By on September 22, 2014

2015 Acura TLX SH-AWD V6U.S. sales of passenger cars at the Acura brand are down 32% through the first eight months of 2014, yet total Acura brand volume is down just 3%, a loss of 3264 units. Acura’s trio of crossovers, including 66 sales from the cancelled ZDX, have improved 20%, a gain of more than 12,000 units, not quite enough to offset the car division’s 15,552 lost sales.

It’s a tough year on which to judge Acura’s car output. Acura is replacing the TL sedan, TSX sedan, and TSX wagon with a single model, the TLX sedan. The TLX operates in a broad and rather affordable price spectrum, with four and six-cylinder powerplants, front or all-wheel-drive, and eight or nine-speed transmissions.

But this year’s car sales decline at Acura is nothing new. Moreover, it stretches beyond the disappointing sales of the disappearing TL and TSX.

ILX sales are down 18%; RLX volume is down 5%. Acura car sales slid 10% in 2013 after a 19% increase in 2012, which followed 2011’s 8% loss, 2010’s 1% increase, and consecutive declines in 2006, 2007, 2008, and 2009. Acura sold 151,662 passenger cars in 2005, when the brand’s U.S. market share was 1.23%, but didn’t sell that many total vehicles in 2012. Acura car sales in 2013 were down 56% from 2005 levels; down 16% from 2008.

Is the TLX the answer? We only have one month’s results on which to base our interpretation of the market’s reaction to the new car, so interpret we shall not. However, after a bit of a wait for cars to arrive, the TLX’s August sales results (2286 units) were better than anything the TSX, wagon-inclusive, has achieved in the last 27 months.

Acura sales chart cars vs. SUVsEven if the TLX quickly outshines the TSX, historic TL numbers will be much harder to match. TL sales declined consistently on an annual basis in 2006, 2007, 2008, and 2009, perked up very slightly in 2010, then declined in 2011, perked up slightly again in 2012, and then plunged in 2013. The slide has been so long in forming that we forget how popular a car it was. 78,218 TLs were sold in 2005; less than a third that many last year. Combined, Acura sold 113,074 TLs and TSXs in 2005. We’re not about to see the TLX make a return to those heights for Acura.

The RLX is far less popular than the RL was nine years ago, as well. Acura may sell 3800 this year. 17,572 RLs were sold in 2005, which preceded seven consecutive years of decline.

The RSX contributed an average of 19,915 annual sales in its three final full years: 2004, 2005, and 2006.

With help from those two lower-volume models, cars generated 70% of Acura’s U.S. volume in 2004, 72% in 2005, and 69% in 2006. Cars accounted for 41% of Acura’s U.S. sales in 2013, just 31% so far this year.

Acura is very much a crossover brand now. Acura sold 98,151 MDXs, RDXs, and ZDXs last year, the kind of total Acura hasn’t achieved with its cars in seven years. Compared with 2005, when the MDX was alone in Acura’s utility vehicle stable, Acura crossover sales in 2013 were 69% higher. Acura has already sold 73,375 MDXs, RDXs, and ZDXs in 2014, more than the total achieved by the brand’s crossover lineup in all of 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, or 2011.

These aren’t just popular vehicles in comparison with Acura’s increasingly unpopular cars. The MDX outsells all premium brand SUVs and crossovers save for the Lexus RX. Sales of the RDX are down 2% in 2014, but it’s still outselling the Audi Q5, Mercedes-Benz GLK, BMW X3, and Volvo XC60. And it’s not as though all premium automakers (or premium wannabes) aren’t increasingly reliant on utility vehicles. BMW, for example, didn’t produce any SAVs in 1998, but in 2014 more than one-third of the brand’s U.S. sales involve an X1, X3, X4, X5, or X6.

Yet Acura’s steady rise in the SUV/CUV segment has not proved strong enough to maintain Acura’s position in the overall market. Acura’s market share in America was as high as 1.23% in 2005 and 1.15% in 2010, but Acura market share is down to 0.95% this year.

On its own, the TLX won’t replicate what the TL and TSX managed a decade ago. If the TLX can simply stop Acura from becoming an SUV-only brand, Honda’s crossover-centric answer to Land Rover or Jeep, we’ll say it achieved something meaningful, though perhaps not voluminous.

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143 Comments on “Can The TLX Restore Acura’s Car Business?...”


  • avatar
    Land Ark

    I actually like the TLX from the outside. I’ve not seen one in person yet and obviously not been behind the wheel. But it seems well packaged and it’s much more attractive than recent Acuras.
    That said, I still don’t know how someone in the position to buy one would pick it over the competition. What does it offer than the others don’t? Will it win with price? It’s not FWD which is a start, but Honda’s AWD system doesn’t out-compete any other luxo system. It’s almost as if they put AWD under it to keep people from griping about it being FWD.
    I can only see people buying these if they were going to buy an Acura regardless of what was in the showroom. I see someone who is truly on the fence crossing this off early in the process.

    Edit: Huh, I just checked and I was mistaken. I thought they were all AWD but it’s an option. Oh well, my opinion doesn’t change either way.

    • 0 avatar
      bryanska

      We’d be the perfect customer. I hate the exterior, you love it. You’re uncertain about all else, and I’m 100% convinced.

      It fixes all the problems with Acura sedans: cold interior design, NVH, oddly decontented luxury specs.

      To me however, the interior is missing the gotta-have-it element.

    • 0 avatar
      dal20402

      It will win on value. Fully loaded, it’s cheaper than stripper Germans with comparable performance.

      I think the sweet spots in value are the 4-cylinder FWD and V6 AWD models with the Technology Package, at $35k and $41k US respectively. Compare those to an IS, 3-Series, or (maybe closest in concept) A4 and you’ll see the difference in equipment levels.

      • 0 avatar
        S2k Chris

        That’s where I’m at. Unfortunately, my 60k mile TSX has plenty of life left in it, but if I was in a position to buy a new car, I’d be all over the TLX SH-AWD. $40k for what will cost $50k+ on the Germans, plus Honda Civic-level TCO in terms of depreciation and maintenance. An Accord leaves out too many desirable features for me, and is just too ubiquitous (that’s shallow but I don’t care).

        • 0 avatar
          DeadWeight

          You highlight ONE of Acura’s problems; there was a time when there were significant, qualitative, material differences in engineering, materials & design between a Honda Accord & a similarly sized Acura, so that a logical person could justify and/or quantify what it was, with some precision, that they were paying a premium for (besides a different badge).

          Alas, those days are gone.

          The differences between a 1992 Acura Legend & a 1992 Honda Accord were many, qualitative & significant in terms of engineering, materials & design.

          Today, the differences between a 2014 RLX & 2014 Honda Accord are not nearly as much.

          • 0 avatar
            dal20402

            Have you sat in a RLX? It’s overpriced for what it is, but material quality is night and day from an Accord.

          • 0 avatar
            S2k Chris

            “Have you sat in a RLX? It’s overpriced for what it is, but material quality is night and day from an Accord.”

            No, clearly because they are both FWD V6s made by the same company they are identical and they both suck. Clearly.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            One is a Japanese built Honda Legend and the other is a US built Honda Accord, otherwise they are more or less similar.

          • 0 avatar
            DeadWeight

            Dal & S2k, gain:

            “The differences between a 1992 Acura Legend & a 1992 Honda Accord were many, qualitative & significant in terms of engineering, materials & design.

            Today, the differences between a 2014 RLX & 2014 Honda Accord are not nearly as much.”

            Maybe you don’t agree with this important, relative statement, but I’m at a loss as to how some can’t accept it as fact (I wish I had the R&D info, schematics, material bid sheet, and other proprietary data that Honda possesses to compare/contrast a 1992 Acura Legend vs a 1992 Accord, and similarly, their 2014 counterparts).

          • 0 avatar
            dal20402

            Deadweight, you’re right in the sense that the 1992 Legend was built on a different platform than the 1990 Accord. It had a longitudinal engine behind the front axle. The 2014 RLX sits on a platform much more closely related to the Accord, because Honda decided (for better or worse) that it could get equally good handling without the packaging sacrifices the longitudinal layout required.

