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  • 2017 Acura MDX Advance

    Refreshed crossover with seating for seven

    By Nina Russin

    2017 Acura MDX

    2017 Acura MDX

    The MDX is Acura’s answer to fans of the brand’s performance who need the interior capacity and versatility for growing families. For 2017, the current generation gets a major refresh, with new exterior styling and an expanded roster of standard active safety features including blind spot monitoring, lane keeping assist, collision mitigation, adaptive cruise control and road departure mitigation.

    Rather than asking buyers to wade through expensive option packages, Acura rolls oft-asked for convenience features into its model grades. The Advance grade tested adds heated and ventilated front sport seats, heated second-row captain’s chairs, roof rails, LED fog lamps, wood interior trim, parking sensors and a ten-way front passenger seat over the base model. Pricing starts at $56,400. Final MSRP including the $940 destination charge is $57,340. Read the rest of this entry »

  • 2017 Acura ILX Tech Plus

    Compact sport sedan for driving enthusiasts

    By Nina Russin

    2017 Acura ILX

    2017 Acura ILX

    The ILX is Acura’s entry level sport sedan, appealing to young driving buyers who want luxury accouterments in an affordable package. Base price is $27,900: something of a bargain at a time when average transaction prices for new cars are close to $30,000.

    The 2017 models are essentially carry-over from 2016 when the ILX received a major refresh that included new exterior styling and a more powerful engine, paired with an eight-speed dual clutch automatic transmission.

    The current powerplant delivers 201 horsepower and 180 pound-feet of torque, a fifty horsepower boost over the engine it replaces. The new transmission offers the precision of a manual gearbox thanks to friction couplings, plus excellent fuel economy: 29 miles-per-gallon according to the EPA.

    Buyers can choose between three trim levels: Standard, Premium and the Tech Plus tested. Acura wisely includes the convenience features buyers are looking for in each trim level rather than expensive option packages. Base price for the Tech Plus is $32,990 excluding the $940 destination charge. Standard convenience features include navigation with a multi-view rear camera, premium audio system, leather upholstery, satellite radio, keyless entry and start, alloy wheels, power moonroof, Bluetooth interface and an eight-way power driver’s seat. Read the rest of this entry »

  • 2016 Acura RDX AWD Advance

    Four-season compact crossover

    By Nina Russin

    2016 Acura RDX

    2016 Acura RDX

    When Acura introduced the first-generation RDX in 2007, it was as a smaller, less-expensive alternative to the MDX. This year, a refreshed second-generation car is in a league of its own, with styling and performance to compete against the best that the growing compact segment has to offer.

    Equipped with a 279-horsepower iVTEC engine and six-speed automatic transmission, the RDX has enough power to offer appealing performance in the most challenging situations. My sister-in-law who lives in Colorado at considerable altitude bought the all-wheel drive version last spring and hasn’t looked back since.

    Acura keeps the buying process simple by incorporating option groups into its grade strategy. The fully-loaded advance model tested starts at $43,520 excluding the $940 destination charge. Standard features include keyless entry, remote engine start, a multi-view rear camera, satellite radio, Pandora, power moonroof, 18-inch alloy rims, LED headlamps and tail lamps, navigation, real-time traffic updates, premium audio system, blind spot monitoring, lane keep assist, rain sensing wipers, adaptive cruise control, collision mitigation braking, heated and ventilated front seats. Read the rest of this entry »

  • 2016 Acura ILX

    Entry luxury sedan becomes a better machine

    By Nina Russin

    2016 Acura ILX

    2016 Acura ILX

    The second-generation Acura ILX should quash rumblings by those who described the first-generation car as a dressed up Civic. Changes to the 2016 model include a more powerful engine and eight-speed dual clutch automatic transmission. Enhanced torsional rigidity and interior quiet make the new ILX a true Acura: a driving enthusiast’s car that can live in the real world.

