By on March 30, 2017

2017 Acura TLX – Image: Acura

The Acura TLX did not start poorly. When the TL/TSX replacement arrived nearly three years ago, we asked whether the TLX could restore Acura’s car business. First month results were strong.

The next month, the TLX’s early results suggested that, by Acura standards, the core Acura sedan might be a hit.

The Acura TLX then produced some very impressive results in just its third month of availability. In fact, so great were those results, when nearly 5,000 TLXs were sold in October 2014, that Acura has only exceeded that total once in the 28 months since. Instead, TLX sales have rapidly declined, sliding 5 percent in 2015’s fourth-quarter, plunging 21 percent in calendar year 2016, and falling 19 percent so far this year. TLX sales have declined in 14 of the last 16 months, year-over-year.

But 2017’s New York International Auto Show will host the reveal of a refreshed, facelifted Acura TLX next month. Acura says the TLX will feature “a design direction that has already successfully influenced the styling of the 2017 Acura MDX.”

U.S. sales of Acura’s car sales are down 27 percent this year. The Acura brand is down 13 percent. The loss of more than 1,000 TLX sales in just two months is a big factor in the brand’s decline.

Is a refreshed Acura TLX way too little, way too late?

Quick, spacious, and handsomely equipped, the TLX can be had with different engines and transmissions as well as front- or all-wheel drive. Compared with premium rivals, the TLX is affordable, as well. Priced from $32,950, the TLX’s base sticker is thousands of dollars cheaper than the price of top-selling German rivals.

Refreshed 2018 Acura TLX grille - Image: Acura

Plus, while as bland as plain rice, the Acura TLX was never incompetent. It handles well, rides very well, and is reasonably efficient. True, the shifter can be annoying and it’s not a particularly aggressive sports sedan. But on paper, this is far from a bad car.

If only the TLX didn’t feel like a very expensive Honda, perhaps we’d have a winner.

And there’s very little Acura can do with a thorough refresh to turn the idea of an Acura TLX into a more prestigious notion.

With crossovers now accounting for seven out of every ten Acura sales, will a refreshed 2018 Acura TLX be enough to get Acura back on the entry luxury map, or is a refresh way too little, way too late?

Timothy Cain is the founder of GoodCarBadCar.net, which obsesses over the free and frequent publication of U.S. and Canadian auto sales figures. Follow on Twitter @goodcarbadcar and on Facebook.

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103 Comments on “QOTD: Is the Acura TLX’s Facelift Too Little Too Late?...”


  • avatar
    JimZ

    “If only the TLX didn’t feel like a very expensive Honda, perhaps we’d have a winner.”

    this is Acura’s problem, right here. What’s the “why buy” for a TLX over an Accord?

    • 0 avatar
      MrGrieves

      Probably for the Acura dealer / service experience, if that’s something a buyer cares about. Vastly better customer treatment than the typical “Get ’em in, empty wallet, get ’em out” Honda dealer. At least that’s my experience, anyway. With Acura it’s “Get ’em in like a valued customer, empty wallet, make sure they are happy and then politely get ’em out.”

      But that’s just my take on it… YMMV.

      • 0 avatar
        jalop1991

        “Probably for the Acura dealer / service experience, if that’s something a buyer cares about. Vastly better customer treatment than the typical “Get ’em in, empty wallet, get ’em out” Honda dealer.”

        Yeah, not around here.

        My nearest Acura dealer could have Kurt Russell on staff.

        We bought my father a car; two months later, had the saleswoman shouting at me across the lot about “why did you give me such low survey marks, that really hurt me!” I was very happy to give her all ones, and explained why.

        I didn’t want to buy the car from them. I was overrided. It wasn’t long before everyone realized I knew what I was talking about.

        Why buy an Acura indeed. Well, it’s because Honda has figured out how to stretch the models and features into a line THAT much longer. Toyota does it, too. Want leather? The Lexus dealer is across the street.

    • 0 avatar
      SWA737

      Exactly.

      I’ve owned 3 Acura’s over the years, the last being an ’05 RSX-S that I’ll probably keep forever. I think that was about the time Acura abandoned the enthusiast market in favor of the upper middle class soccer mom market.

      There’s nothing wrong with selling nice CUV’s to nice soccer moms to drive back and forth between their nice houses in their nice gated communities and their kids’ nice school and the nice shopping mall. It’s all very nice….

      Sure make me miss the Acura of old, though. They might as well just admit what they’ve become and drop the “sport” sedans from the lineup entirely.

    • 0 avatar
      duffman13

      On the surface it’s not as bad as it looks from a value standpoint if you consider the Acura badge to be worth maybe $2k.

      I looked up the standard features, here is what you get in a base TLX over a Accord EX-L for the extra $3k:
      LED Headlights
      P-AWS
      8-speed DCT instead of CVT
      20 extra HP from a motor with real big-cam VTEC that revs

      And the downsides:
      No carplay/AA, though it’s probably coming soon
      Pleather instead of leather
      drinks 91+ octane

      Overall it’s not bad a set of trade-offs, and considering the dealer/service experience of the Acura over the Honda you can definitely make an argument that the extra money is worth it. Given the hate for CVTs here, I’d think the fun VTEC and DCT would make the case themselves.

