As most people should know by now, Acura is the luxury division of Honda. And by “luxury,” we mean that it competes with the likes of Lexus, Audi, BMW, and Mercedes-Benz, however, the public hasn’t really seen Acura in that light since the 90s. That’s mainly due to the stale execution of some of their models after the turn of the century, which in turn hampered the brand’s overall image. So is Acura going out of business any time soon?
It used to be so good
Acura started up back in 1986 and it was, in fact, the first Japanese luxury brand in America. It started off its lineup producing the Legend and the Integra, which were sold in 60 different dealerships and in 18 different states across North America at the time. Its parent company, Honda, had already been around for a decade prior, so innovation and ingenuity were among the new brand’s mainstays.
The Acura Legend coupe was the first of the brand’s models to introduce a driver-side airbag and it also won “Import Car of the Year” just one year after its introduction. This early success led to Acura selling 52,869 units in their first year which resulted in 90 more dealerships applying to sell its products. A little later, in 1991, Acura added a new model to their two-car lineup: the venerable NSX supercar.
The 1990s spawned the dawn of a new era for Acura. With the addition of the NSX, which took on the likes of the Ferrari 328, and a stable of luxury sedans and coupes in the form of the Integra and the Legend, Acura played an integral role in cementing Japanese luxury in the U.S. right alongside Lexus and Infiniti.
As time went on, the brand started to branch out by offering sporty options that exuded more of an upscale fit and finish than their Honda cousins. The Integra got bigger and more refined in the mid-90s and it even had a performance iteration called the Integra Type R. For those that wanted something more subtle, Acura released the two-door CL and four-door TL in the late 90s, and the Legend was eventually replaced by the RL. Sales were good for Acura during this time and the brand was well-known by the public at large.
The 2000s and beyond
After the turn of the century, Acura evolved its models to stay relevant and competitive. At that point, it had the MDX, CL, TL, RL, and Integra in its stable, however, it completely redid the lineup to introduce the RSX, TSX, RDX, and eventually the RLX. While the alphabet soup of nameplates came and went and evolved, the brand seemingly hit a wall around the early 2010s.
Auto critics felt like the brand was just repeating models and coming up with the same innovations over and over again while expecting different results. And while it makes sense for a brand to weigh heavily on a tried-and-true method for designing cars based on past models, the sales figures said otherwise. According to GoodCarBadCar.net, Acura’s sales numbers were on a sporadic decline in the mid-2010s.
Sales were down, but will they pick back up?
The good news is that although Acura’s products might have gone stale in some of the public’s perception, the brand was never truly in danger of going out of business. It was more a sales slump, however, that can all change for the better in the coming years.
The debut of the new 2021 Acura TLX does show some promise as the company shows that it still cares about what the public thinks. The new model will be offered with a Type S trim level, which means that Acura still knows how to breed performance-minded cars, however, does it mean that the brand is turning over a new leaf and heading back to their “performance luxury” roots? Only time will tell.