Last post on Nov 18, 2010 at 1:44 AM
You are in the Acura TL
What is this discussion about?
Acura RL, Acura TL, Sedan
#127 of 166 Re: OK, OK, I concede! [tamparl]
Dec 21, 2006 (4:33 pm)
I generally agree with your assessment.
Although I'm not sure Acura would want to hear that the "lower $40k" price range is where they have to price the RL to be a market success. It begs the question of "why bother" when the TL-S is already in the high $30k range.
I still think there is room out there for a $50-$60k Acura flagship. I have plenty of friends and associates that are in that target market, but find Infiniti to be too funky, Lexus to be too stodgy. They end up in BMW, Mercedes or Audi but could easily be drawn to the Acura brand.
#128 of 166 Re: OK, OK, I concede! [tamparl]
Dec 21, 2006 (7:59 pm)
You hit it on the head. "Legend" is the thing that is missing from Acura's marketing plan. They have a truly great car in the RL. Read cnet.com's review of the '06. The US is populated with baby-boomers who fondly (and somewhat lustfully) recall the Legend from the '80s and '90s. Rename RL the Legend, and my bet is that first-year sales will quadruple. Rename the TL the Vigor and...I'm not so sure about that one.
Although I bring home a nice chunk of bacon, I would never in a million years consider spending $50K on a car. It's a depreciating asset. So for me, the value proposition of a fine machine like the RL becomes compelling in the low $40s, yet irrelevant above that price point. No car, present or future, would tempt me to drop $50 large. I have three kids to put through college, among them two daughters who'll need to be married off. Plus I've been promising my low-maintenance wife a new kitchen for 10 years and she is finally going to collect.
And though my first cars were muscle-bound V-8s (an ugly brown 1969 GTO, wrapped around a telephone pole one snowy night, replaced by a Boss Orange 1969 AMX), I am by now sufficiently "green" that I would never consider a V-8. In fact, the one thing that bugs me about the RL vs. the TL is its 20% greater thirst for Chevron Supreme.
Perhaps I am an enigma--but there are millions out there like me. More of them should be driving Acuras instead of having their butts massaged by an overpriced Toyota! Acura's marketing department needs to figure this out.
#129 of 166 Re: OK, OK, I concede! [acurat]
Dec 22, 2006 (7:22 am)
O.K., let me take you back a bit to make my point, which I'd be very interested in your response to.
It's December 22, 1993. The 1994 Acura Legend GS Sedan that you are "lusting" after is sitting right there on the showroom floor. Actually, there are two of them. One's an automatic and one's a 6-speed manual transmission. 3.2 liter V6, 230 hp, FWD. Bluetooth - what's that? Navigation - what's that? ....
Base MSRP for either, $41,495. Take your pick.
Flash forward 13 years:
"So for me, the value proposition of a fine machine like the RL becomes compelling in the low $40s, yet irrelevant above that price point. No car, present or future, would tempt me to drop $50 large. I have three kids to put through college, among them two daughters who'll need to be married off. Plus I've been promising my low-maintenance wife a new kitchen for 10 years and she is finally going to collect."
I sincerely applaud your prudence and would never suggest that someone spend more on a car than they are comfortable with. However, it's now 2006/7, 13 years since the FWD 6-cylinder Legend GS sold for "the low 40's". The LS400 sold for $50k at that time. If you just inflated that Legend GS price at a nominal 3% per year, it's the equivalent of a $61,000 price tag today. And, coincidentally, the LS460 now runs around $70k.
It's wonderful to think that one can get a 2006 RL with 300hp, SH-AWD, and techno do-dads out the wazoo for hardly any more money than what they would have paid for the 1994 Legend GS sedan.
But, speaking as someone who would like to see Acura around for another 13 years, I sincerely believe they need to reclaim a more upscale position in the market, at least with their "flagship". If a $55,000-60,000 400+hp V-8 RWD Legend GS is not within your comfort zone, then you still have one hell of a good deal in a $35k TL to choose from. Which, by the way, in every single way is a far superior car, performance and luxury wise, than the 1994 $41k Legend GS that you lusted after.
P.S. Check out the price of that Sub Zero today compared to when your wife started asking for it 10 years ago. No real improvements, but at least a 50% higher price. Too bad Acura doesn't make refrigerators.
