Wednesday, May 30, 2007

More on Honda R&D Americas (HRA)

Established in Torrance, California in 1975 to conduct local market research and design activities, today Honda R&D Americas (HRA) has the capability of "complete product creation" - developing all-new vehicles starting from market and technology research and design styling through engineering design, fabrication and testing, local parts procurement and mass production preparation. Formally incorporated in 1984, HRA over the past 30 years has steadily expanded the size and scope of its operations to encompass the full range of research, design and development activities for Honda and Acura automobiles as well as Honda motorcycles and Honda power equipment products.

Major U.S. R&D facilities:

Los Angeles Center (Torrance, CA) - established in January 1975, the Los Angeles Center is responsible for market research, concept creation and styling design through three separate studios. The center is also playing a critical role in the development of alternative fuel technologies and operates two of the world's most advanced hydrogen fueling stations.
  • Honda Design Studio (Torrance, CA) - plays a leading role in market research, concept creation and vehicle design of future Honda automobile and motorcycle/ATV models.
  • Acura Design Studio (Torrance, CA) - plays a leading role in market research, concept creation and vehicle design of future Acura models.
  • Advanced design Studio (Pasadena, CA) - focused on the conception and creation of future design concepts.
Ohio Center (Raymond, OH) - established in July 1985, the Ohio Center is responsible for technology research and complete vehicle design and development including body, chassis, interior, electrical, engine application and safety engineering, as well as support of North American and global manufacturing operations and component suppliers. It also operates one of the industry's most sophisticated Automotive Safety Research facilities, established in October, 2003.

North Carolina Center (Swepsonville, NC) - established in August 1993, the North Carolina Center is responsible for design, testing and prototype development and supplier support for Honda power equipment products made in North Carolina.

Transportation Research Center (East Liberty, OH) - purchased by Honda in January 1988, TRC was an existing vehicle research and testing facility originally developed by the state of Ohio. Comprehensive vehicle testing is conducted at the facility's laboratories and test courses including a 7.5-mile banked oval, numerous on-road and off-road dynamic test tracks.

Honda Proving Center of California (Mojave Desert, CA) - established in June 1990, HPCC is responsible for comprehensive vehicle testing including a 7.5-mile oval track and numerous on-road and off-road test courses.

HRA Vehicle Development History:

Vehicle Model Detail
1989 Honda Accord SEi HRA performed design styling and local parts procurement for many of the exclusive components of the "Special Edition" vehicle
1991 Accord Wagon First HRA developed "derivative model". Based on the 1990 Accord Sedan for North America and export to Japan and Europe
1993 Civic Coupe First Civic Coupe. A "derivative" model based on the 1992 Civic hatchback.
1994 Accord Wagon First HRA simultaneously developed "derivative model" based on the 1994 Accord Sedan.
1997 Acura CL 2.2 (Coupe) First all-new vehicle development by HRA and the first to be led by an American engineer
1997 Acura CL 3.0 (Coupe) First vehicle to receive all new high-output V6 engine
1997 Acura 1.6EL New Acura model developed exclusively for Canadian market.
1998 Accord Coupe First Accord Coupe with exclusive exterior styling
1999 Acura 3.2TL Second all-new Acura model development by HRA.
2001 Acura 3.2CL Third all-new Acura model with application of new 6-speed manual transmission for V6 engine
2001 Acura MDX Acura's first original SUV - 2001 Motor Trend SUV of the Year and North American Truck of the Year.
2001 Civic Coupe First small car to earn NHTSA five-star safety rating in frontal and side impact (NCAP) crash test ratings
2002 Acura TL Introduction of high performance TL "Type-S" model
2003 Honda Pilot Honda's best-selling SUV - five-time Car and Driver 5 Best Truck.
2003 Honda Element Innovative SUV with flat cargo floor and 'B-pillarless' wide-opening side doors.
2004 Acura TL America's best selling luxury sedan 2004 and 2005.
2006 Honda Ridgeline Honda's first-ever and highly innovative pickup truck. 2006 Motor Trend, North American and Canadian Truck of the Year
2006 Accord Sedan and Coupe Mid-model refresh of 2003 Accord. First time HRA is responsible for global launch of new model including coordination of production launch in 8 plants worldwide
2006 Civic Coupe and Civic Si Sporty 2-door coupe and high-performance Si versions of 8th generation Civic - 2006 North American, Canadian and Motor Trend Car of the Year
2007 Acura MDX Track-tuned at the famed Nurburgring racetrack in Germany, this 2nd generation MDX features bold styling, cutting-edge technology and ample SUV utility, to skillfully balance performance with functionality

Today, approximately 30 percent of all Honda and Acura vehicles sold in America and 50 percent of all U.S. light truck sales are products researched, designed and developed in America. These include some of the company's most innovative and trend-setting cars and light trucks including the Acura MDX and Acura TL, and the Honda Pilot, Element, Ridgeline truck and Civic Coupe and Si.

