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Auto blogWed, 05 Jun 2013 16:58:00 EST
We enjoyed the opening season of Seinfeld's offbeat Comedians In Cars Getting Coffee web series, a video serial where Jerry Seinfeld picked up his friends in some of his classic cars and... chatted. It was a simple premise that offered some genuinely enjoyable moments, even if the 'cars' connection was often a bit incidental. In any case, Acura must have felt the same way, as it has just inked a deal to be the sole sponsor for the series' next season.
Acura, you may recall, already enjoys a relationship with the comedian - Seinfeld starred in the company's 2012 Super Bowl ad alongside the NSX supercar concept. So perhaps it's no surprise that it has signed on to sponsor 24 episodes of the series, due to roll out this year and next. Naturally, with any title sponsorship these days, you can expect to see some integration of the sponsor - in this case, Acura says such measures will involve its new 2014 MDX crossover, integrating "short, contextually relevant ads at the beginning and end of the episode."
Will you watch? For a refresher on Comedians In Cars Getting Coffee, check out a couple of our favorite first season episodes with Michael Richards and Alec Baldwin by scrolling below.
Refinement Rather Than Revolution
Before we get into the meat and potatoes of the 2014 Acura MDX, let's pause for just a moment and talk about the current, still-sitting-at-dealerships 2013 model. It's a pretty good machine. Perhaps guilty only of falling to the backburners of our minds in recent years because, well, the old girl's not gotten any younger. But every time we drove this second-generation MDX, our thoughts were the same - good to drive, pleasant to sit in and a pretty decent value.
Acura's customers felt the same way, and so when it came time to design and engineer the third-generation MDX, the vehicle's formula wasn't shaken up at all. Despite the fact that it uses a brand-new platform and offers a host of upgrades, the key points addressed by the company's engineers were the specific requests of customers and shoppers in the segment - changes that amounted to nothing radical. After all, if it ain't broke, don't fix it.
The not-yet-ready-for-primetime 2012 Honda Civic saw it quickly returned to sender for refurbishment, now the Acura ILX is headed in the same direction in its very first year. Automotive News reports that the small, Civic-based sedan from Honda's luxury brand isn't meeting sales expectations, with an annualized rate of 22,000 to 24,000 sales instead of the 30,000 the company is after. More telling is that the ILX "is being outsold by the Buick Verano, Volkswagen CC and Audi A4," and, except for two months since it launched, it has also been outdone by the Acura TSX it is meant to replace.
Part of the cause has been the 2.0-liter, four-cylinder engine: its 150 horsepower to motivate a sedan that can weigh up to 2,970 pounds doesn't offer the kind of performance or value experience that buyers in the segment respond to. Another big issue is that the top-level 2.4-liter engine is only offered with a six-speed manual even though most buyers of the highest trim don't really want to shift their own gears. Lastly, the ILX might not put enough space between it and its frugal underpinnings - our first drive review pegged it as "the world's nicest Honda Civic."
An automatic transmission is on the way for the 2.4-liter, but it isn't clear when. And while Honda admits that the 2.0-liter is underpowered and Automotive News says it's on the way out, the company hasn't yet said how that situation will be corrected.