      Then we get to the place where the TLX has a huge problem: Honda Sensing exists. The suite of features included for an extra $1k on any trim accord are sprinkled throughout two extra trim levels on the TLX that are $3k and $4k. This makes a much bigger difference to most buyers than the badge.

      Also worth noting, Nav is also only an extra $1k on the Accord. It is really not necessary due to carplay/AA, but it does matter if we’re going feature for feature for the dollar.

      • 0 avatar
        sportyaccordy

        Exactly. A similar argument could be made for why anyone would get an Accord EX-L over an LX. Some people just want more, and at least with Honda/Acura you are getting your money’s worth. AA/Carplay and real leather are easy fixes too.

        Dumping on Acura is up with other tired baseless tropes like blaming C4C for high used car prices and decreeing that crossovers should be outlawed and replaced with small manual diesel wagons. B&B needs to have some more original ideas/opinions… sometimes this place sounds like Jalopnik Lite.

        • 0 avatar
          JimZ

          “Dumping on Acura is up with other tired baseless tropes”

          Acura’s sales woes are hardly “baseless.”

          • 0 avatar
            sportyaccordy

            Acura’s sales woes have nothing to do with the tired baseless tropes people dump on them for. The Integra was beloved in its day and was nothing more than a nicer Civic. The 1G TSX was literally a European Accord and nobody complains about it… the same chowderheads praise it. The MDX has sold well in spite of the beak.

          • 0 avatar
            FreedMike

            Why has the MDX sold well?

            Why does Buick sell so many of those horrid Encores?

            How does VW sell that ancient Tiguan?

            Because…CUV. No other reason.

          • 0 avatar
            sportyaccordy

            The MDX was the 3rd best selling midsize luxury CUV in the US last year, and it outsold ALL the compact luxury SUVs as well. Clearly there is something more to it than just being a CUV…. by this logic there would be no failures or sales contractions in this realm, and yet there are.

          • 0 avatar
            FreedMike

            True, and the fact that this car has developed a loyal following in the 15 years or so it has been on the market speaks well for it.

            But a MDX also looks, feels and drives nothing like the Honda Pilot it’s based on. It’s far more “premium.”

            I think you inadvertently proved my point.

        • 0 avatar
          George B

          sportyaccordy, the 2004-2008 Acura TL offered a larger V6 engine not available in the equivalent 7th generation Accord plus the TL just looked significantly more expensive. The current Acura TLX has a harder time separating itself from the current Accord because Honda added the Touring trim level, there’s no engine displacement advantage, and the curved character lines on the TLX look too much like something Nissan would offer with zero down. On top of this, the transmission in the V6 Accord Touring is easier to live with day-to-day than the slow to downshift ZF 9HP.

      • 0 avatar
        JimZ

        “LED Headlights
        P-AWS
        8-speed DCT instead of CVT
        20 extra HP from a motor with real big-cam VTEC that revs”

        who among your average car buyer gives a rip (or even knows) about any of that?

        • 0 avatar
          duffman13

          Probably none of them. PAWS and the transmission difference probably have 0 meaning to 99% of customers. The only thing that really makes a difference to them would be the 20hp extra listed in the brochure, though they certainly wouldn’t care how it was produced.

          LED headlights is a selling feature to some though, especially considering how bad the standard halogens are on most vehicles. The accord also lacks a high-end lighting option on any trim below Touring. As someone who has used/owned most types of headlight options and drives to/from work in the dark for 75% of the year, I will happily buy whatever the best lighting option is.

          • 0 avatar
            kngofrandomspam

            As per IIHS, the base Accord headlights actually provide better illumination than the LEDs.

          • 0 avatar
            George B

            duffman13, the horsepower advantage of the TLX is offset by more mass. The higher compression ratio of the TLX engine requires premium gasoline.

        • 0 avatar
          sportyaccordy

          The average buyer doesn’t care about anything luxury cars have to offer, which is why none of the top selling cars are luxury cars.

          • 0 avatar
            whynot

            None of the top selling cares are luxury cars because they are too expensive. That doesn’t mean your average buyer doesn’t care about anything luxury cars have to offer. They do, or else automakers wouldn’t have success when former luxury car only features trickle down into the cheap models (i.e. heated seats).

            Most people can’t afford or justify spending luxury car prices however.

          • 0 avatar
            John-95_Taurus_3.0_AX4N

            Right, and everyone hates the Rolls Phantom, which is why it sells so poorly against the Fiesta. That means the Fiesta is the better car, right? Because people don’t care about luxury, nothing to do with how much it costs vs. how much they can afford.

            That’s the kind of logic that gave us a choice between a loud-mouthed idiot and a career criminal for President.

      • 0 avatar
        tonycd

        Completely serious question:

        Before, Acura had two midsize sedans: the more popular, bigger and better TL, and the smaller and cheaper TSX. Then they replaced both with the TLX. Other than a power upgrade, does anybody really believe the TLX is a significantly better car than the old TSX was?