            But platform doesn’t necessarily affect what the consumer actually sees. And in all other respects, the differences between the cars then and now are similar. Both the 1992 and 2014 Acura flagships are lengthened from their Honda ancestors, primarily to the benefit of rear-seat room. Both Acuras have radically improved interior materials, sound deadening, and control refinement. Both Acuras have feature content appropriate to the luxury segment of the time rather than the mainstream. Both Acuras have powerful V6 engines in place of the Honda’s four, although now a less-powerful V6 is an option in the Honda.

            One difference between then and now is that the mainstream has adopted features that used to be luxury-exclusive, such as leather upholstery and automatic climate control. Another is that Accords have gotten bigger. And the biggest difference of all is that the RLX is more expensive than a Legend while the Accord has actually gotten cheaper in real money. But the differences, with the exception of drivetrain layout, are fundamentally the same as they were then.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            Dal20402 is correct, essentially the original mission of Acura was JDM cars in North America. RL(X) is still a JDM model so it is the only one which qualifies under the original definition (since TSX was dropped).

          • 0 avatar
            jrasero23

            I rarely agree with DEADWEIGHT but as a long time Honda ACURA guy he is spot on. A course a lot of companies have and currently make their luxury lines an extended trim level. But in Acura’s case it is very depressing since they started as a performance/tech brand and not a luxury brand. Now Acura is making cars more on MPG, comfort, and profits.

            An example of a fallen brand is Lincoln. They are in the process of rebuilding the brand but ultimately keeping to their core ethos of building cars that are luxurious but more based on comfort rather than performance unlike the Germans. Acura on the other hand has isolated and confused many loyalists by stripping any ounce of performance they once had by going for vanilla luxury.

            I think the TSX and TL was a problem to begin with since there was too much overlap but the TLX to me on the outside doesn’t scream performance like the experience dictates. The TLX I drove (4 Cylinder) was a fun car to drive and really was fun to push into corners but nothing about appearance screamed high end nor sporty.

      • 0 avatar
        Astigmatism

        Yes, precisely. See my comment below, and/or run the comparisons at TrueDelta. The TLX fits into what’s become a growing chasm between family sedans that run in the $20ks and the German “entry”-level sedans that these days are easy to equip above $50k. Combine that with good driving dynamics and a reputation for reliability and cheap service, and they make a compelling value proposition if you don’t care about the badge.

    • 0 avatar
      oldgeek

      I have read every review and all the comments by the masses Honestly an Acura was NOT on our radar when we were shopping for a new car. We looked at and drove an Audi 4, BMW 3, Mercedes CLA and C, and the Lexus 350. As you can see we covered the water front and I excluded several others we drove, just to be somewhat brief.

      We ordered a TLX based on a variety of factors that were important to us and I know that is a matter of choice. We found the TLX to be exceptional on the highway and backroads, quiet, comfortable and compliant. The interior is refined without screaming luxury. The exterior is attractive without screaming pretension or saying I would drive more luxury brand if I could afford it. BTW we are leaving a high end luxury car (by choice) and we are not self absorbed with a brand name or badge.

      The TLX truly offered a combination of things that we did not find in the others and our second choice would have been a BMW 3.

      We frankly could not discern a difference between FWD and RWD and we are not inattentive or unsophisticated I failed to mention that our current car is also AWD. The TLX front to rear ratio and other electronic drive aids will fill the bill.

      I know we could have spent a lot more money but we decided that for us, the TLX hit all the right buttons.

      • 0 avatar
        jrasero23

        I think it’s always important to cross shop and I am glad you found an unexpected surprise

        BUT

        your taste shows how luxury is different to everyone. Your statement of, “The interior is refined without screaming luxury. The exterior is attractive without screaming pretension or saying I would drive more luxury brand if I could afford it.” is the total opposite of my beliefs and tastes. For me the TLX is too bland and now offering real leather standard is cheap and very German like. If I am paying luxury car price I want a car that feels as premium and exhilarating as the motor that drives it. For me luxury is in the details and the TLX while surprisingly and athletic and nimble just doesn’t feel luxurious. While the base model to the V6 base model offer good value, the upwards models quickly balloon into a car that is priced in range of truly luxurious and eve more sportier cars.

        I think you made the right decision but I think it heavily depends on the model you got. A $30k base is very different than getting the $45 V6 Advance AWD.

        To a greater point I think the TLX tries to be too much. I just don’t see this car succeeding. Sometimes less options are better.

        • 0 avatar
          S2k Chris

          I think it’s a tremendous value at all price points. Where else are you going to get even a pseduo-luxury branded vehicle with all the crap the TLX comes from with AWD and 300(ish)hp for $40-45k? The thing is, you aren’t paying “luxury car prices.” The TLX is $55k-ish if it’s a 335i, $65k-ish or more if it’s a 535i. And on down the line. Now, you can argue whether or not those brands are worth the extra $10-20k, maybe they are and maybe they aren’t, but Acura isn’t charging it. And for me, it’s irrelevant, because I can’t afford it. I can afford a $40k TLX though.

    • 0 avatar
      Jacob

      The popularity of Mercedes CLA proves that there is a demand for entry level luxury sedan with sporty looks, even with FWD.

      • 0 avatar
        DeadWeight

        And that there is no shortage of people foolish with their money.

        The CLA is just a terrible car, at any price. It’s an absolute embarrassment to a once storied marque such as Daimler.

      • 0 avatar
        oldgeek

        Jacob, I agree with you. I am sort of discerning when it comes to cars. My wife very much liked the CLA exterior but balked at the interior and was critical of how it drove. I agreed with my wife, not because I am not foolish but she was right. It was interesting that we thought the same about the Audi A3, nice on the outside but not the inside. BMW approach was just to de-content the 3 but it still solid in, out and about but adding features drives (no pun) the price up. Also if concerned about driving in slick weather or snow the AWD becomes essential give the weight ratio. Lot’s of factors enter into a persons selection process and the auto companies each have their own approach.

    • 0 avatar
      Siorus

      @Land Ark: “Honda’s AWD system doesn’t out-compete any other luxo system. It’s almost as if they put AWD under it to keep people from griping about it being FWD.”

      I thought the same thing for a long time, until I actually looked into it.

      Most AWD systems on the market use open diffs front and rear with either a clutch pack or a viscous coupling to distribute power front to back. They rely solely on selective application of the brakes through the ESP/TCS system to distribute power left to right. This is true of virtually everything-most Audis, Volvos, the Mercedes 4matic system, the BMW xDrive, everything; according to a Porsche nut friend of mine (who may or may not be correct) this even is how Porsche manages it on the 991 911 C4 and Turbo.

      Not to put too fine of a point on it, but this approach is absolute, unmitigated crap.

      Virtually all of these systems are incapable of handling a complete loss of traction on one wheel at both axles simultaneously; some of them (the xDrive system in the e46, for instance) can’t even handle a complete loss of traction at *one* wheel.

      The car will simply not move, because the system is unable to effectively transfer torque to the wheels with traction. And even the better ones that do manage to cope (ish) with the loss of traction at one or two wheels are doing it in a fundamentally suboptimal manner; all you accomplish by using the brakes to move torque around is sapping whatever forward momentum the vehicle might have accumulated and dumping a bunch of heat into the brakes for absolutely no reason.

      Honda’s SH-AWD is fundamentally different. Here’s a video that details the inner workings of the system: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tLDOMSGYXd4

      Whether or not you watch the video, the practical upshot of Honda’s implementation is that they have what amounts to a mechanical, clutch type limited slip differential on the back axle that can vary the lockup of both rear axles completely independently from one another.

      Additionally, their torque vectoring system (by necessity) overdrives the back wheels, which allows them to actually steer the car into a corner.

      Now, really, the only correct way to implement AWD is to have a clutched center diff and mechanical limited slip diffs at *both* axles, and SH-AWD misses the mark on that. But so does virtually every other AWD system on the market, and, as it sits, Acura’s implementation is superior to all of its direct competitors.

      In fact, the only systems that I know of that I can say are definitively as good as or better than SH-AWD are:
      -Mitsubishi Evo (better)
      -Subaru WRX STi (better)
      -S-Line Audis (S4, RS7, etc.) ONLY IF they’re equipped with the “Sport Differential” which is optional on some models (comparable)

      …and that’s… basically it. I suspect the R35 and the Audi R8 both have LSDs front and rear, but I don’t know that for sure.