    Pricing for the base model starts at $27,900 excluding the $920 destination charge. The test car includes a technology option group that adds navigation, AcuraLink with real-time traffic, ten-speaker premium audio system, hard drive and GPS. The AcuraWatch safety package included in the test car’s $32,900 base price adds adaptive cruise control, lane keep assist, and forward collision warning. Final MSRP is $33,820. Read the rest of this entry »

  • 2015 Acura TLX 3.5L SH-AWD Advance

    Sport sedan debuts new engine/transmission technology

    By Nina Russin

    2015 Acura TLX

    2015 Acura TLX

    Both Honda and Acura have accrued loyal followings by their conservative approach to product, with understated styling and a focus on safety. But where competitors have fallen into the appliance-on-wheels trap, Acura’s driver-focused technology has earned the automaker high marks among car enthusiasts. While the TLX’s elegant styling functions well in a suit-and-tie world, the sedan is a bit of racecar in its heart.

    The all-new 2015 model features two brand new engines and two new transmissions. The front-wheel drive car is available with a choice of the 206-horsepower 2.4-liter direct injection block mated to a dual-clutch eight speed automatic transmission or the 390-horsepower 3.5-liter V-6, paired with a nine-speed automatic. The super-handling all-wheel drive car comes exclusively with the V-6.

    Base price for the all-wheel drive test car, equipped with technology and advance option packages, is $44,700. The technology option adds navigation with voice recognition and rearview camera, AcuraLink telematics with real-time traffic and weather updates, HD radio, leather upholstery, blind spot detection, forward collision warning, lane keep assist and rear cross traffic monitoring.

    The advance package includes adaptive cruise control, collision mitigation braking, remote engine start, LED fog lamps, road departure mitigation, and ventilated front seats. Final MSRP including the $895 destination charge is $45,595. Read the rest of this entry »

  • 2014 Acura MDX AWD Advance

    Luxury crossover melds performance and versatility

    By Nina Russin

    2014 Acura MDX

    2014 Acura MDX

    This year, Acura brought its newest MDX to the Active Lifestyle Vehicle of the Year awards competition, where athletes ranging from retired NFL players to elite triathletes poured over the car. They evaluated interior ergonomics, infotainment and cargo versatility before driving the MDX on area roads and highways. Acura’s crossover captured the ALV award in the Luxury Family category for delivering on both fronts in a way that none of its competitors could match.

    Seating up to seven passengers, the third-generation MDX is now available with front as well as all-wheel drive, and towing capability up to 5,000 pounds when properly equipped.

    Although the new V-6 engine is slightly smaller than the block it replaces, improvements in efficiency give it more torque and slightly more horsepower.

    Base price for the all-wheel drive car with the technology package and rearview entertainment system is $56,505, excluding the $895 destination charge. The 290-horsepower i-VTEC engine is mated to a six-speed automatic transmission. Standard equipment includes 19-inch alloy wheels, LED headlamps, keyless entry and start, rearview camera, XM and Pandora radio, Bluetooth interface, SMS text messaging, heated front seats, power moonroof and liftgate, navigation, JBL premium audio, rear DVD entertainment, collision mitigation braking, adaptive cruise control and roof rails. Final MSRP is $57,400. Read the rest of this entry »

  • 2014 Acura RLX Advance

    Midsized sport sedan hits the heart of the luxury segment

    By Nina Russin

    2014 Acura RXL

    The all-new RLX replaces the Acura RL as the brand’s midsized sport sedan. Powered by a 310-horsepower direct injection V-6 engine and six-speed automatic transmission, the RLX raises the bar on smart engineering fans of the brand have come to expect. For example, a new feature called precision all-wheel steer monitors driving conditions and automatically adjusts the amount of toe. In layman’s terms, it makes the car track more accurately for better steering response.

    Variable cylinder management automatically cuts power to half the engine cylinders when power demands are low, stretching the sedan’s highway fuel economy to 31 mpg. A host of new safety features include adaptive cruise control with low speed follow for stop-and-go-driving, lane departure warning, forward collision warning and a multi-view rearview camera.

