By on October 14, 2014

2012-acura-TL-SH-AWD-badge-2

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.

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114 Comments on “Acura May Follow Subaru With AWD-Only Product Plan...”


  • avatar
    thornmark

    I suspect their model would be more Audi, not Subaru.

    Subarus do so well because they are entry level awd.

    • 0 avatar
      bosozoku

      Except the title implies that all upcoming models will be AWD-only, a niche that only Subaru occupy currently. Most Audi models can still be had in non-Quattro form, which is, IMO, how it should be. The SH-AWD badge gets my attention whenever I see it, but shoehorning it in to everything from the ILX up seem like a bad idea. Leave for the flagship and premium models only, where the weight and price penalty won’t be a negative.

    • 0 avatar
      abqhudson

      AWD means different things to different car companies. I think that in the case of Acura, it’s only a figment of the imagination of the marketing department. Wheras the Subaru and audi have full time all wheel drive. It’s fraud folks.

      • 0 avatar
        Power6

        Its a completely different type of system similar to yaw inducing Lancer Evolution AYC and Audis sports rear diff. Maybe it sucks off road, who gives a $#!+.

        The problem I see is they aren’t making exciting cars with SH-AWD, or not showcasing it enough. Make a car with the dynamic sensibilities of the Lancer Evo at BMW ride and refinement level and yee-haw they could build some street cred.

        Meh I am probably wrong they should keep building boring float mobiles.I keep hearing about this NSX is it ever coming?

      • 0 avatar
        dal20402

        SH-AWD isn’t your CR-V’s Haldex. It is full time and can do some pretty neat tricks.

        • 0 avatar

          True dat. My MDX with that system hustles around way better than a huge water buffalo should….watching the readout of the system, any hard cornering puts torque to the outside rear wheel…I had a TL loaner with and without the AWD system, and the only bad thing to say is the AWD version is so good, there is no drama, ever….and the car just GOES.

  • avatar
    28-Cars-Later

    Why offer compelling product when you can just offer “something different” on US spec Hondas?

    • 0 avatar
      FreedMike

      I think there is a kind of “near / mid-level luxury” segment that Acura is chasing. It’s the same segment Lincoln (and to a lesser extent, Buick) is going after. I think it makes sense for Honda to be here. The question is whether the product will be right. We all know Honda can build excellent machines; the question is whether they can build excellent, stylish machines. That’ll dictate whether they succeed or fail here.

      • 0 avatar
        sportyaccordy

        Yea, Acura’s real issue is the styling. Only vehicle they currently sell that’s not available with AWD is the ILX. Their sales peaked in the mid noughts because the TSX & TL were drop dead gorgeous and better enough than decent to drive for a low price. It’s weird that Acura is so confused about what to do having done what worked very recently.

        • 0 avatar
          CoreyDL

          I drove a TSX several times, in different weather and on different occasions, a car which I wanted to like – and didn’t like it. The steering felt like I was pulling a dead log around the interior, and it was very determined to be on center. The ride was also quite firm, even on decent roads. And it was loud in there.

        • 0 avatar
          MLS

          The second- and third-generation TL and first-generation TSX were handsomely (if conservatively) styled, competent performers, and well priced, but far from “drop dead gorgeous.”

          • 0 avatar
            Dave M.

            I thought the 2nd gen TL and CL were both very well styled. Sure, premium Honda, but that’s ok.

            I like the ILX as well, although I’m not sure it needs AWD….

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        I see Honda as already being in that “semi-premium near luxury” segment along with Acura. I agree with your point being style as being the main difference between them.

        • 0 avatar
          CoreyDL

          I have felt for quite a while that Honda needs to make an Avalon competitor. Old people like Honda, and they buy loaded Accords – but they do NOT really buy Acuras. But they’d spend more on a bigger Accord.

          Basically what the 3.5RL was around 2000. Make that now but call it a Honda something.

          • 0 avatar
            FreedMike

            Interesting idea, but I don’t think Acura’s brand is strong enough overall to do what Toyota did with the Avalon / Lexus ES. I think the big Honda would just end up stealing Acura sales.

  • avatar
    S2k Chris

    Not the dumbest idea.

  • avatar
    FreedMike

    Probably the only sensible move, since Honda has no RWD platforms to build Acuras on.

