Acura is the Honda Motor Company division that engineers, designs and markets its luxury and performance vehicles. The first luxury and performance brand to come out of Japan, Acura was introduced to the US and Canadian markets in 1986 with the motto "Acura. Precision Crafted Performance." Initially fielding only two models, the ultra-lux Legend and the compact Integra, Acura successfully tapped into a market which was under-served and allowed Honda to fully capitalize on their great designs, world-renowned engineering and build quality. Perhaps it’s no surprise but Acura’s slogan proved prophetic and the company quickly rose to fame for producing high-quality performance and near-performance vehicles which stand the test of time and the ever-changing tastes of the market.
It is no stretch to say that Acura led the world through its creation of a true luxury and sports performance car brand that didn’t originate in Germany or Italy. In fact, the mark inspired now famous rivals such as Toyota's Lexus division, Nissan's Infiniti and even caused Ford to rebrand the Taurus as the Lincoln Continental showing that the impact was wide-ranging and felt even in the hallowed corridors of Detroit far from the shores of Japan. After its first year of sales Acura recorded 109,000 car sales of which 55K were the Legend and the balance being of the compact Integra. The success of the brand only snowballed in the coming years and, by 1990, Acura sold 138,000 vehicles compared to Mercedes-Benz's 78,000 cars and 64,000 each for BMW and Lexus--figures which clearly catapulted the automaker to the top of the luxury pack. 1990 also saw the first new model to be introduced since the company's inception with the release of the NSX. The NSX designation was an acronym meaning "New Sports eXperimental," was a midsized V6, rear-wheeled drive sports car which was marketed as being comparable to the offerings of Porsche and Ferrari. Serving as the flagship for both Honda and Acura and was the first to use VTEC technology in its engineering. The NSX also had the distinction of being the first completely aluminum production vehicle and stylized "A-Badge" caliper covers meant to convey Acura's precision build standards.
Acura’s fast ascent to the pinnacle of JDM luxury and performance began to wane during the mid-1990s. Although the reasons for this slump were attributed to a variety of different factors, the emergence of the Lexus brand combined with less inspired design on the part of its engineers were probably the main reasons for the marque’s loss of momentum. Another macro-economic factor to be considered in the decline of Acura’s sales during this period was the bursting of the Japanese asset bubble which resulted in a steep drop in the Japanese economy, eventually leading the 1990s being branded as the Lost Decade. During this period Acura also made the fateful decision to move away from their former naming conventions and to an alpha-numeric model largely due to fears that the names Legend and Integra were more well-known than the brand itself. As a result, popular models like the Legend, Vigor and Integra were dropped in favor of names such as the RL and TL which had a markedly negative impact upon the cult followings that had grown up around the vehicles. The anonymity of the RL and TL designations, the consistent lack of V8 designs along with the higher price tag for the RL was unable to make a strong showing against Lexus and BMW during this time and only exacerbated the company’s problems. And yet, despite all of these struggles, Acura was able to captivate and engage a generation of youthful drivers and become the tuner car par excellence of the 1990s.
The turn of the millennium represented a kind of renaissance for Acura. Still plagued by lack-luster designs and forgettable vehicle names Acura was able to reinvent itself by lowering its aims somewhat--rather than being a luxury competitor to BMW, Audi or Lexus, Acura would field semi-luxury offerings with few options and at attractive prices. Among the first vehicles of the second millennium, Acura launched the 3.2 TL which represented the company’s new-found philosophy by offering a balanced fusion of athleticism and elegance finding favor with up-market buyers not willing to commit to the cost of comparable BMWs or Infinitis. Granted top honors in its first performance test against 7 other SUVs, the MDX cross-over replaced the lack-luster SLX and proved to be true success story for Acura as it fought to regain its status as the pre-eminent Japanese luxury car marque. By the end of the decade, Acura had simplified the naming conventions for its vehicles by omitting the displacement numbers and using a two- or three-letter designation instead (e.g. 3.5 RL became RL). In 2001 the Integra was replaced by the RSX which became an immediate hit with the tuner community much like its predecessor. Strangely, however, by 2007 the RSX was removed from the line-up because Acura felt it could not continue to field a vehicle driven mostly but younger people when it was making a play to return to the top of the luxury game.
Mid-decade saw the emergence of several new designs and updates which help propel sales forward and allowed Acura to regain lost market share. In 2004 the redesigned TL debuted with crisp styling all’italiana and a 270 HP, V6 engine and swiftly trounced the competition. Concurrent with the arrival of the TL was the release of the TSX as an economic alternative to the 3-Series. Despite these gains, Acura’s refusal to upgrade the RL to a V8 and its high price tag led resulted in limp sales of the this particular model and another misstep in Acura’s pursuit of excellence. 2008 marked a watershed moment for many in the industry and Acura was no exception. Its most recent offerings include competitively priced and innovative models such as the cross-over ZDX, the Civic-based ILX and the RL-replacement RLX. Although no one can say for certain what the future holds for Acura you can count on them to continue producing high quality luxury cars that will nonetheless inspire our inner tuners.
The Acura story is almost as exciting as the cars its designs and markets and is proof that the Empire of the Rising Sun is alive and well today. Acura was an innovator in the field of luxury and performance vehicles and was the first to successfully challenge the Germanic and Italic luxury and sport hegemony represented by Benz, BMW and Ferrari. Despite a series of miscalculations and mistakes throughout the 1990s, Acura was able to retain a core group of loyal followers and reinvent itself as the high-quality, low-cost alternative in the luxury market. Today Acura stands poised to make a new bold strike into the territory that it first opened to JDM automakers and are a company to be watched during the second decade of the second millennium.
Innovation, reinvention and affordability are all concepts embodied by Acura and shared with Rvinyl.com. Rvinyl is your source for a complete line of DIY Acura Accessories. Whether you’re looking for Custom Dash Kits for your ILX’s interior, Tail Light Tints for your late model MDX or Paint Protection Kits for the hood and bumper of your sling-shot ZDX you can find them here at prices you won’t believe. No matter what you’re looking for, our car customization experts will help you find it and get the job done right. Let Rvinyl be the first name you think of when it comes to customizes your car or truck.
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