Posts from ‘Acura’
Through their logos, many automakers have created a dazzling world of wonder. In logo land, you’ll discover roman gods, prancing horses, and mystical beasts—as well as religious themes such as the Holy Trinity and the Christian Crusades. It’s a universe of stars and planets, ships and rockets, diamonds and domination. One emblem, which is simply a crooked letter, symbolizes a trustworthy handshake.
Disappointingly, such companies as Volkswagen (whose symbol is VW) and Ford (Ford) have refused to join in the fun. But many of the other logos have fascinating meanings. Let’s explore. . . .
The Acura logo plays with our minds a little. Most observers think the logo is a stylized letter A, for Acura, just like Honda’s logo is a stylized H for Honda. But according to Honda (Acura’s parent company), the image is a caliper, a design instrument used for measuring thickness.
The Alfa Romeo badge pays tribute to its home city, Milan, Italy. It features the city’s coat of arms, which symbolizes Milan’s two ruling families during medieval times. On the left is a red cross, a Christian symbol of heraldry that represents the right of a person to bear arms. On the right, a serpent devours a human being, interpreted by some as a Muslim—that is, the enemy of the Christians during the Crusades.
There was a long period where the words sexy and sedan simply didn’t belong in the same sentence. Some might argue that the pair can describe classic-era Cords and Duesenbergs, but wouldn’t you still rather have the 2-door version?
Today, there are any number of sedans, even popularly priced ones, whose styling can be considered “sexy”—popping instantly to mind is the current Kia Optima. But that’s been a relatively recent transformation, and following are some of the cars that strike me as having paved the way.
If you weren’t car cognizant in the mid-1980s, you may not understand the revelation that was the Ford Taurus. Splashing into a sea of squared-off sedans, it introduced the “jellybean” profile quickly adopted by almost every other manufacturer. Although it was nice-looking and certainly trendsetting, “sexy” it wasn’t—at least not in base form. But that accolade could be given to the first high-performance SHO version, which, like the BMW 5-Series of a decade earlier, helped realign people’s stance on sedans.
With new-car prices ever on the rise, the average new-car buyer might find it nigh on impossible to enter the luxury market. Hold on to that dream, dear readers, because here are five vehicles you can buy right now that allow you to have that premium feel without too much of a hit to your bank accounts.
While some examples in this list are from mainstream brands, their ambiance and driving experiences are decidedly more upscale. As such, we at Consumer Guide place them into our “Premium” categories. The only other “rule” is that these vehicles must carry a sticker price of less than $40,000, including destination fee. The figures listed here do not include options, but several of these vehicles can be equipped with extra-cost items and still come in under the above-mentioned threshold.
Acura TL Base
Its look remains polarizing, but under its skin is a premium-midsize sedan that’s powerful, has a solid ride/handling balance, and comes with a lot of features for the money. While I would have loved to use the sportier TL SH-AWD model, its price creeps just past our self-imposed $40,000 barrier. Still, the Base model is no slouch, thanks to its 280-horsepower 3.5-liter V6 engine and slick 6-speed automatic transmission. As a final bonus, TL benefits from parent company Honda’s reputation for reliability and strong resale value.
Also check out Tom Appel’s “Senior-Year Lust: The 5 Coolest Vehicles of 1983,” Ed Piotrowski’s “Senior-Year Lust: The 5 Coolest Vehicles of 1998,” and Rick Cotta’s “Senior-Year Lust: The 5 Coolest Vehicles of…1974.”
In my senior year of high school, the auto industry was finally pulling out of the 1990s and moving away from all of the jellybean car designs produced during that period of time (*COUGH* FORD ASPIRE *COUGH*). While many other desirable cars were available, these were my favorites from my graduation year of 2002. Though I had to settle for driving Mom and Dad’s Volvo 240 sedan and station wagon (vehicles I learned to love and still do), these were the ones I lusted after. I put pictures of them on my bedroom wall and on the inside of my locker door at school to show the world that I was a car enthusiast, and had damn good taste in vehicles.
See Consumer Guide’s review of the 2013 Acura MDX.
Hot on the heels of its “Prototype” unveiling at the 2013 Detroit Auto Show, Honda’s luxury brand debuted the production version of its flagship SUV at the 2013 New York Auto Show.
This is par for the course for Honda/Acura. Vehicles shown at auto shows that carry the “Prototype” or “Concept” tag are not terribly different from what the final product will be. The 2014 Acura MDX is no exception. Though this is an all-new vehicle, its styling cues look more evolutionary in nature. Since the MDX is, by far, Acura’s best-selling vehicle, we can understand the take-no-chances approach to the design.
As with the Detroit concept, the production MDX will have a longer wheelbase but shorter overall length than its predecessor. This means more room for 2nd- and 3rd-row occupants.
MDX will share some of its drivetrain components with the 2014 Acura RLX sedan. Power will come from a 290-horsepower 3.5-liter V6 engine mated to a 6-speed automatic transmission. The engine employs high-pressure gasoline direct injection and cylinder deactivation as fuel-saving measures. Buyers will have a choice between front- and all-wheel-drive configurations. The former is an MDX first. EPA-estimated fuel economy for the front-drive model is 20 mpg city/28 mpg highway; AWD versions score 18/27. Credit not just the engine’s high-pressure gasoline direct injection but also a total weight reduction of 275 pounds for the improved fuel-economy numbers.