  • avatar
    dal20402

    This would make me more likely to buy an Acura if, and only if, the “AWD” involved is SH-AWD or some other full-time system. I have no interest in the standard Haldex system they are selling on the RDX (actually, the move away from SH-AWD on the RDX helped sell me a Subaru).

    SH-AWD also is a better tool than normal Haldex AWD for convincing people that the lack of “RWD platforms” doesn’t matter.

    • 0 avatar

      SH-AWD is pretty nice. I was impressed with it on the previous-gen MDX. The current MDX is, for the first time ever, sold in 2WD and AWD forms (something BMW also did with the new X5), so Acura will have to reverse that decision and offer AWD exclusively. Or they could get creative—and greedy—and give you the Haldex system to start, and SH-AWD for a premium, if they could market that.

      I don’t think the current RDX was designed with SH-AWD in mind, and I don’t know what it would take to retrofit it. Chances are that Acura will stick with the Haldex system and then implement SH-AWD upon a redesign. The RDX is full of previous-gen Acura components anyway, so it shouldn’t be on the market in current form *that* much longer. Then again…Acura RL.

      • 0 avatar
        dal20402

        Well, the previous RDX had SH-AWD, so it’s quite possible to shove it into a CR-V platform. I think the current one with Haldex is a pure cost-cutting exercise in a very price-sensitive segment.

      • 0 avatar
        CoreyDL

        Didn’t they change the name to PAWS or something, and then cancel that and stick to SH-AWD?

        • 0 avatar

          Not quite. P-AWS (Precision All-Wheel Steer) is a system that allows the rear wheels to adjust their toe angle, and completely independent of one-another. It is actually something of a light substitute for full-on SH-AWD, which would allow the rear wheels to help steer the car by controlling the amount of power that goes to each. Thus, P-AWS is only installed on FWD vehicles.

          • 0 avatar
            CoreyDL

            Ah right. I was thinking the RLX had it when Alex reviewed it, and he said it was an unusual feeling. And that car has AWD because of the engines, but is not actually SH-AWD.

            That’s a lot of IIRC though.

          • 0 avatar

            You’re thinking of the RLX Sport Hybrid. No, it wouldn’t have had P-AWS, either, because it *is* AWD. Acura brands the RLX Sport Hybrid’s system as SH-AWD as well; it’s just that the rear wheels are supplied power by electric motors. The non-hybrid (or effectively non-AWD) RLX *does* have P-AWS, however. Ditto for the non-AWD TLX. I don’t, however, believe that P-AWS is available on the MDX. With the MDX, you get either SH-AWD or conventional FWD with minimal aids.

            Not that Acura has done anything memorable enough to make all of this worth remembering, so you’re forgiven for getting confused…

          • 0 avatar
            CoreyDL

            You’re really up on Acura (and VW)! Good job.

          • 0 avatar
            VoGo

            SH-AWD is heavy, as well as expensive, which is why Acura skipped it on the current RDX.

  • avatar
    Steve_S

    Except that Subaru’s line-up isn’t solely AWD anymore. AWD isn’t a distinguishing factor anymore as most marquee’s provide it.

    Acura’s niche is Honda reliability and a lot of features for your money. What they need are compelling designs that people want to buy.

    There is nothing in Acura’s line-up that I or my wife would be interested and she drive a Honda.

    • 0 avatar
      DeadWeight

      Thank you.

      Acura’s newest two model, if they go this route, should be named the Troashita (against the wall to see what sticks).

      It would also be something at least slightly more significant/less of a desperate grasp if their existing vehicles were rear wheel drive, instead of front wheel drive (Honda shared platforms) and/or AWD already.

      There is ally unimaginative & desperate thinking going on at Acura HQ when they are looking to Subaru’s business model to try and save them.

    • 0 avatar
      JMII

      Acura’s niche is Honda reliability and a lot of features for your money. What they need are compelling designs that people want to buy.

      Plus something that is actually “sporty”. At one point Honda made sporty cars (S2000, Prelude, Civic & CRX hatches). So since Honda has dropped this ball Acura needs to pick it up and RUN.

