By on August 15, 2017

2018 Honda Accord Touring - Image: HondaThe Honda Accord is by no means a younger sibling, operating as the senior member of American Honda’s fleet.

More specifically, the 2018 Honda Accord will never be viewed as the little brother in the American Honda family, not with these substantial dimensions and MSRPs that reach deep into the $30Ks.

But the 10th-generation Accord is still a Honda. Just a Honda. Merely a Honda. Only a Honda. And while you might expect Honda to enjoy technological hand-me-downs from the automaker’s upmarket Acura brand, that’s not the way it works. Not when it comes to the Accord.

As a result, we’ll wait and see which hand-me-ups appear on the next all-new Acura, the third-generation 2019 Acura RDX.

It’s not just the Accord’s status in the American Honda empire that affords the new midsize car access to higher-end features. Product cadence plays a role, as well. According to American Honda’s senior vice preside Jeff Conrad, “Technology doesn’t slow down for you.”

“So while we try to plan for it and we try to use our latest and greatest technologies on Acura,” Conrad tells Automotive News, “certain ones, when we’ve perfected them, if it’s going to go on a Honda, it’s going to go on a Honda.”

In other words, Honda has features ready today, and the company will not wait for a new generation of Acuras to release such features. The new Accord is ready, and Honda wants to make it the best Accord it can be. The Accord’s list of features therefore includes the instrument panel’s customizable screen, a head-up display with color, NFC for mobile phones, and fancy climate control functions that glow. You won’t find these items in an Acura.2017 NSX supercar, 2018 RLX luxury sport sedan, 2017 MDX luxury SUV - Image: AcuraBut while timing plays a role, with Acura general manager Jon Ikeda saying the next RDX will enjoy a new round of Acura-first tech features, the 2018 Accord is also the car used to showcase new tech “because it’s such an important car for us,” Conrad says.

“The heritage of Accord is tightly wrapped with the history and success of the Honda brand.”

On the other hand, the heritage of Acura is not so closely linked with global Honda success. Suffering from hugely decreased demand for its cars, Acura’s sales fell 23 percent between 2005 and 2016, a period in which the U.S. auto industry grew its overall volume by 3 percent.

Acura, meanwhile, is a non-entity in most global markets and generates fewer than one U.S. sale for every two U.S. Accord sales. Long gone are the days in which Acura could outsell its Lexus compatriot. In 2017, even Infiniti is outselling Acura.

Acura does play up its technological prowess with vehicles such as the NSX and the unusual Sport Hybrid underpinnings in the RLX and MDX. But it’s messaging that’s essentially lost on a premium market that increasingly turns to more verifiably premium brands. Unless Acura can turn the tide by fostering the U.S. sales growth it enjoyed over the last three months, 2017 is on track to be its worst sales year since 2011.

The 2018 Honda Accord, however, gets all of American Honda’s limelight. There’s a 10-speed automatic transmission Acura hasn’t yet been granted, a 2.0-liter turbo inherited from the Civic Type R that Acura doesn’t yet have the privilege of using, and even a six-speed manual that the once performance-oriented Acura brand now knows nothing about.

[Images: American Honda]

Timothy Cain is a contributing analyst at The Truth About Cars and Autofocus.ca and the founder and former editor of GoodCarBadCar.net. Follow on Twitter @timcaincars.

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52 Comments on “The 2018 Honda Accord Gets Tech the Entire Acura Brand Can’t Yet Have...”


  • avatar
    q532

    I wonder, does Honda neglect Acura on purpose? If Ford is trying to get Lincoln back on track, what’s the excuse for Honda? It’s not like they lack the resources to jumpstart Acura.

    • 0 avatar
      Fred

      Honda seems to treat Acura the opposite of how VW treats Audi.

      • 0 avatar
        q532

        It does seem that way. Acura has declined since the days of the TL, TSX and second gen RL.

      • 0 avatar
        Zykotec

        Totally true, but for several different reasons. Acura was more or less an invented brand that just sold Japanese or European Hondas that were more expensive to make than and more sophisticated than typical US market Hondas, while Audi is VW’s engineering and R&D department, and are responsible for most of the cars VW has made since they stopped making the Beetle in Germany. Without Audi there would be no VW today.
        Well, OK, VW did make the Quattro system, failed to sell it to the military and put it in Audi rally cars instead, thereby creating a legend that made Audi into what it is today.
        *edit, no, they got the 4wd from Auto union (DKW) engineers too. VW people apparently can’t engineer anything at all…

      • 0 avatar
        wsn

        “Honda seems to treat Acura the opposite of how VW treats Audi.”

