Which Acura TLX Competitor Scares Acura Dealers? Apparently, the 2018 Honda Accord

Timothy Cain
by Timothy Cain

It made perfect sense. In 2009, when Hyundai wanted customers to view its new Genesis luxury sedan as a premium bit of kit, Hyundai did not compare the Genesis to the Sonata. In an early marketing campaign, Hyundai’s voiceover said the Genesis is “as spacious as a Mercedes-Benz S-Class, yet priced like a C-Class.”

When the time came to market the Genesis R-Spec, Hyundai reached way upmarket to compare 0-60 mph times with the Porsche Panamera. Hyundai wasn’t under the mistaken impression that the Genesis would steal thousands of sales from $100,000 Benzes and Porsches. But Hyundai was crafting an image. Hyundai didn’t require you to believe that the Genesis was a viable S-Class alternative — the company just wanted you to understand that this is premium-oriented S-Class-sized sedan at a C-Class-like price.

Long before the Hyundai Genesis tried to cultivate a premium persona, Acura was failing to keep up with Lexus in the quest to be viewed as a true luxury rival for the German establishment. It’s still a problem. So Acura dealers are now just trying to make sure you understand that the Acura TLX is better than the Audi A4 Lexus ES Infiniti Q50 2018 Honda Accord.

It’s not as though the suggestion’s so outlandish. Sharing a foundation with the departing ninth-generation Accord and built at the same Marysville, Ohio, assembly plant, there’s much that unites the duo.

Moreover, it’s not as though the suggestion has never been made before. Consumer Reports discussed the merits of a basic TLX and a loaded Accord in early 2015, pointing to the Accord V6’s quickness but the TLX’s all-wheel drive.

It’s also a question commonly asked by users at DriveAccord and TLXForums, as well. Accord fans wonder whether the facelifted 2018 Acura TLX could lure other Accord lovers away from the new Honda; TLX drivers wonder about the loss of the Honda Accord’s now discontinued V6.

It makes sense to draw comparisons between the TLX and Accord. Critics do. Consumers do. But should Acura?

Its dealers do.

Karen Radley Acura in Woodbridge, Virginia, wants to help you figure whether you should purchase a 2018 Acura TLX or a 2018 Honda Accord. Shockingly, Karen Radley Acura prefers “the sporty styling of the TLX,” the dealer’s website says. As if to clarify the degree to which Karen Radley Acura is biased, the split image shows the facelifted 2018 TLX but the outgoing 2017 Accord.

At Sunnyside Acura in Nashua, New Hampshire, the dealer’s website gives the redesigned Accord no purchase. “Honda is the parent company behind luxury brand Acura, so it should come as no surprise that both the 2018 Acura TLX A-Spec and 2017 Honda Touring offer something special,” Sunnyside writes. That’s right: new TLX, old Accord.

First Acura in Seekonk, Massachusetts, adopts the same approach, but flubs its 2018 TLX imaging, showcasing the older car instead. “In more ways than one, the 2018 Acura TLX marks itself as a leader in the world of the mid-size sedan,” First Acura says. “This is especially true when it’s compared with both its luxury and non-luxury competitors.” How it’s true, but then especially true, when the TLX comparison shifts from all midsize sedans to, er, all midsize sedans is an unknown that will likely never be known. But the midsize sedan with which First Acura compares the 2018 TLX? The 2017 Honda Accord, of course.

Acura dealers in Woodbridge, Nashua, and Seekonk surely encounter buyers who cross-shop the TLX and Accord. In fact, we’d argue that it’s wise for potential Acura buyers to drive a 2018 Accord back-to-back with a TLX. But these are the very kind of comparisons that loudly announce to the world that Acura still can’t be taken seriously as a premium brand.

It’s as if Cadillac’s Escalade commercials drew attention to the quality of a GMC Yukon but suggest that you might prefer the Escalade’s premium ambience. Imagine Lamborghini, in a fit of transparency, showcasing just how comparable Audi R8 and Lamborghini Huracán performance specs were before declaring differences such as steering wheel material and seat adjustability.

Dealers, of course, sometimes have objectives that don’t entirely line up with their respective automakers. And a handful of Acura stores won’t be the last outlets to publish unflattering relationships. But for a brand that’s already seen the plebeian 2018 Accord leapfrog its products in terms of technology, Acura doesn’t need anybody to highlight just how much of a Honda its midsize sedan truly is.

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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  • Davekaybsc Davekaybsc on Aug 19, 2017

    I don't know why anyone buys the TLX. The interior materials and design are worst in class. The infotainment system is worst in class. The driving experience is thoroughly mediocre and bland. The styling is completely blah. BUT BUT BUT... reliability!!!!!! Somebody hasn't been paying attention lately. Acura's reliability is now just as crappy as every other aspect of its cars. Audi, yes AUDI stomps Acura into the ground on reliability, and they've been doing it for years. It's not a "fluke." Acuras are no longer especially reliable, they're now thoroughly average, slightly worse than BMW. Yes, you read that correctly. So the reasons to buy an Acura went form 1 to 0.

