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Acura Plans Major Brand Makeover

New NSX concept will share Detroit stage with next RDX and all-new ILX.

by on Dec.12, 2011

Acura will get a new face, and you'll see a lot less of the "shield" grille going forward.

Struggling to remain relevant in the increasingly competitive luxury car market, Acura will pull the wraps off three new models at next month’s Detroit Auto Show that will quite literally introduce a new face for Honda’s high-line brand.

The three offerings will cover the broad range of the future Acura line-up, with a long-awaited remake of the NSX supercar, an all-new entry-luxury sedan, dubbed ILX, and a prototype 5-passenger SUV that’s a thinly disguised version of the 2013 RDX crossover.

The three models will all but do away with the controversial “shield” grille used on today’s Acura models as the maker searches for a more appealing yet equally distinctive design language.  They will also begin the brand’s new push to position itself as the luxury segment’s fuel economy leader.

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In a background briefing, company officials said their goal is to regain the relevance Acura had in its early years when it was the first and only Japanese luxury brand. “The reality is while Acura started out as a luxury leader we didn’t capitalize on our brand,” acknowledged Jeff Conrad, Vice President of Acura Sales.


Acura Will Show Redesigned TL in Chicago

Automaker not ready to release details of 2012 model.

by on Jan.25, 2011

Acura is set to announce an updated version of its TL sedan at the Chicago Auto Show.

Many pundits would argue that Acura’s design studio has sort of lost its way with its recent designs, but next month’s Chicago Auto Show could be a chance for the automaker to change course.

Acura will show a “newly refined” 2012 TL at its press conference, scheduled for Feb. 9.

“The TL … further enhances its position in the segment with aggressive, yet refined styling and performance,” said Jeff Conrad, vice president of Acura sales.


First Drive: 2010 Acura TSX V-6

Filling a gap.

by on Aug.03, 2009

The 2010 Acura TSX V-6 fills a gap between the base sedan and the TL, which recently moved upscale.

The 2010 Acura TSX V-6 fills a gap between the base sedan and the TL, which recently moved upscale.

While virtually every luxury automaker has adopted some alphanumeric variation, Acura seems to have gone particularly out of its way to challenge potential buyers to keep up with its product line-up.  It’s too bad so many folks find it difficult to distinguish a TL from an RL and an RDX from a TSX, because they may simply turn to another brand entirely.  But these days, Acura has plenty of reasons to check out its offerings.

Indeed, the upcoming launch of the 2010 Acura TSX V-6 is all the more reason for sorting through the brand’s confusing nomenclature.  The base model in the Japanese brand’s line-up, the I-4-powered TSX has been a solid and appealing offering, affordable, well-equipped and reasonably sporty.  But Acura had a yawning gap in its line-up, after moving the latest version of its larger and more expensive TL up-market, a breach it is about to fill by adding a second version of its base model, the 2010 TSX V-6.

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While some makers might have gone out of their way to ensure you could spot the new model at a distance, Acura has taken a surprisingly conservative approach with its styling, doing little more than making the lower air intake functional and bolting on a V-6 badge.  It’s what you can’t see that makes the real difference, it turns out.

The heart of the new sedan is a 3.5-liter V-6 – shared with the larger, front-drive version of the TL – making 280 horsepower and 254 pound-feet of torque.  Significantly, you’ve got more torque, right off the line, than the old inline-four made at peak, and when you add in the extra 70 horsepower, the difference in performance is significant, the TSX V-6 turning 0 – 60 times of about 7 seconds, a full two seconds faster than with the base engine.


Re-Defining Acura

First Japanese luxury brand struggles to stand out in a crowd.

by on Jul.29, 2009

The 2010 Acura ZDX, shown here at its debut, during this year's New York Auto Show, will be critical to building momentum for the Honda luxury brand.

The 2010 Acura ZDX, shown here at its debut, during this year's New York Auto Show, will be critical to building momentum for the Honda luxury brand.

It’s turning into a busy year for Acura, the luxury arm of Honda Motor Co.  The oldest of the Japanese brands is launching an array of all-new or updated models, from the new ZDX crossover to the V-6 version of its TSX sedan, in a bid to gain momentum in a market that’s both crowded and sluggish.

The success of the new products will be critical for Acura, which was the first of the Japanese luxury brands – but which also seemed to lose its way, in recent years.  The Honda subsidiary has been struggling to create a true brand identity that differentiates it from better-known competitors, such as Lexus, BMW and Mercedes-Benz.

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Unlike those competitors, Acura has taken a generally conservative approach to its products.  It’s aimed for the lower to middle luxury market – unlike Lexus, for example, with its big LS sedans and LX sport-utes.  And Acura has opted against the V-8s, V-12s and performance-based hybrids that help define other luxury brands.

As a result, analysts contend, it has remained an also-ran in the high-line market.