        Honda treats Acura the same way VW treats Bentley. Can you name one tech (not luxury feature) that’s hand-down from Bentley to VW?

        Luxury is luxury. Tech is tech. There is no rule who hands down to whom.

    • 0 avatar
      arach

      I bet its simply resource allocation.

      Look, the accord is more profitable than any acura, so the accord team probably has a good DEV budget, and they used that DEV budget to make a good accord.

      Acura probably does not have as strong as a budget, and just has a hard time competing. Imagine they have 1/10th the budget as the accord… and they are trying to fight lexus who has 10x the budget as the accord?

      • 0 avatar
        q532

        True, but it seems to be a viscous cycle. Since Acura isn’t performing like it used too, Honda sets aside less money for their development, leading to less desirable products and even worse sales. Ford bit the bullet and put $1B into Lincoln if I recall correctly, and it seems to finally be paying off.

      • 0 avatar
        jalop1991

        DEV budget?

        Dee Eee Vee?

        Distribution of Electric Vehicles?

        Designated Eclectic Visitor?

        DEV must stand for SOMETHING, I just can’t figure out what.

    • 0 avatar
      Jacob

      Don’t forget that Acuras have always been all mostly based on Honda’s platforms. Honda first builds the car and its platform for its primary brand, which is Honda, and then works on the premium version of the Acura brand, not the other way around. So there is always a big gap between a brand new platform hits the Honda showrooms and when it comes into Acura showrooms. For me, it’s just another reason not to buy those overpriced Acuras.

  • avatar
    Fred

    What does NFC (Near Field Communication) buy you in a car? I know my Moto E doen’t do it.

  • avatar
    cammark

    I know it’s easy to “armchair” product plan and say Acura should do this or that… but seriously it seems like they have no intent of recovering the “premium” or upscale status they once had.

    There seems to be potential for Mazda to take over the market position of golden-era Acura if they stick to their current trajectory. Sporty, stylish, pleasantly appointed interior…

    It’s just hard to justify any of the product anymore, apart from the NSX- which is just a Honda anywhere else in the world. Though it carries the stigma of minivan (gasp) the Odyssey is better on paper than the MDX, unless you must have AWD.

    Give up or get right!

    • 0 avatar
      S2k Chris

      Difference between Mazda and Acura is that Acura will at least give you a real powertrain (read: V6).

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        Honda should be punished for this, not rewarded. Buy Toyota if it is V6 ye seek.

        • 0 avatar
          thornmark

          >>Honda should be punished for this, not rewarded. Buy Toyota if it is V6 ye seek.<<

          You'd be punishing yourself, not Honda.

          I suspect when the numbers are in the new Accord will run rings around the Camry, head of the rental class.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            I haven’t driven a newer Camry or Accord in years so I really can’t compare the two, but Honda has been on the downward slide in my mind for some time. Fat, drunk, and stupid is no way to go through life, Takahiro.

          • 0 avatar
            dal20402

            Recent Hondas are far from “fat, drunk, and stupid.” That’s a better description of what they were doing in the 2008-2012 timeframe.

            Haven’t driven the tenth-gen Accord yet, but the ninth-gen one is excellent.

          • 0 avatar
            mike978

            Agreed but I thought you preferred V6’s and real transmissions.

          • 0 avatar
            sgeffe

            Yes, the fat, drunk, stupid generation was the 8th!

            As for the goodies on the “lesser” Honda, that was evident at the debut of the present Accord, as my 2013 Touring received as its two unique items, Adaptive Cruise Control and LED headlights, both of which were only available on the Acura MDX and the CrossTurd’s more upscale answer to the same question nobody asked, the ZDX. IIRC, the RLX didn’t get those features until its next redo. (Not that the RLX is worth a crap! Unfortunately, if you want a tint “brow” on the windshield, and an inside mirror that doesn’t resemble a nightmarish clown, that’s your choice in the HondAcura lineup!)