    • DeadWeight DeadWeight on Aug 19, 2017

      Acura is pitiful. Pitiful is an understatement. I'd rank Acura as the most deeply fallen of any auto brand in terms of the merits of their vehicles relative to what they used to be, in lack of differentiation from kissing cousin Honda (which, sadly, has also taken a tumble jn terms of its #1 calling card, reliability, in recent years), and in just having blase, overpriced, vanilla vehicles having fewest redeeming virtues at their price point.

  • Bd2 Bd2 on Aug 19, 2017

    The upcoming Genesis G70 and Kia Stinger should be giving Acura a lot of concern when it comes to the TLX. For about the same price, can get RWD/AWD, option for more power and better handling. Upon launch of the RLX, Acura touted it as having 7 Series-like rear passenger space for the price of a 5 Series.

    • 33873 33873 on Aug 20, 2017

      wow i just looked up that stinger, acura is in serious trouble

  • Pau65792686 I think there is a need for more sedans. Some people would rather drive a car over SUV’s or CUV’s. If Honda and Toyota can do it why not American brands. We need more affordable sedans.
  • Tassos Obsolete relic is NOT a used car.It might have attracted some buyers in ITS DAY, 1985, 40 years ago, but NOT today, unless you are a damned fool.
  • Stan Reither Jr. Part throttle efficiency was mentioned earlier in a postThis type of reciprocating engine opens the door to achieve(slightly) variable stroke which would provide variable mechanical compression ratio adjustments for high vacuum (light load) or boost(power) conditions IMO
  • Joe65688619 Keep in mind some of these suppliers are not just supplying parts, but assembled components (easy example is transmissions). But there are far more, and the more they are electronically connected and integrated with rest of the platform the more complex to design, engineer, and manufacture. Most contract manufacturers don't make a lot of money in the design and engineering space because their customers to that. Commodity components can be sourced anywhere, but there are only a handful of contract manufacturers (usually diversified companies that build all kinds of stuff for other brands) can engineer and build the more complex components, especially with electronics. Every single new car I've purchased in the last few years has had some sort of electronic component issue: Infinti (battery drain caused by software bug and poorly grounded wires), Acura (radio hiss, pops, burps, dash and infotainment screens occasionally throw errors and the ignition must be killed to reboot them, voice nav, whether using the car's system or CarPlay can't seem to make up its mind as to which speakers to use and how loud, even using the same app on the same trip - I almost jumped in my seat once), GMC drivetrain EMF causing a whine in the speakers that even when "off" that phased with engine RPM), Nissan (didn't have issues until 120K miles, but occassionally blew fuses for interior components - likely not a manufacturing defect other than a short developed somewhere, but on a high-mileage car that was mechanically sound was too expensive to fix (a lot of trial and error and tracing connections = labor costs). What I suspect will happen is that only the largest commodity suppliers that can really leverage their supply chain will remain, and for the more complex components (think bumper assemblies or the electronics for them supporting all kinds of sensors) will likley consolidate to a handful of manufacturers who may eventually specialize in what they produce. This is part of the reason why seemingly minor crashes cost so much - an auto brand does nst have the parts on hand to replace an integrated sensor , nor the expertice as they never built them, but bought them). And their suppliers, in attempt to cut costs, build them in way that is cheap to manufacture (not necessarily poorly bulit) but difficult to replace without swapping entire assemblies or units).I've love to see an article on repair costs and how those are impacting insurance rates. You almost need gap insurance now because of how quickly cars depreciate yet remain expensive to fix (orders more to originally build, in some cases). No way I would buy a CyberTruck - don't want one, but if I did, this would stop me. And it's not just EVs.
  • Joe65688619 I agree there should be more sedans, but recognize the trend. There's still a market for performance oriented-drivers. IMHO a low budget sedan will always be outsold by a low budget SUV. But a sports sedan, or a well executed mid-level sedan (the Accord and Camry) work. Smaller market for large sedans except I think for an older population. What I'm hoping to see is some consolidation across brands - the TLX for example is not selling well, but if it was offered only in the up-level configurations it would not be competing with it's Honda sibling. I know that makes the market smaller and niche, but that was the original purpose of the "luxury" brands - badge-engineering an existing platform at a relatively lower cost than a different car and sell it with a higher margin for buyers willing and able to pay for them. Also creates some "brand cachet." But smart buyers know that simple badging and slightly better interiors are usually not worth the cost. Put the innovative tech in the higher-end brands first, differentiate they drivetrain so it's "better" (the RDX sells well for Acura, same motor and tranmission, added turbo which makes a notable difference compared to the CRV). The sedan in many Western European countries is the "family car" as opposed to micro and compact crossovers (which still sell big, but can usually seat no more than a compact sedan).