Search Cars for Sale

The Mid-2000s Were a Golden Age for Acura

For being a relatively young brand, Acura sure has been through a lot of rebranding over the years. It has only been around since 1986 as Honda’s luxury marque, and it seems like it took a while for it to really figure out what it was. Are Acuras just rebadged Hondas? Is it a luxury brand? Is it a performance brand? Is it all of the above?

After a little growing with cars like the Legend and the Integra, Acura seemed to start hitting its stride in the 1990s. Cars like the TL, CL and RL started to create a cohesive little brand family as Acura was growing up.

To me, Acura reached its peak in the mid-2000s. That was when Acura figured out just the right blend of luxury, style, performance, value and that rock-solid Honda reliability, creating a luxury brand that was distinctly different and arguably better than Lexus and Infiniti.

In the mid-2000s, Acura had the RSX coupe for the young enthusiast crowd to aspire to; the handsome TSX sedan, which was a little more sport than luxury; the TL sedan, which was a little more luxury than sport; the RL, a stately full-size sedan; the MDX crossover, which continues to pay the bills for Acura to this day; and, of course, the now-legendary NSX sports car.

That’s a very well-balanced lineup for a luxury brand, if you ask me. There’s something for everyone — and again, it’s different from what its competitors were offering. I think this is when Acura decided that it doesn’t really pay to try to compete directly with the German luxury brands, so instead it’s going to carve out its own niche and create its own identity. You could try to compare a TSX to a 3 Series, as those two are technically in the same class, but they’re really very different cars.

This was also a time when the "Type S" moniker was still alive, and it added a real performance benefit to the cars it graced, rather than just being an appearance package like "A-Spec" is today. Nothing with a Type S badge has ever blown the doors off of an AMG, but that’s okay! If you had an Acura Type S, you had yourself a genuinely practical, luxurious and sporty car — and you probably didn’t pay all that much for it.

I specify the mid-2000s because I think we all know what happened to Acura toward the end of that decade. It began with the second-generation MDX in 2007 and it infected the TSX and TL in 2009. I’m talking, of course, about the dreaded beak.

The beak is not only a hideous front-end design that made every car it touched look much worse, but it was a symbol that the party was over at Acura. The RSX and NSX were discontinued, there were no more Type S cars, and Acura started to blend in with the other Japanese luxury brands by ditching the fun sports cars and adding another crossover to the mix while making everything uglier. These cars weren’t necessarily bad, but they didn’t have the same fun and sporty spirit that Acura had in the mid-2000s.

I think the goal of most luxury car brands is to strike the right balance between luxury and performance — and I think Acura hit that balance really nicely for a glorious time in the mid-2000s. With that said, I think the brand is currently on the upswing, since it ditched that awful beak and has promised that the Type S badge is coming back — not to mention the triumphant return of the NSX. Now, if only they would start putting manual transmissions in sedans again.

MORE FROM OVERSTEER:
Video | Hoovie and Doug: What’s Your Favorite Car You’ve Ever Owned?
Autotrader Find: 1987 Chevy Corvette With 330,000 Miles
Video | I Bought a 2005 Ford GT

Sign up for Autotrader newsletters

The best cars and best deals delivered to your inbox

Email Address 

By subscribing, you agree to our privacy policy

Where You Can Buy

Loading dealers...

16 COMMENTS

  1. Loved my 2005 TL 6 spd. That being said, I am really liking the new offerings as well, will probably be my next car(maybe tlx) when I buy again.

  2. The ‘beak’.. that was a memorable disappointment. I’m still driving my 2008 TL AT. Call me weird but I loved the dual exhaust rear end for a long time before finally buying it. It is the most reliable car I’ve ever owned. Had to replace the radiator last winter but nothing else other than required maintenance.

  3. The ‘beak’.. that was a memorable disappointment. I’m still driving my 2008 TL AT. Call me weird but I loved the dual exhaust rear end for a long time before finally buying it. It is the most reliable car I’ve ever owned. Had to replace the radiator last winter but nothing else other than required maintenance.

Leave a Comment

Most Popular Articles

2020 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid: First Look

The 2020 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid jumps to the head of the hybrid class.

Best Truck Deals: May 2021

These are the best deals on trucks for the month of May.

Search By Style

More Articles Like This