Acura history and history video
“Acura has been setting new standards in automotive design and engineering for two decades through bold innovation, a refined sense of aesthetics, and precision manufacturing. By introducing groundbreaking technologies like Super Handling All-Wheel Drive™ (SH-AWD®), Variable Valve Timing and Lift Electronic Control (VTEC®), and the Advanced Compatibility Engineering™ (ACE™) structural design, Acura has continually redefined the state of the art.
The result is a stunning vehicle lineup with exhilarating performance and unsurpassed comfort and safety features—with the most exacting attention to details. And the extreme care that Acura gives to the making of each automobile extends into the community and environment as well.”
“1980s: Introduction of the Acura brand
Following a decade of research, Honda opened 60 new dealerships in North America by 1986, to support its Acura automobile division. Acura was the first Japanese luxury brand, introduced under the slogan, “Acura. Precision Crafted Performance.” Its initial offering consisted of two models: the executive class Legend and the compact class Integra, available as a five-door and three-door hatchback. The Legend was the result of Project XX, a joint venture Honda entered into with the UK’s Austin Rover Group. It was mechanically related to the Rover 800 series, while the Integra was an improvement of the Honda Quint hatchback.
The success of these models, particularly the Legend, led to competing Japanese luxury brand ventures (Toyota’s Lexus that began development in 1983 as the F1 project, and Nissan’s Infiniti who began development in 1985 by revising their Japan-only flagship Nissan President; in the late 1990s Mazda planned but never launched its own Amati luxury division). The goal of the Legend was to compete with rivals Toyota Crown and the Nissan Cedric and Gloria, but due to its 1986 introduction worldwide, Toyota, Nissan and other companies like Lincoln took notice of the markets reaction to the Legend and later the Vigor and offered vehicles that addressed the executive size car. Toyota introduced the Lexus ES, Nissan introduced the Infiniti J30 and Ford utilized the Taurus platform and named their new sedan the Lincoln Continental.
In 1987, Acura’s first full year of sales, they sold 109,000 cars with the flagship Legend sedan accounting for 55,000 sales and the rest were of the smaller Integra. By 1990, Acura was selling 138,000 vehicles, including 54,000 Legends, compared to Mercedes-Benz’s 78,000 cars and 64,000 each for BMW and Lexus.
1990s: NSX, updates
In 1990, five years after the debut of the Legend and Integra, Acura introduced the NSX, a midship V6 powered, rear-wheel-drive sports car. The NSX, an acronym for “New Sports eXperimental”, was billed as the first Japanese car capable of competing with Ferrari and Porsche. This vehicle served as a “image car” for both the Honda and Acura brands, heralding the introduction of Honda’s VTECtechnology. The NSX was the world’s first all-aluminum production car, and was also marketed and viewed by some as the “Everyday Supercar” thanks in part to its ease of use, quality and reliability, traits that were unheard of in the supercar segment at the time. With the release of the NSX, Acura introduced the “A-badge”, a stylized pair of calipers—a tool used for exacting measurements to imply that Acura vehicles are built to precise and demanding standards.
Despite a strong start in market acceptance for the Acura brand, sales suffered in the mid-to-late 1990s. Some critics attributed this decline in part to less inspiring designs, which were re-branded Japanese-spec Hondas, such as the Acura Vigor in 1992. Additionally, during this time Acura switched to an alphanumeric nomenclature formula, dropping the Legend, Vigor and Integra titles, following the lead of the NSX sportscar. The 1996 3.5 RL, which replaced the popular Legend, and the Vigor became the 2.5 TL and 3.2 TL, and was regarded by many as the epitome of this problem, namely because the alphanumeric designations were more anonymous than the former Legend, Vigor and Integra titles, which had grown into their own cult followings.Also, the RL’s 210 horsepower (160 kW) V6 (later increased to 225 hp).
The parent company, Honda, was also feeling the results of the decline of the Japanese economy, due to the Japanese asset price bubblethat took place during the 1990s and into the 2000s. This period is known in Japan as The Lost Decade.
During this time, the NSX also lost sales as Acura made few changes from its original 1990 trim. A year later, the Integra sedan was withdrawn from the Canadian market, replaced by the market-exclusive Acura 1.6 EL, a rebadged Honda Civic/Domani. The Integra sedan continued to be sold in the United States until 2001 (in name only, the model it was replaced with, the RSX, was simply a rebadged left-hand-drive version of the JDM DC5 Honda Integra).
