template. Now, how do you sell it?

For one thing, Acura needs to return to naming its cars. The Japanese brand ditched its legendary model names for alpha-numerics after Lexus successfully aped Mercedes’ and BMW’s model designations. It cost Acura a huge amount of momentum. Initials are not necessarily the kiss of death; the Honda CR-V sells in huge numbers– it was/is for Acura. But when you’re invisible, making it hard for people to remember your name is just plain dumb.

Acura also needs to address the huge gap in its line-up. The TSX and TL (confused yet?) slot-in neatly as lower-priced BMW 3 and 5-Series alternatives. The RDX and MDX also line up perfectly against Stuttgart’s X-series SUVs. Although Acura doesn’t compete against Bimmer’s ever-expanding line of niche vehicles (thank God), Acura’s top-‘o-the-range RL lacks a logical German competitor. 

Critics contend that the RL’s six cylinder engine can’t cut it in a market segment awash in testosterone. But price is the real problem. The RL stickers for around $50k. The 7-Series starts at $70k. More to the point, the Acura TL clocks-in under $34k. Except for a few gadgets and AWD– which the TL may soon receive– the TL is arguably the better car. 

That $15k gap contributes to the Acura RL’s less than stellar sales. It’s simply not a sensible choice. The TL is market-slotted right where the original Legend found favor: as the cheapskate’s BMW. Whereas the BMW 7-Series could be considered the wealthy snob’s 5-Series, the RL is nobody’s nothing. It needs to grow, grow stones or disappear. 

The importance of a “sensible supercar” at the top of Acura’s range is debatable. As the Consumer Reports brand perception survey indicates, Acura’s need for a powerful and sustained advertising campaign is not.

Lexus and Mercedes aim at the CEO who runs the company. BMW aims at the execs who think they run the company. Acura should be for the middle managers who actually run the company. This is a salable niche. In fact, the demographic is far less vulnerable to economic downturns in the economy than the Lexus, Mercedes or BMW model. But just like the higher-ups, they need to feel that their car is special.

If Acura can build the cars these men and women want and make them Acura-aware, they will be born again. If not, not. 

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79 Comments on “Whither Acura?...”

  • avatar

    I really like the MDX / RDX suvs. The styling isn’t the most handsome (mostly the RDX is kinda ugly) but they drive and handle like very, very few SUVs on the road (even better than many an alleged sporty sedan).

    What I see Acura needs to do is piggyback Infiniti’s strategy. Infiniti is actually doing what Acura has been trying for so long – become a true competitor to BMW & Mercedes on multiple levels besides just value. Infiniti by ditching the FWD platform for RWD was the smartest thing they could do then they added a “v8” flagship which opened a whole new range of buyers who live in the v8 > everything stigma and simply (and stupidly) cannot accept anything smaller. Then b/c they didn’t want to alienate their earlier buyers now offer AWD to supplement the complete loss of FWD models. It’s a win / win situation and a very smart one that Nissan employed. I just don’t understand why Acura is so slow and quite dumb to miss out on this.

    It really goes back to the founder’s intent – man maximum, machine minimum; do more with less intent. That works fine for those looking for economical and standard issue vehicles. But for those who want luxury and performance – that concept just doesn’t mesh well.

  • avatar

    So how bad must Merc and Mitsu be? Does this mean that Suzuki and Kia have a better performance image and brand recognition than Acura? Yikes!

    I guess that bright idea to stick to smaller engines (for the price point/class) and renaming Legend-ary models to alphabet soup hasn’t worked so well. And by renaming their models Mercury blew what little recognition they had remaining. Here’s an idea for Mercury. If you are going to use a role model to copy at least choose a good one.

  • avatar
    Matthew Danda

    Well, at least you gotta hand it to them for sticking to their guns. Acura has maintained a policy against V8 engines, and they sure enough stuck to it, even though it helped obliterate the brand.

  • avatar


    One could argue that Infiniti never ditched RWD to begin with – rembember the M30 & J30? However, they did ditch the V8 Q45 a couple of years back and are doing well enough without a flagship given the strength of their lineup. Here in the DC metro area, most of the G sedans I see have AWD – likely a result of a panicked populace on the few snowy days we have, which leads into…

    Enough people around my area drive Acuras to say that perception is definitely not a problem. (Then again, VW’s new HQ is will be 10 miles west of my house.) Acura will be replacing their bread & butter products with a new TL and TSX by the end of the year, presumably with diesels or SH-AWD. Both together? Hmmmm, green performance is something BMW is also trying to tackle.

    RL, though looks like a flagship without a mission. I say: sink it.

  • avatar

    Two of my bosses had Acuras in the late 80s and my best friend had an Integra in the 90s, but frankly, Accords have gotten luxurious enough that I don’t see the step up to Acura as significant. IOW, I don’t see Acura at the same level as Lexus, BMW and Mercedes. I don’t think of Infiniti as any better than Acura, either, but Infiniti does seem like a step up from Nissan – at least in my perception.

  • avatar

    Some of their problem may be that they barely have any dealers. The closest Acura dealer to where I live is over 100 miles away. Even if one was willing to drive that far to buy it, they wouldn’t want to go that far for service. We have BMW and Mercedes in town with Porsche within reasonable distance, so there’s no reason that an Acura dealer can’t be close by. Then again, it’s the same situation with Infiniti, and I guess they’re doing ok.

  • avatar

    Acura is a mess from a branding and pricing standpoint. Heck, my son’s elementary school teachers drive TSX’s. A lot of parents drive MDXs (and a few RDXs). And while the TL is a very sweet ride, its advertised lease prices are just too close to a decent 3-series sedan — which is why I’m sure many choose the BMW instead.

    The R? I went looking at the MDX last Fall — the new snout just completely turned me off (I think some young designer cut out a few airfoil shapes from cardboard, covered them with aluminum foil, and voila — the new grill!). The sales guys were dying to get me into an R. They had no shame waving incentives and discounts in front of me on that model.

    Acura is sort of the Hyundai to BMW and Mercedes. Surprisingly good looks, darned good effort, but in the end – when you’re plunking down real money, its not such a stretch to go for the real thing.

  • avatar

    CR is usually pretty easy to make fun of (for numerous reasons), but I’ll ignore it for a second because it’s irrelevant…and it doesn’t reflect reality in the Birmingham, Alabama metro area where I reside. This area is in the top 2 or 3 MSAs in the nation on “total miles driven per capita,” so you can imagine that longevity and practicality have to coexist with the usual conspicuous consumption and status symbol ideals. To me, that is pure Acura.

    The Acura TL is THE standard-issue middle management car around here. The BMW 3-series is up there, but when you can drive a larger, Japanese 5-series competitor for the same price, why not?

    Acura may suffer from some brand identity no-mans-land on paper, but this is exactly what I expected when the Japanese started doing this sub-branding stuff 20 years ago. There had to be massive convergence and overlap at some point.