      AWD is quickly becoming a safety feature. If Acura goes this route then need to advertising it as sporty feature, IE: it makes the car hook up and GO! They pretty much do this now by calling their system “Super Handling” but that’s a tough sell on a soft CUV/SUV.

      • 0 avatar
        IHateCars

        Acura actually marketed SH-AWD as a performance feature on the last gen TL and it made the car a great handler. But as others have stated, the design left people cold. Acura needs to design exciting looking cars without being too weird/avant garde. I don’t disagree with the all AWD strategy as SH-AWD is that good. Just make the cars look good, bring back the “Type S” line with a bit more content and performance….they will sell.

  • avatar
    Astigmatism

    They may as well announce that the RLX hybrid and NSX will come with a flux capacitor. The nice thing about vaporware is that you never have to back it up.

  • avatar
    sportyaccordy

    Acura’s problem is design, not hardware. They need sexier exteriors and less-Hondaesque interiors. The TSX/TL were great to drive in spite of FWD- with Honda’s upcoming turbo engines Acura should have no problem offering competitive performance, even with FWD. But the RLX is painfully anonymous, and the TLX is halfway ugly. I am not sure what to make of it, in contrast to the 04-07 TSX/TLs which were immediately beautiful. That’s what Acura needs to focus on.

    • 0 avatar
      Astigmatism

      Maybe that’s what they mean by focusing on Subaru: AWD in a package as exciting as a store-brand detergent box.

      That said, I actually quite like the look of the new TLX, which looks like the first thing Acura’s done in a few years that roughly matches my third-gen TL in size and capability.

      • 0 avatar
        sgeffe

        Two schools of thought — on the one hand, just give up on Acura and let some of the quality and features filter down to the top-line Hondas, while the other one says to go a little upmarket and give a little more. Being a nicer Honda in the beginning was OK, but they need to step up their game if they want to compete with the bigger players–hell, I’d like to see the Accord Touring’s MMC with low-speed-follow Adaptive Cruise and a decent-sounding (ELS) stereo, but that stuff is left off of the top-line Hondas to avoid stealing the Acura’s thunder — or at least that’s the belief of we Honda fanbois! :-)

        I will say that the TLX seems like a good effort, and I’d actually try out the four-banger with the torque-converter-assisted DCT, as my understnading is that the 9-speed ZF-sourced (!) automatic has some of the same issues as the same unit in the Fiatsler applications. But (and I admit this is almost silly), what is with the clown-ish-looking rearview mirror in the upper-trim cars? I don’t want to see a mirror “smiling” at me every day, and I want a BEEFY mirror that shows the ENTIRE width of the back window — just like the auto-dimmer in my Accord!

  • avatar
    Volt 230

    If this is the case, then the sun belt Acura personnel should start looking for a new job, cause their numbers are gonna drop quite a bit

    • 0 avatar
      eManual

      Agreed. And they could also help the sun belt with light color interiors and more exterior colors than black, silver, and white. I would gladly pay $30-35K for such a car (with a 5MT, of course!), even if I had to special order it. Why the near lux manufacturers don’t go after the custom market is amazing.

      • 0 avatar
        dal20402

        “Why the near lux manufacturers don’t go after the custom market is amazing.”

        Because the difference in cost that allows them to undercut BMW/MB/Audi comes partly from limiting build combinations. There’s a reason BMW option pricing is the way it is.

        • 0 avatar
          krhodes1

          And yet that strategy is working SO WELL for Acura.

          The Germans price options the way they do because they can, not because they have to.

          • 0 avatar
            dal20402

            Acura’s problem isn’t its pricing strategy; it’s a combination of product mistakes and marketing.

            Limiting build combinations is a fine strategy for all sorts of car companies, including Lexus in the luxury arena. And you’ll notice that no one without super-premium pricing is using an extravagant a la carte options strategy anymore. It really is expensive.

          • 0 avatar
            golden2husky

            And part of the problem is that recent Acuras are really unattractive, even if they are mechanically competent. They also offer no real prestige, so they siphon nothing from the snot brands. Adding mandatory AWD is not a benefit for people who don’t want the handicap that AWD brings. Yeah it offers plenty of advantages but not everybody needs what it offers. Acura tends to get those who are more value conscious so they may not want all the extra weight, wear, and fuel consumption that comes with AWD. Choice is a good thing. This will do nothing to revive the brand.

