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Manufacturers / Japan / Acura


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Acura vehicles


1980


Integra
Acura Integra   (1986)

Acura is a Japanese brand name used by Honda in the US, Canada, Mexico, and Hong Kong since March 1986 to market luxury automobiles and near-luxury vehicles. The brand will be expanded to the Chinese market in 2006 and the Japanese domestic market in 2008. Acura is credited with creating or being the first to tap into a market for luxury Japanese cars outside Japan. Before Acura, automobiles from Japan were primarily economical and were seen as reliable above all else.

Other Japanese luxury brands (Toyota's Lexus and Nissan's Infiniti) sprang up in North America shortly after Acura's introduction of the Legend, a V6-powered coupe and sedan, and the Integra, which was offered with a 4-cylinder engine only. Automotive journalists were impressed particularly by the Acura Legend.

In 1989, Acura introduced the NSX, a swoopy 276-hp two-door sports car. The NSX, an acronym for "New Sports eXperimental", was hailed as the first (and perhaps, to date, the only) Japanese car capable of taking on Ferrari and Porsche. The car's meticulously engineered quality and sterling reliability were icing on the cake.


1990


Integra
Acura Integra sedan  (1990)

Unfortunately, after this strong start, the mid- to late 1990s, Acura's model line-up became less and less inspiring and consequently, sales suffered. During this time, Acura switched to an alphanumeric formula for nomenclature. The 1996 3.5RL, which replaced the well-loved Legend, was seen by many as the epitome of Acura's new-found blandness. Its sluggish 210-horsepower V6 (later bumped to 225 hp) and front-wheel drive, together with anonymous styling that cautiously aped the larger, more powerful and more engaging Lexus LS400, did little against more prestigious, attractive and faster offerings from BMW, Audi, and Lexus, among others. Even the swoopy NSX lost sales as Acura barely changed the car from its original 1989 trim.

Despite these letdowns, Acura did gain prominence in the 1990's with a younger group of people; the import tuner set. Parent company Honda's reputation as a maker of easy to tune and rev-happy engines with this demographic rubbed off onto Acura, and the Integra became a popular tuner car. This reputation has continued to this day, especially with the new RSX and TSX (see below.)


2000


CL
Acura CL   (2000)

In the early 2000s, Acura refreshed its line-up, arguably beginning with the introduction of the MDX, a popular three-row crossover SUV based on the Honda Odyssey minivan. The MDX replaced the slow-selling SLX, which was little more than a rebadged Isuzu Trooper. The MDX was a car-like and fun-to-drive crossover SUV with little off-road capability that catered smartly 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), and the supercar, the NSX.

A new TL debuted in 2004, equipped with sharp, Italianate styling and a 270-hp V6, and available with a 6-speed manual transmission led to a dramatic increase in sales for Acura. The same year, Acura introduced the TSX, a European-market Honda Accord loaded with features, as a cheaper alternative to the BMW 3-series. This model became the only 4-cylinder sedan in Acura's line-up, replacing the Integra sedan. A new RL debuted in 2005, this time with a 300-hp V6, more exciting styling, and innovative 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.



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