  • avatar
    Steven Lang

    Acura has experienced some very serious issues with customer retention. You can slice this brand in a thousand different ways on what they should potentially do. But it really won’t change the overlying cause of their lack of image.

    In my mind… it’s due to discontinuity.

    Honda has a very bad habit of investing in an Acura model… and then leaving it to pasture if the sales numbers aren’t where they should be. This is a very dumb thing to do in the premium brand segment because no one wants to have an ‘orphan’ car.

    BMW, Lexus. Audi and Mercedes keep all their models the same, with only alpha-numeric changes to signify a new engine or unique performance package.

    Cadillac and Acura have gone the other way. Although you can argue all day long as to whether a given name has negative connotations, the fact remains that the ‘killing’ of a model represents the perfect double whammy for the current owner.

    If the owner didn’t like the car, killing the model shows that it was really not that good to begin with. This usually leads to the person disregarding the entire brand’s offerings altogether and looking elsewhere.

    If the ownership experience was a good one, killing the model results in that prospective buyer looking at other alternatives in the marketplace. For example, When Acura killed the Vigor model in the late 1990’s, many of those customers went straight to the Lexus dealership for an ES300. It wasn’t that the Vigor was a bad car. It just wasn’t ‘A’ car, and when a car is no longer available it usually experiences steeper depreciation and a lower level of ‘acknowledgement’ from the general public.

  • avatar

    The entire article rings brilliantly true!

    At best, Acura is the sensible person’s BMW. (At worst, it’s the poor man’s BMW.)

    Well said!

    As an Acura owner, I find he customer service excellent, and the reliability jaw-dropping.

    I’ve spun out various times on a track, catching air a couple of times and at other times slamming repeatedly into drainage ditches at speed. After the dust settles, the car starts right back up and gets back ont he track, and even the /alignment/ is untouched! Not to jinx the car, but I’ve abused it worse than anyone really ever should (34k milles in the first year, many of them on a track) and it’s smiled the entire time.

    But my next car isn’t going to be an Acura. Know why?


    Mind you, this could be thrown right there with the “we won’t ever get a V-8” philosophy…

  • avatar
    Brian E

    Acura enthusiasts (yes, they do exist) have long recognized the deficiencies of the brand. The RL forums in particular have covered most of this ground already.

    What we do know is that the RL will get a significant change for ’09, which will last for two years, followed by the introduction of a totally new car. That new car is supposed to arrive around the same time as the next NSX, which opens up the possibility that it will share the V10 under the hood. The significant change that will be shown at the Chicago auto show will result in a larger sedan with more power (but still a V6). It’s also supposedly the most expensive mid-model change in Honda’s history.

    You could ask what sense it makes to do that when a new model entirely is only a few years away. I think it’s because the next TL would otherwise have completely overshadowed the RL. The new Accord is larger on the inside than the RL and dangerously close in terms of features.

    The reason the TL, RDX, and MDX seem much more coherent than the rest of the brand is because the TSX and RL are Japanese Hondas which are dropped into the Acura lineup to fill gaps. Even worse, in Canada Acura offers a rebadged Civic sedan called the CSX. Hopefully with the opening of Acura’s new design center and the expansion of the Acura brand into Japan, we’ll see products that are more engineered for the American luxury market.

    As far as Acura being the poor man’s BMW, I’ll admit I never seriously considered the 3-series before buying the TSX. This is because I was buying, not leasing, and the difference between a well-equipped TSX and a comparable 328i is many thousands of dollars. If I were leasing, no doubt the difference would be much smaller. But why do I need to lease? It’s not like I’m deathly afraid of owning the car out of warranty. I guess Acura is the owner’s BMW.

  • avatar
    Ashy Larry

    The CR study came as a big shock to me. Here in the DC area, TL’s seem almost as plentiful as Accords; TSX’s are the recent college grad’s “first nice car”; MDX’s are the suburban upper middle class minivan.

    Talking to a few TL owners I know, many bought because they either were prior Honda owners, or they had dabbled in BMW’s or Audi’s and were looking for somethign as good but less fussy. They love the gadgets Acura provides and like the crisp, conservative styling (although the MDX is no longer in that categroy with its incredibly obnoxious nose).

    Acura clearly is something, because poeple here in the DC area buy them by the thousands.

  • avatar

    I shopped the MDX before I settled on an XC90. I didn’t like the way the MDX drove, particularly the weaving steering wheel under moderate acceleration.

    That and the local dealer was horrible; asking to run a credit check before we came close to a price. That and their total unwillingness to negotiate drove me away, fast.

    Same thing when I was shopping for a sedan in 2004. Went with the G35 instead of the TL and happy with that choice as well.

    I will give them another look in 2010-ish. We’ll see where they’re at then. Till then, it’s just not meant to be.

  • avatar
    William C Montgomery

    Shhhhh! The more invisible Acura is the better deal I’ll get on a slightly used TSX. No need to go about blabbing about how fun to drive these cars are.

  • avatar
    Dave M.

    Acura needs a little hatchback like the RSX/Integra. They need names again (ok, so Vigor wasn’t all that brilliant). They need a sport-luxury coupe ala the last CL. They need a sport wagon based on the TSX.

    They don’t need a V8 IMO – just light, tossable drivers’ cars.

    BTW, RLs are going for roughly $5000 off list these days……LOW 40’s….to me, worth the extra change for the step up from the TL….

  • avatar

    What Acura needs is something audacious. Sure the Legend and Integra were good cars, but it wasn’t until the NSX was intorduced that people started to notice a car that had the audacity to build a Ferrari challenger.

  • avatar

    As an owner of a TL (and wife has a TSX) the ‘Mercury done right’ quote hurts – because it’s so true.

    We’ve owned several Honda’s over the years and when it came time to upgrade it was so easy to slide right into an Acura. In hind site they really do engineer the cars to be ‘just good enough’. I never thought of it that way but I can’t argue it.

    What kills me – and probably means that this is my last Aucra(s) is that Honda knows how to make a segment beating car – they just don’t want to do it. It would be so easy to bolt together a TSX with SH AWD and a Turbo 4cyd at about 250hp – that would eviscerate Audi’s lower priced cars and would put a hurting on the entry level 3 Series Bimmer’s too.

    But they just won’t do it.

  • avatar

    A 328i is made for Autobahn cruising but Acura’s are for 90 mph highway jaunts? A pretty extreme generalization. I wouldn’t take a 328i on the Autobahn anymore than I’d take a TSX.

    Acura could be doing better but do you see how many cars they sell, and mostly without rebates to boot. The TSX is positively ancient but they sell much better than redesigns.

  • avatar

    Well in reality it is a “Mercury done right” strategy – even though that is what Acura set out not to do. With Mercury and Lincoln it’s poorly rebadged Fords with very little differentiation between them. Why spend $3k more for the exact same Ford.

