Why Your Car Sucks/Rocks: Acura
This is “Why Your Car Sucks/Rocks,” a place where we examine the pros and cons of a particular automaker, with a dash of hyperbole in either direction. If you have reasons why a particular make and/or model sucks and/or rocks, please drop us a line. Acura is a brand that has lost its mojo in a big way in the last decade. Unlike the American automakers, Acura did not fall victim to the outside factors of the financial crisis. No, the Japanese premium brand’s fall from grace was of its own doing. There were a series of decisions that led to a brand that is only now regaining the credibility that it once held. We are here to highlight the good times and the bad. Why Your Car Rocks: Typically, we like to start with the bad, and move to the good, but since the good times at Acura came before the bad, we’re inclined to follow suit. If you grew up in the 90s and early 2000s, Acura was considered a performance brand above a luxury or premium make. If the Camaro was the cool high school car to have in the 80s, the late 90s belonged to imports, and the Integra GS-R. It had 170 horsepower, which was a lot for a compact car at the time.
The Integra was popular also because it made you feel like you were somehow connected to one of the great performance cars of all time, the Acura NSX. Lightweight, mid-engined, and perfectly balanced, the NSX still turns heads to this day. The body was designed by famed Italian firm Pininfarina, and the chassis was developed with help from late F1 driver Ayrton Senna. From the entry-level model to the halo-car Acura was a great brand to get behind.
Why Your Car Sucks:
Something happened, and Acura started focusing on style over substance. Cars had more daring designs, and for some time a balance was struck. Cars like the RSX and third generation TL sedan combined power agility and style. This was the beginning of the end, and one little grille spoiled the party.
The front “shield” grille of the fourth-generation 2009 TL was an eyesore, and drew a great deal of criticism from the automotive press. One dealer even went so far as to paint the grille, which got him in hot water with Acura.
So its 2010, and everyone hates the “shield grille,” what do you do? I know, lets put it on everything we make!!! Seriously, that’s what Acura did, to every single model that it produced. Only now is Acura either phasing out or modifying the “shield” grille to be more visually acceptable.
While the exterior was chided for its beak, the interior had issues of its own. Now focusing on tech rather than performance, there was a great deal of controls in the dash. When it comes to these matters, ‘more’ doesn’t always necessarily mean ‘better,’ and one journalist referred to the Acura interiors as an “orgy of buttons.” Ha.
Once again, only now are the exterior design improving and the interior layout becoming more simplified. Cars like the new NSX are more of a “Mea Culpa” than anything else. Had Acura not dug itself this hole over the last five years, it would be riding this current wave of hybrid powertrains and in-car technology. Times are becoming good for Acura, but just think how good it could have been had it not been wasted on that damn beak!