    • 0 avatar
      Dave M.

      Not necessarily. Here in no-snow Houston there are plenty of AWD vehicles, especially Audis and Subarus. Sure-footed during torrential rainstorms.

      • 0 avatar
        rockets

        I agree with that. We recently drove our new Forester through torrential rainfall in the Kansas City area with ease that put many cars on the shoulder. Our next vehicle will also have AWD just because of that – it’s a great “bad weather” drivetrain, not just for snow. And if it is sporty and stylish too…

  • avatar
    Gardiner Westbound

    My Acura RL has been a fine car, let down only by substandard customer care. I really wanted RWD but the German cars are too unreliable and there wasn’t a nearby Infiniti dealer, If Acura does go AWD it has to be real AWD, like Infiniti or Subaru. Otherwise I’ll buy elsewhere next time, won’t even look at Acura.

  • avatar
    EX35

    Needs to be RWD biased or at least 50/50 split. Anything else is junk.

    • 0 avatar
      Astigmatism

      That’s why Audis are generally acknowledged as “junk,” of course.

      • 0 avatar
        EX35

        Most Audi’s are RWD-biased AWD.

        • 0 avatar
          dal20402

          That’s a recent development and no one really noticed. For most of Audi’s history their system was 50/50.

          SH-AWD, which has a slight front bias (60/40) when driving in a straight line but is full-time and can vector torque, is more than good enough.

          I agree with you that FWD-based Haldex is junk. And if you actually need AWD, RWD-based on-demand systems are junk too. They’re just a cynical selling point for northern dealers.

        • 0 avatar
          CoreyDL

          Are you sure? I thought everyone criticized Audi for being FWD-biased AWD.

          • 0 avatar
            dal20402

            “Classic” Quattro was 50/50. Some ignorant people called it “FWD-biased” because the 2WD versions of Audi products were FWD. Some slightly less ignorant people confused engine placement with drive wheels and called it “FWD-biased” because the engine was way out front. But it was 50/50.

            In recent years, two things have happened: 1) classic longitudinal Audis have gone to 60/40 rear and moved the engine back a bit, and 2) there have been a bunch of new transverse Audis (TT, A3, A1) that really are FWD-based, with crappy Haldex AWD.

    • 0 avatar
      sportyaccordy

      What % of BMW/MB/Infiniti AWD owners know what % split their AWD systems have? What % of them factored that in as a make or break factor in the buying decision?

      No, I will go as far as to say RWD is a waste of time for Acura. BMW, the makers of “the ultimate driving machine”, are moving away from selling on driving dynamics and even coming out with their own FWD cars. Luxury buyers don’t care about RWD or dynamics, for the most part. The market agrees… if it didn’t the FWD Lexus ES wouldn’t outsell everything in the luxury sedan segment but the 3 series & C Class. And again, I would bet big money 3 and ESPECIALLY C owners don’t know or give a crap about drive wheels.

      • 0 avatar
        danio3834

        Market research shows that at bout 1/3 of buyers of cars in that segment fall into the category of “Performance Lovers” who buy based on the performance specs with the rest falling between there and “Prestige Lovers” who buy for the brand. The performance buyer will pay extra for performance features including RWD, so they have a good amount of clout. Clearly enough for these carmakers to continue offering them as such for generation after generation.

        • 0 avatar
          sportyaccordy

          I think the importance of performance/ engagement is overblown in the luxury segment amongst TTAC commenters. If it weren’t, Cadillac wouldn’t be putting $8K on the hoods of ATSs. 10, 20 years ago, sure, but I seriously doubt even 1/3 of BMW 528i buyers chose their cars for their perceived dynamic prowess over something like a $15K cheaper equally equipped ES350. If they did BMW wouldn’t have handed their dynamic crown to pretty much anyone who wanted it.

  • avatar
    Jerome10

    Well hot dang why didn’t they do that already?! Genius! Acura problem solved!

    This will REALLY set Acura apart. It isn’t like customers today can get awd on any of these makes: audi BMW Cadillac Volvo Lexus infiniti Lincoln…

    Blown away by the vision here…

    • 0 avatar
      EX35

      And most of those brands offer RWD, RWD-biased, or 50/50 always on torque split.