    Acura’s are not simply gussied up Hondas as the cars though they do share the same platform – the improvements are substantial. My wife owns a TSX and still loves it. Little punchy 2.4 liter with 6 speed. A great treat to drive, very reliable and with some minor tracking the car over at the local road track – it handles very well. It maybe a Euro / JDM Honda Accord – but it is leaps and bounds a better driver’s car than the US Accord.

  • avatar
    Gardiner Westbound

    Acura’s high horsepower VTEC V6 engines lack low end torque. Luxury car buyers generally eschew boy racers’ enthusiasm for high RPMs and abhor torque-steer.

    The Acura 3.5 RL’s jewel-like non-VTEC motor developed 225 hp @5200 rpm, 231 lbs.-ft. torque @2800 rpm, and its longitudinal orientation eliminated torque-steer. The overpriced, poor selling current RL’s 3.5 VTEC motor develops 290 hp @6200 rpm, 256 lb.-ft torque @5000 rpm, and the transverse engine mounting generates unacceptable torque-steer. It has to have the hell driven out of it in urban settings to get out of its own way, and is a premium gasoline pig.

    A V8’s superior low end torque, satisfactory fuel mileage and improved acceptance by high end buyers will solve some of Acura’s problems. Alternately, it can return to non-VTEC V6 longitudinally mounted engines.

  • avatar

    Perhaps Acuras are for buyers who don’t want to be seen as agressive idiot drivers like BMW seems to attract.

    Here in Northern California Acuras are very popular and seem to hold a market niche similar to that which Buick dominated in the 1950s.

  • avatar

    Acura is what Pontiac used to be in the 1960s – the sportier, dressier option for customers ready to move up from the parent company’s mass-market brand.

    The problem is that, as others have noted, the Accord is getting so nice that it makes one wonder why anyone would buy an Acura for more luxury or even more performance.

    Given Honda’s commitment to environmentally friendly designs, which pretty much rules out a V-8, and the continued upscale march of Hondas, I can see Acura becoming…what Pontiac is today. A basically irrelevant brand that has seen its best days.

  • avatar

    “The poor selling current RL’s 3.5 VTEC motor develops 290 hp @6200 rpm, 256 lb.-ft torque @5000 rpm, and the transverse engine mounting generates unacceptable torque-steer.”

    I’ve never heard anyone complain about the RL, with standard AWD, in connection with torque steer. The FWD TL, yes. Are you sure you don’t have the two confused?

  • avatar

    Good article. Makes an excellent point.

    I would say that Acura doesn’t even need a home run. You will note that the the board here seems to think the cars are good. The nits are all about branding and stuff.

    They do not need a home run. And, I would say, that Honda is very capable of “fixing” Acura.

    To me, the top priority would be to produce a serious 5 series contender. Something that has a lot of power, even a V8 or diesel if it needs it. Or, better yet, get the performance with high tech light construction (imagine the free press they would get).

    Put some solid looks on it. Acura’s have gotten, too dull. Stick with a classy look, but not so dull.

    Now, name it the Legend.

    Have an advertising campaign around “The Legend Returns”.

    Watch the showroom fill up with people.

  • avatar

    The scene where The Wolf pulls up, and the ensuing chaos afterwards is probably my favorite segment of Pulp Fiction

    And yes, I’m a dork – I noticed immediately that he was driving an NSX

  • avatar
    Gardiner Westbound

    I’ve never heard anyone complain about the RL, with standard AWD, in connection with torque steer. The FWD TL, yes. Are you sure you don’t have the two confused? – tonycd

    The RL we drove exhibited pronounced torque steer when accelerated briskly from rest, turning left from a stop at a traffic light for example. It is less mechanically refined than its predecessor.

    The newer RL is smaller. Rear seat knee room is tight and trunk space insufficient. The advertised el strippo model lacks several competitive features and has disappointing fake wood trim. It is well put together.

  • avatar

    The problem with Acura is, as Andrew stated, is Honda. For the most part they sell Honda Accord, CR-V and Pilot derivatives which have had some lipstick applied – which makes them good cars but not sufficiently different from Honda to justify the hefty price tag or being worthy of a luxury name plate.

    At least Infinity made enough of an effort to differentiate themselves from Nissan in the US by rebadging vehicles which are not sold here.

  • avatar

    @ carguy: I don’t agree with your analogy that an Acura is simply a Honda with lipstick. The SH AWD system in the RDX, MDX and RL is one of the best kept secret awd systems on the market today (ability to increase torque to the wheel with the most grip – versus todays systems that mainly reduce the power to upset wheel). The TSX is based off a completely different platform from across the pond – i.e. it does not share with any US based Honda. Even the TL is quite a step better improvement over an Accord v6.

    My point is that Acuras have entirely different engines and drivetrains than their Honda platforms they were originally drived. Saying Acura is simply a Honda with some lipstick on it is simply not accurate. It is more like lipstick, makeup, haircut, new clothes, went to the gym for 4-5 months to get more athletic.

    That “lipstick” analogy is more akin to Ford’s treatment of Mercury and to some extent Lincoln vehicles, where everything except some styling elements and badges are changed. That’s putting lipstick on the pig.

    To sum it up, Acura is not suffering from the Mercury complex of below average vehicles with some minor visial modifications and a higher sticker price but Acuras are entirely unique to their Honda stablemates. Acura’s problem is no one knows what or who they stand for anymore (and I don’t think they do either).

  • avatar

    An excellent article.

    I’ve owned 2 Acuras. A 1991 Integra GS Sedan, and a 2001 3.2TL.

    The Integra was probably the best put-together car I’ve ever owned. 187K on the ORIGINAL CLUTCH. Never a single problem with that car. 140bhp, light, nimble, and comfortable. It handled very well, because the 1.8L engine was not too great a lump over the front wheels. Great gas mileage. Not particularly fast, but that engine wound up like a sewing machine. I keep coming back to the idea of “efficiency” with that car.

    My ’01 TL has also been trouble-free, but it is also personality-free. OK, I came from an Alfa 164Q, so I may have been spoiled for personality, but the TL is utterly lacking in driving excitement. Perfectly reliable, fast enough, good mileage, but a soulless appliance.

    I second the idea that Honda can fix the brand. “Return of the Legend” was right on the money.

    Acura needs to return to the mantra of “Precision Crafted Performance”. That means light weight, efficient, nimble, fun cars. The TSX most closely hews the line here. A great car in search of a great company to market it.

    FWD hurts them against BMW, but I don’t think it’s the bottom line here. Most buyers don’t really care.

    Acura needs to go light weight, with high-efficiency engines that will make the most sense in the current gas price market.

    Kill the RL, or fix it.

    Cut 300-400 lbs from the TL, and give it a real high-revving, high tech engine.

    Don’t touch the TSX, it is right just as it is.

  • avatar
    Robert Schwartz

    First: Didn’t we just gum our way through this problem? I guess I shall just hve to restate my remarks from there.

