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Where is Honda taking Acura?

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  • habitat1habitat1 Posts: 4,282
    Addimg more hp to a FWD setup is useless and could be outright dangerous at WOT."

    I'm not 100% on board with that because I've been hearing it ever since V6 engines starting making more than 200 hp. It's like a line in the sand that keeps getting redrawn. "I dare you to step across this line... now this line... now this line..."


    My 1995 Maxima SE 5-speed has 190 hp vs. the 1995 BMW 328i with 189 and both were neck and neck in acceleration w/ 0-60 times of around 6.5-6.7 seconds.

    In 2007, the TL-S 6-speed w/ 286 horsepower is in the high 5 second range - better than my 12 year old Maxima, but at the expense of much worse city gas mileage and more than a couple extra handfuls of wheel hop and torque steer to try to control. In 2007, the 335i w/ 300 horsepower is in the high 4 second range - which would be supercar territory in 1995. And it get's the same fuel economy as the 1995 328i. Not to mention that my 8 year old could control the steering wheel under hard acceleration.

    Twelve years of adding horsepower to FWD platforms has produced some performance gains, but a 2007 TLS is a heck of a lot closer to a 1995 Maxima than it is to a 2007 335i. Both in acceleration and handling.

    If, in fact, Acura wants the TL to compete with the likes of an ES350, the FWD setup isn't an issue. But it's lost a lot of ground to the sport oriented ELLPS just since I bought my 2004 TL 6-speed. And FWD or grossly overweight SH-AWD is too much of an impediment to make up that lost ground. The TL can move forward or backward in the ELLPS segment, but it can't tread water and think it isn't really doing the latter.
  • varmintvarmint Posts: 6,326
    "With that said, I generally agree that the compromises necessary to make FWD perform properly with gobs of power are becoming less and less attractive."

    I never recommended adding more power to a FWD TL. That is fiction. Didn't say it. Probably haven't ever said it. Will deny having said it, even if you've got pictures.

    What I wrote (twice now) was that Acura could add power to an SH-AWD TL.

    You're all shooting down an argument I never made.
  • hausshauss Posts: 169
    ...Lexus, Infiniti, and M-B are tearing up BMW's ELLPS sales. Check out the latest list of top selling luxury cars on either Forbes.com or Businessweek.com. BMW's 3 series was the top seller last year and #2 the year before. It traded places with Lexus' RX SUV. Infiniti has had one car on the list the past 3 years (the G35) and M-B had none on the list last year. Heck, the ES350 is outselling every other ELLS other than the 3 series. Does that make it a better car than any other ELLPS this side of a 3 series? No, it just means it appeals to a greater range of people.

    And finally, yes TL sales are down. It's on the down cycle of it's current generation. As the G35 aged from 2003 - 2006 it too lost sales year over year the last couple of years. That didn't make it a completely unattractive car to buyers.

    Personally, I'd like to see Acura make the next gen TL with RWD standard and then SH-AWD as optional for those who want it (i.e. the snowbelt). If they went that direction I think they'd put a whooping on Infiniti and Lexus for sure in the ELLPS market because they've been able to do a heck of a job engineering a FWD vehicle with it's current capabilities. Imagine what those same people could do with RWD. BMW might even take notice.
  • louisweilouiswei Posts: 3,717
    I have no doubt in Honda/Acura's ability to engineer an excellent RWD TL. However, the question to ask here is: can Acura keep the cost down if the next TL is RWD with SH-AWD as an option so it'll still be the value leader in its class?

    I personally think the reason why the current TL is so successful is primarily due to its "best bang for the bucks" factor. No other ELLPS can compete with Acura when comes to standard options and gadgetry. A base TL w/o navi at $31K and $33K w/ navi are great deals. Heck, even the $35K TL-S doesn't look bad when comparing to IS350, which starts at $36.5K and 335i at $39K, better yet the TL-S comes with standard navi!!! Also, Acura did a heck of a job to make the TL feet as less FWD as possible. Asides from its nose-heavy feel, the TL is pretty competitive against its RWD rivals performance/handling wise.

    Acura is able to keep TL's price down because:

    1. only one model to choose from (FWD, 4 door) which saves a lot of production cost.
    2. platform sharing with Accord and some other models which I am not aware of (Pilot?)

