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Acura Hopes Revised ILX Can Gain Momentum in Booming Compact Luxury Market

Update delivers more power, technology and improved appearance.

by on Nov.21, 2014

Acura's Mike Accavitti introduces the 2016 version of the Acura ILX this week at the Los Angeles Auto Show.

In the high-tech world, companies like Apple often go for what’s known as “first-mover advantage.” By that logic, Acura should be dominating the booming compact luxury sedan segment with its once-groundbreaking ILX model. But things haven’t worked out as the maker hoped.

The ILX has been struggling to simply hold its momentum as newer entries like the Audi A3 and segment-leading Mercedes-Benz CLA race to market. Sales of the Acura offering tumbled 19.3% last month and are off 16.2% for the full calendar-year.

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So, the luxury arm of Honda Motor Co. has a lot riding on the 2016 version of the Acura ILX that was unveiled this week at the Los Angeles Auto Show. The updated model comes as an unusually early mid-cycle refresh, and aims to address the shortfalls of the original by tweaking its appearance, boosting its power and adding plenty of new technology. (more…)

Acura Prepping “Substantially New” ILX for 2016

Remake to debut at LA Auto Show next month.

by on Oct.20, 2014

Acura tosses out a teaser of the 2016 ILX.

Hoping to salvage its sluggish-selling entry-level model, the ILX, Acura is promising to reveal a “substantially new” version of the compact sedan at the Los Angeles Auto Show next month.

Launched for the 2013 model-year, the ILX got off to a slow start amidst mixed reviews, though it has been bringing in some of the Gen-X and Gen-Y buyers that Acura has been desperate to win over. But playing in one of the market’s hottest – and most competitive – market segments, “good enough” clearly isn’t enough to put Acura back on the map.

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“The new 2016 ILX stands to solidify and broaden its appeal with a comprehensive update that includes a potent new powertrain, more forceful, sporty exterior styling, and substantially upgraded interior design,” declared a statement from the Honda luxury brand.

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First Drive: 2015 Acura TLX

Finally, a sedan that lives up to Acura's reputation.

by on Aug.06, 2014

Acura debuted its new TLX. The midsize sedan is expected help the brand reassert its position in the luxury segment.

Few automakers have had more riding on a single model than Acura does with the launch of the new 2015 TLX. Replacing two less-than-stellar offerings, the old TL and TSX, the new mid-range sedan is the Japanese maker’s stake in the ground, intended to prove that it really can take on the best in a field of tough competitors.

To get there, the Honda subsidiary has not only come up with a more visually compelling design than we’ve seen in recent years, but also some promising technology – including the latest version of its torque vectoring system, the awkwardly named Super-Handling All-Wheel-Drive, or SH-AWD.

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Acura is hoping the new TLX will do what several other recent sedans, namely the ILX and RLX, couldn’t: put it back on the luxury map. It’s not so much that Acura has done anything terrible to alienate potential customers. If anything, it has scored a solid hit with the latest version of its big MDX crossover, sales up more than 55% for the first seven months of 2014. But that success on the SUV side hasn’t translated over to the Acura passenger car line-up. (more…)

Acura MDX Sales Set Record – But Passenger Cars Remain a Problem

Japanese luxury brand bills MDX as best-selling 3-row ute ever.

by on Jul.11, 2014

The 2014 Acura MDX has readily outsold all its competitors in the three-row luxury SUV category.

With sales up more than 68% so far this year, Acura is billing its MDX as the best-selling three-row luxury SUV ever. The redesign has clearly clicked with consumers, but the MDX has been a hot-seller ever since its introduction 15 years ago, topping all other three-row competitors every year since 2002.

That’s the good news for Acura, but there’s also plenty of bad. Despite introducing several new passenger cars in recent years, including its entry-level ILX and flagship RDX, Acura’s passenger cars simply aren’t cutting it with consumers.

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So, despite the surge in sales of the brand’s big SUV, Acura’s overall volume slumped 18.6% in June, making it one of the few brands to report a decline as the U.S. car market continues its recovery.

“MDX is the clear benchmark in its class,” crowed the Acura Division’s General Manager Mike Accavitti, proclaiming that “Luxury car buyers have spoken.”

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How Low Can They Go? Competition Heats up for Entry-Lux Buyers

Audi debuting A3 at $29,900 to take on Mercedes CLA.

by on Jan.17, 2014

The all-new 2015 Audi A3 is coming to America in four different versions.

Audi will introduce its completely redesigned 2015 A3 sedan at a starting price of just $29,900, about $4,000 lower than the maker’s current base model, the A4.  That means Audi also will match the price of the new Mercedes-Benz CLA, currently one of the hottest products on the U.S. market.

The Audi A3 and Mercedes CLA are part of a wave of new entry-lux vehicles – a list also including makers like Lincoln, Cadillac and Lexus – that are meant to attract buyers who might traditionally opt for mainstream brand offerings but who would like a vehicle with a more upscale cache.

