The launch of the Acura Automobile Division on March 27, 1986, was a uniquely historic event, not just for Acura and its customers, but also for the global automotive industry. It was the beginning of a bold and successful venture - the creation of an entirely new automobile division from the ground up.
This prestigious marque was created to bring stimulating performance, elegant styling, state-of-the-art technology and engineering and an unprecedented level of customer service to the luxury import market.
Now in its 18th year, that venture continues to show extraordinary results. As one of the top-selling luxury import nameplates in the U.S., Acura offers premium performance vehicles, through a network of more than 264 dealers.
Among many of Acura's firsts:
- The first all-aluminum production automobile (NSX)
- The first in-dash satellite-linked navigation system (3.5 RL)
- The first luxury import brand to design, engineer and assemble a model in North America (the CL coupe in 1996, the TL sedan in 1998 and the MDX in 2000)
- The first standard DVD-Audio Surround System (2004 TL)
- The first standard Bluetooth wireless phone interface (2004 TL)
- The first use of acoustic windshield glass (2004 MDX)
- The first all-wheel drive system to distribute torque not only front and rear, but also between the left and right rear wheels (2005 RL)
- The first OEM application of a real time traffic system (2005 RL)
2003 was a banner year for Acura with the all-new TL performance luxury sedan leading the division to an all-time sales record of nearly 171,000 units. The TL was Acura's best-selling model. The hot-selling MDX luxury SUV, in its fourth year on sale, solidified its spot as the benchmark in its segment with unit sales of 57,281. The RSX continued to carve out a niche in the sports coupe category, while a brand new entry, the TSX, gave Acura strong presence in the sports sedan segment with first year sales of 18,932.
While selling a large number of automobiles for the luxury import category, Acura has consistently performed extremely well in one of the key measures of success - making the ownership experience the most satisfying as possible.
Acura has ranked number one in the annual J.D. Power and Associates Customer Satisfaction StudySM (CSI) survey four times and continues to score well above the industry average each year. In the 2004 J.D. Power and Associates® 2004 Initial Quality Survey, a highly regarded measure of customer opinion, the TSX was named the Highest Ranked Entry Luxury Car in Initial Quality. In the JD Power and Associates 2003 Vehicle Dependability Study (the latest available), the RL luxury sedan was rated the Most Dependable Midsize Luxury Car.
RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT
The success of Acura can be attributed largely to the research and development that goes into every vehicle. Acura automobiles are designed and built using leading-edge technology. At the same time, they are well known for unparalleled ergonomic design, quality and durability.
To give designers and engineers the kind of creative freedom and positive working environment they require to function at their best, Honda, in 1960, formed an autonomous research and development company that enjoys complete independence from its parent. This independence allows the engineers to go their own way, investigating new ideas and innovations without the budgetary and bureaucratic constraints encountered by engineers at many other automobile manufacturers.
After an automobile is designed and developed, it is exhaustively tested at facilities in Japan and the United States, and undergoes environmental testing in harsh climates and conditions all over the world. The main R&D testing facility in Japan is the Tochigi Proving Grounds, which offers a broad range of demanding driving situations. Acura automobiles are also tested at two major test facilities in the United States. The Transportation Research Center (TRC), in East Liberty, Ohio, has many of the same capabilities as the Tochigi Proving Grounds. And further illustrating our commitment to the U.S. market, an expansive testing facility in the desert north of Los Angeles, the Honda Proving Center of California (HPCC), allows thorough development and product testing close to Acura Division headquarters in Torrance, Calif. HPCC features a 7.5-mile high-speed oval track, and a five-mile winding road course that offers a full range of challenging road surfaces.
Acura's deep-seated commitment to performance started at the very beginning well before Acura Division was founded. Soichiro Honda, who founded Honda Motor Co., Inc., in 1948, was a racing enthusiast at heart. He steered the company into competitions early on and the racetrack has provided an indispensable training ground for engineers and designers of Acura vehicles. Using it as a high-speed laboratory, designers and engineers learn and apply their craft under intense pressure, where the difference between success and failure is measured in hundredths of a second. Engineers who cut their teeth on championship racing engines are often assigned to design the engines of Acura's passenger cars. In fact, the chief engineer of the race-inspired engine of the new Acura RSX sports coupe previously worked on championship-winning Honda Formula One engines.
Honda has been successful in every form of motorsports in which it has competed. Honda-powered cars won six consecutive Formula One Constructors' World Championships (1986-91) and five consecutive Formula One Drivers' World Championships (1987-91).
Race-prepared Acura Integra automobiles won two consecutive International Motor Sports Association (IMSA) International Sedan Manufacturers' Championships and three consecutive IMSA International Sedan Drivers' Championships (1988-90).
The Comptech Racing Acura-Spice GTP-Lights race car, powered by a modified Acura NSX engine, carried driver Parker Johnstone to three consecutive Manufacturers' Championships and three consecutive Drivers' Championships in the prestigious IMSA Camel GTP Lights series (1991-93).
In 1994, Honda made its Champ Car racing debut. Team Rahal brought the Honda banner to CART while the Acura-sponsored Comptech Racing team joined at the Portland Indy Car event with Johnstone at the wheel. The very next season, Johnstone was the fastest qualifier at the Indy Car event in Michigan, and Honda scored its first Indy Car victory weeks later when Andre Ribeiro took the checkered flag at the New England race in August of 1995.
2000 highlights included the company's 50th Champ Car race victory, eight race wins in the 20-event season, including a sweep of all four permanent road courses on the circuit and a series-leading 11 poles.