      I for one am not paying premium car prices for some FWD-biased econocar.

      • 0 avatar
        S2k Chris

        “I for one am not paying premium car prices for some FWD-biased econocar.”

        And this is the retarded carousel we find ourselves on. Everyone wants to slag on Acura for being uncompetitive with BMW and Audi, but no one wants to talk about how Acura is $10k cheaper than BMW and Audi when equipped comparably.

        If you don’t want an Acura, fine, don’t buy one. I don’t care. But stop pretending you’re just going to go down the street and buy a much better car for the same money from someone else. Yeah, Acura is only 90% as good as BMW, but it’s for 75% the price. I personally can’t justify the difference, plus the fact that BMWs tend to grenade on themselves at or before 100k miles. If I was a “lease at $500/mo and flip every 3 years” I might feel differently. But that’s not how I manage my car expenses, and thus for me and people like me, a cheaper Acura (or Infiniti or Lexus or whatever) is a better call.

        • 0 avatar
          EX35

          I can buy a RWD Infiniti for the price of an Acura. Same with an IS and same with a Caddy ATS after generous rebates.

          • 0 avatar
            dal20402

            IS, not so much. To get an IS comparably equipped with any given TLX trim level you are paying several thousand dollars more.

            The “RWD Infiniti” in question is the dated Q40/G37. Nice car in 2007, but as of today RWD and good steering are its only selling points.

        • 0 avatar

          I think I actually did walk down the street from the Acura dealership, and ironically the FWD was a factor. Not that I care about this silly RWD obsession in the class… I bought the IS 250, which is something like 2/3 of hoursepower of Acura that we tested. But the FWD design of Acura created a large nose with a large front overhang.

          Interestingly enough, Acura addressed my unspoken complaint with a model called, IIRC, “IX” or “IL” (based on Civic). But that thing came on the market several years later.

          Prices as tested were about the same for my IS and the rejected Acura.

          I should also note that the cross-shopped Acura had significantly roomier than IS. But I’m not fat enough for that to matter.

      • 0 avatar
        bosozoku

        I’m sure Honda will miss that $0 you were otherwise going to spend. Their loss.

  • avatar
    Mandalorian

    How about finally get your stuff toghether and build a darn V8, Acura?

  • avatar
    Fred

    I did buy a TSX Sport Wagon, but more because it was a wagon than an Acura. I agree that the interior is not much different than the equivelent Honda. About all I can say is that the seats in the Acura fit me while the Accord’s don’t. Styling is nothing special, but maybe we just have too many players chasing the luxury/near luxury marke. That and the fact that many standard cars can be optioned up to be like luxury cars, in that they have leather and technology.

    • 0 avatar
      CoreyDL

      Lol I read this as “I almost did buy” and then I was like G-D gotta listen to another “almost” story.

      But then I reread, and good for you!

    • 0 avatar

      “I agree that the interior is not much different than the equivelent Honda.”

      The interior is pretty much unchanged from the European Accord Touring with which it shares its parts. But it’s got a very premium feel that our Accord is lacking, and you can’t get the European Accord here anyway. I’ve always had a soft spot for the TSX, and I’m sad to see it go.

  • avatar
    Dirk Stigler

    Truthfully, Honda’s best move at this point is probably to close down the Acura brand and roll the better products like the RDX and TLX into the Honda lineup. Ford and VW have (finally) gotten American consumers used to the idea of a $16k car and a $45k car from the same brand, and as many have noted, there’s not much distinction between Honda and Acura anyway.

    If they don’t want to do that, then they need a completely different interior idiom for Acura, and (ultimately) to migrate to RWD platforms. AWD would be a decent stopgap, but it needs to be standard across the board or else there’s no difference from any other brand with optional AWD on some models.

    And unless they are going to go to RWD, they need to accept that they’ll always be the value alternative to Audi. With the right attention to product, they could also be the sporty alternative to Lexus.

    • 0 avatar
      EX35

      This.

    • 0 avatar

      I *promise* you, most people don’t care whether or not their cars are RWD. In particular, people don’t notice the uniqueness of Audi’s longitude-engined FWD cars…

      • 0 avatar
        EX35

        This myth keeps getting thrown around that people don’t care if their premium car that costs premium money has FWD or RWD. Completely untrue. They do care how their car drives and how it looks (no excessive front overhang found in FWD cars).