    Second: Now Hear This — The V8 era is over. “Interest Fades in the Once-Mighty V-8? by Bill Vlasic in the NYTimes on Jan. 16, 2008:

    The V-8 engine, long a symbol of power for American car companies, is sputtering. At the Detroit auto show this week, Detroit’s Big Three are promoting smaller engines and alternative-fuel vehicles, eliminating the V-8 from many models and relegating it to niche status.

    Ford Motor, which first popularized the V-8 in the 1930s, will start using a turbocharged 6-cylinder in many vehicles, including the next generation of its Explorer sport utility vehicle. …

    General Motors recently canceled a $300 million program to develop a new V-8, citing new fuel-economy standards that require a 40 percent improvement in overall gas mileage by 2020. …

    Car companies, in a sense, are catching up with shifting consumer tastes: sales of V-8 engines in the United States have dropped 24 percent since 2004, according to the auto research firm R. L. Polk & Company.

    I am fairly certain that Honda will not turn around now and do something they have never done before at a time when everyone else is coming around to their position.

    Third, you must appreciate that Honda always looks to minimize the number of platforms and engines that it is building and to maximize its opportunities to sell them.

    The Legend of which so many speak so fondly above is and was a JDM car that Honda brought over to sell here. It still is although they call it the RL now.

    The TL is sold in Japan as the Honda Inspire. The TSX, which was the old JDM Accord sedan is the smallest Acura in the US, but in Canada, the JDM Civic is sold as the Acura CSX.

    I do not know what the future holds, but I assume it will be much like the past and Honda will continue to badge engineer Acuras from JDM products and experiment with what works.

    I am hoping for a compact sedan with a turbo diesel as the next TSX.

  • avatar

    Acura is in the state it is in because Honda made some really boneheaded moves that have hurt the brand.

    Lets start with the “New” RL. Honda unsucessfully tried to pull a “GM” on us by having the nerve to market a $50,000+ Accord as a High-end luxury sedan. No one is fooled and the sales of this bomb speak for themselves. SH-AWD, BFD!

    Now lets look to that stupid RDX thing that no one asked for and it appears that no one is buying. The RDX is an expensive, overweight, ineffeicent, small, bastard of a car. To small and expensive to appeal to the soccer mom crowd, not sporty enough to appeal to core honda fans.

    Now lest deal with the TSX and TL. Oh No, we have two more Accords! The joke is both are outclassed by the new 08 Accord.

    No Coupe!
    No Convertible!
    No Sportscar!

    Line-up kinda looks like Mercury!

  • avatar

    I’m a long time Honda buyer who has never had the slightest interest in Acura.

    First, it’s just an overpriced Honda. (A Mercury done pricey) Argue with me if you like – I’m sure I’m probably wrong – but my perception is that Acura is an overpriced Honda. I bet that’s a lot of people’s perception, assuming they have any perception of the brand at all.

    Second, they have to get rid of the boy racer image.

    Third, people remember names better than alpha-numeric codes.

  • avatar

    To the domestic defenders out there-

    Take note, once again TTAC has taken a “gasp”, Japanese auto company to task.
    A very successful one at that.

    Put that in the “bias file”.

    On to Acura.
    Good article.
    Names vs. numbers, good.
    RWD, definately would help.
    I would suggest staying focused (getting re-focused?) on being sportier. Don’t go head to head with the Big L.

    Fortunately (unlike some other “brands-on-the-edge” parent companies) Honda has some handy tools.

    They are profitable-they can afford to fix things.

    They have some very talented people-they know how to fix things.

    They have not ticked off half of the car buyers on the North American continent-people will be willing to try them again…or for the first time…when they fiz things.


  • avatar

    I read an article earlier today about Acura and the EVP of American Honda said the goal is to turn Acura into a “Tier 1” luxury manufacturuer in 5 to 6 years. I bet they succeed.

    Here’s a tip; get rid of that awful fake wood. Seriously, it looks like those stick on wood kits that my mother in-law is so fond of.

  • avatar

    Mercury dead last, that’s no big surprise. But I want a “Whither Jill Wagner” editorial.

  • avatar
    John Williams

    I am fairly certain that Honda will not turn around now and do something they have never done before at a time when everyone else is coming around to their position.


    I seriously doubt that. In fact, not having a V8 will come back to bite Ford in the end.

  • avatar

    Robert Schwartz :

    “The TL is sold in Japan as the Honda Inspire.”

    FWIW the Inspire in Japan is the USDM Accord. I’m pretty sure the TL is a North American only veh.

    When I bought my TSX, it was only a small price premium over the Accord, but brought with it several desireable features the Accord doesn’t have, a smaller more nimble package, HID headlights, nicer styling (IMO).

    As a longtime deciple of Honda 4cyl engines I hope that the rumor the the TSX may get a V6 is false. They should leave it the size it is and at most put an RDX style turbocharged 4cyl in it. Please don’t “super-size” the TSX!!!

  • avatar

    Marketing is nice, but ultimately Acura’s longstanding problems are about PRODUCT (as in lack of). They have no answer for the 5-series without a RWD platform and a modern V8. Without those, they have zero credibility above $40K.
    It comes down to poor decision making over many years and lack of adequate resource allocation (ie they cheaped out instead of spending the money to develop an Acura-unique platform and drivetrain).
    The S2000 should have been Acura only, providing the ying to an NSX yang that should have have been on it’s third iteration by now.

  • avatar

    whatdoiknow1 said:
    >> Now lets look to that stupid RDX thing that no one asked for and it appears that no one is buying. <<

    In 2007, Acura sold 23,356 RDX's, not bad considering BMW sold 28,058 X3s.

    Who else sold more units in that segment?

  • avatar

    My family has two TL’s, current and last generation. Both are well designed, technically sophisticated, and fun to drive…for a FWD design. I have a 330i, and it still shows that RWD is essential for a true luxury design. I don’t want to toss the TL’s into on ramps, or blaze my favorite “reference roads”-I do this with the 330i every chance I get.

    I recently bought the new design MDX. Honda has a winner here, as it was as luxo as the Q7, drives 95% as well as the X5, has a roomy interior like the SRX, and will probably be stone reliable, unlike the current X5. The price was also a lot saner than the Bavarians. The SH-AWD took care of my problems with the FWD thing.

    Honda clearly took sight at the class leaders and pulled no punches on this model. It is as if a ne gen v8 X-5 mated with the last gen MDX.

    Now, if Honda would just apply that logic to the other classes……

    Dear Honda…if you make a RWD performance sedan, I’ll have to drive it before I go back to BMW to replace the 3-er when it wears out. Keep making really good FWD cruisers, and it’s Deutschland Uber Alles.

  • avatar
    Robert Schwartz

    “the Inspire in Japan is the USDM Accord. I’m pretty sure the TL is a North American only veh.”

    For 2008. Previously, the TL was on the Accord platform. The TL will be re done for 2009. If it goes on the larger platform with the Accord/Inspire, it would seem to leave little room for the RL, not that anybody cares.