I thought the RDX is also a HRA product?

[Source] AcuraNews

Saturday, May 26, 2007

[Video] Next NSX (?) in action!

But why an S2000 mule? Simple. Honda/Acura is restyling its supercar. One source close to Honda states that reaction to the exterior styling has been "merely lukewarm," and as a result, the company is in the process of redesigning the car from the ground up. Another aspect of this coupe that's still up in the air is its official name. While NSX is still the name that's getting thrown around, Honda wants to distance this front-engine supercar from the midengine NSX with a new name that expresses this car's new mission as a grand tourer. Think of it as a Honda DB9 or an Acura M6.

According to Takeo Fukui, CEO of Honda, the car will sit on a brand-new platform and employ a new V10 engine. Supposedly, the engine will displace 5.5 liters and generate upward of 550 horsepower, making it Japan's most powerful road-going car ever. With good fuel economy and cleaner emissions striking an ever-stronger chord among potential customers, sources state that Honda engineers have covered their bases by creating a fuel-efficient V10 engine that effectively shuts down five cylinders depending on the circumstances. the Honda V10 will also incorporate a revised version of the company's new SH-AWD four-wheel-drive technology first seen on the Acura RL.

Expected to have a top speed of over 200 mph and the ability to sprint to 60 mph in about 3.5 seconds, the NSX successor will undergo rigorous testing in Japan and at the Nürburgring, and we'll see a restyled concept at the Tokyo Motor Show in October.

[Source] Autoblog

This supercar sounds fine and dandy, but with a $150k+ pricetag, will it really sell?

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Acura Design Center Opens

The new $15 million Acura Design Studio officially opened its doors today, assuming a key role in the development of new concepts and designs that will lead directly to future Acura products. With state-of-the-art design technologies and a work layout focused on improving collaboration, the new design studio represents the next step in the advance of the Acura brand.

Designed to achieve a high level of energy efficiency, the studio also is expected to be certified as a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) building by the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC). A number of measures were adopted in the design and construction of the studio, with the goal of achieving LEED gold certification.

"This Acura Design Studio will help conceive and design the future of Acura," said Toshihiko Nonaka, president of Honda R&D Americas (HRA). "Our goal here is to create emotional designs that create a strong and distinct image for Acura products."

A number of Acura models, including the Acura MDX luxury sport utility vehicle and Acura TL luxury performance sedan, have been designed, developed and engineered by HRA. Moving Acura design activities into a state-of-the-art independent studio provides a more clear focus to advance the unique character of the Acura brand.

"The Acura Design Studio will be critical in our efforts to deliver products at the right times and ahead of the competition."

"Acura is no longer a large moon circling the Honda planet," said Jon Ikeda, manager of the new studio. "We now have established our own orbit as an independent Acura planet."

Key technologies in the Acura Design Studio include a computer-generated virtual simulator that enables design stylists to display virtual vehicles in a one-to-one ratio. Other features in the facility design include the parallel arrangement of the interior and exterior design areas on the styling floor to better enable collaboration of designers involved in a new vehicle.

A celebratory groundbreaking for the Acura Design Studio was conducted March 27, 2006, marking the 20th anniversary of the creation of the Acura brand. Acura was the world's first Japanese luxury nameplate and the first Japanese luxury automaker to design, develop and manufacturer its vehicles in North America. Today, nearly two-thirds of all Acura vehicles sold in America are researched, designed, developed and assembled exclusively in North America.

In the effort to achieve a Gold rating by the USGBC, the Acura Design Studio includes many energy-saving attributes such as an Energy Star reflective roof to reduce heat gain and lower air conditioning requirements; reclaimed water used for landscaping; and an intelligent lighting system that makes greater use of natural light. Honda has other LEED gold certified facilities in Gresham, Oregon and Raymond, Ohio.

With the addition of the Acura Design Studio, the company operates 13 major R&D facilities in North America with more than 1,200 designers, engineers and support personnel engaged in the development of automobiles, motorcycles and power equipment products for North America and global markets. HRA's major centers include the Los Angeles Center (Torrance, CA) responsible for market research, concept development and styling design; the Ohio Center (Raymond, OH) responsible for complete product development, testing and support of North American supplier development; and two dynamic test facilities in California and Ohio; and the North Carolina Center (Swepsonville, NC) responsible for power equipment R&D.