      As for the TLX’s competition-a 328i xDrive, a C300 4Matic, a Volvo S60, or an Audi A4-Acura’s system is the best of the lot. By a considerable margin.

      • 0 avatar
        Frownsworth

        Audi and VW has a large aftermarket catering to exactly what you are pointing out. Their proper 3 differential cars can have the front and rear doffs easily swapped for a LSD. You can not do that on a SH-AWD. Another difference is the mechanical nature of a lot of VW/Audi and Subaru cars which has a much higher sustained torque capacity since there is no clutch pack slipping. SH-AWD and others like Haldex does burn up if used excessively. That said, I doubt most people would take their Hondas or volvos off-road crawling like some all roads or rally wrexs. Pros and cons, here and there.

        • 0 avatar
          dal20402

          No one is going to modify a TLX to go rallying. The question is how the car responds to a loss of traction at one or two wheels in ordinary use on winter roads. SH-AWD (like Subaru’s systems and VAG’s Torsen-based systems) handles that scenario far better than conventional Haldex-based systems (including the one Honda itself uses on the CR-V and RDX).

          • 0 avatar
            Frownsworth

            You are right about the TLX. I was referring to Honda’s use of SH-AWD in general since it is in vehicles like the MDX and previously the RDX. Those are vehicles you can slug through thick mud or snow/slush and off-road where a constant engagement/slippage of the clutch pack is a detriment to the longevity of the device due to its construction. VAG and Subaru’s systems like you pointed out, have no problems there. Out on the street as you said with a TLX, SH-AWD is likely better all around.

  • avatar
    IHateCars

    I see the TLs (and Acura’s) real decline starting with the 4th Gen “beakified” TL. While the car performed quite well, the off putting styling drove most away from it. Contrast that with the very attractive ’04 – ’08 TL, which even in FWD only, had a loyal following. Now it seems that they are going for a faux-Lexus type of image…all vestiges of being a performance/driver’s sedan have been glossed over with electric motors, 9 speed transmissions and bug-eyed LED headlights. Oddly enough, even Lexus is now at least trying to put out more performance oriented cars/image.

    • 0 avatar

      “I see the TLs (and Acura’s) real decline starting with the 4th Gen “beakified” TL. While the car performed quite well, the off putting styling drove most away from it. Contrast that with the very attractive ’04 – ’08 TL, which even in FWD only, had a loyal following.”

      That seems to be the consensus. Acura toned it down a bit with the 2012 refresh, but the damage was done. This TLX just looks like a yet-again-smoothed-over version of the previous design, when what Acura really needed was a bona-fide styling knockout.

      • 0 avatar
        Toad

        “what Acura really needed was a bona-fide styling knockout.”

        This. When Acura was founded the Legend, Vigor, Integra, NSX were not only good looking, they were distinctive cars that stood out from their competitors. Not surprisingly, they sold very well.

        The current Acura sedans must have been designed by the CIA: impossible to notice even when they are right in front of you. At best they look like mildly tweeked Hondas, but at a much higher price point.

        Very few buyers of premium cars want to be completely anonymous (otherwise they can just buy an Accord V6). Acura gives buyers no styling reasons to pay extra for what looks like uninspired design.

        • 0 avatar
          piggybox

          I feel those who bought Lexus ES and RX are quite anonymous. These cars are everywhere and look nothing special. No additional attention will be gained.

        • 0 avatar
          CoreyDL

          This was the big problem with the RL, really always. It had different content, but in both the 98 and 05 versions, if they had tried a little bit harder to make it look unique, they would have done much better. But they went all XL-Accordy.

    • 0 avatar
      Eiriksmal

      My theory is that mainstream cars have gotten so good lately, there’s virtually no reason to pony up to a TL from a loaded Accord. The early 00s Acuras were exciting, “LOOK! IT’S A EUROPEAN-JAPANESE SEDAN! YOU WILL LOVE THIS COMPARED TO THE SNOOZER WE NOW CALL ‘ACCORD!\'” but then the snoozer-Accords and friends got better and better, while the TL and TSX stayed the same.

      If you wanted a Honda sedan that could compete with a Maxima, you got the TL, not the Accord. Now the Accord’s better (faster, smoother, etc.) than the Maximas and TLs from a few years ago, but the TL’s just… you know, ugly and without any major selling point over the Accord (that I can think), so why plunk down the extra money?

      So what do you do? How do you convince people to buy up and nab a SH-AWD TL over a normal Accord? Well, give it remarkable styling. And they tried this, they really did! Only, uh, they invented the horrendous beak nose. Maybe if they’d ripped off a luxury marque’s styling instead… FORD, cough cough.

      • 0 avatar

        “Now the Accord’s better (faster, smoother, etc.) than the Maximas and TLs from a few years ago”

        Yeah. There’s something alluring about both the Accord Sport and the Accord Touring. Also, Acura could definitely use a coupe.

        • 0 avatar
          raresleeper

          I still remember the Acura’s of yesteryear.

          The Legend. The Vigor.
          The sexy 3.5RL.

          A kid here at the office bought a brand new MDX about six months ago. Even in a very conservative and clean shade of black, it’s just painful to look at, in my humble opinion. It’s that damned nose.

          Sigh.

          What happened to you, Acura?

  • avatar

    Honestly, I don’t think so. From what I can tell, it’s a relatively-fun car (especially in the four-cylinder spec), but the design is just not there. It’s certainly not anywhere near as seamless as that of the Lexus ES, nor is it as stylish and eye-catching as the Lincoln MKZ. I think the MDX and RDX will continue to carry the Acura brand.

    • 0 avatar
      tedward

      “it’s a relatively fun car (especially in the four cylinder spec)”

      Yeah, but so is the Honda it is based on (and both are under-powered even if enjoyable.) Acura makes product that you can enjoy, and also that no one is going to hate, but they also don’t have a proposition that they stand for. That something you are getting beyond a fully loaded Accord is mostly their marketing budget, and that isn’t money well spent when their credible competitors are coming to the party with product you cannot buy at a lower price.

      Whenever a family member asks a resident industry observer about buying a TL the first response is always going to be “buy the loaded Honda.” Used is a different story, but that’s not a business that Acura itself participates in.

      • 0 avatar
        thornmark

        I have never read a review of the Accord 2.4 which said it was underpowered.

        As for the TLX, C&D notes the Acura 2.4 has a unique automatic:

        “The four is hitched exclusively to a new, in-house-designed eight-speed dual-clutch automatic. Unusually and in what Acura calls a first, a torque converter is fitted in place of the flywheel to deliver off-the-line torque multiplication, enable smoother takeoffs from a stop, and damp vibrations. It works. The off-the-line jerkiness present in nearly every transmission of this type—even the Volkswagen Group’s version suffers a little—is nowhere to be found. Once underway, the converter quickly locks up for proper, ultraquick-shifting dual-clutch feel. ” Plus it has all wheel steering.

        C&D liked the handling of the four best, the front drive V6 least as compared to the SHAWD version.
        http://www.caranddriver.com/acura/tlx

      • 0 avatar
        dal20402

        “That something you are getting beyond a fully loaded Accord is mostly their marketing budget”

        No. You’re getting different transmissions (DCT is a big upgrade over CVT on the 4-cylinder model in particular), different suspension tuning, an excellent AWD system with the V6 SH-AWD, and considerably upgraded interior materials and design.

        Platform sharing doesn’t mean the cars are identical.

  • avatar
    alsorl

    Acura with continue to be a low volume brand.

  • avatar
    psarhjinian

    Just bring back the RSX, please.

  • avatar
    johnhowington

    Acura: we build the cars for the select few.

  • avatar
    Davekaybsc

    The 2004 gen TL was definitely the last hurrah for Acura cars, and the last to have that old Acura brand DNA. Sporty-ish, decent looking, simple ergonomics and easy to use electronics.

    The beak car that followed for 2009 ruined everything. It was duller, hideous to look at, and the simple interior layout and touch screen NAV gave way to a button and knob mess “like der iDrive!!!”