  • avatar

    You might want to consider the impact that the Integra/RSX had on bringing new customers into the Acura fold and its image as a result. Take a look at any college parking lot and I guarantee that you will see an over-representation of Acura RSXs. It was the same thing with the Acura Integra before then.

    Acura and Honda for that matter, were never about V8 performance. If Acura once again builds a car with a 4 cylinder engine that puts out 100+ HP per cylinder, weighs less than 3000 pounds and redlines at a number most tachs end in for thousands less than a 1 series (Base price of a 2006 RSX type S was $23,800), Acura will never want for new customers and its image will be secure. Those customers eventually grow up and many people I know that used to own integras in their teens now drive TLs.

  • avatar

    1) I, too, hope that Acura introduces a RWD platform ASAP because I would really like to buy another Acura from my dealer, but FWD again it will not be.

    2) I submit to the jury that the current TL is as comfortable (or more comfortable), as quick (actually, quicker), and more spacious than the 530i. Sure, the 530i is snobbier and probably faster through the cones than the TL, but we don’t have any cones in my town. Yours?

    3) Three years later, I am very glad I bought the TL over the G35. My friends that bought the G35 have had instrumentation issues, poor leather problems, the cheap plastic dash is coming apart, and the don’t get the acceleration or fuel efficiency that my TL gets.

    I love my 6-speed TL….and hope the Honda/Acura boys come out with another one that powers the rear wheels this time. Seventy-five thousand miles…and not a single issue….and still smiling from ear to ear. And by the way, the fifteen grand that I saved vs the 530i three years ago is still compounding interest — almost enough now to buy another TL!

  • avatar
    Stu Sidoti

    This editorial makes me wonder…Why is Honda SO conservative with Acura’s design and engineering? I believe that Honda is one of the highest technology, deeply-research-driven car companies and no other carmaker on the planet can claim to be concurrently building business jets, motorcyles, cars and doing deeply serious research into robots (let alone the fact that they also build personal watercraft,ATVs, scooters, generators, lawn equipment, water pumps and outboard engines)and I find it extremely conservative on their part that they do not use Acura as a showcase for all of their knowledge. Honda/Acura build some very good, reliable, capable cars but they always seem to fall short of the emotional cache’ that other brands hold that make you Desire their cars…to dream of them so to speak…If Honda corporate is truly into ‘The Power of Dreams’ then how about putting some Acuras out there worthy of people dreaming of owning?

  • avatar

    Please stop saying that RL is an upmarket Accord. It’s a different platform. Acura RL is a rebadged European/JDM Honda Legend, which are not sold in the US. Of course, given the new generation of Accord, it’s now even easier to confuse the two.

  • avatar

    Thank god nobody knows about Acura apparently (even though I see hundreds of them daily), because they make reliable, well-made, and well-appointed cars and I’d like to see them at a reasonable price instead of soaring like Lexuses due to increased demand. If you want a land barge, get a Lexus, if you want a gaudy, overpriced, and unreliable car, get a Mercedes, if you want a car that drains your bank account with maintenance or expensive repairs, get a BMW or a VW.

  • avatar

    Stu Sidoti :

    “Honda/Acura build some very good, reliable, capable cars but they always seem to fall short of the emotional cache’ that other brands hold that make you Desire their cars…to dream of them so to speak…If Honda corporate is truly into ‘The Power of Dreams’ then how about putting some Acuras out there worthy of people dreaming of owning?”

    Haha, what the hell? Just off the top of my head:

    Integra Type R
    Civic Si

    S2000 has been a car to admire since its introduction, and it certainly beat the crap out of Miatas and, well, nobody else had anything like that. Solstices and Skys came much later, and S2000 was one of the top cars to own in its class, which is more than most manufacturers have to say about majority of cars in their lineups. NSX was always the high-tech supercar that was extremely reliable, something no other company had, and yes, it was and still is considered to be very desirable by many people. Type R and Civic Si (and other Civics and Integras) have almost single-handedly fueled a car enthusiast/racing scene among younger people, whether you like the scene or not (most people don’t, but this doesn’t detract from the fact that Honda definitely got it right). Name a car company that did the same thing and that had other companies trying to latch onto the fad with crappy “radical” sport compacts (I’m looking at you, Cobalt SS/Ion Redline/Caliber and Neon SRT)

  • avatar
    Jon Paul

    I can’t believe some of the stuff I’m reading. Honda isn’t crazy, and Acura isn’t just a Honda with lipstick. I drove an Accord for 8 years. I test drove Accords, RSX, TSX, and TL, RX-8, Mazda6, 328i, Mini S, GTI.

    Not everyone wants a carver. For those of us with 30 minute commutes who want comfortable, reliable transportation that is a bit fun to drive and doesn’t require an advanced engineering degree to operate the nav system, Acura has a vehicle to sell.

    Don’t compare a TSX to a 328, compare fully loaded 328 to a TSX with $10k in the front seat. Don’t compare a 335i to a TL, again, compare a fully loaded 335i to a TL with $10k in the front seat. Sure, maybe the neighbors won’t be as impressed, but you can invest $10k, enjoy your drive to work, with excellent comfort and reliability for years to come.

  • avatar
    Robert Schwartz

    “Why is Honda SO conservative with Acura’s design and engineering?”

    Because they are careful about spending money, which is why they are profitable and the 2.8 are headed for Chapter 11.

  • avatar

    I’m with those that want Acura to stay obscure so resale stays down. I need >=4 doors, a livable back seat, stick, and a solid driving experience. Oh, and I’m tired of fixing my car. Also, I like a car that gets good gas mileage under normal driving, but is rev-happy and copliant for hooning.Acura should be a perfect fit, two problems: No wagon, no RWD/AWD.

    When I sell my A4, I’d love to have another Audi, an A6 Avant (or all road) 6spd specifically, but I’m sick of fixing it. Again, Acura should fit, they’re sporty, frugal, and reliable. That said I would love to see a factory turbo on the TL and SH-AWD.

    Sigh, I’ll prolly buy a Mazda3(wagon) or a TL.

  • avatar

    I’m curious – who exactly filled out that CR survey? Like others who have posted here, here in Cincinnati, Acura TSX and TLs are everywhere – far more TLs than 3-series and C-class models. Granted, this is a huge Honda market here, although I expected to see far more new Accords than what I’ve already seen, but in this mind, Acura isn’t in dire straits yet.
    First – bring back the halo car and not that wretched NSX V-10 thing on the auto show circuit.
    Second – with gas prices resembling “The Beast” in terms of ups and downs, keep the V6, apply more VTEC magic or turbos, bump it to 400hp, slap it on a AWD platform and make that the new RL. And please put a less boring front on it.
    Third – PLEASE bring back your pocket rocket. To this day, I miss my old RSX Type-S – I got one of the first ones off of the boat. After some friends and family drove it, they bought one for themselves. Don’t they realize that RSX Type-S could lead to TSX which could lead to TL or RDX/MDX and so on?
    Acura MUST brag the fact that the diesel arrives next model year. I think I read that BMW is bringing the 335d over and that would be a lot more than say a TL diesel. Advertise that. Advertise the heavy duty amounts of torque and amazing Acura mileage. Go back to bragging about your engineering.
    Unless one can sink hundreds of thousands into a Ferrari (show of hands please?), one of the top engine sounds is dropping a Type-S or S2000 down a gear in a tunnel with the windows or top down and just let it wail. That’s the sound of a hot Honda engine doing what it does best. Compared to the GM/Ford/Chrysler mess, Honda has an easy job with Acura. Give us names, more engineering, and fix the noses on some of their vehicles and SOLD!
    Didn’t the whole mess start around 10 years ago when Honda said that they wanted people to say they bought an Acura, not an “Integra?” Whoops.