    I seriously doubt that by making TL RWD with SH-AWD as option that Acura could continue to keep the price down. When Acura starting to ask $35K for a base TL and over $40K for a loaded, top of the line, SH-AWD model then that's where the trouble starts...
  • hausshauss Posts: 169
    You're most likely right about the manufacturing cost factor. I realize those are limitations they are up against. It's just my personal choice that I'd like to see them go RWD. So, thinking in those terms it might be more likely that the next gen TL has SH-AWD. I'm sure they could offer that without going bonkers on the sticker price. I mean it's already on three of their vehicles and two of them you can get for under $40k. So, I think they can do that and still stay in the race for value. But they may not win over those RWD handling fans. There's always a compromise.
  • autoboy16autoboy16 Posts: 992
    And what about TL? If Accord looked like TL, there would be even less incentive for buyers to spend another $6K to get into the Acura. The bottom line: Honda/Acura need to stop shooting at each others’ feet.

    Thew is difference between those models though. Its probably been said thousands of times. With accord, you get a more powerful engine with the same MPG, more luxurious interior, DVD-Audio w/ surround sound, and if you get the nav, you get NAV-Traffic. On paper, the TL and Accord sound the same. Everywhere else, big difference!

    Their shooting their foot by letting the TL out Value the Rl, not the accord to the TL. For $10k less, you get more features, less hp, and no AWD. For $5k less, you get a sportier car, more features, 4hp less and still more MPG.

    The TSX for some reason is different. Its a try hard sporty car that impresses. Its smaller, just as expensive (OMG which reminds me; A TSX with nav finally broke the 30k barrier for 2007...) It has a few features the TL has like a smaller engine, better MPG, and folding rear seat. Its my next car. The TL is my Dream car. No matter what, Acura has a sale with me.

    Lets talk about Volvo beating honda to a v8...
  • robertsmxrobertsmx Posts: 5,525
    Tell me why you think Accord's sales went down from about 398K in 2003 to 354K in 2006.

    Lets talk about Volvo beating honda to a v8...

    And that would be setting goals very low.
  • robertsmxrobertsmx Posts: 5,525
    And finally, yes TL sales are down. It's on the down cycle of it's current generation. As the G35 aged from 2003 - 2006 it too lost sales year over year the last couple of years. That didn't make it a completely unattractive car to buyers.

    Acura has chosen to follow a five year cycle, so it better have a good excuse to explain a drastically downward trend in sales after just three. And unlike G35, TL was an established model with good sales. G35 started out with 30K in its launch year, and went up to 43K in its fourth year. In fifth, the sales were lower at 40K, but with the redesign, the sales haven’t just jumped, they have increased substantially. Every car competing in the class needs to watch out. Not doing so and relying on past will come back to haunt Acura.

    1999-2003 TL was not suffering the same after the fourth year, as this generation is which I think is a huge improvement over the old. In fact, it took a bad press related to transmission issues, final year of the model and announcement of TSX that TL sales dipped in fifth year. To put that in perspective, in Jan-Feb 2003, Acura sold 7.3K units of TL, which is the lowest ever over nine year period. In Jan-Feb 2007, Acura has sold 7.9K units. Over the other seven years, over same period, Acura sold 10-11K units, regardless of the “newness” or “oldness” of the model.

    Acura better be prepared with a strong TL next time around or else, as I have already quoted a few weeks ago, it doesn’t take long to go in a downward spiral. Legend sold very well in the past, before it hit its downward spiral. And it took only five years to go from 66K units (1991) to only 36K units (1994). And since then, the Legend/RL name has never recovered, thanks to… patch work and lack of proper direction.
  • robertsmxrobertsmx Posts: 5,525
    I have no doubt in Honda/Acura's ability to engineer an excellent RWD TL. However, the question to ask here is: can Acura keep the cost down if the next TL is RWD with SH-AWD as an option so it'll still be the value leader in its class?

    Why not? Infiniti and Lexus don’t seem to have problem doing just that. And its not that TL is going to be any cheaper than it is now, with next generation. If it is, then I won’t complain. But the way I see it, we may be talking $35K-$36K for base TL and almost $40K for Type-S before SH-AWD is added to counter FWD limitations. Besides, use of FF platform on RL hasn’t helped it on the cost front anyway. It has definitely helped Infiniti sell more M’s because they don’t need to add the cost and weight of an AWD system to stay competitive. OTOH, to cut costs and offer a lower priced trim, Acura decides to give up real wood in favor of faux since they can’t really push RL as a front driver in that class (or seem to think so).