    I don’t see the new car riding to the rescue. It’s perhaps better positioned in the market in terms of pricing, but it’s only real rivals are the Buick Regal and Volvo S60.

  • avatar
    ant

    Acura need to knock it off with all the weird stuff.

    1. Stop coming up with new stupid names. TL, or TSX would have been fine for this car.

    2. Kill the beak. It looks cheep.

    3. Whatever moron over there that thinks it’s a good idea to not have traditional exhaust tips need to be fired.

    4. No manual transmission?

    5. Bring back the feel in the steering.

    6. stop making the brakes so grabby. That doesn’t make the car feel like luxury.

    7. put on good tires from the start.

    8. stop under-sizing your batterys.

    • 0 avatar
      Car Ramrod

      +1… thought #7 and #8 were an issue back in the ’04-’08 TL days.

    • 0 avatar
      tonycd

      Very clearly, Honda/Acura doesn’t want to hear about it as regards either the alplabet soup or The Beak.

      From the late Automobile magazine’s interview with American Honda’s CEO Tetsuo Iwamura:

      “On real names for Acuras:
      ‘No, never. Many people asked us to have real names, but the current names have been accepted by the marketplace.\'”

      What’s hilarious about this, of course, is that if the current names TL and TLX had been accepted by the marketplace, why’d they get rid of them?

      I actually wrote him a letter about The Beak, citing fan forums that lamented the thing. I got back a form letter from a PR flack. Corporate stubbornness is in full effect here.

    • 0 avatar
      william442

      It is not a W30 442, but still a very nice ride.

    • 0 avatar

      +1. My dad’s old NEC phone from the late-80s had a larger battery than most Hondas.

    • 0 avatar

      3! Absolutely 3! I was so disappointed when the ILX, RDX, RLX, MDX and TLX *all* debuted without visible exhaust tips. Really?! The Lexus ES has visible exhaust tips…

      • 0 avatar
        JLGOLDEN

        Man oh man…those hidden exhaust tips are the total deal breaker for me…on any car. And NO, I would not be satisfied with cutting and splicing some aftermarket pipes / tips. Why hide the exhaust tips? What happened to unique exhaust notes ala Infiniti VQ?

    • 0 avatar
      WheelMcCoy

      #3 – No exhaust tips make sense on an electric car. Hidden exhaust tips, I can forgive on a hybrid. But hidden exhaust tips an ICE — clean as these honda engines are — is unattractive, and just plain dishonest… in the same way that BMW is dishonest when it pipes in engine noises to its cabin.

      #4 – Hoping a manual transmission arrives, of course depending on the success of the TLX.

  • avatar
    redav

    Aren’t SUVs & CUVs taking over at every car brand? If CUVs have started outselling midsize sedans, then the same trends Acura has experienced should be seen at other brands, too. How does Acura’s change in product mix compare to the rest of the industry?

  • avatar
    kvndoom

    Too bad no 6-speed anymore, in any trim. I like the looks of it, and it seems to be just the perfect size.

    But Acura’s cars just aren’t going to see a resurgence. They can’t shake the “luxed up Accord/Civic” image, no matter how hard they try to differentiate the brands.

    • 0 avatar
      S2k Chris

      “But Acura’s cars just aren’t going to see a resurgence. They can’t shake the “luxed up Accord/Civic” image, no matter how hard they try to differentiate the brands.”

      There is a signficant population that WANT a luxed up Accord/Civic. The latest TL’s hidesousness killed a lot of sales, but plenty of people are prepared to spend $35-40k to get what costs $45-50k+ on the Germans and comes in a smaller package.

  • avatar
    CaptainObvious

    Acura sure is trying with its new ads as well – Sex Pistols? Trying to appeal to a new/different demographic?

    • 0 avatar
      IHateCars

      It was just Sid Vicious that recorded “My Way”, but being a Sex Pistols/old school Punk fan, the new ads actually work for me.

      It’s the car that doesn’t.

      • 0 avatar
        CaptainObvious

        Thanks for the clarification! That’s the thing though – does Acura think “old school” punk rock fans now have the resources to buy an Acura – are they trying to get “younger?”

        Just curious.

        • 0 avatar
          Zykotec

          Well, the original ‘Punk’ generation must be in their 50’s by now, the second ‘Punk’ generation (NOFX, Green Day, Blink182) in their early/mid 30’s. And with some luck , they don’t like ‘the man’ enough yet to go and buy an over-powered/priced German car. On the other hand, I think using the ‘my way’ cover is hilarious/ironic/sarcastic (depending on how self-conscious they are)considering Honda/Acuras reputaion for going their own way.(even despite sales)If they say it’s a great car, they are most likely correct, no matter how badly it fits into the market.

          • 0 avatar
            DeadWeight

            Late 30s Xer – Nirvana, Fugazi, Primus, Social Distortion, etc. ruled my college town.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            I’m a little more aligned with Zykotec although I was exposed to all of the glorious X’r music at an earlier age. Although to your overall list gentleman I will add: Garbage (loooooooove Shirley), Goldfinger, Offspring, Muse (the older albums), Smashing Pumpkins, Save Ferris, Sublime and Less than Jake (surprised you missed the Pumpkins, DW).

            Fun fact: When I was in Ireland they closed the dance club/bar to Smells like Teen Spirit. Seriously.

            Additional: OK now I am blasting “Zero” in the apt and I *desperately* need a stick shift C4 Corvette or Trans Am to zoom around in at the moment.

          • 0 avatar
            Zykotec

            There as clear division between the ‘Freaks’ (pumpkin/primus/muse) ‘Punks’ (Greednay/NOFX/presidentsoftheunitedstatesofamerica) and ‘Grungers’ (PearlJam/Soundgarden), (somehow Offspring and Nirvana were trapped in being either to noisy or too ‘pop’) where I grew up tbh , but I loved most of it ;)

          • 0 avatar
            MattPete

            Mid-40s Black Flag, Husker Du, Circle Jerks, Sonic Youth…

          • 0 avatar

            43. Went through the full spectrum. Started off on Iron Maiden, ended up in all the alt rock. Old enough to have witnessed Nirvana, Alice in Chains and the Ramones live and in Brazil, not to mention more than a few others.

            Still one of the greatest pleasures is popping in Dinosaur Jr and just driving on a road. Also, “older” than me but Pink Floyd has some very driveable records. Animals is a good one to just drive….

            I also dream of the day I get my Cincuecento, put on Andrea Bocelli, a retro national football jersey and hit the road. But maybe that is just me getting old. I promise to take pics of the moment for TTAC.

      • 0 avatar

        My 55 year old mother sent me a text “Sid Vicious in new Acura ad”.

        Maybe they’ll get her out of her XC60 and into an RDX?

  • avatar
    VoGo

    The stopped making the Integra. They renamed their vehicles with letters, and dropped the Legend-ary branding. The beak.

    It’s all in the past, people, and the time has come to get over it. The MDX, RLX and new TLX are all great vehicles. Test drive one before you condemn it.

    • 0 avatar
      Davekaybsc

      Are they great vehicles? By pretty much all accounts, the RLX is lousy, and the asking price for a FWD car with zero badge appeal is psychotic. Acura overpriced the last RL by about $10K, and as noted in the article it lasted a year before bombing and never recovering, once people realized that the C&D raves about the car were all hype and it was actually terrible to drive.

      This time there’s not even that, the hype at launch has been zero, and it’s still overpriced by $10K. RLX = FAIL.

      • 0 avatar
        VoGo

        I am not defending the RLX. It might have been interesting with the hybrid AWD tech Acura was promoting, which appears stillborn. Much as a love H/A, I cannot recommend the RLX.

        The ILX is a mixed bag. I think it would be a nice car if they tweaked the formula a bit – made a 200hp motor standard, allowed a manual transmission with all trim packages, etc.

        But the 3 mainstream products: MDX, RLX and TLX are all first class vehicles.

        If I were king of Acura for a day, I’d drop the RLX, tweak the ILX, and focus on bringing a small CUV to market for $28K.

        • 0 avatar

          The RLX isn’t a mainstream Acura product. The RDX is, however. And if you just got the names confused, good. That only demonstrates how stupid Acura’s nomenclature is. It was enough when some of the products had the additional “X” letter at the end; now all of them do.