    • 0 avatar
      sportyaccordy

      It’s a nicer car all around for not much more money. IMO it looks a lot better than the Accord too, which matters. It’s also great value compared to something like a 3 series.

      • 0 avatar
        JimZ

        “It’s a nicer car all around”

        Is it really, though? other than a few pieces of fake (looking) wood, the interior design language isn’t really all that dissimilar between the Accord and TLX.

        • 0 avatar
          sportyaccordy

          There is more to a car being nicer than the interior design language.

        • 0 avatar
          tonycd

          For my money, the Accord Touring looks nicer and more expensive than the TLX. It has real rear-seat room like a proper sedan, which is unavailable on the TLX at any price – I was shocked at how inadequate the latter’s was. The Accord has enough power in either I4 or V6 trims to make a power upgrade unnecessary, and although the CVT is annoying enough to make a real transmission an enticing upgrade, reportedly the TLX’s shifting is so annoying as to negate the advantage. And the wood on the TLX is in fact always fake, just like its base model’s leather.

          I couldn’t imagine myself buying a TLX. And I own an Acura. What chance do they have with other buyers?

          • 0 avatar
            Strippo

            V6 Accords come sans CVT, and Touring models are selling for $30K. I can do without the Acura dealership experience.

    • 0 avatar
      FreedMike

      Well…the Honda “dealer experience” was first rate when I shopped two of them last fall for my new car, but let’s assume Acura really is an upgrade in this regard.

      To me, a better “dealer experience” is worth a couple hundred bucks, at most. Meanwhile, Acuras cost thousands of dollars more than the Hondas they’re rather obviously based on.

      Yes, you do get a bit more in a TLX than a comparable Accord, and the price difference is around three grand, which isn’t ridiculous. But to me, that seems to argue for the Accord. The TLX doesn’t offer any compelling, must-buy factors.

      • 0 avatar
        duffman13

        Dealer experience means different things to different people. I don’t care about what it is like in the showroom ie how much the sales manager makes me feel special, but I do care when I bring the car back in for service. prompt appointments and loaner availability so I’m inconvenienced the least amount are paramount here.

        Hondas tend to be volume sellers and getting a service appointment takes forever. When I owned an Acura, I was able to get a service appointment with loaner in under a week’s notice. It makes it worthwhile to take it in for something as simple as an oil change or tire rotation. Compare that to a volume brand I would go to a local garage because I wasn’t getting that treatment unless I had a major failure under warranty for the most part.

        • 0 avatar
          Kyree S. Williams

          The local BMW dealer—which, might I add, is part of the same sh*tty chain where I bought the Lincoln—had excellent dealer service whenever I brought in the X5. They normally had a loaner on offer with one or two days’ notice. Sometimes I drove the loaners; other times, when I had access to the Golf SportWagen and hadn’t loaned it out to someone, I told them I didn’t need a loaner if they could just shuttle me to / from the dealer.

        • 0 avatar
          cgjeep

          My local Honda dealer has a quick lube for oil changes with extended hours, even Sundays. In about 30 minutes they change oil and run it through car wash. For about $30. No appointment needed. Hard to beat it

    • 0 avatar
      hgrunt

      I think “feels like an expensive Honda” can work both ways. If someone likes their Honda Accord a lot, they might think “I wish I could get this car but just a little nicer,” and Acura delivers.

  • avatar
    Daniel J

    I lost all interest in Acura once they got rid of the TSX Wagon.

    • 0 avatar
      sportyaccordy

      Your “interest” sure meant a lot in its cancellation.

    • 0 avatar
      FreedMike

      I lost all interest in Acura around 20 years ago.

      • 0 avatar
        duffman13

        So right after the 97 Type-R came out in the middle of their heyday?

        • 0 avatar
          sportyaccordy

          Yea, the groupthink descending on Acura is reaching an insufferable fever pitch.

          • 0 avatar
            FreedMike

            Since Honda began moving truly upmarket around 20 years ago, there just hasn’t been any truly compelling reason to buy Acuras. So…if Acura wants to stop the groupthink, maybe it should produce some distinct vehicles that are truly a break from everyday Hondas.

          • 0 avatar
            sportyaccordy

            How exactly did Honda move “truly upmarket” 20 years ago?

            And what is Acura doing so wrong that Toyota isn’t with their best selling RX and ES?

            The only real dings against Acura are wholly subjective- the brand means nothing to most people (see: South Park Satan Birthday episode), which is really all ANY luxury car can hang its hat on these days. You ding the TLX for not being nice enough to justify purchasing over a loaded Accord…. OK, what’s the justification of a 328i or anything of the sort over a loaded Accord? I had a $50K 328i rental and it didn’t even have a back up camera.

            In the luxury realm they offer crazy value- a TLX is just as luxurious and well equipped as an IS or 3 series costing 40-50% more, while being a class up in size. For luxury shoppers who don’t care about driving dynamics, which is like 99% of the market, RWD is irrelevant. I’m really just not seeing what Acura is getting so objectively wrong that everyone else in the luxury realm is getting right, which is why all the dumping on it just sounds like lazy groupthink to me.

          • 0 avatar
            FreedMike

            “How exactly did Honda move “truly upmarket” 20 years ago?”