  • avatar

    To whatdoiknow1 :

    Acura is in the state it is in because Honda made some really boneheaded moves that have hurt the brand.

    Very true. They started to lose their identity when they chucked the names like Legend (which people still know to this day) and Integra (ditto). I am probably in the minority that believes the lack of a V8 isn’t as important in this day or age. I think the rather drab exterior styling of the RL is the issue with slow sales. That is a really good AWD system though.

    Now lets look to that stupid RDX thing that no one asked for and it appears that no one is buying. The RDX is an expensive, overweight, ineffeicent, small, bastard of a car. To small and expensive to appeal to the soccer mom crowd, not sporty enough to appeal to core honda fans.

    In your area, it might be a slow seller but here, there are quite a few of them. That being said, I hate small “crossover” things that have blinded people into thinking they are getting an SUV while in reality, it’s a wagon. No argument here – just wondering about the sales numbers in your region.

    Now lest deal with the TSX and TL. Oh No, we have two more Accords! The joke is both are outclassed by the new 08 Accord.

    It says a lot about the popularity when I see plenty of brand new TLs and TSXs on the road when they’ve been out for 4-5 model years. Personally, living in an area that gets just awful weather, the TL and TSX makes sense. Yes…I know that snow tires and electronics or AWD will make the Germans work in snow, but that is a major hassle and the price for a 3-series x-model is way out of my range. The TSX uses that butter smooth 2.4L 4-cyl that gets amazing mixed fuel economy and both the TL and TSX has an interior that is stylish and dirt easy to use. That’s why they sell. They are reliable, easy to use, attractive, and at least Acura (can’t speak for Honda) has decent dealer service in all areas.

    No Coupe!
    No Convertible!
    No Sportscar!

    I’m still in mourning over the loss of the RSX.
    That car was just so much fun. I don’t know if we’ll ever see an Acura convertible – heck, it’s been the S2000 since the del Sol went away, and the sportscar might be taken care of in, what, 2 years with that “thing” that better not be named the NSX.

    I see your issues with Acura, and I agree with most of them. Focusing on one area (in their case, crossovers) has been the curse of not just Acura but most carmakers. If there’s one company that can release a winner when they need it, it’s Honda so I’m not worried about the future of Acura. It could be worse. Remember when the ultra-bland Vigor and RL were in the lots at the same time? If it wasn’t for the Integra GS-R and NSX, I’m sure the sales staff would have fallen asleep when they describe their cars!

    It’s obvious – I like Acura and Honda and will always consider them for my next purchase and for friends and family that ask.
    (…and if none of this posting made sense, I have to blame it on post-surgery meds and discomfort!!! I was in the mood to write it backwards…)

  • avatar

    RGS920 :

    “If Acura once again builds a car with a 4 cylinder engine that puts out 100+ HP per cylinder”

    100HP/cylinder!!! Wow that would be impressive.

  • avatar

    Between my wife and I, we’ve owned 3 Integras and 3 Legends. They were all dead-reliable and fun-enough to drive. I sold my last Legend (’94 Legend L) with 165K miles on it, and it still ran and drove like it was just broken-in.

    Our current Audis are nicer to drive, more comfortable and better to look at, but have been much less reliable. It’s a tradeoff that’s starting to wear thin, which is why the MDX will probably be our next purchase (for the wife). I don’t care for the center-stack, but the rest of the vehicle makes the X5 and Q7 look WAY overpriced.

    The rumor mill currently has the next TL and TSX offering SH-AWD, and the TSX also offering the turbo 4-cylinder from the RDX. Those will be cars to reckon with in the marketplace. I was thisclose to buying a new TL instead of the CPO A6 I currently have. SH-AWD would move that car to near the top of my next-car list.

    Oh, and as for CR’s “survey” – the results are laughable. Why should we care what a bunch of Camry-driving slide-rule-toting geeks “perceive”?

    Acura’s doing fine, judging from all the TLs, TSXs, MDXs I see on the street in Chicago. The RL has gotta go, though.

  • avatar
    Joe O

    I’m amazed I read through this entire thing and no one mentioned (that I saw) the fact that Acura is about to launch a new 2.2 liter 4-cylinder I-DTEC (Diesel) engine, most probably in their TSX.

    From what I’m reading, we’re talking within the next year and most likely within the next 6 months.

    I looked long and hard at the TSX. It has a tremendous design for what I’m looking for….everything included for less than 30k, all the options I want (HID, heated power leather seats, fold down rear seat), great 6-speed trans, and decent fuel economy. But the fact was, it didn’t have much power.

    So I’m praying that it will either have one of the more torquey 2.2 liter diesels, or somehow ring some decent horsepower AND torque out of that 2.2 liter. Because so far, everyone wants that 2.3 liter turbo engine the RDX has…but it’s not that impressive of an engine. It’s fuel economy is abysmal (albeit in a CUV w/ AWD) and it puts out less output than the BMW naturally aspirated 3.0 liter engine, as well as worse acceleration. It’d still be an exciting engine in the TSX, but….

    At the end of the day, people can comment on how the germans are all image and no content. But darnit, right now BMW offers a lithe RWD sedan with damn near 50/50 weight distribution and 300 lb/ft of torque at 1400 rpms. The engine even gets good gas mileage. The thing objectively performs on the same level as the previous generation M3 (albeit, with more tire-spinning in tight corners due to no LSD).

    And I’m a BMWCCA member…I’ve got the roundel itch, and I’m going to have to scratch it before the japanese have a chance to win me back.


  • avatar

    FlyersFan: Thanks for reminding us. That is correct. Honda was concerned that Acura’s name recognition was not as high as “Legend” or “Integra”. It was becasue they were very good cars that inspired tremendous loyalty from their owners. I know, I was one of them.

    Now, if we could only get Lincoln to realize the same thing.

  • avatar

    poltergeist :
    January 23rd, 2008 at 11:51 am

    RGS920 :

    “If Acura once again builds a car with a 4 cylinder engine that puts out 100+ HP per cylinder”

    100HP/cylinder!!! Wow that would be impressive.

    Yikes! Err 100 HP/Liter. There we go.

