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 world automotive industry. It was the beginning of a bold and spectacularly successful venture - the creation of an entirely new automobile division from the ground up.
This prestigious marque was created to bring elegant styling, state-of-the-art technology and engineering, stimulating performance and an unprecedented level of customer service to the luxury import market.
Now in its 16th year, that venture continues to show extraordinary results. As one of the top-selling luxury import makes in the U.S., Acura offers premium performance vehicles, through a network of approximately 260 dealers.
Among many of Acura's firsts:
Fueled by hot sales of the 3.2 TL luxury performance sedan, and strong demand for the MDX luxury SUV and the all-new RSX sports coupe, Acura Division posted record year-end sales of 170,469, in 2001. Acura 2001 sales were up 19.5 percent from 2000, and shattered a 10-year-old sales record of 143,708 set in 1991.
The 3.2 TL enjoyed its strongest year ever in 2001, with sales of 69,484 making it the best-selling luxury sedan in its class for the third straight year. The award-winning MDX luxury SUV was a strong seller for Acura in its first full year of production with sales of 40,950 units. In July, Acura sales got a boost with the introduction of the all-new RSX sports coupe as a replacement for the Integra. The RSX garnered numerous awards including being named to Car & Driver magazine's "10 Best Cars" list, and during its first six months on the market, sold 16,401 units.
In 2002, Acura reached an important milestone, selling its 2 millionth vehicle in July.
While selling a large number of automobiles for the luxury import category, Acura has consistently performed extremely well in one of the most important measures of success - making the ownership experience as satisfying as possible. This year, Acura moved up to second from third in the J.D. Power and Associates® 2002 Initial Quality Study, a highly regarded barometer of customer opinion. Consumers rated the 3.2 TL second in the Entry Luxury category while the RSX debuted at number four in the Sporty Car segment.
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 year after year.
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 (1986-1991) 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.
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 Integra in 1990. The following model year, the mid-engine NSX exotic sports car joined the Acura lineup. Also in 1991, Acura released the second-generation 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 touring luxury 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 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.
In 1999, the highly successful, redesigned 3.2 TL had its first full year on sale, and reasserted 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.
The following year marked the introduction of Acura's first built-from-the-ground-up luxury sport utility vehicle, the MDX. 2001 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. The TL Type-S boasts a 260 horsepower, all-aluminum engine that adds 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.
2003 sees 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 delivers increased engine control, redistributes weight backward for better handling and reduces the car's 0-60 time by more than a half second compared to a CL Type-S with automatic transmission. The MDX, Acura's award-winning luxury SUV receives a next generation engine that boosts horsepower from 240 to 260 as well as an all-new, transmission and Vehicle Stability Assist (VSA). The MDX also debuts the second generation of the Acura Navigation System with Voice Recognition' and an available Acura DVD Entertainment Center.