            Simple – they began offering luxury versions of the Accord in the mid-’90s, with V-6 engines, leather heated seats, automatic climate control, power everything, premium sound systems, sunroofs, even navigation as time went on. For the record, that’s basically the same equipment you could get on Acuras of that time period. By the mid-’00s you could get a Civic loaded up with the same stuff (sans V-6, of course).

            Now, if Acura had gone on some kind of upgrade spree, and maybe switched to a different platform (RWD, maybe), or perhaps even trying the same platform models with super-premium luxury interiors, versus continuing to base their sedan line on mildly updated Accords, maybe they’d have been able to compete with the likes of Mercedes. But they didn’t. Instead they now compete with their own top of the line Honda models.

            “OK, what’s the justification of a 328i or anything of the sort over a loaded Accord?”

            As you say, it’s subjective, and it’s not entirely logical. I’m sure a 328 is going to have all kinds of dynamic advantages over an Accord V-6, if you’re interested in that.

            But that misses the point. BMW doesn’t have a mass-market line that it bases its’ expensive models on, does it? Acura does. And that’s the problem – consumers associate Acura with Honda, but BMW is only associated with BMW, which has always been an expensive, upscale brand. Again, that’s subjective, but that’s how marketing works, isn’t it?

            I don’t think Acura’s failure to appeal to luxury sedan buyers is groupthink at all. There are perfectly logical reasons to pass on an Acura if that’s the market you’re in, and one of them is the certain knowledge that your Acura is based on a far less expensive family sedan that shows up in every fourth driveway in your neighborhood.

            My suggestion for Acura would be to go the path Audi took. If you have to base your sedans on mass market sedans, then OK. Make them truly different and better. Give them unique styling. If you’re going to sell performance, as Acura wants to do, then don’t put warmed-over Accord engines in your performance sedans – supercharge them like Audi does (Lord knows if anyone can make a great engine, it’s Honda). Then add beautiful, luxurious interiors in them, like Audi does. And then you can get away with what Audi’s doing.

          • 0 avatar
            markf

            “Yea, the groupthink descending on Acura is reaching an insufferable fever pitch.”

            Agree, the group think on almost every column by the same 4 or 5 folks is insufferable…..

          • 0 avatar
            sportyaccordy

            Honda has offered premium versions of the Accord since ’89 in the SE trim. Only thing the ’89 SE didn’t have that the Legend did was the V6. The Prelude got pretty premium too, and EX/Si trims of the ~88 and up Civics were not far off from Integras at the time. The notion of a premium Honda is almost 30 years old; the only difference now is their presence/availability is visible and able to be discussed and dissected on the internet.

            I doubt most Acura buyers know the brand is associated with Honda to be honest.

            As for the comparison with the 3er, there’s no need for BMW to have economy car roots (though that’s coming) to see that the 3er is no nicer inside than an Accord LX, or more importantly a TLX which people will actually be cross shopping against it.

            Performance doesn’t really matter anymore. Acuras are quick enough. What Acura (and all luxury brands) need to do is double down on style and “occasion”. I cross shopped the previous Genesis against my G37 and I ultimately went with the G…. but one thing the Genesis gets 100000% right that brands like Acura and Infiniti don’t, at least for the same money, is the sense of luxury. The interior looks simple in pictures, but in person it felt sumptuous and elegant. The car drove like something Germany would charge 2x as much money for. It just FELT luxurious. Way more than any Accord. That’s what they need to do. I think they can do it even with the Accord platform. It just comes down to design choices.

    • 0 avatar
      Fred

      Curious, because my interest in Acura has increased since I got the wagon.

      • 0 avatar
        WheelMcCoy

        Curiouser, because my interest in Acura has decreased since I got the 2012 wagon. I think the TSX Wagon is the last in a line of good to great classic Honda/Acura vehicles.

        The disappointment in Acura (sedans) is not unjustified and my next vehicle probably won’t be an Acura. My first Acura was the 1987 5 door Integra, so the wagon makes a fitting bookend.

  • avatar
    RedRocket

    No mention of the awful transmissions? Poor value proposition aside, this is the car’s biggest problem.

    • 0 avatar
      Kyree S. Williams

      I heard the 4-cylinder / DCT combo was a gem; it’s the V6 / 9-speed combo that everyone complains about.

      • 0 avatar
        kngofrandomspam

        Unfortunately, the DCT seems to be having quite a few issues in the ILX and TLX, owing to its dry clutch design.

      • 0 avatar
        Nellakwah

        The DCT + 4 cyl is genuinely a good combo, responsive, fun to drive in sport mode – wish the V6 had that pairing. Or, just stick with what works and use the six speed auto on the V6 instead of the 9 speed. It’s those types of things where Acura misses the mark – technology for technology’s sake.

  • avatar

    Lexus sales after they launched their “Predator” grille didn’t seem to fall off a cliff. Like most people on the BB, I think Acura’s problems have more to do with their product line than the styling of their front end.

