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Where is Honda taking Acura?

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  • hpmctorquehpmctorque Posts: 4,342
    edited February 2011
    A three mpg improvement is indeed significant. However, I think Acura has taken a wrong turn in recent years with styling (personal, I know). Just as importantly, it's not as compelling from a value standpoint as it was a few years ago. Taken together, add the fact that many people find it harder to define the brand, and Acura is significantly less aspiratioal than it used to be. That's too bad. because of the Asian brands, I think Honda has the best engineering talent for unseating BMW in the luxury market. Unfortunately, it lacks the management and marketing leadership to do it. Consequently, Infiniti does a better job of competing with BMW than Acura.

    A luxury brand must be aspirational, to justify the premium pricing over its mass market counterparts.

    I think Honda's biggest mistake was to not convert its Acura models to RWD, as Infiniti has done. SW-AWD isn't enough, since it still lacks the near 50-50 front/rear weight distribution that RWD would provide. The decision to not offer a V8 is less critical, given the times, in my opinion.
  • steverstever Viva Las CrucesPosts: 41,990
    Honestly, since BMW and Infiniti and Mercedes all have those confusing alpha-numberic names, Acura could immediately distinguish themselves by renaming their cars to something catchy.

    How many people refer to the renamed MX-5 as a Miata? All of them?

    Like stylings, that's my personal irritation. Occupational hazard around here for me too. :shades:

    Moderator
    Minivan fan. Feel free to message or email me - stever@edmunds.com.

  • hpmctorquehpmctorque Posts: 4,342
    I agree with you on this, but drive configuration is still a higher priority for me, for a sporty car. Would you choose FWD Miata or a RWD MX-5, hypothetically?

    To be clear, I think FWD is preferable to RWD for most applications. Hondas perform beautifully with FWD, for their intended purpose. Acuras, for the most part, would fare better with RWD.
  • steverstever Viva Las CrucesPosts: 41,990
    edited February 2011
    Wrong guy to ask. I could probably drive a FWD roadster year round up here. Can't justify having one that sits in the garage for six months. :shades:

    Knowing me, if I could find a hot deal on an old BRG one with a tan top, I'd go buy Blizzaks for it and take my chances. :D

    The TSX wagon does look pretty good from some angles. Don't care for the fender bumps much.

    Moderator
    Minivan fan. Feel free to message or email me - stever@edmunds.com.

  • nippononlynippononly SF Bay AreaPosts: 12,695
    I am amazed Acura sells any cars these days. They went from a lineup of exciting desirable cars to a bunch of boring same-looking crap in ten short years. Lay down 30-35 large for an Acura with all the other good stuff in that price range these days? What, are you kidding me??

    But oh wait, now they have a TSX WAGON (4-cylinder, automatic ONLY) - yeah, that will solve their problems (not).....

    2013 Civic SI, 2009 Outback Sport 5-spd (stick)

  • hpmctorquehpmctorque Posts: 4,342
    Yeah, snow tires can compensate for a significant percentage of the traction advantage of FWD, and maybe all of it when going uphill, since there's a weight transfer from front to rear when when climbing.

    I generally like the TSX, sedan and wagon, but the designers must have had small feet. Ever check how little foot room there is between the door and the seat cushion of the rear seat? If you haven't, and are considering a TSX, do yourself a favor and climb in and out of the back. My shoes are no more than average length for a guy, and I find entry and exit to be very skimpy for a car this size. An Acura salesman acknowledged that others have also commented about this. A mid-size 4-door, especially a near-luxury one, shouldn't have this limitation. I think for the U.S. market the wagon should have been the U.S. Accord.

    As with the TL, I'd take a pass on this generation TSX. because I think it's just okay, rather than special, the way Acuras used to be. Maybe the next generation Acuras will get their mojo back.
  • gs42gs42 Posts: 54
    The TL was once at the top of the wish list for me. Sometimes Japanese styling loses its way and goes off course. Admitting it and fixing it is not a strong point of the companies and saving face seems more important than the fix. The newer TL is hideous at some angles with a clown face and a bulbous rear. I think it is still a great car in all other respects and could be back in the game with a sheet metal makeover. The TL was once the most understated and classy street sleeper of the time. Acura is fading fast and needs to wake up soon.
  • car_dudecar_dude Posts: 17
    edited February 2011
    I can talk from the experience - our family owned two TL cars - 2002 and 2008 (both were leased).

    I loved TL styling from beginning of 2000's - it was large car with good presence, with nice set of features and attractive design. I am a tall guy and I felt comfortable in that TL, it was sufficiently tall and wide for me. I felt sad when I turned my 02 TL in.

