When it was launched, more than a quarter-century ago, Acura transformed the way Americans thought about Japanese cars, proving that the Asians could challenge the well-established European and domestic luxury brands. But the initial success of the Honda Motor Co. subsidiary proved far too fleeting and in recent years, Acura has lagged in the back of the premium pack.
One can come up with any number of reasons to explain Acura’s malaise: the switch from well-respected model names like Legend to forgettable alphanumeric alternatives; some strange styling decisions, such as the awkward chrome grille critics deride as the “beak”; increased competition, especially from newer Japanese brands – but perhaps the start of the decline was the model that replaced the once-formidable Legend, the Acura RL.
It wasn’t a bad car. Well, not all that bad. It just wasn’t the sort of product to provide a halo around your brand – even if you could remember its name. Now, to be honest, there was more than a bit of disappointment when Acura announced it would introduce an all-new flagship model but not bring back the Legend nameplate. The question is whether the all-new 2014 Acura RLX delivers what the Honda luxury brand needs, whatever you call it?