    That said, if Acura adopts RWD for TL, it might pave way for the car to not only compete in sub-40K price class, but people may not have a tough time paying for it in the low 40s with SH-AWD. And $35K and under can belong to TSX.
  • hausshauss Posts: 169
    I never said anything about the TL relying on it's past sales history to keep selling in the future. As for numbers here are few for you:

    Year 3rd Gen TL G35 Sedan
    2002 - 29,590
    2003 - 35,765
    2004 77,895 42,800
    2005 78,218 42,779
    2006 71,348 40,346

    Based on those numbers I'd say the 1st gen G35 sales were pretty steady. I'd say the same for the 3rd gen TL with the exception being this year. Could it be the changes to the G35 and BMW 328i are taking some of their market share? There's probably some truth to that.

    However, if the TL continues to have their sales down by 21-22% as we've seen in the past few months it'll end up with roughly 55,000 unit sold. So, perhaps the addition of some minor style changes and the Type-S model aren't doing much to sway a lot of buyers but I'm betting Acura will do something slight to increase interest for 2008.

    Infiniti was constantly tweaking their 1st gen G sedan year over year. Things such as slight horsepower changes and adding a manual tranny, minor interior improvements, minor exterior style changes, adding more features into the base price, and even adding some options not originally available. Acura could easily follow that business model to improve it's base model and deaden their sales slide somewhat. I'd hardly say the car is in dire straights of becoming extinct.
  • hausshauss Posts: 169
    I think his point was more so that currently Honda does not have a RWD platform from which to build the TL so they'd have to create some new manufacturing processes to be able to do it. The G35 had the 350z to model itself after. The current IS350 could build off of the old IS300's assembly lines. Acura in building the TL as a RWD model in '09 may have to incur some additional manufacturing expenses. They would then need to take a bath on those expenses upfront and plan to recover them over time by keeping their pricing near the same or they would have to increase prices by a significant factor in that first model year (say 5 - 10%). They might be against the later for fear of chasing away customers.
  • rockyleerockylee Posts: 14,011
    If the car has the credentials even this GM biased guy thinks a Acura TL w/SH-AWD can sell very well with a MSRP touch the low side of $40K. I owned a 05' and loved the product very much but not the brand. Hell the Lexus IS350, BMW 335i, hit in the mid-upper $40's quite easily so a low $40K Acura TL w/ SH-AWD will still look like a bargain and I expect it to have class leading power and gadgetology.

    Rocky
  • autoboy16autoboy16 Posts: 992
    Making up words like kia now are we? "Precision steerology..." LOL!! Heck, acura has the "Tecnocharged RDX" :blush:

    On a more serious note, For acura to increase sales, I think we should see:
    - Lighter Cars
    - At LEAST 1 RWD model
    - Convertible/coupe

    Ok. On the lighter cars bit, honda uses Aluminum alloy for the engine right?

    What about Magnesium for the engine and rims? I say for a new version of the 3.2l v6 with magnesium. Lowers weight and saves money. That what bmw uses in the new 3.

    If not lighter weight, what about shifting more weight to the rear. Battery, full size spare tire, ect?

    -Cj
  • rockyleerockylee Posts: 14,011
    "gadgetology" is not a word I made-up but was made up by a poster here and I kind of stole that word from him. I liked the sounding to it and about everyone knows what it means when I use it and Acura, pretty much is a gadgetology company.

    Rocky
  • robertsmxrobertsmx Posts: 5,525
    Initial expense is an investment is an integral part of doing business. Having RWD platform and manufacturing facility wasn't automatic for Toyota and Nissan. Or perhaps they have been smarter, and are reaping the fruits today. Honda will have to do it eventually and has invested in manufacturing facilities as necessary. They did it even for a niche model that is S2000 carrying a sales volume of 12K-15K per year. With a mainstream RWD platform, they could target sales in excess of 100K (more if they decide to use that platform for a performance coupe in Honda lineup, like Nissan does with 350Z).

    And expense is always incurred when a new model is launched. It usually takes a few months to recuperate those costs. In case of S2000, the period was six months.
  • robertsmxrobertsmx Posts: 5,525
    I agree. But TL will have to be a strong candidate at the mainstream level. A top trim with SH-AWD would be nice, and at that point it really doesn't matter if it is based off FF platform or FR. But, for competance, it needs to have as little compromise as possible in base models.
  • varmintvarmint Posts: 6,326
    Infiniti and Lexus both have backing that is not yet available to Acura.