  • avatar
    Dave M.

    S2000 has been a car to admire since its introduction, and it certainly beat the crap out of Miatas and, well, nobody else had anything like that.

    While I don’t disagree the S2000 has been a milestone for Honda (and quite the speed racer), I think the Miata is a better balanced, more driveable car for daily enthusiasts. And considerably cheaper, too.

  • avatar

    I think that some of you who are decrying the V8 need to do some more research.

    In the recent past I’ve owned the following non-V8 cars:

    2006 Subaru WRX – 2.5L turbo-charged 4 cylinder
    2002 Audi S4 – twin turbo 2.7L V6
    2003 Nissan 350z – 3.5L V6
    2003 BMW 325Ci – 2.5L inline 6
    1972 240z – 2.8L turbo charged inline 6

    Not one of them got over 27 mpg on the highway. Hell, the best I can do in the Subaru is 25 mpg **if** I drive ONLY highway miles. Hell, I can only manage 15 mpg in the 240z (then again it does put down 320 ft-lbs to the wheels).

    There are quite a few V8 equipped CARS that exceed the fuel economy of the cars I listed above. It’s the TRUCKS that are killing the domestic’s fuel economy ratings, not the V8.

  • avatar

    The Legend is alive and well, but it’s not an Acura:

  • avatar

    The 2001 Acura TL I bought always struck me as a bit of a ripoff after I bought it. It drove very similarly to a V6 accord of the same year, but it cost $6-7k more. To me, the Acura TL was just an Accord with a (much) better stereo. I did not think it was worth the extra dough.

    My TL also had lots of transmission problems. I wound up getting 3 of them over it’s 100,000 mile life. The Accord’s from that year did not have the same tranny issues. I’m back to the new Accord now and can’t really envision ever going back to Acura.

  • avatar

    A TSX with rear wheel drive, and several hundred fewer pounds would greatly interest me. The TSX is at least as heavy as my ’99 Accord, despite being smaller, and I felt it when I drove a new one recently.

    I also think they should bring back a car the size of the Integra.

  • avatar

    While HOnda does make some very good products they do tend to miss the mark somewhat when they try to get really interesting.
    While both the NSX and S2000 are considered great there were/are some serious shortcomings of both cars that in reality have hurt them in the long run.

    Honda should have made the NSX out of steel rather than the price busting aluminum. The use of aluminum in the NSX was a waste of effort. Witness Porsche has no problem using good ole steel and does manage to get superior results.
    The Aluminum body of the NSX prevented Honda from making any significant styling updates to what amounted to a somewhat uninspired design.
    The NSX was not very fast compared to its competition yet it always cost an arm and a leg. It was fitted with a nice v6, an excellent engine that was not capabl;e of generating much attention. It was a v6 with merely decnt power for it class.

    The NSX was designed to appeal to the “sensible” sport-car owner. That notion was completely blown out the window the first time a body repair issue came up. It is more expensive to fix body damage on a NSX than any Ferrari with maybe the exception of the Enzo.

    When the NSX exited production it had a price tag of about $90,000. Clearly not worth it at that amount. All this was due to someone’s idea to use expensive aluminum for the body.

    On the other hand the s2000 should have made use of as much aluminum or other light-weight materials as possible. Dont get me wrong the S2000 is a wonderful car it is just about 300 to 500 lbs over weight. It is important to remember that the s2000 can lay down close to 160 lb ft. of torque, which is a excellent number for a 2.2l NA engine. The problem is the curb weight is pushing very close to 3000lbs making it feel somewhat sluggish unless you cain the crap out of it.
    Now the biggest issue with the s2000 is that is expensive for what it is. Both a MX-5 and Nissan 350 can be had under $30,000. Race tracks aside the s2000 is ZERO match for a 350z in the real world. Remember we are talking FUN here!

  • avatar

    I’m a big Honda/Acura fan, and have owned an Integra GS-R and a TSX.

    That being said, Acura’s first problem which they didnt’ address for far too long: keeping the Integra / RSX as part of the mix. You can’t build a prestige brand when (at one point) 50% of your $ sales comes from a line of vehicles priced below several Hondas.

    [The Integra / RSX was less expensive than the V6 Accords, the Prelude (r.i.p.), Passport, …]

    The resistance that Acura received to dropping that model was from the Acura dealers: automobile dealers love high-volume models. This was a perfect example of being penny-wise and pound-foolish (or short term gain for long-term pain).

    If anything, back in 2002 when the RSX came out to replace the Integra, it so happened that Honda was also dropping the Prelude sports coupe. What a smooth segue it would have been to introduce the new sports car (the RSX) as the new Honda Prelude, and free up the bottom of the Acura product mix.

    It was only this year that, finally, Acura dropped the RSX. The TSX is the entry to the brand, and it is a worthy entry, properly competitive with the likes of the BMW 328i, Saab 9-3, Volvo S40 and S60, Audi A4 2.0T Frontrack, etc…

    The “center” of Acura’s lineup is outstanding, vehicles amongst, or at, the top of their categories [read: TL / Type-S, MDX, RDX]. The next logical step is for Acura to quickly (ASAP!) drop the RL, and replace it with a proper flagship: Largest sedan in the lineup, V8 power, striking and distinctive styling.

  • avatar

    Nice editorial

  • avatar

    Reasons the TL and TSX continue to sell, despite an outdated platform:

    They’re good-looking. Really good-looking. Especially the TL; that one still turns my head, and I think the last major redesign was 2003. The competition has moved toward the extended-hood, short-trunk paradigm that’s great for aerodynamics, but not so much for looks. The TL still has great proportions.

    The TSX is, in my opinion, ideally sized. If it had RWD, 275 HP, and a 2.5L with a light-pressure turbo, I’d already have one.

  • avatar

    Just because Acura refuse to introduce a V8 or bump up it’s horsepower in their vehicles CR comes out lashing at them….from my point of view and what I’ve seen a TSX can perform as easily as well as a BMW 3 Series. The TSX is actually the Accord Euro R in Japan, difference is the size of the engine, 2.0 liter in japan and 2.4 liter here. The 03-06 Honda Accord is actaully the Honda Inspire in Japan. The new RL is still call the Legend in Japan. Acura brand is more concentrated on Honda’s V6 engines and Honda itself is more towards their smaller engines.

  • avatar

    “KnightRT :
    January 24th, 2008 at 2:36 am

    Reasons the TL and TSX continue to sell, despite an outdated platform:

    They’re good-looking. Really good-looking. Especially the TL; that one still turns my head, and I think the last major redesign was 2003. The competition has moved toward the extended-hood, short-trunk paradigm that’s great for aerodynamics, but not so much for looks. The TL still has great proportions.”

    Amen to that!

    The Infiniti G35 is the media darling, and has also been very popular, but the styling went from robo-Japanese bimmer-clone to slightly-less-robo-Japanese bimmer-clone, not really getting any better in the process. The TL continues to look good despite its age.