#130 of 166 Re: OK, OK, I concede! [habitat1]
Dec 22, 2006 (10:18 am)
Your economic argument is correct and with the assumption of 3% inflation even a tad conservative. Although I checked your math on my trusty HP 12C--another example of 1980s technology that has gotten way more affordable--and got a present value of $73,426 for a $50K price tag after 13 years at 3%. Of course that only strengthens your argument. (I had a rich GF who drove a Legend when I was in school in the late '80s...didn't realize until now just HOW rich!)
That said, the value equation for all sorts of consumer goods, especially cars and electronics, has shifted dramatically over the decades. You just get more for your money. Moore's Law and all that. Currency fluctuations and consumer interest rates also play into the affordability question.
The bigger marketing issue for Acura is how to differentiate themselves from Honda in the way that Lexus (and to a lesser degree, Infiniti) has done. They clearly do need a more upscale positioning to compete for the trophy-car dollar.
The other issue is that of branding of individual models. I think that throwing away the legend that underlies the Legend in favor of a bland alphanumeric was not a good move, and it is entirely reversible.
The TL was the best car I'd ever owned, but now it's a case of been there, done that. I'm happy to give you a shot at a $55-60K V-8 Legend as long as they keep offering a sturdy and high-tech V-6 beauty in the $40s for me. I do gloat secretly when I pass by LS460 owners, knowing I got 95% of what they have for $25-30K less. And more subtle, enduring exterior styling to boot.
And about that Sub-Zero--have you priced kitchen cabinets lately??
#131 of 166 Re: OK, OK, I concede! [acurat]
Dec 22, 2006 (1:54 pm)
I think we all have very good arguments here. I think we all are very cleaver, decisive and informed buys. I think we all are brilliant to have decided upon the Acura RL.
But I think we are the minority of the buying public. And I think Acura may rely just too much that it's buyers will be as dilligent as we were in our purchase decision. Which is why I think Acura needs to market better and get the word out on how good the RL is, as we had to find out, with our own due dilligence. Lucky for Acura we searched so.
But even as prudent i was in my decision to trade from my TL to the RL I can tell you how marketing affected me. I never drove the RL when I bought my TL. Simply put, they looked similar on paper and not enough intrigued me to justify the cost differential. Therefore I never drove the RL and just bought the TL. Some missed expectations with the TL and then the low 40K price point on the RL enticed me to drive the RL. I was so pleased with the RL over my TL, I likely would have bought it instead of the TL in the 1st place....when it sold for 50K!
Taking this a step further. Take an Acura RL and an Acura LEGEND side by side (same car / generation)....I would have looked at the LEGEND 1st. And to be totally truthful, when I speak to my overseas associates, I tell them I have a Honda LEGEND. The IMMEDIATELY recognize what car I have. When I tell family, friends, and AMERICAN associates I have an Acura RL, they recognize the Acura brand, but have no idea which model it is.
I presonally hate the letter naming conventions used by Acura. With Mercedes, BMW, Audi, Jaguar etc, the general public does not care what model it is as long as it is a Mercedes or BMW, etc. But I do not believe that philosophy supports Acura. As much as I love my RL, I still would PREFER to own an Acura LEGEND over an Acura RL. And as mentioned prior, I even prefer Honda LEGEND over Acura RL.
Marketing is a funny, fickle thing.
#132 of 166 Re: OK, OK, I concede! [tamparl]
Dec 22, 2006 (4:54 pm)
I think you may be making a little too much of marketing. In my opinion, when the new RL was introduced, it was heavily marketed as a luxury "sports" sedan. Television ads started with SH-AWD and 300 horsepower as the prominant features. Trouble was, on the sport side, the RL never got the enthusiast crowd and automotive press excited. On the substance side, no one puts the RL in the same performance category as the 5-series, certainly not the 550i.
Have you EVER seen a television ad for the Honda S2000? It is a specialty car that took on the $50k Porsche Boxster and, by many enthusiasts measures, won.
I believe that most consumers know about the RL and certainly all enthusiasts know about the S2000. The RL delivers a lot of value, for sure, but fell short of some expectations on performance. The Honda S2000 overdelivered. That's how I see it.
#133 of 166 Re: OK, OK, I concede! [habitat1]
Dec 22, 2006 (6:58 pm)
Tamparl, while marketing may affect the public's perception of the car, I generally agree with Habitat that one cannot make too much of marketing. In the final analysis, substance will/should prevail over form, once the advertised car has been test driven.
Indeed, what's in a name ... that which we call a Legend would smell so sweet? Although I don't know much about the Honda Legend, based on my quick review of this article from the following website
there is little difference between the Legend and RL, except for night vision and right-hand drive.