    Toyota/Lexus is a huge company with more cash than god. They can subsidize the IS cars with rebadged Landcruisers, Sequoias, and 4Runners in the Lexus line-up. The two brands are a true full-line manufacturer with offerings from sub-compacts to full-size pickups. If one vehicle falters, or requires help via incentives, they can spread the hurt around.

    In the case of Nissan/Infiniti, they have Renault to act as a sugar daddy. Now, I recognize that Renault is not nearly as well off as Toyota, but having them as a sugar daddy is better than no daddy at all. Nissan/Infiniti is also, like Toyota, a full-line manufacturer.

    When Lexus introduced the original IS300, its was RWD and followed the BMW model very closely. Magazine reviews placed it very near the top of the class and hailed it as the best 3-series fighter to date. It failed miserably in the marketplace.

    Toyota can take that kind of body blow. Acura cannot.

    If Acura is going to take a gamble by going RWD, they are far better off doing with the RL. That car has not been a big part of the company's image or business case since 1996.
  • autoboy16autoboy16 Posts: 992
    What if Sh-awd is still not the complete product? Like ATTS in the prelude?

    Or if its in its early days, i hope 2.0 is lighter or something. I think it would be nice if honda came up with an awd that lets you select the driving wheels. FWD, RWD, or AWD.

    -Cj
  • robertsmxrobertsmx Posts: 5,525
    SH-AWD laden car will never be lighter than one without it. The bottomline is, Honda needs to avoid taking shortcuts and applying patches to define its Acura lineup. And that cannot happen by using limiting platforms while decapitating Honda at the same time. Acura deserves a dedicated platform.
  • robertsmxrobertsmx Posts: 5,525
    Not a good excuse. If Acura wants to grow, it cannot play the role of a miser and expect to "advance". There's a limit upto which conservatism works. Beyond that, its yield point.

    Speaking of Lexus IS, while it was (relatively speaking) a failure compared to 3-series (which car actually gets any close to that benchmark from BMW anyway?), the next generation has advanced IS to sales volume rivaling TL while being more expensive. People may have had trouble paying low 30s for IS300, but they apparently are accepting the IS (despite its weaknesses) in low 40s where even RL can't compete. Whats happening there?
  • varmintvarmint Posts: 6,326
    I can't think of anything more conservative than doing exactly what everyone else in the industry is doing. You want Acura to copycat every other brand in the industry. Then you cry about them not being inventive.

    5 years worth of failure to get a car that sells almost as well as the TL? Not a great strategy.
  • b10609b10609 Posts: 37
    Anyone wishing for the simpler ACURA days - please take a look at CSX on the Acura.ca site for Honda's product in that market in Canada. Nifty luxo version of the Civic - very reasonable if you want smaller economy/luxury ride. -WATERLOO
  • autoboy16autoboy16 Posts: 992
    I agree with you on some days. What if acura doesn't want to be known for RWD. I think that 30+ years into the business with most cars being FWD/FF vehicles. What if acura wants to be know for sporty FWD vehicles?

    -TL/Vigor, TSX, MDX, RDX, RSX/Integra and the Legend were all great sporty FWD vehicles. MDX and RDX are awd but FWD biased. Acuras approach to things has been different but it always worked out somehow.

    The RL has been the only non success. It needs to be larger than the TL and more of a deal. More luxury in it and hopefully Honda will finish a V8 engine.

    -Cj
  • robertsmxrobertsmx Posts: 5,525
    Is Acura the only one in the industry doing FWD cars? Wait... they are afraid of removing AWD from RL, aren't they? If it didn't matter, why did they opt to cut costs by replacing real wood with faux? Thats the kind of hole Acura has dug up for itself to live in. Hopefully, it has a plan to get out of it.

    The quest for RWD has nothing to do with "what everybody else is doing". It has to do with fundamental engineering. Why didn't Honda use Accord platform to build a sports car that is S2000? Instead they chose FR platform like everybody else.

    There is nothing inventive about using FF platform from everything Honda to everything Acura.

    As for TL, one can only hope TL can sell in the future as well as it has in the past. But you haven't gotten my basic point. RL needs help. Can't do without a new platform. And if Honda's way is to consolidate platform and spread out cost to make it profitable quicker, there is no other vehicle in the lineup better suited to help than TL.

    Besides, there needs to be consistency in the lineup. Chaotic lineup will take Acura nowhere.
  • autoboy16autoboy16 Posts: 992
    I was going to say that Saab uses FWD sporty sedans but they are not selling well... Saab will begin selling better when the new 9-3 comes out on the new Malibu's platform. The Malibu looks great!