        • 0 avatar
          dal20402

          I’ll buy the RWD proportions argument, because people have internalized that short overhangs are premium. But I don’t buy that the bulk of the buyers care about the difference in the driving experience. I expect that if you took 100 RWD luxocar customers (particularly of volume models like the 328i or C250) and asked them which wheels drove their cars, 85 to 90 of them would have no clue.

        • 0 avatar
          VoGo

          EX35,
          I guarantee you that more than half this board thinks your EX35 is a Rogue with leather and the FX45 is a fancy-pants Murano.

          And if front overhang is the give-away for FWD, then explain Mini.

        • 0 avatar
          sportyaccordy

          The 2G Acura Legend had a RWD look and sold in great numbers. FWD doesn’t have to look FWD. If luxury buyers had to make a top 10 list of things they care about, drive wheels (if they don’t need AWD) would probably not even be on the list. A $40K TLX is more premium than a $40K 320i any day of the week.

          • 0 avatar
            JD23

            The Legend used a longitudinal platform like most current Audis, enabling it to avoid awkward FWD proportions. All current Hondas are built on tranverse FWD platforms, so the change to longitudinal will require the development of a unique Acura platform – something that is not possible on their meager R&D budget.

          • 0 avatar
            Power6

            The longitudinal FWD platform *increases* the front overhang, look at Subaru and Audi, the whole engine is in front of the front axle line. With transverse the overhang is shorter.

            Now how did Honda do that RWD look with longitudinal FWD…gonna hafta see if the Internetz know…must have been some typical Honda clever engineering. EDIT: Yup diff was hung out front beside the engine very nice. Audi or Subaru should do that.

          • 0 avatar
            sportyaccordy

            Honda is flush with cash- look at their MotoGP operation for example. Honda has the money but they wisely don’t want to spend it and end up wasting their money like Cadillac did with the Alpha.

            They just need to continue to offer high content value and vastly improve their styling language.

          • 0 avatar
            potatobreath

            Prelude, especially final generation.

            Transverse FWD. Really long hood. Engine set back a little bit. Radiator way out in front. Apes other RWD sporty coupes.

  • avatar
    CoreyDL

    Hey SH-AWDie lemme holla at you.

    I hate their letters.

  • avatar
    stuki

    When every single of one’s competitors are handicapping 2wd versions of their cars by insisting on building them half utilized awd platforms, wouldn’t the distinguishing thing be to offer uncompromised 2wd cars to the 75% of the population who do not live where awd provides a benefit?

    Acura used to try passing themselves off as kind of a “thinking man’s” indulgence. Determining after much contemplation, that one needs awd now that one has moved up into those treacherous hills (you know, the Beverly ones), is hardly a sign of much thought.

    Instead of stampeding into lemmingitis with the rest of them, I’d suggest dusting off the motivations behind the old Prelude, and make fwd the best it can absolutely be. Then pass 75% of the weight and ride height savings on to handling and interior room, with the rest going to better sound isolation.

    • 0 avatar
      dal20402

      How are 2wd versions of any car from anyone except Audi or Subaru (which no longer has any 2wd versions in its mainstream line) handicapped?

      For either FWD or RWD products, the AWD version’s packaging is the same as any other FWD car. Out of the entire universe of FWD cars I think only the Honda Fit actually has a flat floor without a tunnel. Every other FWD car has a tunnel which usually holds the exhaust if there is no AWD hardware. With RWD you always have the tunnel and the way-back engine placement whether there is an AWD system or not.

  • avatar
    genuineleather

    Acura’s biggest selling points are value, economy, and reliability, so they’re going to make something that adds weight, complexity, and cost mandatory for every vehicle they make?

    Brilliant. I’ve always wanted a heavier, more expensive Acura with worse mileage!

  • avatar
    jrasero23

    I like this game plan. It’s true America has a thing for AWD whether you be on the West Coast East Cost or in between. Audi in the earliest went through some really painful times in America but look at them now. They really pride themselves on their Quattro system, but before Acura pushes for all AWD they need a car that sets the bar, NSX where art thou?

