Acura is the luxury car line of Honda, as Lexus is to Toyota, or Infiniti to Nissan. They were known as the very first Japanese luxury car maker, with the Acura Legend in the late 1980's. With the spectacular success of the Legend, other Japanese auto makers spawned luxury lines, and Acura was quickly overtaken. The Acura Integra is a particularly shitty car, and is not generally indicative of Acura's quality.

What's this?

A general guide to the Acura line of automobiles.

What do TWR and HWR mean and why should I pay attention to or ignore them?

  • Meaning: Torque-to-Weight Ratio and Horsepower-to-Weight Ratio, respectively. If I give two TWRs or two HWRs, the second applies to models with the Type S package.
  • Good: They offer a somewhat objective comparison between how much a car weighs vs. how much power its engine can deliver. In this way, it is similar to the thrust-to-weight ratio of an aircraft engine.
  • Bad: Some of the curb weights are approximate, especially when different packages modify the weight of the car. In this case I usually split the difference (i.e. say the curb weight is 3700-3900 pounds, I'll write it as ~3800. Also, TWR and HWR don't account for torque and horsepower curves, which differ from engine to engine. One engine may produce torque a lot quicker than another - i.e. a V6 will start producing it around 3000 RPMs whereas an I4 may need to climb up to the 5000-6000 range. Additionally, the transmission gear ratios and shift points, as well as the diameter of the wheels, are not taken into account. Nor is whether the tranny is automatic or manual, nor whether the torque converter is of the lockup variety or not.
  • What good is it then? Well, look at the TWR and HWR for, say, the RSX. Then look at the TWR and HWR for the NSX. Pretty big difference! So while it's very rough, it can give you some idea of what to expect from a given vehicle relative to another.
  • Try comparing against these:

    • 2001 Honda Accord EX V6 - TWR: 16.8 / HWR: 16.4
      The CL, TL, and RL are little more than beefed up EXen anyway. Engine: 3.0L, 200HP, 195lbs/ft. of torque. Curb weight: 3283.
    • 2002 Ford Mustang V8 - TWR: 10.2 / HWR: 11.7
      Your Acura is going to have difficulty beating this. It will give an NSX a run for its money. Engine: 4.6L, 260HP, 302lbs/ft. of torque. Curb weight: 3066lbs.

The Scoop

  • Integra - TWR: 20 / HWR: 13.8
    Take a Civic Si and give it a slightly cooler chassis and amenities. Engine: 4 cylinders, 1.8-liter PFI VTEC, B18A. 195HP but only about 135 lbs/ft. of torque. Retails for about $22,000.00, making it a strong competitor to the Accord LX and EX models, even though they have higher-displacement engines.
  • RSX - TWR: 19.1 or 19.0 / HWR: 16.0 or 13.5
    This seems to be Honda/Acura's way of saying, "Sorry we're canning the Prelude and pulling the Civic Si out of the American market for a year or two." This new offering, debuting in the 2002 model year, comes with a 2.0-liter DOHC i-VTEC four-banger, which is good for 160HP and 141 lbs/ft. of torque. It is the first car to feature the i-VTEC engine. Can be had with 5-speed manual or automatic transmissions, or a 6-speed manual transmission. At ~2700lbs. curb weight, it's about on par with the Integra. The $2,000.00 Type S package ramps up engine power to 200HP and gives you a whole whopping one extra pound of torque.
  • 3.2CL - TWR: 16.1 or 15.0 / HWR: 15.5 or 13.4
    Take a V6 Accord EX coupe, stroke out the 3.0-liter J30A1 engine to 3.2 liters, put in a better transmission, and swap out the stock RPM/speed/engine gauges with white-face equivalents for that "race car" look. You now have 225HP, 217lbs/ft. of torque. Curb weight is in the ~3500lb. range. For the Type S, put in an even better transmission and tweak the compression ratio to deliver more HP and torque (260/232). Retails for about $32,000.00. The Type S package raises the cost by about $2,000.00, as does the optional navigation system, which features an LCD display and an eerie female Asian voice which tells you that you need to make a U-turn every now and then.
  • 3.2TL - TWR: 16.1 or 15.0 / HWR: 15.5 or 13.4
    Same as a 3.2CL, but this time it's a four-door configuration. The gauges are black-faced in this one.
  • 3.5RL - TWR: 16.8 / HWR: 17.3
    Take a 3.2TL, replace the J32A with the older non-VTEC 3.5L C35, and add some more interior refinements, including stock OnStar service. This time the engine gets 225 horses and 231 lbs/ft. of torque. Curb weight: ~3900lbs. Not sure if Type S is available for the RL. Retails for about $43,000.00. The nav system is an extra two grand.
  • MDX - TWR: 17.7 / HWR: 18.1
    Take the J35A1 out of a 3.5TL and drop it into an SUV chassis. Add in an enhanced version of 4WD called Variable Torque Management that predicts possible slippage conditions and switches the transmission from its usual 2-wheel front-driving configuration to the improved handling of a 4-wheel drive configuration. VTM also transfers up to a whopping 80% of the engine's power to the outside wheel(s) during turns, as needed. Curb weight: ~4350lbs. Engine: 240HP, 245lbs/ft. of torque. Retails for a little bit less than the RL, if you can imagine that, which puts it in the same bracket with most mid-range SUVs (i.e. $35,000-$40,000 USD).
  • NSX - TWR: 14.7 or 13.8 / HWR: 12.3 or 10.6
    The big status symbol, as evidenced by its availability in banana yellow. Wolf drives an NSX in Pulp Fiction. Available in either automatic or 6-speed manual configurations, sport-top or open-top coupe body style, and either a 3.0-liter V6 (252HP/210lbs/ft.) or 3.2-liter V6 (290/224) engines. This fine stallion goes for about $88,500.00 and is a definite penis car.