    Then came redesigned mid 2000's mode - smaller body, less room for my height and more expensive. I didn't like TL getting smaller, but high-tech features and handling improvements were exciting. Those features came with the price, all of the sudden mid-$300 leases were nowhere to be found. Eventually we got reasonable deal on 08 TL, as a larger car and easier on the budget replacement to BMW 3-series.

    In the end - it's not in the same league as BMW, the handling is no match, the only advantage is hi-tech gadgets and more spacious interior. Entire 3 yrs we had 08 TL - we wished we had something else...

    And them came the current ugly design of TL. Now TL is so un-attractive, we didn't even consider it and went back to BMW 3-series (we are paying only $55 more for 335i over TL) and could not be happier.

    We also considered Acura MDX as a second car, but went with a German SUV product instead - it was actually cheaper to lease than MDX.

    To summarize, Acura brand is on a decline - they are loosing on both design and on pricing. They still have the reliability and low maintenance going for them (as with all Honda products) - we had ZERO mechanical issues with one Honda and two Acura vehicles we owned. But overall appeal of the brand is fading, it's sad to see Acura going from innovator to what it is today.
  • stickguystickguy Posts: 15,683
    I am actually backward from you on the TL. I have a MY 2000, and it still looks sharp to me (maybe a tad dated, but it is 11 years old!). It was also a fantastic value when it came out (that versin). I almost bought one in 2001, but actually found it to not have enough head room (I have a long torso and proportionally short legs for my height). Just could not get comfy in it, as I like to sit upright, not all leaned back.

    The one I have was inherited from my sister, and is my sons car.

    But, the 2005 redesign, I loved that one. I fit great in it, and thought the styling (and the interior improvements) made it a vastly better car. I would consider a used one at some point, except I won't buy another Honda V6/AT in my life.

    the new one actually doesn't bother me too much, though the beak should go (you can replace that I think), in the right color. A neighbor had one for a few days visiting in a dark navy blue, and it looked really, really sharp.

    a little to big though for my current tastes. The TSX is a nice size though, and just needs a beak job to look fine. Drives really well too.

    2015 Hyundai Sonata 2.4i Limited Tech (mine), 2013 Acura RDX (wife's) and 2007 Volvo S40 (daughters college car)

  • I still have my 2003 TL, which was the last year for that body style. Each new body style Acura has brought our for the TL has lower gas mileage and a higher price. I also had the 2000 TL and the 2003 had all the bugs fixed. If they would take that 2003 TL with a similar body style and bring more technology and a bit better mileage it would be the perfect car. The newer versions are bigger engines but not better cars. I drive the new TL and TSX each year when I have my regular service performed at the dealer as a free loaner. But, I am never loving the new car more than my own.

    I would love all the new navigation and bluetooth features along with similar engine performance and better mileage that new technology should bring. But, I just don't see it.

    We also have a 2005 Pilot, which is a extremely useful vehicle. It gets decent mileage and has great room. We have looked at the MDX every year. But, it has poor rear visibility compared with our Pilot, lower gas mileage and is super expensive. Now, the new Pilot is huge and has lower gas mileage. The older version was better.

    The TSX is based on the Civic versus the Accord for the TL and does not compare well for me. The Acura TL was once the best value in luxury cars on the market. It really dominated here in the Boulder, Colorado area with Flatirons Acura right here in town which makes service a breeze.

    More and more cars have very similar styling which makes them look the same. I assuming the shape is more aerodynamic but the gas mileage is not getting better than the 20-24 mpg I get in town/hwy combined for a decent sized sedan V6. The 2004 Acura was okay but the newest version with that crazy front grill is just odd looking.

    I hope Acura reads these comments because it was once just a great line of cars.
  • car_dudecar_dude Posts: 17
    edited February 2011
    I also had the same Pilot as you do (mine was 08) and really liked it.

    My lease ended in January and I looked at current Pilot - I was so disappointed with what Honda has done to the Pilot... I also saw new Accord in the showroom and was turned off by it's design - older Accord looks better in my opinion.

    It seems that in addition to Acura declining brand reputation, Honda got it's own issues.
  • sweendogysweendogy Left lanePosts: 1,194
    finally a group of people who agree with me-- the Acura name took a huge step back when they decided to end production of names on cars and went the route as every other lux car line and went to 2.3 CL, RSX, TSX-- come on they had great names for cars- integra, legend (hello best car name ever) and Vigor (good name, bad 5cyl) -- they went mainstream -- How cool was the second generation acura Legend?? the type2 coupe had the 250plus hp v6 with a 6speed.. the Integra was a bridge to get the younger folk.. now the entry level TSX is almost 30k -- TL ugly, tsx to much money, rdx no one knows what it is, RL 50k for a TL, MDX is a nice truck thou.... to me this line needs a complete revamp. Ugly, overweight, and overpriced--
  • hpmctorquehpmctorque Posts: 4,342
    Acura used to represent quality, value, designs, cool names and prestige. Acura still represents quality, but no more so than Honda. The value factor has about vanished, as other premium brands have caught up. Design is no longer ahead of the pack. Model names, as has been mentioned, are confusing and not cool. Finally, the prestige factor of Acura versus, say, Honda, is marginal. This begs the question, then, of why pay a premium price for a fairly ordinary car?