[Source] AcuraNews

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

[Rumor] More Photos of 2009 Acura NSX Mule?

More pictures of the "test mule" from

's article

Front engine vs. mid-engine layout and NSX vs. S2000 replacement seem to be the debates about this test mule. What do you think?

Don't forget to take a look at the previous post.

Monday, May 21, 2007

[Rumor] 2009 (or 2010) Acura NSX Spy photos?

I read this off Autoblog, which links to Straightline for the photos.

"It was over a year ago when Honda officials confirmed a V10 engine for the next-generation NSX, but since then all we've heard or seen out of Japan was the Sports Car Concept shown in Detroit. " - Straightline

I don't know what Straightline is thinking, but the Acura Advanced Sports Car Concept (ASCC) was not designed in Japan. From my understanding, it was something that came out of Acura's design center in the United States. I remember reading how the top people at Honda in Japan don't like the new ASCC design and want something else.

Anyway, Straightline is reporting that this heavily modded Honda S2000 with 4 tailpipes was found in Nurburgring, German is a signal that Honda/Acura hasn't stopped working on the next generation NSX. There's speculation that Honda is using this mutated S2000 for drivetrain and chassis development. Don't look at me, I'm just reporting what I read.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

The Washington Times' Acura RDX review

Acura, Honda's luxury division, enters the highly competitive crossover utility vehicle (CUV) marketplace with an all-new premium entry-level model that features a host of "best-in-class" attributes, combining superlative styling, luxurious appointments, and super handling all-wheel drive in a technologically advanced ride with the RDX.

The turbocharged 2.3-liter four cylinder delivers instant acceleration off the line or at highway speeds, thanks to the broad torque curve. The ride quality is on the firm side, befitting the RDX's performance orientation. Handling characteristics are crisp, and indeed more sport sedanlike than light trucklike. The overall size of the RDX is well suited to zipping through traffic with ease, while offering the versatility on par with, or exceeding many competitors. The Acura/ELS audio system places the RDX in the transportation concert hall category in terms of entertainment and sound quality, so parked, or on the move, your favorite tunes take on new life.

The RDX is so well appointed that there is only one optional package -- the Technology Package, which is truly "wired."
The Technology Package adds:
• A 10-speaker Acura/ELS Surround Premium Sound System with multiformat six-disc DVD-A changer, AM/FM tuner, and XM Satellite Radio.
• HandsFreeLink wireless telephone interface.
• AcuraLink Satellite Communication System with Real Time Traffic.
• The Acura Navigation System with Voice Recognition.
• Rearview camera.
• GPS-linked, solar-sensing, dual-zone, automatic climate-control system.

As always, Acura may not always be the first to the fray, but when the battle is over, Acura vehicles seem to reign supreme.


Click here to see the RDX when it was still a concept.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

"...the guys at Acura never stop."

If he hadn't been asked to grade its performance on a scale of 1 to 10, Bryan Herta likely would have given Acura a 12. Maybe it would have been a 13 or higher. Herta, the lead driver for Andretti Green Racing's first season in the American Le Mans Series with Acura. "I'd give us (the race team) a six or seven out of 10. Although we won Sebring, which was great, and we've been competitive and run up front every weekend, I don't think we've gotten the best result possible on every weekend that we've been out there. That's what we have to improve on if we want to get serious about the championship."

"There is still ongoing development. I know the engine will be getting better because the guys at Acura never stop. We're working on our setup and understanding the car, working with Michelin to get figure out how to get the best out of our tires.

The next round of the American Le Mans Series is the Utah Grand Prix, set for 5:05 p.m. MT on Saturday, May 19 from Miller Motorsports Park near Salt Lake City. It will air live on XM Satellite Radio's Sports Nation channel. CBS Sports will air the race at 1 p.m. ET on Sunday, May 20. MotorsTV in Europe, SPEED Latin America and 7TV in Russia also will provide international coverage. American Le Mans Radio and IMSA's Live Timing and Scoring will be available at

For the full read.

Acura TSX nominated for Ten Best Automobiles Going has nominated the Acura TSX as one of the Ten Best Automobiles Going. Here is the full list of the nominees:
Acura TSX – Pro: A tasty blend of luxury, economy, style and reliability. Con: A rebadged Euro-Accord with plenty of high-class competition.

Audi RS4 – Pro: Like lightning shagging a tsunami in the middle of a tornado. Con: Audi’s reliability rap sheet stretches back two decades.