    Pricing for the base model starts at $48,450, excluding the $895 destination charge. The Advance grade tested starts at $60,450 and is a completely loaded car, including keyless entry and start, tri-zone climate control, Bluetooth with hands-free SMS text messaging, AcuraLink with a three year complimentary subscription, heated and ventilated front seats, navigation, Pandora radio, blind spot monitoring as well as the safety features listed above. Final MSRP is $61,345. Read the rest of this entry »

  • 2013 Acura ILX Technology

    Entry luxury sedan for tech-savvy buyers

    By Nina Russin

    2013 Acura ILX

    This past spring, Acura introduced the ILX sedan, which replaces the more expensive TSX as the gateway for the brand. MSRP starts at $25,900, excluding the $895 delivery charge.

    There are three powertrain choices: a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine with five-speed automatic transmission, 2.4-liter turbo with six-speed manual, and a gasoline-electric hybrid with continuously variable automatic.

    The ILX shares chassis components with the Honda Civic. The strategy is similar to the early Lexus ES models based on the Toyota Camry. Despite the common running gear, styling is pure Acura: low stance, wide shoulders, long front end and short rear deck. Read the rest of this entry »

  • 2013 Acura ILX

    Compact luxury sedan with hybrid and performance options

    By Nina Russin

    2013 Acura ILX 2.0L

    When Acura launched in the mid-1980s, the luxury brand’s first point of conquest was existing Honda customers. As Acura’s lineup diversified in the early nineties, the Integra appealed to Civic owners looking to move up the economic ladder but who didn’t want to give up Honda’s sporty performance. When that model was replaced by the TSX, Acura continued to reach driving enthusiasts with its crisp manual gearbox, peppy high-revving engine and nimble handling.

    This year, Acura introduces a new model, the ILX, which becomes the brand’s entry level sedan. As with the more expensive TSX, the new compact car appeals to brand enthusiasts as well as conquest customers.

    By offering three models, Acura gives drivers the option of prioritizing value, performance or sustainability. The two-liter automatic model, which product planners expect to command 75 percent of sales, is priced from $25,900, excluding destination charges. The 2.4-liter premium model with a six-speed manual gearbox starts at $29,200 and gasoline-electric hybrid is priced from $28,900.

    By basing the new model on the Civic chassis, the automaker contained development costs, enabling Acura to offer a high level of standard convenience features including keyless entry, power moonroof, Bluetooth connectivity, Pandora radio, SMS text messaging and 16-inch alloy rims.

    There are two option upgrades for the two-liter and hybrid models: a premium package which adds heated leather seats, a 360-watt audio system, rearview camera, 17-inch rims, high-intensity discharge headlamps and fog lamps; and a technology package which adds naviagation with real-time traffic and weather, a 365-watt audio system with 15 Gb music storage, and Homelink.

    Buyers who choose the 2.4-liter model can purchase the premium package but not navigation. Because Acura expects the model to have the lowest sales volume, there was no business case for adding the expensive option. Read the rest of this entry »

  • 2013 Acura RDX

    Five-passenger crossover becomes a leaner, meaner machine

    By Nina Russin

    2013 Acura RDX

    If the recession of 2008 taught us anything, it’s the wisdom of downsizing. This year Acura embarks on a new corporate strategy, focusing more on smaller, less expensive vehicles. The all-new RDX crossover vehicle is one pillar of this strategy. A new compact sedan called the ILX is the other.

    Pricing for the base 2013 Acura RDX front-wheel drive model starts at $34,320. MSRP does not include the $885 delivery charge. The all-wheel drive variant with the technology option package is priced from $39,420.

    The new RDX maintains the active lifestyle focus of the original, with some new features which make loading and carrying gear easier. Pandora and SMS text messaging features appeal to tech-savvy customers, who want a deeper interface between their smartphones and the car’s infotainment system. Read the rest of this entry »