    Further, compare the interiors of the G35 and TL. Again, the new G35 is better than the original, but neither holds a candle to the current (4-year old) TL.

  • avatar

    “Stuttgart’s X-series SUVs” should be “Munich’s…” Am I missing something here?

    Acura appeals to the same qualities that BMW’s do. My brother worked at BMW and used to say that their favorite customers were ex Honda customers. People that buy one will consider the other. Things like aluminum suspension components, bending headlights, inline six engine, rear wheel drive, 50/50 weight…BMW get this stuff right.

    Also I hate how Honda and Acuras rear ends sag when they get older.

    Honda have their hands in too many pots. They are even making business jets now (and big ones at that!) I WAS a Honda guy. Lately though they seem to water down everthing. Their ATV’s are average now (bought BRP this year), my Honda lawnmower has plastic parts that fall off. I bought two generators recently and research pointed me to Yamaha. Buying a Yamaha Waverunner in the spring.

    I think the same is true of their cars… just not quite good enough.

    Wife owns a 2007 Honda Minibrain. It is the best out there, but much of it is cheaply made.

    Honda/Acura should be where Toyota Lexus are now. In 1990 their products were far better AND here in Canada they outsold Toyota back then.

    People notice when you water stuff down.

  • avatar

    I completely agree about the naming of the cars… it had great names: Integra, Vigor, Legend, etc. All of the fake euro names are a disappointment.

  • avatar

    I disagree with your parallels between Acura and BMW models.

    Here is the reality:

    TSX = No BMW competitor, super low end premium car.

    TL = 3-Series competitor, HANDS down.

    RL = 5-Series competitor, HANDS down.

    RDX = X3 competitor (which you got)

    MDX = X5 competitor (which you got)

  • avatar

    LamborghiniZ — please go sit in a 3’er and a TL and tell me you would shop those models against each other. They just don’t line up. The ONLY thing they have in common is that a base 325 (with “leatherette”), financially, is in the same ballpark as a TL (which comes loaded by default). That’s it. Nevermind that a TL blows the doors off a base 325, both in a straight line and fit and finish. For those of us who are taller than 6’0″, the 3 series’ size is a deal breaker. And the RWD 3 versus a FWD TL is a no brainer, as well. Yes, the TL should be RWD, or at least SH-AWD.

    I know its difficult to fathom for some (mostly because of the twenty thousand dollar difference on the sticker), but the TL is better shopped against the 5 series than the 3. Which leaves the RL all wet, admittedly. No disagreement there.

  • avatar

    Whether or not it’s hard to fathom doesn’t enter the equation. The TL being better shopped against the 5-series is irrelevant too, though probably very true.

    What is relevant however, is that the TL is INTENDED to be compared to the 3-Series, while the RL is also INTENDED, by Acura, to compete with the 5-Series.

    Any comparison test between the TL and a BMW product pits it against the 3-Series, same w/ the RL and the 5-Series.

    I agree that the TL blows the doors off of a 328i, but it is far closer in performance to the 335i, which is an equal representation of the 3-Series line, and the closest competitor IMO to the TL.

    The TSX is in no way a competitor to any BMW, as it is outclassed and out gunned in every way by every 3-Series BMW offers. It is intended as a sub-entry-luxury car for those who want the perks of owning a high profile brand and an element of sportiness, but don’t want to have to pay the high prices that come along w/ entering TL/3-Series territory.

  • avatar
    Brian E

    I agree that the TL blows the doors off of a 328i, but it is far closer in performance to the 335i, which is an equal representation of the 3-Series line, and the closest competitor IMO to the TL.

    Yikes. TL versus 335i? No contest. The TL has plenty of power as long as you hold on to the steering wheel tightly and don’t try to go around the corner while applying any throttle.

    The TSX is in no way a competitor to any BMW, as it is outclassed and out gunned in every way by every 3-Series BMW offers.

    Whoa, now that’s harsh. BMW offers a lot of 3-series with less power than the 328i in much of the rest of the world, and I wouldn’t see anything wrong with throwing a Canadian-market 323i up against the TSX. I also still think that the TSX has a nicer interior than the E90, which is marred by some unfortunate plastics and cheap headliner material. That said the TSX was designed to compete with the E46, not the E90, and that it did nicely. Acura seems to be a few years off of the BMW product cycle.

  • avatar

    HA! Comparing a TL to the 335i has got to be a joke! The TL cant even trump the Infiniti G35 (which it has lost to in EVERY comparison test). Acura simply does NOT manufacturer class-leading vehicles! The Acura RL lost to the Infiniti M, BMW 5 Series, and Lexus GS in EVERY comparison test. Might I add that the Infiniti M typically tops that list. Don’t confuse my obvious admiration for Infiniti with bias–these are simply facts. Before you can even begin to compare Acuras to BMW’s, Acura needs to establish itself as a true competitor to its Japanese rivals. Lexus is and always will be more plush and luxurious than Acura. Infiniti’s are better performing and deliver better driving dynamics similar and argualy better (in some aspects) than BMW. Acura does not top either brands in aforementioned traits. Acura simply can’t compete! Unless its a debate of reliability of course.

  • avatar
    Brian E

    The Acura RL lost to the Infiniti M, BMW 5 Series, and Lexus GS in EVERY comparison test. Might I add that the Infiniti M typically tops that list. Don’t confuse my obvious admiration for Infiniti with bias–these are simply facts.

    You may want to check those facts.

    2005 All-Wheel-Drive Luxury Sport Sedan Comparison Test: Acura RL in first place.

    2005-2006 $50K Sport Sedans From Japan Comparison Test: Acura RL in second place, behind the Lexus GS but ahead of the Infiniti M.

  • avatar

    VQ37VHR :

    I can’t speak for the newest models, but in ’03-’04 when both the G35 and TL came out, the materials, fit/finish and layout of the interior were night and day better in the TL (I’ve driven both). I think most articles I read at the time felt the same way. I’d say Honda spent some money on the inside of the car to make it a nicer commutor/ daily driver, even if it wasn’t a match in performance “numbers”.

    For me, I’d take the car that’s put together nicer over the one that posts .03G better skidpad numbers.

  • avatar


    You are absolutely correct! Fit and finish was far better in the TL, but these are entry level sports sedans and the performance matters! Furthermore, I find it comical people in this thread think the TL is better compared against the BMW 5 Series. As I stated, Acura needs to focus on how to trump its Japanese rivals before it sets its sights on BMW.

    Brian E:

    Are you seriously using Edmunds as a source for a comparison test? Well, since we’re cramming links down each others throats (both of yours being Edmunds sourced), let me fire back with a few of my own.


    Car and Driver

    Notice how BOTH of the provided links have (a)the benchmark BMW 5 Series included in the comparison, and (b) the Infiniti M topping the list.

  • avatar

    I was not thinking of 3’s in other markets, that is very true. An omission on my part. But in the United States at least, the TSX has no BMW competitor is what I was saying.

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