          • 0 avatar
            VoGo

            Kyree,
            My bad. I meant to defend the RDX.

            You’re right – the nomenclature is imperfect. Not as bad as Lincoln or BMW, but still.

        • 0 avatar
          28-Cars-Later

          I thought the same things about ILX, but the issue with the motor stems from shortcomings with the transmission in the Civic platform. Evidently an automatic version of the gearbox for the Civic SI does not exist and the existing automatic cannot handle the additional output of the K24Z7 (201hp) motor. Someone mentioned Honda did have an auto transmission which could/does mate to K24Z7, but it will not fit properly in the current Civic platform. So phoning in the “Acura” cost them.

          • 0 avatar
            dal20402

            If Acura cared at all about the ILX it would find a way to get either the Accord K24/CVT powertrain or the TLX K24/DCT powertrain in there. It really wouldn’t be that hard at all, and the DI 2.4 plus about 50 pounds of extra noise insulation would fix 90% of what’s wrong with the car. Very frustrating that they just let it languish.

          • 0 avatar
            S2k Chris

            “If Acura cared at all about the ILX it would find a way to get either the Accord K24/CVT powertrain or the TLX K24/DCT powertrain in there. It really wouldn’t be that hard at all, and the DI 2.4 plus about 50 pounds of extra noise insulation would fix 90% of what’s wrong with the car. Very frustrating that they just let it languish.”

            I believe the car is due for a significant mid model freshening, including new powertrain offerings. It was monumentally stupid that they didn’t offer the bigger engine with the auto given the preferences in the market, especially since that was basically the TSX powertrain. But I do think if they can fix some of that stuff, and the dumb option levels (can’t get Nav on the big engine? WTF?) they can at least be competitive in the $25-30k premium compact space.

          • 0 avatar
            Jacob

            Which proves just how poor was the Acura ILX badge engineering job. They couldn’t even bother to make any significant changes to Civic platform, besides giving the car a fresher interior and exterior.

      • 0 avatar
        dal20402

        The RLX isn’t lousy, just severely overpriced. It’s a better-executed Lexus ES, but sold at or even above the GS price level.

        If it were priced with the Advance package at $50k everyone would love it.

  • avatar
    Da Coyote

    I had one of the original Integras. Loved it and kept it for 150k miles and 14 years, and sold it to a close friend who still has it at 300k+ miles.

    I’ve wanted to purchase another, the brand seems to have lost that “something” and lately, they just cannot get past the fugly.

    Heck, Acura is succeeding at out-fuglying even Lexus.

    And yes, looks make a diff. To those who love these looks, fine.

    However, to me, meh.

    • 0 avatar

      My 1996 Intergra sedan currently has 314,000 kms on the clock and no visible rust (in Canada, yet). I would buy a new one (great visibility, excellent fuel mileage and ergonomics in a right-sized, practical fun-to-drive package) if they made one. Until then I just replace bits and pieces as they fail.

      • 0 avatar
        DeadWeight

        Many of us “grouches” have been saying it for a long-time, yet few believe it, and now it’s becoming more apparent by the day (even MSM is on to it) – we hit peak quality between 1995 and 2005, depending on manufacturer’ and are falling down fast (and it’s NOT about electronics):

        “Reuters) – Engine and transmission problems caused quality in the U.S. auto industry to slip for the first time in 16 years in a vehicle dependability study of owners of 3-year-old cars and trucks, falling from last year’s record-high levels.”

        “Increases in Engine and Transmission Problems Reported
        Engine and transmission problems increase by nearly 6 PP100 year over year, accounting for the majority of the overall 7 PP100 increase in reported problems. The decline in quality is particularly acute for vehicles with 4-cylinder engines, where problem levels increase by nearly 10 PP100. These smaller engines, as well as large diesel engines, tend to be more problematic than 5- and 6-cylinder engines, for which owners report fewer problems, on average.”

        http://autos.jdpower.com/ratings/2014-Vehicle-Dependability-Study-Press-Release.htm

        • 0 avatar
          28-Cars-Later

          I think there are other factors but what two important things place around 1995? The perfection of multiport fuel injection and the introduction of OBDII diagnostics. This seems to be the peak, and now we head into a world with a new type of high pressure fuel injection, multiple speed transmissions, multiple wheel drive systems, hybrids/EVs and heavily muffed clean diesel systems. Too much change at once, no wonder reliability is down.

          • 0 avatar
            DeadWeight

            Direct injection and much higher compression levels bring a whole new set of challenges.

            Throw a turbo or two into the mix, and the accretive heat they introduce to the total equation, and these problems were inevitable given that the bean counters have the engineers on a tight budget as it is to deal with higher compression, higher heat, and valves that are not even being cleaned fully by the detergent additives in gasoline.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            Ah yes I forgot to include the mandatory turboing of the world. Funny how there is no alphabet agency to step in on the part of the consumer and say “hold on” to the implementation of too much automotive technology at once (not even including electronics).

            I’m very happy I have the three motors I have in my cars as each is relatively rock solid and each car somewhat ok from a platform standpoint. Long 3800s, RWD Volvos, and early 90s Japanese cars lol.

          • 0 avatar
            CoreyDL

            You’d better add that Loyale sedan to your stables.

  • avatar
    nickoo

    The tlx is a nice car, but its not going to sell, the reason being that the new Chrysler 200 offers nearly exactly the same features and is 10-15k less at all price points. I even like the tlx and realize it’s a better car, while the 200 is better than the Regal. Honda needs to drop the price on this car by 5k across the board if ut wants to sell more. Honda also needs to trickle their 8 speed in- house dual clutch/torque convertor transmission down to the accord.

    • 0 avatar
      dal20402

      Not a single person will be cross-shopping the TLX against the Chrysler 200.

      The TLX is focused on dynamics, while the 200 is focused on being an affordable, soft, comfortable luxury-ish car. The intended buyers are also very different.

      If the TLX fails because of comparisons with non-premium FWD-based family sedans, the culprits will be the Accord, Mazda6, and Fusion.

      • 0 avatar
        Eiriksmal

        This. When the Accord is as good as it is, how can you convince anyone that the TLX’s even better? I haven’t driven either car, but maybe the law of diminishing returns has made the TLX marginally better than the Accord or Mazda6, but requires a significant increase in cost to achieve those marginal results. Not enough to sway the everyday, “I like mah cars sportay” kind of buyer.

        • 0 avatar
          dal20402

          The premium over loaded Accord variants (EX-L for the four, EX-L or Touring for the six) is really pretty small ($1500 to $3000) for a significant boost in equipment levels.

          • 0 avatar
            VoGo

            Better seats, nicer interior with upgraded materials, better transmission, better ride/handling mix.

            If I were in the market again, I would pay yhe extra $2,500 for a base TLX over my Accord EX-L.

          • 0 avatar
            bosozoku

            And yet I wonder if, dollar for dollar, Accords won’t retain better resale values over time than TLXs?

          • 0 avatar
            Astigmatism

            @bosozoku: Possible but unlikely. http://www.edmunds.com/car-reviews/best-retained-value-cars.html

        • 0 avatar
          Jacob

          Why am I the only one who thinks that Accord is boring? Why would anyone with a pulse want one? Accord is the new Buick. It’s now a full size car, and with very conservative styling. Even coupe isn’t particularly great looking with its ridiculously high belt line. The worst thing about Accord is that the 9th gen Accord looks 95% like a previous gen Accord, making the new car impossible to distinguish from the old, unless you’re talking to a Honda enthusiast. They just drown in the sea of similarly shaped cars. The only unusually good feature is the excellent manual shifter available in some models. However, as if trying to steer the buyers away from it, Honda offers the manual sedans and manual 4-cylinder Accords only in the drabbest colors ever (just black for coupe, or black and dark steel metallic for sedans, inviting the comparisons with Ford T).

          The TLX looks a lot better, and from reviews the 9-speed DCT is going to be a lot more fun than the CVT in Accords. And the price difference is not huge. Accord EX-L with Navi has MSRP around 30K. The FWD TLX with technology package will have MSRP at some 35K. 5K MSRP difference doesn’t seem a whole lot more expensive for a bit more or refinement in every respect.