    • 0 avatar
      duffman13

      I think it’s twofold. You need to look at the timing of the shield/beak/canopener as well. Acura was doing as well as they ever had in the mid-00s with multiple well-liked cars save for the RL. The TL was a paragon of FWD driving, the TSX was everything right with old Honda (6mt double wishbone fun), and the RSX was a great successor to the Integra. The MDX was well-liked in the soccer mom crowd as well.

      Then the beak happened. Simultaneously, 2008 and the carpocalypse happened. What was the first thing to go? Less attractive luxury cars. I think from that point it compounds on itself: the two combined for a significant loss in volume, and in that segment less visibility means less people think about buying it, leading to less overall sales. I feel like in that sense they never recovered.

      Add in a somewhat resurgent Buick in the past couple years and they’re hurting.

    • 0 avatar
      FreedMike

      Know what really hurt Acura? It was moving Honda upmarket.

      When Acura began, you couldn’t buy a Honda with luxury toys like leather heated seats, V-6 engines, etc, so there was differentiation between the two lines. That changed around 20 years ago. Now, you can buy an Accord, Civic or CR-V with pretty much every luxury feature you can get on an Acura, for a few grand less. So…given that, and the fact that Acuras are still barely-disguised Hondas, what’s the point in spending more?

      • 0 avatar
        Arthur Dailey

        Mike is correct. When Acura was founded/introduced you could not get factory A.C. in a Honda.

        • 0 avatar
          bumpy ii

          True so far as it goes, but the “plainness” of Hondas was a result of import quotas and tariffs in the ’80s. AC, sunroofs, and alloy wheels were typically installed by the dealers after the cars had landed. Acura was started to get around the comparatively low import quotas for regular Hondas.

          • 0 avatar
            FreedMike

            Good point, bumpy, but I think the point is that Acura never really “grew” as a brand over the years. They started off by selling improved Hondas, and that’s what they’re still selling now.

      • 0 avatar
        sportyaccordy

        This is hardly unique to Honda. The whole market has done this. You can get heated rear leather seats in an Elantra… that doesn’t make it a Genesis. Hell a loaded Fiesta has more feature content than an S Class from the 80s… again though, one is a luxury car while the other isn’t.

        Everything really comes down to branding in the luxury realm and that’s where Acura dun goofed. They killed a lot of good will when they killed off the Legend and Integra (the latter of which was exactly the kind of warmed over Honda you claim they shouldn’t be selling), and they went way too conservative and low end when the Yen bubble popped in the 90s. But beyond that, something like a TLX is no worse a value or any “lazier” a rebadge than the perpetually successful ES for example. I think claims of Acura’s incompetence and lack of differentiation are overblown.

        • 0 avatar
          FreedMike

          All true, but have you looked at a Lexus ES? There’s a reason why it has been a success – it looks, drives, and feels like an honest-to-God luxury car. The interior is gorgeous. I’d buy it over the Avalon it’s based on.

          But the TLX, from what I know of it, looks, drives and feels like a more-expensive Accord. That’s a compliment to the Accord, of course. But it also explains why no one buys the TLX.

      • 0 avatar
        Corey Lewis

        This, Honda’s higher trims is what’s hurt Acura for a long time.

        I suspect Chevrolet and Ford are creating this issue for themselves presently, with the Premier (Chevy) and Platinum (Ford) trims above the LTZ and Titanium previous highest trims.

        • 0 avatar
          FreedMike

          …which wouldn’t have been a problem if Acura had done something similar to what Audi did, which was building vehicles based on VW platforms with bespoke styling, interiors, engines, AWD, etc.

          (Yes, I know the A4 and A3 engines are right out of VWs. But a) they’re great engines to begin with, and b) they’re upscale as hell, so no one ever confuses either car with a Golf.)

          It’s just too darn easy to confuse a TLX with an Accord EX with leather.

  • avatar
    AK

    The goofy shield grill is far from the TLX’s biggest problem these days. The new front end design isn’t much of an improvement.

    Fix the transmission, upgrade the interior materials and do something sensible with the infotainment and you’ll have a much more compelling car.

  • avatar
    icarus_

    I wanted to like the TLX, I really did. I was always a fan of the prior 2 gen Tl’s…. and almost purchased a Tl SH-AWD manual once. Which was a fantastic car!

    Then the TLX was announced and I decided to wait on a car purchase to check it out in person, took my wife’s RDX into the shop once and got the TLX as a loaner when they first released.

    Exterior was fine, but bland. Interior was much worse than the old TL in my opinion, in style and function (that 2 touch screen layout is a mess). Worst of all, it really drive like crap, the transmission was slow and always hunting for the right gear, ton’s of body roll, and didn’t feel quick for the power it had. I drove it for a full day, and came away sad (and VERY sure I did not want to own this car, went and bought a WRX instead)… like many of us I miss the old Acura.

    Our 2007 RDX is still going strong, and aside from old school turbo lag it is fantastic to drive for a suv. But at this point it will be our last Acura. Even 10-15 years ago they had a few cars that I really liked, now it’s nearing zero. :(

  • avatar
    dukeisduke

    Acura as a brand could disappear today, and I wouldn’t miss them. Their tone deaf marketing doesn’t help.