Despite these letdowns, Acura gained prominence in the 1990s with a young group of customers: “tuner” enthusiasts. Parent company Honda’s reputation with this demographic as a maker of “easy-to-tune” and “rev-happy” engines rubbed off onto Acura, and the Integra became a popular tuner car.
2000–2011: TL, RSX, MDX
Beginning around the year 2000, Acura experienced a rebirth which was catalyzed by the introduction of several redesigned models. The first of these models was the 1999 Acura 3.2 TL, an upscale sedan. Critics suggested that although 3.2 TL did not outdo its competition in any one area of luxury cars, it offered a well-rounded blend of sportiness and luxury. These characteristics, combined with the TL’s competitive price, proved very popular with consumers. Subsequent Acura models have followed a similar philosophy of offering lots of standard equipment and very few options.
Another refreshed Acura introduced in the early 2000s was the MDX, a popular three-row crossover SUV based on the Honda Odysseyminivan. The MDX replaced the slow-selling SLX, which was little more than a rebadged Isuzu Trooper. The MDX was a car-like crossover SUV with limited off-road capability that catered to the demands of the luxury SUV market. It was given top honors by Car and Driver in its first comparison test against seven other SUVs.Other cars in Acura’s line-up during this time included the 3.2 TL, 3.2 CL, RSX (formerly the Integra hatchback), and the NSX. By the late 2000s, Acura had dropped the inclusion of engine displacement numbers in its vehicle designations, retaining a simpler, two- or three-letter designation instead (e.g. 3.5 RL became RL). The 1999-2003 TL have been plagued by transmission and other problems.
In 2001, a new coupe, badged as the RSX was introduced to the Acura line up. It was a replacement for the outgoing Integra. The RSX is a rebadged Honda Integra (DC5) from the Japanese market. As a result, the RSX is technically a new generation of the outgoing Integra. Much like the Integra, the RSX was a hit in the tuner market. However, at the end of 2006, the RSX was taken out of the Acura line up, subsequently in the Japanese market as well. It is not known why the RSX did not continue to be sold as the Integra in Japan, however, the reason that Acura gave for the cancellation of the RSX is that Acura wishes to move up in the luxury brand, thus cannot sell a car that is mostly driven by teenagers.
2004–2006: RL, TSX, RDX
A new TL debuted for the 2004 model year, featuring sharp, Italianate styling and a 270 hp (200 kW) V6 measured by the then-current SAE standards. The new TL increased sales dramatically to 70,943 American units in 2005.
Also around the same time the Acura TSX was introduced. It was essentially a re-badged European and Japanese market Honda Accord loaded with features. This model became the only 4-cylinder sedan in Acura’s line-up (with the exception of the Canadian market Acura CSX, which replaced the EL in 2006). ! In 2005, a new RL was introduced with a 300 hp (220 kW) V6, improved styling, and Super Handling All-Wheel Drive (SH-AWD), a system capable of sending almost all of the RL’s power to just one wheel in a turn. The second-generation RL appeared on Car and Driver’s Ten Best list for 2005, and also garnered an CNET.com “Editor’s Choice” When the RL was introduced, it did not perceive Acura as being on par with its German rivals and expected more value from the Japanese marque. The damage from Honda Japan’s alleged hubris was done, even though Honda Canada has since reduced the RL’s price.
Acura’s new models—particularly the TL and TSX—were well received by the motoring press and became Acura’s top selling vehicles. The TSX was on Car and Driver’s Ten Best list from 2004–2006.
In 2006 Acura introduced a small SUV which was based on its own unique unibody chassis called the RDX with models becoming available to U.S. consumers in August 2006. It is powered by a turbocharged 240-hp 4-cylinder engine and, like the RL, uses Acura’s SH-AWD system. The model is available in two versions: Premium (the standard offering), and Technology Package (an upgraded offering with a GPS navigation system). A completely redesigned MDX became available in the fall of 2006 with a 300 hp (220 kW) V6 engine and Super Handling All-Wheel Drive.