A very successful 2001 CART FedEx Championship Series season provided a fourth CART Manufacturer's Championship and sixth consecutive Driver's championship for Honda.
In 2002, Honda's final year of participation in CART racing, Honda drivers scored five victories and five pole positions. Race winners include Michael Andretti, Paul Tracy and Dario Franchitti.
Honda entered the Indy Racing League (IRL) IndyCar Series for the 2003 season, beginning a new era of competition. Honda's racing subsidiary, Honda Performance Development, Inc. (HPD) leads the effort in partnership with Ilmor Engineering Inc. HPD and Ilmor work together as technical partners to design, develop and produce engines for several IRL teams. RACING (continued)
In its first season in the IRL, Honda fielded four teams with a total of six drivers. Tony Kanan won in Phoenix and Brian Herta won in Kansas giving Honda its first two IRL wins. By the end of what turned out to be a non-stop learning experience for Honda and its partners, Honda sat third in the Manufacturer's Championship, with Kanan finishing fourth in the driver's championship and Kenny Brack finishing ninth.
In 2004, in only its second year of IRL competition, Honda captured the prestigious Manufacturer's Championship with four races remaining in the 2004 season.
Acura MODEL HISTORY
Two initial model lines went on sale in March 1986. The Integra sports sedans, in both 3-door and 5-door versions, were introduced, along with the Legend 4-door luxury performance sedan. The Legend coupe was introduced a year later, in 1987.
Acura introduced the second-generation 1990 model Integra in 1989. The following model year, the mid-engine 1991 NSX exotic sports car joined the Acura lineup. Acura then released the second-generation 1991 Legend sedan and Legend coupe. The 1992 lineup added the Vigor sports sedan. The 1994 Integra sports coupe and sports sedan represented the third generation of the Integra nameplate. The removable-top NSX-T was added as a 1995 model.
In early 1995, the Vigor was replaced by the all-new Acura TL Series. The TL was unveiled as a 1996 model signaling the beginning of Acura's conversion to alphanumeric model designations. That was followed in the fall by the introduction of the 1996 Acura SLX, the first sport utility vehicle offered in the United States by a luxury import nameplate. The Acura 3.5 RL assumed the role of Acura's flagship luxury sedan in February of 1996. Acura completed the revitalization of its model lineup with the introduction of the 1997 Acura CL series of performance luxury sports coupes, the first model ever designed, developed and assembled in America by a luxury import nameplate, and the sixth model in the Acura line.
For the 1999 model year, a completely redesigned 3.2 TL was introduced, reasserting Acura's powerful presence in the near luxury segment. In 2000, Acura incorporated significant technical advances in both the 3.2 TL and 3.5 RL.
That same year also marked the introduction of Acura's first built-from-the-ground-up luxury sport utility vehicle, the 2001 MDX. The 2001 model year also saw the introduction of the all-new, high-performance 3.2 CL and CL Type-S luxury performance coupes.
For the 2002 model year, Acura replaced the Integra with the all-new RSX sports coupe, redefining its entry-level vehicle with advancements in power, technology and luxury.
Acura also substantially upgraded the 3.2 TL and added a high-performance Type-S version. Boasting a 260-horsepower engine, the TL Type-S added a surge of performance to Acura's best-selling luxury sedan. The 3.5 RL also received numerous enhancements including increased horsepower, sport-tuned suspension, enhanced braking and more responsive steering.
The 2003 model year began with the addition of an available close-ratio 6-speed manual transmission to the 3.2 CL Type-S. Designed specifically for the performance characteristics of the CL, the 6-speed manual was coupled with a limited-slip differential and provided additional performance and handling responsiveness. The 2003 MDX, Acura's award-winning luxury SUV received a next generation engine that boosted horsepower from 240 to 260 as well as an all-new automatic transmission and Vehicle Stability Assist (VSA). The MDX also debuted the second generation of the Acura Navigation System with Voice Recognition™ and an available Acura DVD Entertainment Center.
The 2004 model year saw the debut of the Acura TSX sports sedan. With a 200 horsepower engine, drive-by-wire throttle, available 6-speed manual transmission and the latest in safety and interior technology, the TSX provides an exciting blend of power and refinement. The 2004 TL performance luxury sedan was redesigned and debuted as an all-new model with aggressive new styling, a 270-horsepower engine and, for the first time, an available 6-speed manual transmission. Inside, an array of cutting edge equipment makes the TL the most technologically advanced car in its class. It is the first vehicle in north America to offer a standard 5.1 DVD-Audio system, a revolutionary new system that delivers sound resolution 500 times better than existing CD sound systems. In addition, the TL's new HandsFreeLink™ system delivers hands-free phone capabilities that allow drivers to keep their hands on the wheel while making and receiving calls from their mobile phone. The 2004 MDX received additional horsepower, new styling and added interior features designed to ensure its place as the benchmark in its segment.
In 2005, Acura completes the revitalization of its sedan lineup with the introduction of the all-new 2005 RL. The RL features a 300-horsepower 3.5 liter VTEC V-6, the most powerful engine ever in an Acura production model, a close-ratio five-speed automatic transmission, and the world's first Super Handling All-Wheel Drive System™ (SH-AWD™), which, unlike other all-wheel drive systems, distributes torque not only between the front and rear wheels, but also between the left and right rear wheels. In addition, the RL is equipped with an assortment of leading-edge technology including real-time traffic gathered from XM Radio® satellites and incorporated into the navigation system display. The RSX sports coupe received a large number of chassis, body and suspension enhancements designed to improve handling precision while at the same time, providing a more refined ride. The RSX Type-S also receives a performance boost from 10 additional horsepower.