The 2018 Honda Accord Gets Tech the Entire Acura Brand Can't Yet Have

Timothy Cain
by Timothy Cain

The 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.

But 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 and the founder and former editor of Follow on Twitter @timcaincars.

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  • Sckid213 Sckid213 on Aug 16, 2017

    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.

  • SuperCarEnthusiast SuperCarEnthusiast on Aug 17, 2017

    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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