Acura Looking Into Offering Standard AWD on All Models
Acura remains a brand trying to find its way, as many luxury buyers simply don’t see it as a premium enough brand to warrant a high entry fee. With Acura’s sales falling well behind Lexus, BMW and Mercedes as of September 2014, Honda’s luxury arm needs to do something to boost sales. Acura is working on solutions to this issue, and one answer is to do what many other brands are doing these days, steal a page from a successful brand’s book.
Specifically, Acura is considering offering all of its models with standard all-wheel drive, according to Automotive News. The hope in moving to standard all-wheel drive is to develop a brand image that keeps buyers coming back for more. Acura head, Koichi Fukuo, says he looks to the recent success of Subaru and Audi, in building their brands around selling almost exclusively AWD vehicles. Fukuo feels Acura may be able to tap into the same market and build more customer loyalty.
Currently, Acura offers at least one form of all-wheel drive on all of its models, sans the Civic-based ILX, and roughly 50 percent of its sales include all-wheel-drive. Additionally, with Acura’s two next-generation all-wheel drive systems — a revised SH-AWD and the new Sport Hybrid SH-AWD — this take rate will likely increase. Despite this trending toward all four wheels getting power, all Acura models, including its crossovers, come standard with front-wheel drive.
According to Fukuo, this idea is currently under consideration and a final decision isn’t ready to be made. While I love the idea of standard AWD in every Acura model, the brand also needs to continue separating itself from Honda like other luxury brands have in recent years. Sure, the all-new TLX is a nice step in the right direction, but it is still easily identifiable as a redone, albeit a very well-redone, Accord.
Click past the jump to read more about Acura’s future move to AWD.
Why it matters
Acura has been running in the middle of the pack in terms of luxury car sales for what seems like forever. Lexus has pulled itself out of the warmed-over Toyota stigma, and Infiniti is working on separating itself from Nissan. Hell, Cadillac went so far as to create its own business entity and put half of a nation between itself and the Detroit home of its parent company, GM. This separation seems to be the secret to the luxury car realm, but a luxury brand also needs to have something that buyers identify with. Adding all-wheel drive as a standard feature on all Acuras may be enough to help the brand build a loyal following. It’s gotta be better than the signature Acura beak...
The Acura TLX is all-new for 2015, as it rolls in to replace the larger TL and the entry-level TSX. Under its hood is a standard 2.4-liter, i-VTEC engine that produces 206 horses, plus there is an optional 3.5-liter V-6 that cranks out 290 horses. Available with this V-6 is Super Handling All Wheel Drive (SH-AWD), which was touted by Popular Science as one of the best automotive innovations when it was introduced in 2004.
This SH-AWD system not only enhances traction in slippery conditions, but it also helps in handling by varying the torque to each wheel (front, rear, left and right) to help pull the car through a turn. In its standard setting, 90 percent of the engine’s power heads to the front wheels while 10 percent goes to the rear, but up to 70 percent of the torque can hit the rear wheels under heavy acceleration or in a hard corner.
The 2015 TLX starts out at a respectable $30,995, but the TLX SH-AWD starts from $41,450.
Source: Automotive News