Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Will people buy a $38k+ Acura TL?

Acura’s TL was due for a redesign, again they seem to mess up the fog lights in my opinion; good placement but cheap looking integration. Other than the fog lights, I’m ok with the regular 2007 TL. However, I really dislike the idea of the Acura TL Type-S. The Type-S has a 3.5L V6 instead of the 3.2L V6, resulting in a 286 hp instead of 258 hp respectively. The stock Type-S rims look ugly and cheap. Also, the lighting in the Type-S is red instead of the traditional Acura blue. BMW’s have red lighting, maybe Acura was trying to copy them. The thing that really gets me is 286 hp on the front wheels only is worst than 258 hp on the front wheels only, cars with 250+ hp should not be FWD cars! The TL should be a rear wheel drive car, and the Type-S should not be MSRPed at $38,000+!
I love you Acura, but I don’t agree with you on the 2007 TL Type-S.

Shown above: 2007 Acura TL Type-S with ugly rims and cheap fog integration.
That was me seeing it from a consumer’s prospective. From Acura POV the the story is a little different. Here’s what I think Acura is really doing. Acura wants to move their brand image more upscale, this can be seen because they already dropped the RSX out of their lineup. The RSX dragged the Acura line down in my opinion. Think of it like this, let’s say you’re in this really tough gang. Then one day you let this wimpy guy into your gang, what will other people think of your gang now? The gang’s standard is low or that the gang can’t be that tough because there’s someone like him is in the gang. The RSX was the wimpy guy. The guy that just showed up and said, “Hey, can I hang around with you guys? I want to be cool too.”
What this did to Acura was throw them into an identity crisis. “Are we a tough gang or not?” Hard to tell when one of your member always gets a beat down. The introduction of Honda’s own Civic Si killed the Acura’s RSX. The RSX will need to take a break, lift some weights, rob a few banks before it can get let back into the tough gang. Rumor has it that Acura is working on a coupe based off the TSX. Most-likely will be introduced in 2008 hypothesised to have SH-AWD, 4-cylinder, and a turbo.
Acura vehicles are known for their best per buck value. In a sense, it’s luxury for the cheap, an oxymoron if you think about it. How do you get rid of this oxymoron image? Easy, charge more for your product. As the TSX gets more and more expensive every year, the RSX will soon become the last Acura under the $30k pricetag. This however leads us to why Acura has the TL Type-S. Acura brought back the Type-S badge as an experiment. Will consumers pay almost $40k for a TL? That is the question Acura needs an answer by 2008.
Why does Acura need this question answered? Well, because of the introduction of the TSX. The younger brother, TSX, is stepping on the older brother’s, TL, toes. As the price goes up on the TSX every year, soon it’s MSRP will start at $30k, it is starting to get close to the TL price range. This is what I saw when I went car shopping. I could have essentially just pay “a little more” and gotten a TL, that’s if I wanted a TL. Without losing potential TL customers, Acura kept a regular TL around to sell to the masses, and introduced the Type-S to see how willing and able they are to sell TL’s at almost $40k. Who ever thought this up was brilliant.
I don’t agree with this experiment but it needs to be done. However, moving the brand upscale takes more than just charging more. It also takes mechanics. Acura will need to equip their cars with a different drive-train. Acura should not sell anymore front wheel drive cars without offering an option. They need to implement this in 2008 to stay in the Japanese Luxury brand game. The way I see it is Acura will probably start to offer SH-AWD as an option in all their car, or even have it standard on all their cars. They also need to offer something bigger than a V6 engine. It has been rumored that Acura will offer a V10 in the next generation NSX. I think that a V10 in the NSX is cool and all, but a V8 needs to be an option in the RL, this will shut up a lot of critics.
But wait, wait, I’m getting ahead of myself. So yeah, Acura TL Type-S is needed because in a few years all TL’s will cost around that much. This is the start of the transition from North American Honda cheap to Acura expensive.

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