          And don’t forget the latest AWD fad. Every luxury car buyer now thinks that a well equipped luxury car has to have AWD. Ridiculously, even in Texas I see plenty AWD bimmers and audis. Fad or not, TLX gives the customers this option as well, something that you don’t get in an Accord.

          • 0 avatar
            petezeiss

            “Why am I the only one who thinks that Accord is boring?”

            Because you’re the only Andromedan princeling cruelly stranded on Earth when your high-school party car dropped out of hyperspace due to a faulty mass pointer?

          • 0 avatar
            piggybox

            It’s not that ridiculous about AWD fad. Better handling and traction lead to a safer car and peace of mind. That’s the selling point of Subaru and it apparently works.

      • 0 avatar
        wmba

        Nobody cross-shops the Chrysler 200 AWD against the Acura TLX.

        I have. But then I’m a TTAC reader so maybe not typical.

        The 200 could be a clone except for back seat room and an overly loud exhaust. It drives about the same – sedate, since both have cheap tires. However, no wheelspin on the Chrysler AWD when you goose it, unlike the howling tires on the V6 FWD TLX (SH-AWD not available yet).

        The V6 TLX isn’t sporty in the least. What ruins both cars is the same ZF 9 speed – too many gears, with Acura’s programming a bit better, the front seats a bit nicer. The Acura, like most Hondas, has a terrible orange peel paint job, so Chrysler won there for me. The V6 Accord with 6 speed auto drives more nicely, but its ride and quietness are not as good.

        As for the I4 TLX, it was so nasty with the DCT lunging like a bull-terrier for high gear, I only drove it a mile out from the dealer. Awful thing – couldn’t stand it, despite “glowing” reviews which obviously didn’t address what I find important – like city driving livability. It drags down rpm so low uphill that the engine shudders like forgetting to push in the clutch coming to a stop in a manual. Then there was the two second loss of accelerator control, another Honda drive-by-wire throttle problem.

        Sporty? In your dreams.

        Hey, we can all drive cars on paper. I actually try them out if they interest me at all. I will try the SH-AWD version when it comes out, but I hardly expect it to be a corner carver, and it still has the 9 speed and ridiculous push-button gear selector, which washed out in the sun for me.

        These are not game-changers in any way. Pretty meh effort.

        • 0 avatar
          dal20402

          Did you try sport mode on the DCT? If it shifts too early for your taste in normal mode, that might help.

        • 0 avatar
          S2k Chris

          ” What ruins both cars is the same ZF 9 speed – too many gears”

          Possible, I suppose, but I have driven the ZF 8AT extensively in several different cars, and it’s fantastic (and my opinion is far from the minority). I can’t see 1 more ratio screwing it up that much.

    • 0 avatar
      SayMyName

      I had the distinct displeasure of renting a ’15 200 on a recent business trip. Four cylinder, nine-speed. What a genuinely mediocre car: uncomfortable seats, awful hard plastics inside, assembled poorly to boot (pressing the side controls on the steering wheel caused both panels to flex inward quite a bit, like there was a support missing) and horrible sightlines thanks to extremely thick A and C pillars.

      The 2.4L engine was actually one of the car’s few brighter spots, as it did seem relatively powerful (at sea level, anyway) and most of its well-known noise and harshness acceptably muted. The powertrain did have one serious flaw, however: it literally took 2-3 seconds from the time I’d depress the accelerator to hit passing gear, until the transmission would kick down and the car would begin accelerating… regardless of whether or not my foot was still pressing the gas pedal!

      It was so bad that I actually called the rental company to make them aware of it, since that could easily cause an accident in traffic should the driver be expecting their rented 200 (and let’s face it, nearly all of them built will be rentals) to behave like a normal car.

  • avatar

    Acura’s Five-Year Plan
    1) Introduce a new model
    2) Build name recognition with that model
    3) Destroy that name recognition by renaming it for no particular reason
    4) ????
    5) Not profit

    Just rename the division MDX, retail exclusively that, expand production of the ILX and rename it the Acura Courtesy so you can offer it to OTHER franchise dealers who need service loaners and be done with it.

  • avatar
    Astigmatism

    I’m a 3rd-gen (2008) TL owner and could never warm to the 4th generation, pre- or post-debeaking – I feel like my car is packaged perfectly and didn’t want anything bigger or pointier. I’m very interested in the new one, and would probably buy one if I were in the market right now. To everyone who complains about how it doesn’t offer enough more than [midsize family sedan X] to justify the price difference, and can’t compete with [German intro sedan Y] at the price, have you actually looked at the pricing? Going through TrueDelta’s price comparison tool, at the low end of the spectrum (base 4-cyl model) the TLX is $1,185 more expensive than the Honda Accord Sport after adjusting for the feature differential, and $1,800 more expensive than the Chrysler 200. Stepping up, the 6-cylinder AWD version is $6,555 cheaper than the comparable Lexus IS after adjusting for features, and $5,915 cheaper than the comparable 328xi.

    Considering that I’ve owned my car for four years, have so far spent under $1,000 total on all dealer-performed maintenance, and have every reason to think that the car will last another 100,000 miles without much of a hiccup, it looks like a pretty damned good value play to me, with the caveat that I haven’t driven the new one yet.

  • avatar
    dal20402

    I think a lot of criticism of the TLX is momentum-based — people haven’t liked other recent Acura offerings and see Acura as a failing brand. If you actually look at the product, it has some compelling advantages, although it’s not for every buyer.

    “But it’s FWD!”

    At the four-cylinder level, it really doesn’t matter. There isn’t much torque steer, and if you’re buying a 200 hp sedan you’re not trying to drift or do donuts. Parking-lot antics aside, FWD vehicles at this power level can have truly excellent ride and handling. My 2004 TSX was proof. On the street its combination of good body control and supple ride was magic. I haven’t driven a TLX yet but hope it’s as good; I had zero desire for RWD unless there were a major increase in power.

    At the six-cylinder level, buy the SH-AWD version. It’s not a Haldex system like you’ll find in the S60 or most mass-market FWD-based cars (including Acura’s own RDX); it’s full-time, and really will alleviate torque steer and terminal understeer on power.

    And the FWD gets you much-improved interior packaging. Compare the back seats of the TLX and the similarly-sized IS or 3-series… there is a lot of difference.

    I do wish Acura and Honda would fix a few longstanding pet peeves.

    1. Give us good tires and brakes. It’s annoying having to shell out for new tires or live with Acura’s chosen tires, which would be poor even on a Civic, for 30,000 miles. And Honda brakes have never, ever, ever been sufficient.

    2. Don’t cheapen or chicken out on the styling details. Look at the TLX Concept and the production TLX. The Concept looks *vastly* better. And the production car could have looked just as good. Literally the only differences are much nicer plastic parts (front and rear fascias, rocker panels, and lights); more aggressive wheel designs; and better-styled mirrors. These parts could have been used in production at the cost of a few bucks and a bit less curb clearance. It would have been a good tradeoff.

    3. Know what you’re selling and market/price accordingly. The RLX is a flop because it’s a Lexus ES competitor marketed and priced straight-up against the GS, 5-Series, and E-Class. The TLX is priced much better but is still being marketed straight against the 3-Series, which isn’t really where it should be. The 4-cylinder should be marketed as a Vigor redux, a premium-feeling car that’s a good value and much more fun than competition at the same price point. The 6-cylinder should be marketed based on value and luxury to TL customers.

  • avatar
    dwford

    I recently spent some time in an Acura dealer shopping for a used car with a friend, and couldn’t bring myself to get up and sit in the new Acuras even though I was bored. On our second stop there I did force myself into a TLX and let me tell you, it’s nothing special.

  • avatar
    Sam Hell Jr

    Eh, seems like all the blogosphere belly-aching about Acura sedans is really just belly-aching about sedans in general. Regulations have squeezed all the variety out of the powertrains while design and assembly technology has advanced to the point where they’re all pretty good cars. The premium badge gets you real cowhide, non-greyscale paint colors, xenon headlights, AWD options, and less DLO fail. What’s that worth to you?