  • avatar
    calgarytek

    AWD, and it’s associated weight penalty. Wow. Um, well, why u no has, FRONT DOUBLE WISHBONES?!

    Audi has it too, and with dual upper and lower ball joints in their A4’s…

    Seriously, has Honda gone completely stupid?! I’d buy an ILX right now if it had front double wishbones.

    • 0 avatar
      dal20402

      Honda looked at E36 and E46 BMWs, saw they handle very well, and realized that front double wishbones and their cost and packaging difficulty were completely unnecessary in a world where airbags force your cowl to be high anyway.

    • 0 avatar

      I don’t quite understand that interest with the double-A design. I had a car with that arrangement, its wheel fell off when my wife was leaving a parking lot. Good thing she didn’t reach the freeway when that happened.

      Seriously though, there’s no disadvantage to a strut+A (McPherson) at all, unless it’s a single-seater racecar.

      • 0 avatar
        calgarytek

        @Pete:
        Watch this:
        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ftf3KYHTOYU
        Title:SLA Suspension vs MacPherson Strut
        By: agent47racing

        …and picture that on a front wheel drive car. Trying to steer and pull at the same time. Well, I’d have the best suspension for those wheels money can buy. One lower control arm + Macstruts don’t do it.

        Nothing is more important in a front wheel drive car than front double wishbones. When it comes to Acura wanting to make AWD standard, I wonder if they truly want to take a good brand and make it suck as much as people who like lower control arm + mac strut setups. (sorry).

        • 0 avatar
          potatobreath

          Civic had dual A-arms until 2000, but I read the handling on the strut-type Civic that followed was better through suspension tuning.

          Renault and Ford also tame torque steer with interesting strut designs that decouple the steering axis from the strut (PerfoHub, RevoKnuckle). This allows the steering or kingpin offset to be reduced, eliminating torque steer without transmitting excessive shock to the body.

          Maybe evolved Mac struts can do the trick for Honda.

  • avatar
    George B

    I believe that it would be a huge mistake for Acura to make AWD mandatory. I didn’t even test drive a Subaru because I didn’t want the cost, weight, matched set of tires requirement, and fuel economy penalty of AWD. Here in Texas the overwhelming majority of passenger cars, pickup trucks, SUVs, and CUVs only have one set of drive wheels. Acura is correct to offer AWD as an option, but don’t force sunbelt customers to buy the extra hardware.

  • avatar
    wmba

    Double A-arms were a bit of a conceit with old Honda/Acura models, considering that total wheel travel was often less than 5 inches.

    SH-AWD has only an electronically controlled multiplate clutch as a center “differential” much like Subaru’s cheapy MPT that is currently in use in all their models (even the Forester XT), except the CVT transmissioned WRX and 3.6/ H6 models. The good news for Subaru buyers in future is that this better epicyclic differential with limited-slip clutch they call VTD is apparently going in all models in the next few years. The old MPT has been around since the 1980s undergoing its one major upgrade for the ’98/99 model years when it went from default 90/10 to 60/40 torque split in normal running.

    New SH-AWD in its latest incarnation in the TLX attempts to overcome its lack of center diff by driving the rear wheels in a 90/10 split by overdriving the rear wheels by 1.7% and slipping the clutch in normal driving. Its claim to fame is side to side torque vectoring by selectively overdriving the outside rear wheel in a corner – according to the TLX brochure in front of me.

    Honda engines are out of date with variable valve timing in only two discrete steps, normal and VTEC. Also, all Civic engines and the V6 are Single overhead cam. Everyone else has dual overhead cam and variable cam phasers.

    So the company has to buck up mechanically. Styling? Who knows what passes through the minds of Japanese designers these days anyway. Must be no Tums available.

    Acura has to come up with a better idea than going AWD as a unique selling proposition. They have to acknowledge their shortcomings first. This Acura “Committee” has got precisely nowhere, just as I predicted. Far too hidebound a corporate culture, so risk averse it’s almost criminal. No sign of fun, just dour bureaucracy and no upsetting Mr.Toko-san upstairs because he was hidebound 10 or 15 years ago.