I think we all agree that the RL is a competent car with a high value quotient, but when compared with some of the prestigous nameplates (as mentioned), it pales a bit in the high performance and ultra luxury areas. But that is perfectly okay, particularly if you are happy enough with RL performance/luxury level, given the price you paid.
I also agree with Habitat that Acura can produce, and is highly capable of doing so, the so-called "Habitat-Edition" RL with his proposed specs. There is a market for the high rollers who go after ultra high performance and luxury.
However, it may require much R&D, and at the end, whether it is successful will be judged by the number of cars sold and the profits made (if any). Does Acura want to take a gamble, just like it did with the NSX? Hmm ...
#134 of 166 Re: OK, OK, I concede! [kennyg8]
Dec 22, 2006 (8:37 pm)
I do agree with you both. But my point is not as much as the vehicle itself proving it's worth against competitors by exceeding the performance benchmarks of the flagship segment, as much as Acura getting the RL into the minds of the general buying public. Enthusiasts will seek out the performance options and carefully compare, than the less demanding (performance) buying public (I include myself in that). That larger group of buyers will be drawn by image, perception and product acceptance (and it must be a good product), but performance may not be the apex for a majority of these buyers. Admittingly, I do not hold the RL as critically as both of you (I could not care less what the 10th of a second performance numbers are, or th g's on the skidpad. I do CARE how the car feels by the seat of my pants), but I dismissed the RL when I made my TL purchase, simply because I did not know much about the car other than it had similar content to the TL and was 10-15K more. I think that buying group qualifies a good chunk of the buying public, and I do put a lot of weight to marketing to get their attention. If Acura wants acknowlegement in the 50K+ range, I think they need to make the public more aware of what the RL has to offer as thier flagship, AND the RL would have to be improved to justify a 50K+ pricetag (IMHO). But I do not see Acura doing that as of yet (maybe in the future with stories of v-8 development). And if Acura decides (for now) not to be in that market, I think they need to change the marketing to improve upon the perception of what a really great car the RL is at its current pricepoint. I believe that would sell more RLs even with its current performance attributes. But I do not think enough people know what the RL is and capable of. On the enthusiasts board I am surpised how many 'informed' TL owners have stepped up to the RL and are suprised how good it is. And that is Acura's own buyers!
The type of vehicle that will gain Acura for the high end performance enthusiasts is another NSX product, with a bigger engine. That performance technology and impression would eventually trickle down into the more sedate sedan & flagship products. Or perhaps a true $50-60K flagship will rise over the RL, but that I doubt.
But in the 40-50K bracket, I think the RL is an exceptional vehicle. If it were higher end, 50K+ a more powerful (and likely less efficent) vehicle, it would not have been in my cross hairs. Heck, I nearly missed owning this fine vehicle once already.
Again, I agree with you both about the RL's standing in relation to what it could be. But from my angle, I'd settle for it just as it is, and I think more people would also if they only knew and were inspired enough to get their butt into the seat and drive one.
#135 of 166 Dear Santa/Acura; Next Year
Dec 23, 2006 (4:33 am)
I want to give you a 'heads up' for Xmas 2008, in case you listen to our ramblings. My next car will have: a silky smooth V-8 (BMW M-3/Lexus IS-F?), short-throw 6 sp. manual (like S2000), SH-AWD, 4 doors or 2 doors and folding back seats, adjustable suspension w/'sport' option (like MDX), sun-roof (my TL sunroof is fine), bullet-proof reliability (my Hondas & TL meet that requirement), and <$55 K (undercut 2008 M-3). If Lexus makes it, I will switch (IS-F?). If Acura make it, I will buy. Hope your workshop produces the Car in a year. To all sports car lovers visiting these forums, Safe Holidays & Happy New Year!
#136 of 166 Re: OK, OK, I concede! [tamparl]
Dec 23, 2006 (5:11 am)
I agree generally with what you are saying. Getting an RL in the low 40's is a tremendous value.
It seems however, that if Acura does not change the RL in 09 to be a staunch competitor in the 50-60k range as opposed to changing its marketing plan to improve upon the perception of what a great value it is- to me- seems like a celebration of mediocrity.
The sales figures for the RL are dismal. IMHO- it's not entirely due to Acura's marketing plan. If people want luxury they will go Lexus GS or MB E. If folks want performance, they will go Infinti M and BMW. If folks want a mix they might go Acura. The problem with the RL is that it is in a segment that requires having an optional V8.
At some point, I will be looking at the 50-60k range for a sedan and I would like to see Acura offer something substantive in this market.