BMW 3-Series – Pro: The benchmark for sport sedans: balanced, powerful, tuneful, tactile, grippy. Con: Flame broiled sheetmetal, and expensive options jack up the price.

Chevy Corvette – Pro: Performs like cars that cost twice as much. Con: Built like cars that cost half as much.

Ford Crown Victoria – Pro: Shows us what full-sized American cars once were. Con: Shows us what full-sized American cars once were.

Ford Mustang GT – Pro: An American icon with V8 bellow and woofle and terrific straight-line performance. Con: Very few roads are totally straight.

Honda Accord – Pro: High build quality, exquisite engineering, high mileage and segment-leading resale value. Con: Bland “any car” styling that makes mall parking lots a nightmare.

Honda Fit – Pro: The current benchmark for low-cost, frugal, fun. Con: Light clutch, missing cog.

Honda S2000 – Pro: High-revving VTEC engine wrapped in a nimble rear-wheel-drive roadster. Con: On - off engine makes around town driving lethargic– or loud.

Infiniti G35 – Pro: Near-BMW-level performance at a far-from-BMW price. Con: Near-BMW-level performance.

Jeep Wrangler – Pro: Stays true to its rough and ready Jeep DNA: an American icon-on-wheels. Con: As a daily driver, it’s best suited to park wardens.

Maserati Quattroporte – Pro: A visual, haptic and sonic cargasm boasting a detuned Ferrari engine. Con: The brand has a rep for being less reliable than a pre- (post?) rehab Lindsay Lohan.

Mazda Mazda3 – Pro: Outstanding price-to-performance ratio. Con: Interior design and materials have been well and truly beancounted.

Mazda MX-5 – Pro: Low price, no-hassle roof retraction and go-cart handling equals year-round fun. Con: Chick car rep.

Mercedes E320 BlueTec - Pro: High mileage and low emissions promise the return of the passenger car diesel to the U.S. Con: High purchase price keeps it from those who would benefit most from its lower operating costs.

Porsche 911 – Pro: Legendary handling and performance in a timeless wrapper. Con: High price keeps it from those who would benefit most from its dynamic delights (i.e. me).

Porsche Boxster S – Pro: Faster through a slalom than a Ferrari Enzo. Con: Wind roar above 90mph makes conversation difficult.

Porsche Cayman – Pro: A miniature supercar. Con: Needs more power!

Subaru WRX/STi – Pro: Insane performance for chump change. Con: Only slightly better daily driver than a Jeep Wrangler.

VW GTI – Pro: The high priest of hot hatch hoonery. Con: Questionable quality creates quantum queasiness.

Click here to vote.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

A TSX that gets more MPG than a Prius!

*NOTE* The European Honda Accord is American's Acura TSX.

Honda expects to bring the clean-diesel Honda Accord to the U.S. by 2010. It gets 62.8 miles a gallon on the highway, but otherwise looks and feels like a regular Accord. At that mileage level, the car is about as "clean" as a new Toyota Prius. But if you run it on biodiesel, a form of diesel made from vegetable oil or animal fat, it would be even cleaner than a Prius (Priuses get 60 in the city).

The advantage of diesel cars is that they pack a lot of power.

I would love a 62.8 mpg TSX! However, I thought that the disadvantage of diesel cars is they lack power compared to gasoline alternatives. Maybe I was wrong?

For the full read.

Comptech not closing!

A few months ago, there was news that Comptech was closing it's doors after more than 20 years. The word on the internet (confirmed by vendors) for Comptech's closing was due to low number of sells and not enough management. Well, supercharge your TL & TSX, because Comptech isn't closing anymore!

The following was posted by a member of the forums:
I already posted this in the 2g TL section but i thought i would throw it up here too. I called Comptech this morning and spoke with someone regarding the shut down. Actually, Comptech is NOT shutting its doors, it is merely changing hands. The people who bought Comptech actually worked there before. They will re-open under the same name, and begin producing and selling parts again within the next month or two. The same people will be producing the parts, and it will be of the same quality Competch is known for. I asked about the supercharger for the 2g TL and the person I spoke with could not disclose very much information regarding products for the new owners of the company. All she could tell me was it was very possible. SO. Everyone can stop freaking out now, its not the end of the world - or Comptech.

This is great news for Honda and Acura fans everywhere.

Further confirmation at NSX Prime.

