Acura Buying Guide
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Acura, the luxury arm of Honda, became the first upscale Japanese automotive brand in the U.S. when it launched back in 1986. From the beginning, the automaker established itself as a source for technically advanced, performance-oriented vehicles, such as its hybrid-powered supercar, the NSX. The brand is also known for value, with models that typically cost less than rivals from top-tier luxury carmakers such as BMW and Lexus. Acura’s most popular models include the MDX, a three-row SUV, the RDX, and compact SUV, and the TSX, a compact sport sedan.
Most Acura models rank well for fuel economy whether the car in question is a sports car or an SUV. The city/highway fuel-efficiency numbers for Acuras overall fall somewhere between 21 miles per gallon and 28 miles per gallon. Acura's two highest-performing cars in the fuel economy category are the Acura ILX and the Acura TLX FWD four-cylinder automatic, which get 34 and 33 miles to the gallon on the highway, respectively.
Image Award Winner
Because of the brand's solid performance abilities, design, and quality craftsmanship, Kelley Blue Book awarded Acura one of its Brand Image Awards in the category "Best Value Brand Luxury Car. KBB cited the carmaker as a top-value luxury car brand because it delivers all of the high-tech capabilities you'd expect from a luxury car at affordable prices. In the auto industry, brand plays a very important role; car buyers look at a car brand's reputation when they're making buying decisions.
Generally speaking, the Acura brand tends to rate very highly in the area of performance. Specific models like Acura's NSX sports car and RDX SUV earn high marks from critics, with the brand averaging overall in the high eights in a 10-point scoring system by US News. The NSX offers impressive acceleration and is excellent at handling corners. Car and Driver gives Acura's MDX crossover big points for being fast and nimble on the street.
One of the challenges for Acura is that its luxury cars don't come with an eight-cylinder engine, like many other luxury cars do. While some luxury car fans may not like this Acura feature, it is fair to say that V-8 engines in luxury-class cars, in general, are less common than they used to be. Nowadays, it's more common to find luxury cars that were built with fuel efficiency in mind, making the V-8 less practical. That being said, turbocharged and supercharged engines can reach the same power levels as the V-8. Some Acura models like the 2019 RDX come turbocharged, making up for the lack of a V-8 engine.
Reliable vs. Fun
Some critics suggest that Acura, while very reliable and an example of excellence in engineering, lacks the spirit that higher-end cars usually have. Some of these luxury cars are missing the "fun factor." These cars aren't bad-looking by any means; they're just not as "handsome" in their styling as some other luxury-class cars.
After getting a strong start in the luxury market, the Acura brand faltered a bit because the brand had, and in some respects is still having, trouble finding its niche. Edmunds points out that the brand changing the names of its cars from monikers like Legend to models like RDX partially caused this issue. To be sure, Acura sports cars, in particular, do fill a smaller niche; these are supercars that also get good gas mileage. However, some don't rank the NSX quite as high as others in this class because, while exotic on the inside, it's not exotic enough for some drivers.