My general impressions?

The Integra will get you lots of looks, especially from the rice rocket crowd, and is a fairly sexy automobile. However, for about the same price, you can get a V6 Accord EX, which offers comparable acceleration (and it'll probably beat the Integra on the onramp) and better amenities, like headroom. Don't even think about racing Mustangs with this thing unless you plan to dump $20,000 of mods into it. However, the Integra is an Acura, which carries a certain prestige that Hondas and Fords don't. The engine (B18A) is pretty easy to find mods for.

The RSX looks like some kind of strange mutant Civic. The DOHC i-VTEC engine is also first-gen. Fully decked, it's about $27,000 USD. Not that bad but again, a V6 Accord will probably dust it going up the onramp due to its laughable torque, to which the Type-S package only adds one single pound! Do yourself a favor and wait a year or two so they can work out the bugs. :)

The 3.2CL and 3.2TL are little more than souped-up V6 Accord EXes. The Type-S package is great, though. For your extra bucks you get a sexier front end and of course that Acura badge. You also get a bit more performance even without the Type S package.

The 3.5RL is a fairly sweet vehicle, but for the same price you can get a BMW. Depending on who you are and where you live, the beamer might be the better penis surrogate. However, Acuras and BMWs don't handle the same. The choice is yours. Personally, I have better ways to spend 40 grand. :) Note that this car is quite heavy, weighing in near 4,000 pounds, so don't expect that 3.5L engine to pack the same punch as it would if they'd put it into a TL or CL.

The MDX would definitely be on my test-drive list if I was in the market for an SUV. It's reasonably priced and decently powered. However, I generally think that SUVs are for assholes and soccer moms, so I don't really have a considered opinion here. :) -- But seriously, though, consider Acura's one and only SUV offering if you are in the market for such a vehicle. If nothing else, it's virtually guaranteed to be more reliable than damn near anything else in its class, particularly where what's under the hood is concerned. The VTM system is also employed in the newer Preludes in a 2WD-only mode, so that part is not totally fresh off the drawing board.

I had some garbage typed up here about the NSX, but I realize it was all nonsense. I was actually foolish enough to compare the performance to a Mustang, which is like comparing a Suzuki Esteem to an Integra. The NSX is a Formula-One-inspired car, hand-assembled and perfectly balanced. The handling is telepathic, the high-revving DOHC V6 (Honda's first production VTEC engine, by the way) is one of the finest powerplants ever devised for use in a car, and the mid-engine, rear-wheel drive setup is perfect.

DoctorNo's opinion of the NSX fails to place the car in the correct category. The NSX is solely the best value of any exotic automobile on the market. At under US$100k the buyer can obtain F1 technology at almost half the cost of the competition (Ferrari, Porsche..)

To compare the NSX against a Mustang is just wrong. This is like comparing a Razor scooter to a Kawasaki GSX-R.

Look for the 2003 NSX, possibly with a V-8 (derived from either Honda's CART engine or a new block with valve train technology from the F1 engine (Mugen if we're lucky.)

Additional history:

Acura began with the introduction of the Legend in 1987 followed by the Integra in 1988. The 2nd generation Legend was introduced in 1991. 1993 saw the introduction of the Vigor which used a unique inline 5 cylinder engine. 1994 brought the second generation Integra including the GSR model. In 1996 the company began renaming its models using a two letter code to denote the chassis and a two digit code to indicate the engine's displacement.

Today’s lineup includes the MDX (SUV, RL, TL, CL, NSX and the new RSX, which replaced the Integra. The TL, CL, and RSX all have a Type-S trim level which adds a more powerfully tuned engine and stiffer suspension.

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