    • 0 avatar
      Toad

      There are plenty of cool looking sedans out there; for example, the whole Audi lineup looks great (and their sales reflect it).

      Acura used to be a good looking car with some sporting pretensions. Now it is an anonymous car with no pretensions of anything, and the sales reflect it.

      BTW, if Acura re-released the early ’00’s CL coupe I’d buy it tomorrow.

  • avatar
    Chocolatedeath

    I dont know. That back seat looks awful small compared to a TL.

  • avatar
    krhodes1

    No manual transmission means I would never even look at it. Which is just as well, because it is still an anonymous car with an ugly chrome beak on the front. Why would you buy this over a top-spec Accord?? I have less than no use for AWD on a vehicle which will never go off-road.

    Really a shame, as Acura started out with a bang with the Legend and Integra back in the day.

    • 0 avatar
      poltergeist

      Have to agree. There’s still too much “beak” for me. Otherwise I think it’s a pretty nice looking car. I’d be tempted to replace my ’04 TSX M/T with a 4cyl one, but with no manual trans available in the TLX….no deal…

    • 0 avatar
      genuineleather

      Much like Lexus/Toyota, you buy an Acura because you want something a bit nicer and less ubiquitous than a Honda. Even if the TLX is a 100k unit/year smash (highly unlikely), it’d still only be 1/4 the number of Accords sold.

      Because really, all 80% of luxury car buyers want is a decent car with a shiny badge.

    • 0 avatar
      Jacob

      Top spec Accord sedans do not come with a manual transmission either.

  • avatar
    sportyaccordy

    Acura needs a major dose of style. Their car sales falloff is due mostly to that, and some to changing customer tastes. The 05ish TL and TSX sold like gangbusters because they were drop dead gorgeous. The company’s sustained declines are due to the decline of aesthetics. The ILX is alright, but it’s generic. The TLX and RLX are a severe downgrade from the brand’s design apex… they could literally be from any 2nd tier manufacturer. Strongest resonance I’m getting is with Buick… OLD Buick.

    Acura is trying to sell cerebral cars in a visceral market. They can keep all the tech and stuff, but the cars have to elicit a positive reaction on first site… none of their cars really do.

  • avatar
    STRATOS

    The luxury car market is overcrowded.Acura doesn’t stand out in any comparison.Don’t quite know what is going on at Honda lately.It’s the same at their motorcycle division.

    • 0 avatar
      S2k Chris

      “Acura doesn’t stand out in any comparison”

      I’m not saying it’s the greatest car in the world or anything, but tell me a 2.4L TLX for $30-35k isn’t a better buy than one of the new strippers like a CLA or A3. Or that a $40k V6 SH-AWD model isn’t a smoking deal compared to a 328/335 or A4/S4 or IS350 or whatever. For my money, it’s a nice balance between the snore-fest ES and the smaller $$$$$ Germans and IS. Plus, it will run forever, cost pennies to maintain, and probably cost ~$10k less comparably equipped. Is it “as good” as some of the others? No, but it isn’t as expensive, either.

      • 0 avatar

        Absolutely *I’d* rather get a TLX than a CLA-Class or A3. But the market has spoken. In our Euro-centric culture, any luxury car to come from England or the Continent is going to be viewed as more desirable and a more fitting description *of* the luxury car paradigm. It means that consumers are going to value the things present in European cars. Traditionally, that value has been placed in cars that have beautiful designs stretched over exotic mechanicals, but lately that trend fallen toward cars with striking designs and throwaway-grade mechanicals. And that design aspect is where Acura has consistently and spectacularly failed over the last several years. People have been in an outright fervor for the new CLA-Class. Despite the fact that the TLX is probably better in every measurable performance, reliability and solidity metric than the CLA-Class, do you think that people will be knocking down the doors of the Acura dealership to have one? No. Why? Partially because it isn’t a Mercedes-Benz (although Acura could have had desirability similar to that of Mercedes-Benz if it had been doing things correctly up to now.) But mostly because it doesn’t *look* good. Acura doesn’t need to go and rip off Audi or anything like that, but it does need to recognize that its current school of design simply isn’t pretty in the worldview of today’s luxury cars…and that “pretty” factor goes a long way toward influencing someone’s purchase decision. If—and especially since no one seems to care whether or not his car is RWD anymore—Acura can make cars that can hold their own against the Europeans on design, yet last five times as long and are priced a class-size smaller, the brand will definitely have something. I happen to think that Infiniti is much closer than either Acura or Lexus to having the correct answer to the notion of “world-class” (aka European) luxury, while still imbuing its products with Asian flair and culture.

        I know people say that most luxury-car shoppers are badge whores, but there’s some honest merit as to why Acura doesn’t sell too many cars, and it’s not just that stylized “A” on the hoods…

        • 0 avatar
          S2k Chris

          “In our Euro-centric culture, any luxury car to come from England or the Continent is going to be viewed as more desirable and a more fitting description *of* the luxury car paradigm.”

          Basically, according to most car reviewers and car snobs, no non-German luxury car is as good as a luxury car as a German luxury car, because one of the primary things a car has to succeed at doing to be considered a top luxury car is be a German luxury car.

        • 0 avatar
          dal20402

          The “fervor” (which you accurately describe) over the CLA is depressing. The product is not worthy of the three-pointed star and not remotely comparable to the C- or E-classes. Even without considering price, I’d rather own a $31k Accord V6 than a similarly optioned $38k CLA250. It’s just a vastly more solid — and dare I say luxurious — product. The $36k TLX V6 is just in a different world from the CLA, substantively.

          But I agree with you that more design flair would make more people look Acura’s way.

          And it wouldn’t even be that hard — see my above comment regarding overly conservative styling details.

        • 0 avatar
          WheelMcCoy

          “… Acura doesn’t sell too many cars, and it’s not just that stylized “A” on the hoods…”

          I wonder how many people know it was inspired by a caliper and meant precision performance. Kyree’s analysis was spot on.

          Usually, German cars lead because they use higher quality materials and they compromise less with their designs. I recall one line of Audi’s where you needed to remove the front bumper to do an oil change. The Porsche Boxster has its oil fill in the trunk, so you had better line that trunk with protective plastic. And BMW oil changes are known to be so expensive and so labor intensive, that this maintenance is frequently neglected by their owners. All this fuss, I am guessing, contributes to superior driving dynamics, and fosters the mystique of German engineering.

          Acura and Honda, along with other Japanese makes, make engine maintenance (and mods) accessible. I’m not sure, but I recall Toyota had a vehicle where the oil filter could be reached from above the engine rather than below. On early Honda Odysseys, you can get to the oil filter by turning the wheel all the way in one direction, and reaching into the gap.

          That said, I, too, would take an Acura TLX over a Mercedes CLA or Audi A3. It’s too early to say the TLX will save Acura, but it’s definitely a step in the right direction.

    • 0 avatar
      bosozoku

      Interesting you bring up the motorcycle division. It’s constantly praised in the press for making “refined” and well-built designs, but even when faced with wonkier, higher-priced competitors, their bikes never seem to come in first place.

      Walking through a Honda motorcycle dealership is a bit of a downer, with not a whole lot worth a second look unless practicality and fit-and-finish are your only concerns regarding a motorcycle purchase (in which case you’re probably not considering any other brands anyway). The current CBR1000RR is supposed to be a stellar bike, and yet the same red/white/blue commemorative model has been in my local dealer’s showroom for as long as I can remember. Meanwhile ZX-10Rs are rolling in and out by the week.

      I love Hondas, but it seems the love will be relegated to the used market for a long, long time for me.

    • 0 avatar
      Hummer

      Still waiting for Honda to get with the game and come out with a new line of 2 strokes… Until then KTM will continue to be my first choice.

  • avatar
    genuineleather

    While the TLX is neither gorgeous nor an absolute bargain, I think it’s well-rounded enough to capture its fair share of buyers. Value, quality, and reliability sell Acuras, not sex appeal, outright performance, or cutting-edge tech.

    If it’s received as well as the similarly-positioned RDX, it’ll sell.

  • avatar
    Ion

    In theory the TLX should do very well considering the sales people will be shoving both the clueless TSX and TL driver’s into them.

