Acura May Follow Subaru With AWD-Only Product Plan

Cameron Aubernon
by Cameron Aubernon

Looking for a way to revitalize itself, Acura is considering taking a cue from Subaru by going all in on all-wheel drive.

Automotive News reports the plan is one of several backed by the brand’s Acura Business Planning Office — formed earlier this year to rethink and revitalize the brand in the United States — though nothing is set in stone thus far.

Acura boss Koichi Fukuo believes that AWD is the way to go, citing the brand’s need to offer “something different” compared to the competition. That said, premium brands like BMW and Audi already offer AWD, with 58 percent of BMWs and 90 percent of Audis so equipped.

As for taking influence from Subaru’s success with the platform, Fukuo wants to do for what he calls “Acurists” — the loyal customer base he aims to cultivate through the AWD plan — what the Pleiadian automaker has done for its “Subarists”:

Looking at Subaru, I felt that we have to have a strong, clear direction as a brand. What’s important is to have the technology, styling and performance to evolve all together. Otherwise, I don’t think we can increase the number of loyal customers, so-called Acurists.

At present, the TLX and the upcoming hybrid RLX will have the brand’s next-gen Super Handling All-Wheel-Drive system, the latter receiving the Sport Hybrid variant that will also move the second-gen NSX when the sports car leaves Ohio in 2015. The rest of the lineup will follow over the years as each model comes up for renewal and/or refreshing. Power for all will come more powerful engines, none of which will be V8s or V10s due to weight issues interfering with the performance of a given vehicle.

Cameron Aubernon
Cameron Aubernon

Seattle-based writer, blogger, and photographer for many a publication. Born in Louisville. Raised in Kansas. Where I lay my head is home.

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  • Ra_pro Ra_pro on Oct 14, 2014

    For those who insist that there is little difference and/or in any case few people care, I test drove the top-of-the-line TL a few months ago and it has distinctly FWD feel including twitchy steering wheel. Sure the sh-awd makes it handle impressively on the ice as I had the opportunity to experience but still with the FWD twitchy feeling. If somebody has driven primarily a RWD car in the last 5-10 years this is very noticeable and not in a good way. To me top-of-the-line TL, second only to RL, doesn't feel premium or luxury or sporty. It's an accountant's car, a lot of car for the money in terms of equipment and features but nothing special in any specific area, decent but polarizing exterior design, uninspired interior design with mediocre materials at best, truly ugly and unsporty steering wheel, good handling but with noticeable FWD driving experience. Why don't they just find out how Passat achieves its steering and handling feel with FWD setup and copy it if they insist on using FWD platform? Germans are often criticized for being arrogant that they insist on doing what they think is good instead of listening to what the market tells them. Well, Germans can't touch the Acura bureaucracy in terms of arrogance. The market decided a decade ago what constitutes a luxury segment in NA and it's primarily a RWD platform. Everybody understands that including their Lexus and Infinity countryman, still, Acura insists that they will not build RWD cars or a V8 engine but then are surprised that they don't have great success. But that is nolonger arrogance but stupidity.

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    • Krhodes1 Krhodes1 on Oct 15, 2014

      @S2k Chris Sporting has nothing to do with it. A non-AMG E-class or S-class doesn't have a sporting bone in its body. Nether did a Phaeton. It's still a luxury car. I would even go so far to say that the K900, Genesis, and Equus are true luxury cars, even if they are not particularly successful in this market. German helps, but the Lexus above the ES are certainly luxury cars too, as are Jaguars. Sporting is simply not a requirement. As long as the ES shares it's bones with a pedestrian Toyota, it will NOT be a luxury car. It is an alternative to a similarly priced Buick or Lincoln or Acura, for the exact same reasons that they are not luxury cars either - they are all ultimately tarted up versions of much cheaper platform mates. They are all near-luxury. A Lexus GS or LS IS a luxury car for all the same reasons an E-class or an S-class is. Lexus makes near-luxury and true luxury cars just like the Germans do. I think the definition is pretty nebulous ultimately. But I also think a definite disqualifier is being based on something cheaper. My favorite Aunt has owned a succession of ES since the first one. Nice enough cars, but not really any nicer than a loaded Buick from the past decade or so. Or for the early ES, a loaded Camry with leather. Actually, a really interesting question of the day if Derek is listening is "what makes a car a luxury car"? I'd love to read 200 comments on that one!

  • Davekaybsc Davekaybsc on Oct 15, 2014

    Acura can sell SUVs. The problem is with their cars, and its product planning and execution. It has nothing to do with FWD or RWD, and it CERTAINLY has nothing to do with V8 engines or lack thereof. Nobody buys the V8. Nobody. The ILX is a planning and execution disaster. It looks and feels like a top trim level Civic without the Blade Runner gauges. The powertrain (and NAV) limitations are RIDICULOUS. I don't know why anyone would buy an ILX. The TLX at least seems competent. It's not any nicer than a Buick Regal or a Lincoln MKZ, but its fine aside from the low-rent interior, bland styling, and stupid double screen system. You're not getting 90% of a BMW with a TLX. Don't kid yourself. You're CERTAINLY not getting 90% of a new Mercedes C300. The RLX is another planning and execution disaster. This is a car that competes with the big Buick and the MKS. Not a 5 series. Acura can't just say that and price it at $60K and think that makes it true. When you can't get two of your three cars right, it's a little easier to understand why people don't buy them. AWD has nothing to do with it.

  • S is for Supra S is for Supra on Oct 15, 2014

    Honda and Acura make boring reliable cars. It wasn't always this way but it has been for 10 years now. They are the new Toyota. I really wish we could have an RX7, Supra and something comparable from Honda. I'd love something comparable to my M3 in performance with Honda reliability. Hell make a Mustang competitor or an STI competitor or something. The NSX is all well and good but it will be a 6 figure car.

  • Ra_pro Ra_pro on Oct 15, 2014

    For me the twitchy-feeling steering in the Acura was the deal breaker. I could get over the interior which I really disliked, could see myself eventually liking the exterior but after 10 years of driving RWD cars I just couldn't imagine myself enjoying driving TL sh-awd. Now I wouldn't claim to be an average (luxury) car buyer, after all none of the people on this forum are, I dare say. It took me months and months of thinking comparing and just getting over my aversion to pricey FWD cars just to take a test drive. I wanted to like the car and enjoy driving but I didn't. I enjoyed driving Passat CC more, a car that is on paper clearly inferior to TL in most respects. So it's possible to make a FWD car feel quite close to a RWD but TL or any Acura hasn't managed to do it.