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Acura RL, Sedan
#1556 of 7386 AutoWeek article
Oct 07, 2003 (9:11 am)
Thought this would be a good read before AutoWeek removes it. Its funny Honda seems to resists at all costs before moving to a larger engine. Remember when Hondas wouldn't budge on 4-cylinders in their Accords. Eventually, they caved in and put in a V-6. I see the same with Acura resisting to go with a V-8. How long do we have to wait before they cave in?
Acura works to move product mix upscale; V-8 power essential, critics say
By KATHY JACKSON | Automotive News
SEATTLE -- Tom Elliott is counting on the new Acura TL to help bring the division out of a sales slump.
Of the six largest luxury marques in this country, Acura was the only one to suffer a sales decline through the first nine months of the year. The TL, which goes on sale today, Oct. 6, can help.
Elliott, who is executive vice president of auto operations for American Honda Motor Co. Inc., predicts that the TL will help Acura set a sales record this year of 180,000 units. That would be an achievement. Acura's sales dropped 2.9 percent in 2002 and were down 2.2 percent through Sept. 30 of this year.
Some critics say Acura will never be a true luxury marque until it offers upscale rear-wheel-drive vehicles and V-8 engines. The TL runs counter to this theory - it's a front-wheel-drive car powered by a V-6 engine.
Critics argue that it will compete against vehicles such as the Nissan Maxima and Toyota Camry, rather than, say, the Lexus ES 300.
But Elliott says the market appeal of a V-8 is overblown. "I wouldn't say we won't do a V-8," he says. "It is one of the possibilities." But he admits that hybrids are the most likely route.
Elliott says Acura will decide how to increase power on each product in the next six months. "We're really close to making a decision on a hybrid," he says. Such a vehicle could be powered by a 300-hp engine in the front plus a 100-hp electric motor in back.
He also says the company is considering all-wheel drive, superchargers and turbochargers, but not rwd. But critics say a V-8 is essential.
Consider the slow-selling RL sedan, Acura's $50,000 flagship. RL sales were 7,557 through the end of September, down 27.8 percent from the same period in 2002.
The vehicle's 225-hp V-6 engine does not impress consumers, says Jim Wangers, president of Automotive Marketing Consultants Inc. in Vista, Calif.
"It's not so much the power but the image," Wangers says. "The price of entry in the luxury segment is a V-8, not a hybrid or a V-6. Hybrids are not accepted mainstream cars yet."
Says Daniel Gorrell, vice president for automotive of Strategic Vision in Tustin, Calif. "If they're going to be in competition with Mercedes and BMW, they need a flagship, and RL is not that. I don't see them being a serious luxury top-rung contender."
Undeterred by critics, Elliott is gradually moving Acura's product mix upscale. For example, the company is reducing production of its entry-level RSX, which debuted in 2001.
"The RSX is for young people, but we will limit the sales because we want to bring the brand up," Elliott says. "What we will do next is fix the RL. We want it to go upscale. It needs more power, more style. It will be totally redone, and part of that will be more power."
For the moment, Acura dealers are defending the company's product lineup. "There's no question that the TL is upscale and doesn't compete against Hondas," says Jerry Britain, general manager of Downey Acura in Downey, Calif.
Britain also doesn't think V-8s are necessary, saying that the Acura V-6s are reliable, reasonably priced and handle well.
"The other luxury brands are dramatically more expensive, and they don't really have more creature comforts," he says. "The only problem I have is that I don't have enough vehicles."
Oct 07, 2003 (9:40 pm)
Well I won't argue that the TL isn't a good car for its segment, possibly the best fwd luxury car going in that price range......but the RL gets gets its lug nuts handed to it by any every midsize luxury car going. They are in denial if they think anything else. It's the most ridiculous thing to read the back page of the new TL brocuhe and see the RL listed as the "flagship" with a 225hp engine when the TL has 270hp and more features, Acura has it bass-ackwards.
I await something truly spectacular to correct this for the 05' year.
Oct 11, 2003 (6:10 am)
I'd buy a hybrid luxury sedan!!!
#1559 of 7386 RL IS NOT 4 EVERYONE & HONDA IS NOT LEXUS.
Oct 15, 2003 (1:49 pm)
The only things I want in the new RL is sun shade, in dash CD, more wood trim, more pockets for storage, better cup holders AND BETTER GAS MILEAGE!
IMHO, the RL is the perfect family sedan for the individuals with children but are still too young at heart for a volvo wagon and aren't ready to unload the cash for the nicer luxury SUVs yet.
I know I bought mine cause it looks stylish, roomy, has just enough luxury options and is VERY RELIABLE.
I'm not racing a 5 series BMW from the stoplight in the city or pacing lexus 400 on the highway(which it does quite nicely). I think those who worry about 200hp vs 240 should look at the TL which is a sport sedan while the RL is more a touring Sedan.
#1560 of 7386 RL and TL....
Oct 15, 2003 (4:28 pm)
the TL is considered a Performance Touring Sedan
The RL is considered a Touring Sedan
The Infiniti I35/M45 are considered Touring Sedans
BMW 5-Series is a sport-sedan.
Too young for a Volvo wagon???? Audi will sell you an A6 or maybe an A4......
I'D BUY A HYBRID LUXURY SEDAN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Oct 20, 2003 (6:19 am)
You also need to consider the demographics of RL buyers. They are usually much older than those of say a 5-Series owners (as much as 10 years difference). (There are exceptions of course).
Take a look at the LS430 owners out there. They have a 290hp but the majority of them get out-accelerated by Civics and Corollas and they don't seem to care. If your going to drive the car like that, a 4-cylinder engine is probably good enough. It seems they are more concerned about the ride comfort, interior quality, and space.
The 5-series and TL have similar dimensions. In fact Acura admits using the 5-series as their benchmark for the TL on their website.
If Acura follows the same trend that they did with the TL. That is, offer a car with value that is several thousand less then their competitors, then the RL will probably still stay in the mid-40k range but offer the ride comfort, interior quality and space offered in the 50-55k range. That would pretty much be the Lexus LS430.
Keeping the car in the mid-40k range lets them keep the V6 but they must bump up the power to 300hp since your paying more than a TL.
They will probably keep the dimensions on the RL similar to the current model since the TL has shrunk about 5 inches. The current dimensions still keeps the exterior size about the same at those of the LS.
One thing I would like to see is an 3.5 RL-L. Stretch the wheel base from 114 inches to 121 inches for those who think the RL is too short.
Oct 20, 2003 (6:34 am)
The reason why luxury cars (like the LS430, RL, and most domestic cars) have a big engine is not to go racing. Rather it is the effortless acceleration that is the appeal. Drivers in this class want to tap the pedal and get moving without any fuss. There should be a solid pull from the engine with as little vibration and noise as possible.
That's why a four cyl engine won't do. It's probably why Acura kept the 3.5 in the RL rather than going to the 3.2 with a higher output. I suspect the 3.5 was easy to make docile and just as torquey.
Oct 25, 2003 (5:14 am)
I'm assuming you mean the RL instead of TL which is suppose to appear next Fall based on the quote from CEO Takeo Fukui.
Oct 26, 2003 (7:42 am)
Thanks for catching that. Yes, the article states that this will be part of the structure in the RL.