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“We’re seeing buyers we’ve never seen before in our stores,” Steve Cannon, CEO of Mercedes-Benz USA, says about the impact of the new CLA coupe-like sedan. The model is perhaps the German maker’s biggest success story in the U.S. ever, with an estimated 80% of its buyers coming from outside the Mercedes brand.

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Acura Hoping Hybrid Version Can Charge Up Sluggish Sales of ILX Model

2014 remake of ILX Hybrid to start just under $30,000.

by on Oct.16, 2013

The 2014 Acura ILX Hybrid's new single-motor gas-electric drivetrain delivers up to 38 mpg Combined.

The new Acura ILX Hybrid has charged into dealer showrooms.  The question is whether anyone will notice.

Aimed at entry-luxury buyers, the ILX seems to have missed out on what has generally become the fastest-growing segment in the high-line market. But with increasing interest in “green” technology among the younger buyers fueling that growth, Acura is hoping the ILX will finally plug in.

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The new hybrid model will carry a relatively modest $2,000 price premium over a comparable, gas-powered Acura ILX, at a base MSRP of $29,795. Equipped with the Tech Package – which includes such nicety as satellite radio, navigation with real-time traffic, and an upgraded audio system — the price jumps to $35,495. Both figures include $895 in destination charges.

Even the base model will carry such upscale touches as keyless entry, push-button start, a moonroof, alloy wheels, Bluetooth, Pandora radio and an Active Noise Cancellation system. But the EPA Combined rating of 38 mpg is expected to be an equally important selling point.

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Acura Places Bet on China – But Remains Focused on U.S.

Maker to open plant in China by 2016.

by on Jul.22, 2013

Honda will revive the Acura NSX for 2015.

Honda’s long-struggling luxury brand Acura reportedly plans to start building cars in China in 2016, targeting what is soon expected to become the world’s largest market for highline vehicles.

But Acura officials insist that even as they look for other opportunities abroad, they are increasing their focus on what has traditionally been their largest market, the United States.  They’re backing that up with an assortment of new products that will soon include an all-new version of the once ground-breaking supercar, the Acura NSX.

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Honda plans to invest about $70 million on its flagship plant in Marysville, Ohio to get ready for the re-launch, late next year, of the revived NSX. The sleek, 2-seat sports car was once a showpiece of Asian automotive prowess and lent a halo to Honda’s Acura division, the first Japanese brand to target the demanding luxury market.  But after a 15-year-run, the NSX was pulled from production in 2005 a move that coincided with Acura’s sharp downturn, leading some to wonder whether it could survive, especially as the automotive market plunged into recession.

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Acura Debuts Sporty 2014 ILX

Second version looks to improve on shortcomings.

by on May.14, 2013

The 2014 Acura ILX received a series of thorough upgrades from last year's model.

After Honda received a lukewarm response to its all-new Acura ILX last year, the Japanese maker elected to revise the luxury sports sedan again this year.

It marks the second time in as many years it has had to go back to the drawing board with a small car. It did the same with the Honda Civic.

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The second-edition Civic received rave reviews from critics when it came out. The company, which also disclosed it is planning a hybrid version of the compact sport sedan, is banking it can strike gold twice.

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Honda Offers Siri Integration

Automaker is first of several expected to pair Apple's voice assistant with cars.

by on Feb.01, 2013

Honda will offer integration of Apple's Siri as a dealer-installed option in three vehicles starting later this year.

Honda will integrate Apple’s Siri intelligent assistant into its vehicles as an option for customers who own iPhones.

Siri’s is a potentially significant development for an auto industry where carmakers are scrambling to equip vehicles with the next big thing in infotainment systems that can both limit driver distractions while allowing motorists to have access to their media and friends.

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Ford has said that its Sync voice-activated system has driven sales of its cars. It has also triggered a wave of copycat systems, such as Toyota’s EnForm and Cadillac’s Cue. Analysts are now watching to see if Siri integration in cars will become a prime purchasing factor for buyers.

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Acura Went “Overboard” Says New Design Chief

That said, the “beak” won’t vanish.

by on Jun.21, 2012

Acura went "a little overboard" with its beak-like grille, admits the brand's new design chief.

It may be the single most consistently derided design feature for any brand on the market in recent years, but while the new head of Acura design admits the maker went “overboard,” the Japanese luxury brand won’t entirely abandon “the beak.”

That’s the derisive term that critics routinely used to describe the chrome, V-shaped shield that dominates the face of most recent Acura models, such as the TL sedan and MDX crossover.  The distinctive feature has been toned down slightly on the maker’s latest additions, including the all-new ILX, however.

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“We concede that we went a little overboard at some points,” conceded Toshinobu Minami, the new design director for Honda’s luxury brand, in an interview with Automotive News.  He blamed this styling mis-cue on some “pretty bad feedback” the maker got after introducing what Acura then described as its “keen edge” styling theme in 2008.

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