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      I’d like to lose them, Mitsubishi, Fiat, Mazda, VWNA, and convert all KIAs to Hyundais.

      • 0 avatar
        icarus_

        +1 (except can we keep Mazda and drop Buick?)

        • 0 avatar
          28-Cars-Later

          Only if Mazda demonstrates a compelling product reason to exist.

          • 0 avatar
            stuki

            So being about the best driving “regular” (non GTI, ST, Si) cars on the roads; and increasingly the only ones not over enamored with stuffing up their engines with vacuum cleaners and their drivelines with slush dispensers, is not enough? No “new” sedan is going to drive like an E36, but Mazda is at least not rolling over at quite the rate the rest seems determined to.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            I can get transverse I4s from anyone, there is only so much which can be done with this setup to improve driving feel. Did Mazda come up with some kind of revolutionary geometry or suspension system to give a *significant* advantage over the competition?

            I’m not familiar with the virtues of the Skyactive motor, but I doubt it improves upon anything being fielded by Japanese Big Three, Ford, or GM. If I was a customer I would be much more excited to own a “Mazda” model with those laudable driving dynamics powered by a Toyota N/A I4.

          • 0 avatar
            FreedMike

            “Skyactiv” boils down to more lightweight construction, which allows them to use smaller, more fuel efficient engines. The engines themselves are nothing special per se.

            The good news is that this makes Mazdas fun to drive and fuel efficient. The bad news is that the emphasis on weight reduction has the effect of increasing road noise (less sound deadening).

            “If I was a customer I would be much more excited to own a “Mazda” model with those laudable driving dynamics powered by a Toyota N/A I4.”

            Not really. If you put the Corolla’s engine in the 3, you’d have an underpowered car with no torque that runs forever…thus, you could hate the way it runs forever. I’ll pass.

          • 0 avatar
            sportyaccordy

            I had a 3i rental for a week. It’s NOT the driving revelation the press breathlessly claims it to be. Dynamically it was EXACTLY the same as the Golf TSI I had over the same amount of time + commute, except with a much worse engine. My 09 non Si Civic in stock form was much more playful, and with coilovers and decent tires handles like a race car by comparison.

            If you can get past the looks, and that is admittedly asking a lot, the new Civic hatch is probably the driver’s choice in the class. Mainstream Mazdas aren’t bad, but they’re slow, overpriced and nowhere near as good as the internet claims them to be.

          • 0 avatar
            FreedMike

            You’re right on target about the automatic-equipped 3, sporty…it definitely adds far too much “commuter module” to the 3’s driving characteristics.

            Try a base model with the 2.0 and a six-speed manual instead – no better “kinda slow but cheap and fun” car exists.

            As a driver’s car, I’d definitely pick it above the equivalent Civic (LX).

          • 0 avatar
            WheelMcCoy

            @sportyaccordy

            Apologies if I posted this already, but a Mazda3 with a stick really is as fun as the Internet says:

            https://youtu.be/AWo0PJbbpic

            My 2010 Mazda3 is uncannily reminiscent of my old 5 speed `87 Integra. Fun!

          • 0 avatar
            sportyaccordy

            I have had my fill of economy cars for now. Plus unless they completely changed the steering and suspension tuning for the automatic (doubt it), there’s no way the 3 comes anywhere close to my 8th gen Civic, even in bone stock form. Feelsome hydraulic steering vs inert electric nonsense, chassis tuning that engages the rear end, an engine that doesn’t sound like a $20 blender and enjoys revving. And with coilovers + better tires + brakes it’s damn near revelatory. I’d hate to gamble on such parts on a 3 only to find out they can’t overcome the wack steering and engine.

            Perhaps the older ones were better but the current crop is no go for me. I’d rather spend the same money on a VW, and I say this as my wife’s VW is in the shop for 4 figures worth of repairs stemming from VWAG’s poor design choices :)

      • 0 avatar
        Barndoors4life

        I would take another look at Mazda, their cars are very fun to drive if a little underpowered, great interiors and there crossovers are near the top of their class. There have been many articles about why they are not selling more.

      • 0 avatar
        Astigmatism

        As a VW/Mazda household, I challenge you on a field of honor, sir.

      • 0 avatar
        FreedMike

        I dunno, 28, my Jetta seems to indicate there’s plenty of lights on in the engineering department at VW. And they have two crossovers coming out. I wouldn’t write them or Mazda off. Kias are also sufficiently different from Hyundais to warrant consideration.

        But I’d agree on Mitsu and Fiat. The former is a zombie and the latter…I have no earthly idea what their strategy is.

        • 0 avatar
          28-Cars-Later

          Those are not the list of marques I believe will fail, it is the list of marques I would like to cease to exist in USDM.

          “Kias are also sufficiently different from Hyundais to warrant consideration”

          Hamsters are not a reason to exist. The best of both could be combined and sold as Hyundais.

          • 0 avatar
            FreedMike

            Kias (and pet hamsters) exist because the market wants them.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            Disagree. Those same buyers would be in Hyundais, Nissans, or whatever other subprime special is out there. You could spin up a Freed brand car and be in that market at the right price/credit scores.

