Acura Luxury, Honda Technology Married over a Decade
|Topics: Acura, Honda
March 4, 2009
Since 1986, the Acura brand has been Honda’s marketing tool to tap into the luxury market. Long known for its economy cars, Japanese manufactured automobiles have been a staple of the low cost foreign import market but in the mid eighties Honda decided it was time for a change. The Acura brand was designed to compete with Buick, Lexus and Infiniti for a piece of the luxury vehicle pie.
Two models were originally offered by Acura: the Legend, a four door sedan and the Integra, which featured both a five door hatchback and a three door hatchback. Both were a monumental success and Acura used these as a launching base for its next endeavor: a Japanese car that could actively compete with Porsche and Ferrari. The Acura NSX was the fruit of that enterprise. Honda’s cutting edge technology and vision produced the world’s first all-aluminum production vehicle. Unfortunately, the sales of the NSX began to slide in the nineties mostly because Acura had done little to entice new buyers. The NSX had been left stagnant and too few changes to the car’s original design and options package did little to coax buyers away from the markets the NSX was originally designed to compete with. While the NSX did stay on the market through 2005, the original promising sales momentum was never fully recovered and Acura determined that the high production cost of the vehicle made the product economically unviable.
The staples in the Acura line up were from the beginning the Legend and the Integra and though the Legend and the Integra were strong sellers for the Acura brand, the mid to late nineties saw a decline in sales of these vehicles as well. Largely in part because Honda had shifted away from new designs for the Acura badge and began to simply retool current Honda name designs sold under the Acura name. Another reason believed to cause declining sales was thought to be related to the fact that Acura had moved away from the Legend name series and begin using an alphanumeric moniker for the vehicles. The 1996 3.5 RL was the first move away from the Legend. Although intended to compete against the numeric naming process used by BMW and Mercedes, many customers had already attached luxury and affordability to the Legend and Acura names and were actually put off by the switch to the new nomenclature.
The year 2000 saw a rebound for the Acura series in part because of a new direction undertaken by the manufacturer. By redesigning several models including the TL series, Acura moved to offer on almost all of its models with standard luxury features and almost entirely eliminated the “options” portion of its packages. Now customers felt they were receiving the top end models at a price competitive with the Lexus ES or BMW 3 series which was still offering base models. Around this time, Honda also decided to drop the idea of simply rebadging lower priced Honda models as upgraded Acura’s. Consumers had quickly caught on to this and were flocking in droves to Lexus and Infiniti brands because of new design and luxury features not they had not found in the Acura.
In 2009 and for the upcoming 2010 model year, Acura has returned to its successful roots and will introduce the redesigned TSX. Acura has aimed the newly redesigned sedan at a younger market and has made several cutting edge changes to the exterior of the TSX. Designed specifically to attract a youthful audience, TSX is marketed as performance oriented sports sedan. Acura has called The TSX’s new exterior Keen Edge Dynamic styling and is intended to lure in the young, single professionals and couples.
Acura has loaded in lots of luxury items in hopes that the car can recapture a large portion of the market lost in recent years.
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