  • avatar
    Higheriq

    And herein lies more evidence why Acura is a redundant (pointless) brand.

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      Nailed it.

    • 0 avatar
      dmoan

      Acura is entirely worth it simply because dealership are so much better than Honda dealers who I find to very sleezy.

    • 0 avatar
      Heavymetal_Hippie

      Agreed. It seems Americans are (mostly) getting wise to pointless, upscale “badge engineering.” After the recession, most families won’t splurge thousands just to have a different emblem, but essentially the same car. Acura hasn’t had real upscale cache since the mid 1990s, anyway.

      Honda should just axe the entire Acura brand. I personally think the NSX would be cooler with a big “H” on the hood, anyway, since Honda does have an actual history of being involved in motorsports and racing…

      • 0 avatar
        sgeffe

        The Accord has always been more upscale in other markets, like Australia, which don’t have to support the Acura brand. (Of course, the next Accord may not make it there.) They had a regular 5-speed automatic on their 2.4L models, and all of them had the lane-assist function standard, along with ACC, before the whole slate of functions known as “HondaSensing” became available here.

        They also had a trunk pass-through (which was supposedly dumped for NVH reasons here, but obviously turned into a co$t-cutting item), and even a coin box.

    • 0 avatar
      thornmark

      And yet Lincoln is more redundant. There is no prestige in owning a Lincoln and it looks like Ford will just be throwing money away like GM has been doing w/ failing brand Cadillac.

      Acura has refused to recognize that its letter series has been a failure and they should bring back names people recognize – even after 20 years – like the Legend and Integra.

      That said, all cars seem to be luxury cars today, with all sporting features that defined luxury in years past.

      Further, Mazda will never be able to become a luxury brand, it hasn’t the ability when other real luxury brands abound. The well-reviewed but drowning Mazda6 cannot hope to keep up even w/ the Toyota lifeline. No one really wants to buy a Mazda6, they want others people to buy them – a curious phenomenon.

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        Cadillac is most certainly a loss leader with it’s $12 billion spent recently, but it is possible Lincoln is nice margin on Ford product the way Acura is for Honda product.

        “That said, all cars seem to be luxury cars today, with all sporting features that defined luxury in years past.”

        Agreed, I’m not even sure what really differentiates the two. Bad styling? Over-computerization? Badges? Bigger wheels?

      • 0 avatar
        mike978

        Thorn – you do talk crap sometimes.

    • 0 avatar
      Syke

      Acura exists for the same reason as Cadillac, Lincoln, Infiniti and Genesis.

      The rest of the industry isn’t willing to permanently give the luxury field away to Mercedes-Benz, BMW, Audi and Lexus.

  • avatar
    sportyaccordy

    I would get all the Acuras over their Honda equivalents. Better engines, better looks, better interiors, better dealership experiences. It adds up. People say the same about Lincoln but my wife and I drove a last gen Edge Titanium and MKX… we ended up in the MKX, even though its a pretty cynical rebadge. It’s just nicer

    • 0 avatar
      bd2

      Not that Hondas have exactly been stylish, but they’re now better looking than the new Acuras with that god-awful “droop” grille which is WORSE than the “beak.”

      The problem for Acura has been with their sedans.

      While FWD isn’t necessarily a problem (as there is a pretty large market of value buyers who don’t care about having RWD), it is when there is increasing competition in a somewhat revitalized Lincoln – in addition to the Lexus ES.

      Why get the TLX when the larger ES isn’t much more?

      Why get the RLX when the ES can be had for a lot less?

      Why get the ILX when the Civic, in many ways, is better?

  • avatar
    Car Ramrod

    Meh. I think this started when the TL came into being. Its just timing. They’ll lose more money selling a stale Accord if they delay it so the new TLX can come first, and the cars share a platform so they presumably can’t hustle Acura development along any faster.

    Oddly, TL sales didn’t fall off a cliff in 03 or 08 (though there was some other stuff going on in 08), the other times the TL was bested in tech by the Accord, so maybe Acura’s buyers really aren’t paying attention to any cars with an H badge.

    Speaking of sharing a platform, do we know if the new Accord platform can accomodate a V6? That would put a wrench in PrincipalDan’s plan after 2018.