2007–present: ILX, TLX, RLX, RDX, MDX
Acura re-introduced the TL Type-S for the 2007 model year. 2009 marked the all new TL and TSX models as well as a mid-year model update for the RL; all three made their debuts in the 2008 calendar year. Acura planned on redesigning the RL by 2011 as well as announced the creation of a brand new luxury crossover vehicle called the ZDX, previewed by the concept of the same name.2007–present: ILX, TLX, RLX, RDX, MDX
The ZDX was the first Acura designed in Acura’s design studio located at Torrance in Southern California. The ZDX was designed by Michelle Christensen and based on the Acura MDX using that vehicles 3.7 litre V6 engine (300 bhp) and SH-AWD system. A common misconception is that it is based on the Honda Crosstour which was based on the Honda Accord rather than the bigger and more complex underpinnings of the MDX. It is also the first Acura to be completely built in North America. The production model of the ZDX made its debut in the Orange County Auto Show in Southern California on October 15, 2009. The concept behind the ZDX is that it is a “four door coupe,” and the design emphasis of the body of the car is like a “pulled back slingshot.” Another prominent design aspect of the ZDX is the wide rear shoulders above the rear wheels. The ZDX went on sale in December 2009.
Acura initially had plans for the third generation of RL to be a rear wheel drive V8 sedan for its flagship, but shelved the plans in the wake of the 2008 economic downturn.
Acura announced new TSX wagon in the 2010 New York Auto Show and the car is due to go on sale in Fall of 2010. The wagon version of the TSX is based on the wagon version of the Euro-spec Honda Accord which has been in the European market for some time. However, Acura did not announce any plans for the third-generation RL.
For the 2010 model year the MDX models received some slight exterior changes and increased equipment levels. Mechanically the engine remained unchanged but the transmission was updated from the previous 5-speeds to 6-speeds including steering column mounted shift override paddles. This new transmission was shared with the ZDX.
In 2012, Acura introduced a new model called the ILX which is based heavily on the Honda Civic platform. It shares the same 3 power train variants from the Civic: the 2.0L, 2.4L VTEC and a 1.5L Hybrid. It also unveiled the Acura RLX Concept, a replacement for the RL sedan, at the New York International Auto Show. The ILX went on sale in May 2012 in the United States as a 2013 model.
Also in 2012, Acura “reinvented” another model, The RDX concept. For the new model, Acura dropped the 4 cylinder turbo for a 3.5L V6. When the official 2013 Acura RDX was released, it was relatively similar to the concept but had changes in wheels, taillights, and some other cosmetics. A lot of this Acura looks like its brother the ILX. The 2013 RDX doesn’t have the SH-AWD system instead it has “AWD with intelligent control”, similar to the CR-V’s AWD system. The RDX is now available with BASE, BASE AWD, TECH., and TECH AWD.
In 2013, Acura showed a 2014 Concept of the MDX. Shortly after, it was released to the public. MDX competes with Lexus RX, Audi A7 and many others. For the first time, American buyers of the 2014 MDX didn’t have to get the SH-AWD model since Acura released the FWD model of the MDX. However the Canadians will have SH-AWD with the standard model of the MDX due to weather conditions. This model also gets the Jewel Eye LED lights similar to the RLX. The trim levels are BASE, TECH, TECH AND ENTERTAINMENT, and ADVANCE AND ENTERTAINMENT. All of these can be equipped with SH-AWD.
For the 2014 model of the RDX. Acura drops color Amber Brownstone which was really popular for Kona Coffee Metallic from the CR-V. The new color is a little darker. Changes for the 2014 ILX include the 1.5L engine being dropped and leather now being standard on all trims.
In December 2013, at the Los Angeles Auto Show, Acura unveiled a Sport Hybrid SH-AWD version of the flagship RLX sedan. It will be the most powerful and technologically advanced vehicle in Acura’s history. This high-end vehicle will come standard with a 310-horsepower 3.5L V6 engine and a pair of electric motors (one for each axle) that generate a combined 377 horsepower through a new 7-speed dual clutch transmission. Acura technology firsts on the 2014 RLX Sport Hybrid SH-AWD also include an electronic gear selector that replaces the conventional, center console-mounted shift lever with an efficiently packaged push-button array allowing the driver to easily select the desired mode—Park, Drive and Reverse, as well as Sport and Normal driving modes. The new RLX Sport Hybrid will go on sale in mid-2014.
In January 2014, at the Detroit Auto Show, Acura unveiled the all-new 2015 TLX sports sedan. This new vehicle will replace the soon to be discontinued TSX and TL sedans. The TLX in the 2.4-liter comes with Acura’s all new eight-speed dual clutch DCT transmission. Meanwhile, the high-end 3.5-liter V6 model will come with the new nine-speed transmission and Super-Handling All Wheel Drive (SH-AWD). The TLX is expected to go on sale in Summer 2014.”
*Information from Acura.com and Wikipedia.org
**Video published on YouTube by “WatchMojo.com“