  • avatar
    jacob_coulter

    A good friend just bought one, he went from a TL. He absolutely loves it, won’t stop talking about it, and he’s not a car guy.

    The car is impressive and he got an attractive lease deal. It’s a solid offering and it’s a lot bang for your buck, which is what Acura should be zeroing in on.

    I think the BIG mistake though was the styling, way too derivative of the previous models. At first glance, it looks like mild refresh, not a new car.

    I want to see Acura succeed, but in the past I have not been impressed with their offerings. There was a cheapness there that was apparent, I didn’t feel it was nearly as bad in other luxury makes, even from their entry level offerings.

  • avatar

    Whether you like the exterior or not, the design isn’t very ground breaking and you would be forgiven to think its already been on the market for 3 years (if not more) Imagine how boring it will look four years from now compared to the competition.

  • avatar
    RHD

    If 100 Americans chosen at random had to match the names with pictures of each Acura model, a very, very small number could actually do so. They have copied Cadillac’s naming system to their own detriment.
    Integra and Legend mean something, even if when the entire car is redesigned. Accord and Civic are as well known as Impala and Mustang.
    How about it, Acura?

    • 0 avatar
      dal20402

      Yep.

      Fix the ILX (DI 2.4 in all models, better sound deadening) and rename it “Integra.”

      Rename the RLX “Legend” after getting the SH-AWD hybrid onto the market, in volume.

      And find a new, similarly excellent name (better than “Vigor”) for the TLX.

      The MDX and RDX could use one-word names as well, with the simplicity Honda does so well in its names, but with a vague suggestion of off-road-ness. Maybe “Pathway” for the MDX.

    • 0 avatar
      turboprius

      The DX suffix scheme for the crossovers makes sense. MDX in 2001, RDX in 2007, ZDX in 2010. Starting with the ILX, Acura was going towards the LX suffix for the sedans. RLX in 2014 and now the TLX. Y’all do know that the ILX is being freshened for 2016? Hopefully it’ll become more than a “Civic Touring Elite Turbo.”

      Oh, and SX for the sporty cars, like the NSX and RSX. Almost forgot about the NSX.

    • 0 avatar
      Jacob

      Also, if 100 Americans chosen at random from among TTAC readers and asked to match Lincoln model names with the cars on pictures, the success rate would be even worse.

  • avatar
    danio3834

    I’m frankly surprised this many people actually care. Acura’s car sales are falling because they aren’t offering car buyers anything particularly substantial at the price point. Consumers aren’t stupid and realize they can get everything an Acura offers in a more mainstream model for significantly less money, or just spend a little more and get something with a badge.

    • 0 avatar
      Astigmatism

      Except this is precisely wrong. Go to TrueDelta and price out the TLX vs. the mainstream midsizers and vs. the entry-luxury Germans (and Lexus and Infiniti for that matter) and you’ll find that, equally spec’ed, the TLX is far closer in price to the midsizers than it is to the entry-luxury sedans it’s usually compared to by the car magazines. Is a 328i a nicer car than the TLX? Maybe, but is it $6k nicer? Meanwhile, I’m pretty comfortable in saying that the TLX is likely $1500 nicer than the Accord.

      • 0 avatar
        danio3834

        It’s precisely Acura’s predicatment. I agree comparable 3 series aren’t particularly nicer in any tangible way to the average buyer than a TLX, yet people will pay extra for the BMW badge in great numbers. You can get a 320i within 2k of the base price of a 4 banger TLX, even if it’s a worse value on paper. Value buyers will option up a 4 cylinder Accord to similar levels in even greater numbers and save over 2k.

    • 0 avatar
      dal20402

      “get everything an Acura offers in a more mainstream model for significantly less money”

      So a DCT, a substantial upgrade in interior materials, 24 extra horsepower, a better infotainment system, and a suspension upgrade aren’t worth $1500? If that were a $1500 option package on a four-cylinder Accord EX-L, I have a feeling you’d be all over it.

      I think you’re assuming there’s no difference between the Accord and the TLX without thinking about it.

  • avatar
    turboprius

    I wonder if Acura will consider a TLX SportWagon? But considering the failure of the TSX wagon, probably not.

  • avatar
    suspekt

    I love Honda products. I honestly do.
    My 2003 Acura CL-S 6MT is the best car I have ever owned. The one I miss the most.
    Fantastic build quality, great design inside and out, and a mechanical package of engine/transmission that was always a delight.

    But I’m tired of defending the brand. Really.

    There is 1 thing and only 1 thing they need to do. And they won’t effing do it.

    They need a CTS-V of their own. They need a 4 door beast of a car that would have rich Arab and Chinese kids lining up to purchase and modify so they can lay down 11 second 1/4 mile passes.

    The car? The TLX racer complete WITH the wide body bodywork. Stuff the HR35TT in it complete with SH-AWD.

    I know the racer is heavily modified but that’s what Acura needs. A Japanese muscle car under $100k. The NSX isn’t gonna do it for the brand.

    We need a wide body TLX Type R on the showroom floor:
    – 8 speed DCT with integrated electric motor
    – SH-AWD with bi lateral torque distribution using 2 electric motors.
    – twin turbo 3.5 or 2.8 motor
    – minimum 500hp/500tq

    Acura needs to put itself on the performance map and take a sledgehammer to a few AMG’s and M cars.

    What’s so frustrating is that they have the technology and the prowess to do it.

    But they won’t. They don’t have the effing cojones.

    And that’s why I am sick of the brand.

    • 0 avatar
      DeadWeight

      They don’t need to get that aggressive, even, IMHO.

      Here’s what I wrote in response to a ’14 RLX review by TTAC:

      Those were the good Acuras, & it’s NOT a “nostalgia thing,” either.

      In fact, Acura was the shizznit up until about 2004ish, probably peaking in ’95 to 2000, IMO. [I should have stated ’91 to 2000]

      Back then, Acura had a clean, efficient design, and was a brand with a tightly focused mission & perception: Honest, well crafted, reliable near luxury vehicles that looked great, drove well, were stress free, and represented a viable alternative to even German, rwd sedans that were far more expensive.

      Best of all, Acura of then, was LEGENDary for VIGORously sticking to an under the radar approach to quality and subtle luxury and performance that was actually original, and they created a niche of being more reliable, less ostentatious, but precise vehicles. Lexus was soft and squishy, and Acura was firm, solid yet still comfortable.

      The late 90s Legend [I should have stated early 90s Legend, also] was a textbook example of understated, tasteful quality & luxury. I loved that car, inside and out.

      Acura of today is a confused, rudderless mess, by contrast. It’s sad.

  • avatar
    piggybox

    So far I’ve seen the buyers’ reviews on Edmunds are pretty positive. Good start Acura

  • avatar
    Jerome10

    I love a great looking car as much as anyone, clean and classy and slightly flashy. But I can appreciate even a clean more boring design like the current Accord or the new Legacy.

    I too am a Honda lover. Every time I get in one there is still that little feel of magic in there that reminds me of the “good” Hondas in the 90s…

    And I suspect I’d love the TLX. Probably has a lot of good stuff, including the sensible Honda ownership experience.

    But I saw this car on Motorweek last night (hey I was in bed and needed to numb my mind) and I’m sorry, but the Beak combined with the completely boring straight-line led (or whatever they are) headlamps…. The front end is a combination of hideous and boring beyond belief. This car coming at you just has zero special about how it looks.

    And I’m sorry but style does matter… It doesn’t have to be a jag, but it does have to avoid straight up ugly. And the grill +lights on this car manage to make the Beak even worse than I thought it was in the past.

    So I don’t care if it’s better then a TL or TSX or anything else… When a car looks this bad it will never be a big seller. I predict lower sales than the old TL+TSX numbers.

    And I bet if they just tweaked styling a bit they could grab a lot more sales.

    It’s too bad.

    • 0 avatar
      oldgeek

      The car is very refined when you see it, the pictures do not do it justice! The older Acura looks like it got hit by an ugly stick and in need of a nose job. Acura did a good job with the TLX. I thought the headlights would also be a major distraction but again look very different in person.

  • avatar
    NoGoYo

    Can the TLX restore Acura’s car business?

    Well, if Betteridge’s law of headlines has anything to say about it, the answer would be no.


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