    • 0 avatar
      Power6

      This AWD madness has to stop…center diff don’t matter. When you have an active clutch system like the MPT it is dependent not on some physical properties like those of a diff, power application is completely programmable. Any issue with the “power split” is with the programmer of the system. One only has to point to the Lancer Evolution as an example, it used exactly the same type of system with no center diff, sending most power to the front wheels and engaging lock on a proactive as needed basis, to great handling effect. In fact this type of system is better in many ways than say the typical manual trans versions of Subarus which have viscous center diff, which are reactive rather than proactive. Viscous LSD needs wheelspin so first you must lose traction then engage the viscous action. Proactive MPT locks the clutch up when you accelerate. The problem is those with a little bit of knowledge but not enough do not understand what “power split” even means it is a dubious term at best. If you don’t understand the difference between a locked clutch pack “50-50” power distribution and a an open/reactive diff at a normally 50-50 split, well I can’t help ya there need some physics lessons.

      The Nissan GT-R and Porsche 911 Turbo also dispense with a center diff in favor of “cheapy” multi-plate clutch packs. I’ll take active over passive any day.

      We have an Outback XT with the 5 spd auto, supposedly the holy grail of AWD, the VTD system: center planetary diff split 45/55 f/r normal and it has an electronic clutch pack as well for proactive LSD. in practice it doesn’t really work any different in slippery or grippy situations that my sisters lesser Outback with the old MPT. Both lock up the clutch a bit when you accelerate, the presence of a diff matters little in that situation.

      Geeking out over minor details is fun, but lets not fool ourselves these things don’t matter much at all in practice. The secret sauce of the SH-AWD is not off-road worthy lock up. Its the rear diff that overdrives the outside wheel like Mitsu AYC and the Audi Sports diff. It is a handling system. I’m not even sure over driving the rear wheels is a great idea at all in the snow, maybe for very brief periods. Only the RL had the ability to disengage/vary the overdrive all the other versions are fixed.

  • avatar
    Hummer

    Sounds like Acura just wants a get out of jail card for not building a RWD car.

  • avatar
    ra_pro

    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.

    • 0 avatar
      dal20402

      “The market decided a decade ago what constitutes a luxury segment in NA and it’s primarily a RWD platform.”

      Tell that to the Lexus ES, which is the best-selling midsize luxury car in existence.

      Or tell that to the scads of FWD-based luxury CUVs out there, one of the best-selling of which is Acura’s own MDX.

      People like RWD proportions and styling on sedans and coupes. With the exception of a few performance-minded buyers, who aren’t buying V6 cars focused on packaging anyway, they don’t care about actual RWD one bit.

      • 0 avatar
        krhodes1

        @dal20402

        The Lexus ES is not a luxury car. It is a near-luxury premium car, just like Acura, Volvo, Lincoln, Cadillac, and Buick. For all intents and purposes it was the top trim level of the Camry, until the latest, which is an Avalon for more money with more ugly.

        The actual Lexus luxury competitors are SURPRISE, all RWD or RWD-based AWD. RWD makes a difference in feel that is not all that subtle. Whether the driver realizes that is why it feels different is a different thing entirely.

        Note – I think FWD is entirely appropriate at the near lux level. It can be made to work just fine, and certainly is not Acuras problem, IMHO. Their problem is their cars look like, feel like, and drive like Hondas for much more money. Exact same problem Lincoln has more or less.

        • 0 avatar
          S2k Chris

          “The Lexus ES is not a luxury car.”

          I think that we’ve come off the rails a little bit. The current paradigm is that a “luxury car” is a German sports sedan. And if that’s the yardstick you use, anything FWD or less than performance oriented falls short. And I think that that’s incorrect. The ES truly is a luxury car, with no sporting pretensions at all.

          My mom rently went to replace her 2008 ES350, loaded to the gills. I pushed her to look at the GS, and she asked why. I honestly couldn’t come up with a good reason that wasn’t related to it being sportier, about which my mom doesn’t care at all. I pointed out it was RWD, and her reply was “so it’s more expensive and worse in the snow?” (She lives in CT). I then pointed out she could get AWD, and she pointed out that was even more expensive whe the FWD worked fine in the first place. I honestly didn’t have a good response. She bought a 2013 ES.

          • 0 avatar
            krhodes1

            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!

  • avatar
    Davekaybsc

    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.

  • avatar
    Steve_S

    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.

  • avatar
    ra_pro

    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.

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