    • 0 avatar
      duffman13

      Marketing? I can’t even think of the last time I saw an Acura ad.

      • 0 avatar
        dukeisduke

        I’ve teen one lately (TLX lease offer) with screaming horns like a yelping siren, and the screen flashes between red and blue. It’s annoying as hell, but unremarkable. I feel sorry for any epileptics watching, because I’m sure it triggers seizures.

      • 0 avatar
        TMA1

        I recall one from a few years ago. Something like, “We made the TLX for us, but you can buy one too.”

        Yeah, insulting the customer is a great idea. Like, maybe you’re good enough to drive an Acura.

  • avatar
    phila_DLJ

    The TLX will be fine, and will soldier on, as it’s already a replacement for both the TL and TSX. As is often reported on TTAC, it’s not a great time for sedans. Acura is not unique in its struggles, nor in its dependence on CUV sales. Most importantly, Acura isn’t losing money, nor are they interested in being the number one best-selling premium brand, any more than parent Honda is (or has ever been) interested in being the number one best-selling car brand.

    Here’s what’s funny though…the current shield grille isn’t that bad. I don’t actually like the new Acura grille first seen in production on the MDX…it’s too plain and anonymous.

  • avatar
    CaddyDaddy

    I was going to write something, but I fell asleep looking at the 1st picture. Is car styling really coming down to Pep Boys headlight treatments?

  • avatar
    TMA1

    I’d say it’s too late. If I see one TLX per week, it’s a shock. And I’m in a market that’s saturated with entry-level badge chasers. I’ll see a thousand F30 3-series for every TLX I see on the road.

  • avatar
    ant

    I lost interest in this car when I found out no manual transmission was on offer.

    I also didn’t like the hidden exhaust tips, and frustrated with the constant changing of names over at Acura.

    My 2012 (6speed) TSX that I had also leads me to believe that there really isn’t anything all that special about Acura. Especially compared to Honda of the late 80’s and 90’s.

    Compared to my 1988 Accord LX, I noticed lots of things that had gone downhill. Like the quality of the trunk pull, seat fabric, BTU’s coming out of the HVAC, headlight lenses, door seals, switch gear, visibility, power steering feel, and so on.

    They really don’t make them like they used to, and I feel like Acura would be the appropriate place to bean count the bean counters. Luxury means quality in my world, and Acura just isn’t that.

    Buying an Acura over a Honda just means parts and service cost more, along with the car itself. Oh, and you get a decent Instrument panel. That isn’t enough for me.

  • avatar
    stuki

    “If only the TLX didn’t feel like a very expensive Honda, perhaps we’d have a winner.”

    When the Camcords are sufficiently good, so that your choices 1) making your car feel like them, or 2)make it feel worse, you are kind of constrained. You can still make something “different,” if simple reliance on charging more for being different than the regular guys (sidewall free runflats…., RWD so hemmed in by electronics, weight and grip it’s indistinguishable from FWD/AWD ) is your marketing strategy. But I doubt that will ever be Honda’s. So….., they’re kind of stuck.

    • 0 avatar
      FreedMike

      +1.

      Acura has been undone as much by Honda’s march upmarket as anything else. And then there’s this: I’d guess the demographics of Honda and Acura buyers are pretty similar.

      • 0 avatar
        WheelMcCoy

        “I’d guess the demographics of Honda and Acura buyers are pretty similar.”

        +1.

        The recent comparison on TTAC between the Honda Prelude and Acura Integra showed each had a different customer, but today’s Honda and Acura customer have similar needs and wants. Honda *had* to go upmarket though, lest their lunch be eaten by the ever improving competition.

        • 0 avatar
          FreedMike

          Exactly, Honda was bound to go upmarket, and that was a good move for the brand, but it was a bad move for Acura.

          Plus, the luxury segment itself has grown radically since Acura was introduced. More competitors equals more compelling luxury cars, and everything Acura’s sold has always been based on Hondas, which became more luxurious over time. None of this left Acura much room to grow.

          It’s no mystery why Acura has gone downhill.

        • 0 avatar
          sportyaccordy

          That’s a bit of a stretch I think. The Integra was even closer to a Civic than the TLX is to the Accord. I would argue that a Prelude was a nicer car than a same year Integra…. their new prices reflected that.

          Most Accord buyers are not going for the Touring version; they’re getting an LX or EX 4 banger which is bit of a way from a TLX. There’s probably a lot of overlap in people looking at top end Accords and TLXs… and looking on Autotrader, the ratio of new Accord EX-L+Tourings to TLXs is about 2:1. If the Accord were that much better of a bargain I imagine that would be much higher.

          • 0 avatar
            WheelMcCoy

            I didn’t say that the Integra was more upscale / nicer than the Prelude; just that the cars had different audiences. I chose the 5 door (hatchback) Integra because I had parents to chauffeur around and stuff to haul. I was being responsible, but I also wanted something fun to drive. My friends, being more care-free, went for the sexier Prelude.

            Yes, the original Integra was close to the Civic; the doors were actually interchangeable. But while the Civic of the day had a carburetor and drum brakes in the rear, the Integra had pgm fuel injection with dohc and disc brakes all around. The Integra had a nicer interior, larger wheels, and could rev smoothly to 7000 rpm.

