Acura has been a little bit of a joke lately. They've become a brand about shield grilles, crazy headlights and cars that are about as memorable as a trip to Dunkin' Donuts. That could be why Honda's made some recent moves to show they're serious about making good Acuras.
Today, Honda announced it was officially breaking the Honda and Acura divisions into two separate entities beginning next month, with its own sales and marketing strategies. This was the second step after giving Acura a bespoke product planning department. It's moving in the right direction.
American Honda sales exec John Mendel said in the release:
The realignment strategy that has created a new Acura Division reflects our growing commitment and the increased level of resources and leadership we are focusing on the Acura brand on a global basis.
Global, huh? You sense they've noticed what Nissan is doing with Infiniti lately.
Those who closely follow Jalopnik may have guessed that we're totally underwhelmed by anything Acura's turning out these days. In fact, it's easy to write Acura off based on what they're currently selling.
While competent and not offensively ugly, there isn't an Acura on sale to really get excited about. They make good cars, not great ones. And there are some truly great cars on sale today. Worse, Acura has made great cars before. Even if they didn't have great style.
Acuras, aside from the NSX, have ever been iconic cars in the looks department. Handsome, yes. But calling these design classics is a stretch.
It's not their fault, though. Since its birth, Acura has largely been an outlet for American Honda to sell more expensive/quirkier Hondas marketed in Europe and Japan. There was hardly any effort or money spent making them look more special than mainstream models.
The introduction of the MDX changed that and that crossover is Acura's biggest hit right now. And when Acura did get a design language of its own, it got it very wrong with the current TL and the silver beaks everywhere. It took risks that failed. It's time to take some more risks, rather than trying to be conservative. We already have Lexus for that.
I'm sure the NSX will be great, but it isn't here yet. The TLX looks... fine. The RLX SH-AWD Hybrid is actually full of fascinating tech in an anonymous wrapper, so it could make a great sleeper. But why don't they just make all of the RLXs that interesting?
Dig some ways through and Acura has the pieces to make interesting cars that will be more than modified Hondas for much more money. So perhaps more autonomy is exactly what the doctor ordered.