Monday, May 14, 2007

2007 Acura MDX review by The New York Times

The Acura MDX has been completely reimagined as a cutting-edge performance machine, with macho styling and a positively Teutonic array of electronic and telematic equipment. The MDX still comes only with a V-6, but the new 3.7-liter engine makes a more competitive 300 horsepower; indeed, this is Acura’s most powerful engine ever — even the discontinued NSX exotic sports car mustered only 253 horsepower. A dual-stage intake manifold and unusually high 11.0:1 compression ratio give the MDX’s engine the punch of a V-8 while sipping fuel like a V-6. In combined city and highway driving, it traveled nearly 20 miles on a gallon of premium unleaded.

This year, power is delivered as needed to each wheel through Acura’s savvy Super Handling All-Wheel-Drive system (introduced in the RL sedan), wherein the outside wheels can rotate faster to facilitate cornering. The MDX’s quickness and dexterity compare favorably with pricier high-performance rivals like the Porsche Cayenne and BMW X5. What’s more, towing capacity is 5,000 pounds, certainly adequate for a car-based utility.

Standard safety equipment includes front air bags, side air bags mounted in the front seats, full-length side curtain bags, active front head restraints, stability control with a stabilizing feature for towing, tire-pressure monitors and antilock disc brakes with brake assist. The brakes, by the way, provided strong, sure stops.

The MDX has grown to seven-passenger capacity, with three rows of seats; leather is standard on all MDXs. The power-adjustable front seats are handsome, firm and supportive. The roomy second row, which folds in a 60-40 configuration, has reclining seatbacks and a folding center section that doubles as an armrest with cup holders (in addition to other beverage and gear cubbies in the door pockets and elsewhere). The third row, split 50-50, is fit only for children.

An ergonomic shortcoming is the center stack with its Big Brother control knob, akin to BMW’s odious iDrive. Acura was once the industry’s model for ergonomic simplicity but it seems to have followed the Germans down a path to complexity.
The base MDX is $40,665. The Technology Package brings the price up to $44,165 and includes a navigation system, surround-sound audio system and Bluetooth wireless phone connectivity. The Sport Package adds the active-damper handling system and sport seats, pushing the price to $46,265. The $2,200 Entertainment package has a second-row DVD video system, heated second row seats and power liftgate. Fully loaded, our test vehicle topped out at a sobering $48,465, including destination.

The MDX now outpowers the Mercedes-Benz ML350 and Lexus RX 350, neither of which has a third-row seat. The redesigned BMW X5 3.0i offers three rows, and the MDX can beat it in a drag race (though maybe not on a slalom course). But the Bimmer’s base price almost equals the sticker of a fully equipped MDX. The Audi Q7 3.6 is close in power and price but a loser in the feature race.
Other competitors, like the Cadillac SRX, Volkswagen Touareg, Infiniti FX35 and Lincoln MKX, all seem a notch below the MDX in sophistication.
[Source] The Family Car - 2007 Acura MDX Photos
[Source] - Acura MDX: If It Looks Like a Duck...

Acura reliability ranks higher than Lexus in 2007

Toyota's vaunted Lexus luxury brand has fallen from first to fifth in Consumer Reports magazine's annual predicted reliability survey. Acura is currently ranked fourth. The top 3 spots are not "luxury" brands. An interesting note is that the top 5 positions are held by either Toyota or Honda. Mercedes-Benz was last among 36 brands. Other luxury brands at the bottom: Land Rover, Hummer and Jaguar.

The magazine's director of automotive testing, blamed one model for Lexus' fall, the midsize GS that was redesigned last year. He said the car had problems in three areas — body integrity, defined as rattles or poorly fitting panels; body hardware, such as locks and trunk mechanisms; and the sound system.

Mercedes, DaimlerChrysler's luxury brand, tumbled four places to the cellar, "a very poor showing for a very expensive car," Champion said. Mercedes' quality is so imperiled that a 9-year-old Lexus LS 400 has potentially fewer problems than a new Mercedes ML. Champion said of Mercedes: "They perform well, have great fit and finish. But they seem to have a lot of problems with the seven-speed automatic transmission in all their products, and power accessories and electrical systems."

How 'Consumer Reports' survey ranks cars
Predicted reliability of brands and where they placed last year
(Bold = gained; italics = lost.)
Land Rover
Table Source: Consumer Reports

[Source] - Japanese brands dominate
[Source] - Luxury brands take beating in auto-reliability survey

Sunday, May 6, 2007

Thinking of a used NSX?

Videos talks about getting a used automatic transmission NSX because they're more moderately driven and then swapping in a manual transmission. A properly maintained NSX will last more than 15-20 years! Since the body is made out of aluminum, you shouldn't have rusting problems. According to Honda/Acura, the body should last more than 30 years, and the engine gets better after 50,000 kilometers!

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