    • 0 avatar
      PrincipalDan

      Like Ajla I am ideologically consistent in the minimum number of cylinders I will accept in various vehicle classes.

      • 0 avatar
        Car Ramrod

        I understand. I went from an NA V8 to a turbo 6, and while the peak torque is satisfying, the lag is not. If you decide you don’t want to sit up high your ticket to Camrytown is punched.

    • 0 avatar
      cammark

      >Speaking of sharing a platform, do we know if the new Accord platform can accomodate a V6? That would put a wrench in PrincipalDan’s plan after 2018.<

      I try to keep up to date on the swaps being done these days. The Honda V6 with 6MT has been put into things as small as a second gen Fit. Nothing I consider "major modifications" were required.

      Its really a very compact V6, so I would say without a doubt it could accommodate. would it need custom mounts? certainly, but guys like Hasport have a whole business built around that.

      • 0 avatar
        sgeffe

        Early rumors are indicating that a new boosted V6 may be in the offing at some point; new design, with a timing chain.

        Don’t know if the new platform for the Civic/Accord can grow, but that shark has been jumped on the Honda side, at least for now. (Perhaps Honda will eventually pull a Fusion Sport on the Accord, but from what I’ve seen in pictures, that engine compartment is too small to accommodate anything larger with the new generation, so it’ll be a five-year wait, unless the platform is modified a bit at the MMC, like the original Accord V6 in 1995. And with Honda’s obsession with all things green factored-in, along with cutting every possible penny, I wouldn’t anticipate they’d do something that radical again, but stranger things have happened.)

        I just can’t see something like the Odyssey or Ridgeline with anything smaller than a six-cylinder under the hood, though. Plus Acura needs SOME reason to exist, and this is something to distinguish at least the upper trims from the underpowered and overworked fours at the Honda marque.

  • avatar
    SoCalMikester

    looking at the back of that accord, especially in white, and i cant help but see that damn monkey meme… the one with the outstretched arms.

    https://imgflip.com/memegenerator/68452752/Confused-white-monkey

  • avatar
    pdl2dmtl

    My main pet peeve with Honda is that in this day and age they still haven’t learned how to make their paint last longer than 5 years without peeling off.
    I’ll believe when I’ll see it.

  • avatar
    Mkvl04

    Google Acura Precision. It’ll be rolling out like in 2-3 years. Acura is in a waiting phase until the next generation. Within 5 years I expect Sport Hybrid SH-AWD to be in all Acura vehicles or close to being in them

  • avatar
    Nedmundo

    I completely understand why the high-volume Accord would be introduced ahead of Acura platform mates, but the gaps are way too long.

    For example, the 10th generation Civic has been on the road for well over a year, with the Type-R and Si variants introduced recently. And yet the ILX is STILL on the inferior 9th generation civic platform, and is now handily outperformed by the Civic Si. (I suppose the base A3 is also outgunned by the GTI, but at least the A3 range has models that equal and surpass the GTI. There’s just one ILX, and it’s not competitive.)

    Acura still has some unique hardware, including the SH-AWD and 8DCT, and now including V6 engines in sedans. The interiors are more luxurious than Hondas, and the cars have much less road noise. So they do have advantages, but the base Acuras should be further above their Honda counterparts, and the TLX should be getting the 2.0T at the new Accord’s introduction.

  • avatar
    sckid213

    Fun fact – a buddy of mine was in the market for a used late-model entry-level luxury sedan. I honestly recommended the Buick Verano to him over the ILX (stuff like A3 was out of his price range). He test drove the Verano and honestly liked it better than the ILX, but he just couldn’t get over the Buick badge so he ended up with the ILX. Which I think he will regret as he already said it’s louder inside than he expected.

    If Acura doesn’t get its act together, they won’t get another chance like the one I just described. I just can’t tell you how bizarre it feels, as someone who was in high school in the late ’90s / early ’00s during peak Fast & Furious / Hot Import Nights / JDM ricer days, that I’d be honestly recommending a BUICK over a car that is supposedly the spiritual successor to the Integra.

  • avatar
    SuperCarEnthusiast

    Honda is unsure of how they are going to forward with the Acura brand. If I were Honda management; I would fire all the Acura car designers and get a bunch of BMW, Jag, Audi, Merc designers to redo their cars. Just plain bland and ugly!


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