    to Acura's credit, resale values have remained relatively high, but that's not enough in the premium category. To succeed over the long-term, a premium product must feature the "gotta have it" factor, which Acura has lost. Hopefully, it will regain it, plus value, with future platforms. Honda has the resources to do it.
  • isellhondasisellhondas Issaquah WashingtonPosts: 17,963
    edited February 2011
    You are the exception. The majority of Pilot buyes FAR perferred the changes on the new models. Same applies to the Accords.

    But, every time a model get's changed, ther will always be a few and I mean just a few who will ask..." why did you mess it up?"

    I think Acura shot themselves in the foot when they renamed their models. The Legend that everyone knew and loved became an RL! Does that mean "Renamed Legend?". They spent years building a model name and they changed it for some dumb reason. Why?

    Then they ruined the looks acrosds the line when they hung those hideous "beaks" on the front ends.

    While they were renaming cars and screwing up the looks, the competition grew stronger in an already overcrowded marketplace.
  • I guess design wise new Pilot was fine, but it just didn't feel right. I was excited when I got 08 Pilot, but when I drove the latest Pilot - it din't feel special.

    I also think that Pilot got to be too expensive for what it is, at least to lease the configuration we looked at. For a little bit extra in monthly payment you can get more upscale SUV.
  • xrunner2xrunner2 Posts: 3,062
    Clown face. That is a good description. Did they make the front end worse?

    We will hang onto our 04-08 gen TL. Runs fine, no trouble. Hopefully, Acura is working on a major rework of the TL to be ready in 2014.

    Might get a hint if Honda/Acura have purged their inept stylists/designers when they replace the baroque-looking Accord.
  • hpmctorquehpmctorque Posts: 4,342
    edited August 2011
    The '12 Civic seems to have missed the bulls-eye by a rather wide margin. I'm sure it's a good car, but, in a market that's full of excellent compact cars, the Civic is no longer is special. It'll be interesting to see whether the next all-new (2013) Accord will devolve in a similar manner, or not. The '13 Accord will give us a hint of what to expect for the next generation TSX and TL, since they're based on the Accord.
  • xrunner2xrunner2 Posts: 3,062
    New Civic will lose sales to Elantra and Focus.

    Acura division goofed up with current version of TL. Don't know the reason why they still make RL. And the Acura soopy roof car with rear hatch is a joke with car magazine writers.
  • steverstever Viva Las CrucesPosts: 41,990
    edited December 2012
    "Dealership got caught fleecing an 83-year-old, and refused to unfleece him until American Honda Motor Co. stepped in."

    Swindle in Texas a lesson for car buyers (Detroit News)

    Good for Honda. The Dealer Ratings here for them is pretty poor too (zip 76137). Gotta wonder how many other people have been ripped off.

    Moderator
    Minivan fan. Feel free to message or email me - stever@edmunds.com.

  • hpmctorquehpmctorque Posts: 4,342
    edited April 2013
    The new RLX got a negative review in the Wall Street Journal. Among the comments, Dan Neil, the reviewer, said the RLX, Acura's flagship sedan, is little more than a larger, heavily contented Accord. While adapting Honda's FWD architecture to a car with E-Class and 5-Series fighting pretensions saved money, the result is a car that doesn't accomplish its mission, in the reviewer's opinion. Further, it's not even an effective competitor to the A-6 Quattro. Was Dan Neil too critical of the RLX?

    Incidentally, Consumers Reports rated the 2013 A-6 best-in-class; better than the E-Class or 5-Series.

    It should be mentioned that the RLX will be available with AWD later this year. The AWD version will also have more power. I hope the WSJ tests that model too, to see whether that will make the RLX more competitive with its German rivals. And, let's not forget Cadillac, which just introduced an all-new, larger CTS to take on the Germans. Plus, Lexus, Infiniti and Jaguar aren't standing still.

    There were many years when Acura cars were important players in the entry luxury car segment, and one level higher with the Legend and NSX, but in recent years Acura's successes have only been in SUVs and crossovers. Acura badly needs a successful sedan on the order of the '99-'03 and '04-'08 TLs. Maybe the '14 TLX will be that car. Or maybe there's still hope for the RLX, once the AWD version becomes available.
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