UPDATE: After speaking with officials from Honda, we have learned that the information that went into this story is false. An updated, corrected story with new information will be coming shortly. We apologize for reporting on this matter inaccurately.
When Acura introduced its Civic-based ILX luxury sedan, it was hoping to carve out an upmarket niche, supplanting the larger Acura TSX sedan as the brand rolled out new products. But sometimes plans change; automakers readjust. The Acura ILX hasn’t been the hit Honda was counting on, so it’s going back to the drawing board.
According to an interview with Automotive News, Acura will be dropping the 150-horsepower, 2.0-liter four-cylinder base engine, retaining the 2.4-liter, 200-horsepower engine and a hybrid setup. Honda vice president John Mendel said the 2.0-liter is “underpowered, and consumers don’t see the value.”
Consequently, the 2.4-liter engine only comes with a manual transmission at the moment, which Honda is working quickly to rectify. An automatic is expected shortly.
Last month, Acura sold 2,108 ILX sedans, bringing its 2012 total to 9,766. That’s not too shabby for a vehicle that was launched after its February 2012 introduction at the Chicago Auto Show, but Honda would like to sell 30,000 of them a year. Its current pace is barely enough to pass 20,000 through a whole year.
Meanwhile, the Chevy Cruze-based Buick Verano–the ILX’s closest competitor–sold 3,574 cars last month, bringing its 2012 total to 36,222 through the year. The Verano has been on sale for all of 2012 by comparison.
Acura has placed the ILX in a precarious position, especially since significantly upgrading the Civic on which it’s based for 2013 after just one model year. Going on sale at the end of November, the 2013 Civic is filled with better interior materials and has upgraded driving dynamics, bringing its quality up after being widely panned by the media. Still, Honda has managed to sell more than 230,000 of that highly criticized 2012 model, which Honda introduced assuming customers would be willing to pay less for a lower-quality car in the middle of the recession. Turns out, the recession was shorter than anticipated, so Honda brought out its refreshed Civic about two years early. And that could hurt ILX sales, too.
Fortunately, Acura is on the up and up with the new RDX crossover, RLX full-size luxury sedan launching in the early spring, and a redesigned MDX in the works. We’re wondering if all of it will be able to help Acura’s sales. They have nowhere to go but up; Acura sold just 11 RL full-size sedans last month.
Sources: Automotive News (Subscription required), Honda