            Today, a high trim Accord is more than nice enough. It also has a large green house in an old school Honda way. And it’s available with a stick (if you give up the high trim). Why would I want a TLX? If I wanted a badge, I would look toward BMW.

          • 0 avatar
            sportyaccordy

            The current 3 series is less than great. Engine aside, which itself has issues with response and sound, I’d say the Accord is a better car than something like a 328i.

            I’ve had 7 stickshift cars in a row and to be honest I just got an automatic car and I don’t miss it at all. Granted I have a motorcycle to scratch that itch. But while I like the Accord a 3rd pedal doesn’t turn it into a sports car. If I have a 3rd pedal I want the full experience… if I can’t have that I might as well stick with the automatic.

            TLX 2.4, IMO anyway, looks better than the Accord 2.4, and is a good bit quicker and more luxurious. Worth it to me

  • avatar
    S2k Chris

    TLX could be fixed with a “real” powerplant, like a 350-400hp V6TT. But 290hp SH-AWD just isn’t special enough for $40k.

  • avatar
    suspekt

    Couple points:
    – Pics of the refreshed car have been available for some time now. They did a photo shoot for an upcoming commercial.

    – I am a loyal Acura customer and do believe they are worth the premium over Honda especially for the SH-AWD system. I have also found their interior’s to be a cut above Honda and have always really enjoyed the ergonomics and quality.

    – The TLX is not appealing for what I dare say are really silly reasons.
    a. Acura OEM wheels are atrocious. This is such a simple thing to rectify but Acura absolutely shoots themselves in the foot with most boring generic wheels one can imagine. I cannot fathom why they do this.

    b. Offer a Type S or R model. Why not? This is where the halo effect comes from. It makes no sense. AND NO GLUED ON JUNK BODYKITS. Just offer some widened fenders and a stroked DI V6 putting out 340hp. I know they won’t turbo it. Ideally they would offer a TT 2.7 V6 with SH-AWD and a DCT. That is the money shot. Just get the thing to do 60mph in low 4’s and trap at 115mph in the 1/4 mile. Low volume bragging rights.

    c. Bring back old nameplates. I would even argue they could mix it up:
    – TSX
    – Legend
    – Vigor
    – Integra
    – TL

    They threw away so much nameplate equity for no reason. I cannot understand it.

  • avatar
    sportyaccordy

    All this talk of Acuras not feeling special enough compared to Camcords is complete BS. The Lexus ES does not either and it’s the 3rd best selling luxury sedan in the US (and has been for years). The top 2 are the 3 series and the C class… the latter of which only just got luxurious enough to justify its price and market position after 2 decades of mediocrity, and the former of which, I can say from experience, is no more luxurious or better to drive dynamically than a base Accord, at least in non sport trim. Keep in mind I had a mid grade version that would probably go for $45-50K, and yet it was missing equipment that comes standard on a Honda Fit.

    What’s the real difference between Acura and other luxury brands? Other luxury brands have cultivated the cachet that makes people willing to accept less content and quality for more money. A Lexus ES is a bit more luxurious than the TLX, but the fundamental concept is the same and it’s not much more luxurious than a top end Camcord. The only thing a $45-50K 328i Comfort line has over a TLX V6 SH-AWD is better fuel economy. By all other objective measures the TLX is at least equal and in most measures (interior room, standard content) the TLX is clearly superior.

  • avatar
    Fred

    Comparing Honda’s to Acura is real easy, as the Acura dealer has no problem mentioning Honda and it’s reliability. Audi and Lexus at least shy away from mentioning their parents. Even Buick looks at you strange if you mention Opel.

  • avatar
    SuperCarEnthusiast

    Acura designers should be fired for the ugly pentagon shape front grill! It is the same beek front grill just blacken out and trim in chrome! New look? Right!

  • avatar
    CaptainJon

    The TLX is a fine car. The issues it faces are not unique and have been mentioned here.
    -The market for sedans is in notable decline.
    -Honda and sedans in general have moved up-market in features.
    -The notable improvements between the TLX and Accord are not things that excite the general buying public anymore.

    There are some very special things about that car. The 8-speed dual clutch transmission with torque converter is wonderful. It has taken a few software updates, but it makes wringing out the 2.5 a lot of fun. (Not manual transmission fun, but if you’re going to give that engine one transmission, it splits the difference well enough.)The leather quality is a step up. The sound system is a step up. The mentioned transmission is a giant leap up over the CVT in the 4-cyl accord. The PAWS adds another dimension to the car’s handling. The car is quieter on the road in my comparison. These are not small differences when combined in a single package. All this comes at an attractive price point, even in comparison to the Accord.

    The TLX was miss-marketed as a “sports” sedan. What it is, is a completely comfortable and capable highway cruiser and commute companion. Enough so that my wife bought one for her commute. On the highway she’s getting within spitting distance of 40mpg with a completely competent drivetrain. She likes the way the dealership treated her at purchase and during servicing. Gripes: Terrible info-tainment, tires that should have been left in the trash, and it could use a little more rear leg room.


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