    Plus saab had other ergonomic issues that they clean up for 2007. Maybe Acura needs to uses fewer buttons in their cars too without jamming them all into the NAV. Think iDrive for acura if they keep going in their same direction. They already have the joystick in 3 models....

    From the Bottom to the top

    image
    MDX
    image

    IMO, little changes like this makes a difference. Some controls just need to be in the right place. Take the nissan quest 06 & 07 for example.

    I do hope acura gets keyless go. An actual START/STOP button instead of the twisty keylike thing in the RL. I like Nissans Smart key in the Altima and the same for Toyota.

    Acura does need some more luxurious touches! More power shades, the start button, cooled/heated seats, ect. I'm not saying a recliner and massaging seats like the Lexus460 but I think you get my point...

    -Cj
  • carguy58carguy58 Posts: 2,303
    "Honda may have lost some overall sales last year and some of Accord’s buyer made a lateral move to get into TSX instead. While those sales stayed with AHM, for a company to grow it MUST attract new buyers and retain the old ones. The only way to accomplish it is to be more aggressive with Accord (not ridiculously aggressive like they tried in 2003) and at the same time TSX has to maintain its appeal over Accord."

    I don;t think Honda was agressive at all in the styling of the 03 Accord I think they were very conservative with the styling especially with the back end styling of the sedan.

    Yes some of the old Accord buyers did go to the TSX yes but the 03 Accord's styling also turned off people enough I believe to buy a Toyota Camry, Nissan Altima, or Mazda 6 too.

    Also, in 2006 yes Accord sales were down to 354K units like you said and like I said on the paragraph above I believe its to do with the styling(despite the 2006 mid-cycle refresh) but also a new Toyota Camry came onto the market too early in 2006 which I believe contributed to some lost Accord sales.

    I agree though Honda has to be more aggressive on the styling of the Accord because people want mid-size cars that have some style to them nowadays. The 08 Accord concept looks promising alot better than the current generation Accord but at the same I don;t think thats saying much. To me anything would be an improvement over the current Accord looks.
  • carguy58carguy58 Posts: 2,303
    "Remember the Accord rear end debacle that cost millions to get around? And it still didn’t help the company."

    Well Honda did the best job they could with the refresh of the current generation Accord I think. To me there was very little Honda could do with on the 06 Accord refresh to make the 06 Accord better recieved to buyers than the 03-05 Accord. BTW, Yeah Honda spent 20 million just to fix the back end of the current generation Accord.

    I think the 94-95 Accord had a rear end that people didn't take a liking to either but at least there was things that Honda did(or could do)for the 96 Accord on the styling that buyers took a better liking to the 96-97 Accord better than the 94-95 model.
  • carguy58carguy58 Posts: 2,303
    "To a certain extent, I agree with that. And the RL is a good case study. It is fundamentally not up to par for many reasons. To some extent the RDX is in the same boat. However, the TL does not share their problems. It's quite possibly the most successful Acura in the history of the brand."

    Well the RDX Acura only planned to sell 20,000 RDX's yearly I think. I remember Honda official Richard Colliver stating on a press release last year that the RDX could add 20,000 units to Acura sales yearly.
  • carguy58carguy58 Posts: 2,303
    "Robert said: And what about TL? If Accord looked like TL, there would be even less incentive for buyers to spend another $6K to get into the Acura. The bottom line: Honda/Acura need to stop shooting at each others’ feet."

    "autoboy 16 said: Thew is difference between those models though. Its probably been said thousands of times. With accord, you get a more powerful engine with the same MPG, more luxurious interior, DVD-Audio w/ surround sound, and if you get the nav, you get NAV-Traffic. On paper, the TL and Accord sound the same. Everywhere else, big difference!"

    I have to agree with Robert here that Acura's can;t look like Honda's because when people drive a Acura they don;t want other people to mistake it for Honda.
  • autoboy16autoboy16 Posts: 992
    You must have horrible eyesight to mistake the TL for the accord! RL for the accord I could understand...

    Before I knew the TSX existed(2005), I thought it was the TL! Both look great!
    image
    image
    image

    My $.02, I would like to get a TSX instead of the TL or Accord because of my current accord. When I decide to go get one, I would just like a more refreshed version of my current car. 166 hp is less than what I have(170hp v6) and the TSX is more.

    The 06 and 95 accord only share names. The TSX looks more like the natural evolution. The 96accord, to the 2002accord, to the Tsx looks like what the line was supposed to be. IMO.

    -Cj
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