Acura TL as seen in the Avengers
The ILX and RDX “safe” designs and value-driven product lines somewhat contradict Acura’s goal of injecting greater emotional appeal into its products and tilting the purchase motivation from the more rational feature content and value parts of the shopping equation.
While products like the TSX, TL, and MDX offer incredible value and performance that are still ahead of the curve despite being late in their product cycle, it seems like Honda’s research and development have little to add to the mature new design found in the ILX and RDX. Acura’s goal of cementing its claim in the premium arena means they need to eclipse products like Audi’s current A3 (with its amazing 2.0T, dual clutch transmission, and diesel TDI option), Mercedes-Benz B-Class, and BMW’s 1 Series in the compact arena, and vehicles like the Mercedes-Benz GLK, BMW X1, Infiniti EX35, and Audi Q5 in the compact crossover arena.
Acura MDX as seen in The Avengers
The ILX’s one big advantage is that it is launching to a market as the only compact premium sedan, although Buick, another brand aspiring to full-fledge luxury status, is also launching its Verano compact sedan with an array of advanced technologies, including direct injection and, in the near future, turbocharging. Ten years ago, a compact based on the Honda Civic platform would be miles ahead of any GM compact, but the gap has closed, if not reversed.
Acura’s interior and exterior styling should serve it well to differentiate it from its Honda origins, a necessary task for Acura to climb the social ladder, although it looks more like a generic sedan than the gateway to the Acura brand that features the gorgeous NSX as its halo car. Same goes for the RDX, which looks like it could slot into a number of different brands’ showrooms. Acura will need to find a middle ground between its unloved but distinctive metal beak and the bland and innocuous ILX and RDX. It’s in there somewhere, but they’ve yet to chisel away a design that is both distinctive and appealing.
Robert Downey Jr at Marvel's The Avengers Premiere in Acura NSX Convertible
At various points during the movie, I questioned whether Acura’s tie-in with The Avengers was worth the investment, especially with so little exposure for the NSX. It is. Although Acura and the NSX won’t get the mileage and exposure in the movie that the GM did with the Camaro in Transformers, the association and promotional materials targeting the next generation of consumers through a beloved comic-book franchise and blockbuster movie can help it reclaim some share of the limelight in popular culture, especially with clever appearances like Robert Downey Jr. showing up to the premiere in the NSX Convertible.