The price cap here is absolutely necessary. Virtually every new car from Aston Martin and Ferrari is a stunner, and the Audi R8 leaves me weak-kneed. But once we descend into the world of the sub-exotic, things are much less clear.
Here I have chosen five cars that have recently caught my eye in traffic. Three of these are reasonably affordable, and each earns a place in my heart for standing out on a crowded tarmac.
For those who cling to the notion that “all cars look alike these days,” I respectfully disagree. Here’re a few rides that look good and, more importantly, look distinct. Got your own list? Let’s hear it.
Acura can’t give these away, and for good reason. The ZDX costs more than the brand’s excellent MDX midsize crossover yet offers shoppers a bunch less passenger space. A pity, as this fun-to-drive luxury ride is flat-out fabulous to look at.
Showing best in silver or black, the ZDX looks like the improbable mating of an SUV with a tiger shark. Sales of this slick ride have been dismal—fewer than 800 found homes in 2012—so expect it to be unceremoniously deleted from the Acura lineup sometime soon.
Honda’s luxury division gave attendees of the 2013 Detroit Auto Show a preview of what its next-generation midsize SUV will look like.
The 2014 Acura MDX Prototype is a concept in practice, but Honda has an uncanny ability to make such vehicles look remarkably close to their production-ready cousins. Such was the case with the vehicles based on the Accord and Civic concepts from the 2012 and 2011 Detroit Auto Shows, respectively, and the Odyssey concept from the 2010 Chicago Auto Show.
Take away some of the concept-only styling cues, such as the blue LED headlights, and you might wonder what Acura is changing at all with this vehicle. For one thing, the prototype is 1.5 inches shorter than the outgoing MDX, but thanks to a longer wheelbase, room and comfort for the 2nd and 3rd rows is improved.
Under the hood, the prototype uses a new 3.5-liter V6 engine with high-pressure gasoline direct injection and Honda’s Variable Cylinder Management cylinder deactivation. We expect this to be the motor that powers the production vehicle. For the first time, Acura will offer the MDX in a front-wheel-drive configuration; all previous MDX models were all-wheel drive only.
If you’re experiencing déjà vu right now, we don’t blame you. What you’re seeing here is a near production-ready version of the 2014 Acura RLX, which premiered in concept form mere months ago at the 2012 New York Auto Show.
RLX will replace the slow-selling RL as Acura’s flagship sedan. Though designed to have a spacious interior, RLX’s exterior dimensions aren’t much larger than those of the brand’s volume TL midsize sedan.
Two drivetrains will be available. One will have front-wheel drive and a 310-horsepower 3.5-liter V6 paired to a 6-speed automatic transmission. Acura is projecting this setup to achieve 20 mpg city/31 mpg highway. Front-drive RLX models will use Acura’s new Precision All-Wheel Steer, which automatically and independently adjusts the left and right rear-wheel steering angles to improve handling response.
The other will have Acura’s new Sport Hybrid SH-AWD (Super Handling All-Wheel Drive). This system uses a series of electric motors to provide power to the wheels and a boost to the 3.5-liter V6. Combined output is estimated at 370 horsepower. Acura’s fuel economy target is 30 mpg city/30 mpg highway. We’ll see about that.
Note: This report supplements Consumer Guide Automotive’s full report on the 2013 Acura ILX, a premium-compact sedan that starts at $25,900.
Test car came equipped with: no options. The Tech model is priced at $32,295, including an $895 destination charge. Like parent Honda, Acura prices option packages as separate models.
Powertrain: 150-horsepower 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine, 5-speed automatic transmission, front-wheel drive.
Acceleration: This is the only ILX I’ve driven so far. I had no opportunity to time it, but Acura claims 0-60 mph takes 9.6 seconds, and that feels about right to me also. The 2.0-liter ILX gets off the line with decent verve, but though my colleagues say the 5-speed automatic “kicks down quickly for more passing power,” I can’t agree. This car almost always requires full throttle for decent mid-range passing punch. You might do a little better—and have more fun—by using the steering-wheel shift paddles, which give temporary manual override in Drive or permanent override in Sport mode. It’s a little odd, though, that the shifter has no separate manual gate. In all, the 2.0-liter ILX gets around well for having only 150 horsepower and 140 pound-feet of torque, both of which peak at fairly high engine speeds (6500 and 4300 rpm, respectively). Too bad it’s saddled with only a 5-speed automatic instead of a 6-speeder like most rivals now have. I detect more than a faint whiff of cost-cutting here.
There’s a brand of commercial toilet paper named Surpass. Really. I can’t help but chuckle when I think about the pitch meeting in which that name was first introduced. Given that the one-ply, generically wrapped, oh-too-necessary office supply would likely be pitched only to accountants, property managers, and inventory assistants, you’d think that a name like Stingy Wipe or Econo-Komfort might make more sense.
Industrial-grade toilet paper marketers have nothing on automakers when it comes to colorful and overreaching product names. As examples, I submit the following five vehicles—some of which are otherwise darn fine rides—that brandish surprisingly misleading names.
Ford Aspire, 1994-1997
The joke around the office is that an Aspire owner aspires to drive anything else. Reviled by the motoring media, the tiny hatchback was among the country’s first Korean captive imports. Aspire was built by Kia, sold by Ford, and largely ignored by the buying public. An apt analogy for the Aspire ownership experience might go something like this: A man who aspires to new-car ownership and ends up with an Aspire is like a bird that aspires to flight but ends up watching reruns of Wings.