It's White House or bust for Detroit, will Intel go into the car battery business? Mercedes puts two displays in the dashboard, and we drive the 2009 Acura TL.Listen now: Download today's podcast SHOW NOTES
LOS ANGELES--Honda's U.S. executives have pledged for years to make Acura a top-tier luxury brand, on par with Lexus, Mercedes, and BMW. Dealer Dave Conant is gambling $20 million that this time Honda will succeed.
That's how much Conant spent to upgrade his Acura dealership in suburban Los Angeles. The renovated store opened in May.
"We invested in this facility on the bet they really mean it," Conant told Automotive News.
Jeff Conrad, vice president of American Honda Motor's Acura division, concedes that dealers' expectations are high. He says Acura is working to improve its vehicles, marketing, and retail network. But achieving those goals will take time, he warns.
"Every product we launch becomes more of a Tier One product." Conrad says. "But you don't just snap your fingers and do it overnight. It is a long-term effort."
The redesigned 2009 Acura TL, a compact sedan that emerged from the brand's new design center in Torrance, Calif., is competitive with better-selling luxury models in styling and performance, Conrad says.
The TL has a 3.5-liter, V-6 engine and offers all-wheel drive as an option. It went on sale this fall with a base sticker price of $34,955, including shipping.
Acura dealers say they like the revamped TL. But T.Y. Lai, COO of the western region for DCH Auto Group, says sales of the redesigned model have been disappointing.
Acura gives the old TL a bump for the 2009 model year, updating the styling and improving the cabin tech, but also splitting the model into a standard version and a sporty, all-wheel-drive version. We take that hyped-up TL SH-AWD and go in search of some of the most spectacular scenery in the country, with the aid of Acura's new navigation system.
The 2009 Acura RL is an evolved version of the generation of Acura's flagship that first entered the market in 2005. The main changes to the car's exterior styling are bolder chrome flashes across the revised fascia and rear decklid, as well as the usual nips, tucks, and lens reshaping. Under the hood, a larger V-6 delivers the oomph the previous RL lacked.
Inside, things are mostly familiar, with some nice trim upgrades and a subtler palette than in our previous test cars. The much-lauded voice-control system has expanded its vocabulary to 700 commands, joining a few other … Read more
Acura has heard our prayers and answered with an announcement that it will be offering the 2010 TL SH-AWD with a new six-speed manual transmission for "the enthusiast driver."
The all-new transmission is a proper three-pedal deal featuring uprated internals and a stiffer case, along with a new clutch system. Acura claims new gear synchronizers and a short-throw shifter assembly generate more accurate shifting with low shift effort. With Acura/Honda's history of sweet manual transmissions, we're inclined to believe the claims.
Aside from netting an 88 pounds weight reduction and a better weight distribution, the … Read more
The 2008 Acura MDX remains largely unchanged from the 2007 model, when we reviewed the then-new redesign and found it chock-full of tech options inherited from Acura's sedans, and with improved handling courtesy of similarly upgraded four-wheel-drive management. Back in 2006, the first-generation MDX had some unfinished first-generation electronics, but nonetheless impressed us with the breadth of its tech offerings.
Some minor feature additions are present on the 2008 model, which improve the overall tech experience, and its solid driving dynamics are still intact. But other luxury SUVs offer better performance, and we're ready to see Acura's … Read more
More automakers are offering iPod integration in their models, sometimes as a standard feature. With this type of integration, you can bring your iPod into the car, leave it in the glovebox or console, and access all of your music through the car's stereo interface, listening to your tunes through a full audio system. You can select your music by artist, album, genre, and playlist just as you would on your iPod. And the number of automakers offering this integration varies widely.
Of course there are BMW and Infiniti, but would you believe Ford and Hyundai, too? Take a … Read more
For the introduction of Acura's updated 2009 TL model, the company invited a number of automotive journalists to drive the car over some excellent roads in Marin, just north of San Francisco. Actually, we would be driving two very different cars, as Acura split the TL between a standard and performance version. The latter isn't the TL-S from past model years, but an all-wheel-drive version that Acura felt it had to develop because of bias against front-wheel-drive cars amongst enthusiasts, which all previous TLs had been. This performance-oriented TL is called the TL SH-AWD, and along with Acura's all-wheel-drive system gets a bigger engine than the standard TL. We got to drive both cars on some of our favorite roads, going up the coast on Highway 1, then coming back down on a series of winding country roads.… Read more
LOS ANGELES -- Acura will add a nameplate to its lineup in 2010 as part of an effort to become what company executives call a "tier 1 luxury brand."
"We will have an all-new vehicle," said Dan Bonawitz, vice president for corporate planning and logistics at American Honda Motor Co. By broadening the lineup, he said, Acura can compete more directly with rivals such as BMW and Mercedes. The new vehicle will be Acura's first addition since August 2006, when the RDX small crossover joined the lineup. Bonawitz would not give details but said the … Read more