History of Acura: Legend, Integra, NSX, TL, RLX

Launched as Honda’s luxury division in 1986, Acura was the first luxury car brand to come out of Japan and into the United States. The success of Acura's Legend and Integra models prompted other Japanese automakers to develop their own luxury brands. Throughout the years, Acura has been known for its technological advancements, including its VTEC technology and SH-AWD system. It has made both luxurious and sporty sedans, coupes, and even sports wagons. In pop culture, Acura models have even models made appearances in multiple films of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. In this WatchMojo.com video, we learn more about Acura.

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Their cars “Advance” with “Precision Crafted Performance.” Welcome to WatchMojo.com, and today we’ll be learning more about Acura.

Acura Launch

At a time when the luxury vehicle market was dominated by American brands like General Motors’ Cadillac and Ford’s Lincoln, Acura was launched as the Honda Motor Company’s luxury division in 1986.
This was the first luxury car brand to come out of Japan, and its creation was prompted by export restraints placed upon Japan – since the Japanese were limited to 1.68 million exports annually, they wished to maximize their potential profits in the United States by producing more expensive cars.

Honda Dealerships

After the company opened multiple new dealerships across North America, the first models released under the Acura banner were the Legend and the Integra. Initially manufactured as a sedan and then as a coupe, the executive class Legend was the first Honda powered by a V6 engine, while the Integra was a compact class sports car available in both three- and five-door hatchback editions.

Acura Legend

Both were high sellers, but the Legend notably sold over 50 thousand units annually over the next few years. This success prompted other Japanese automakers to develop their own luxury brands, like Toyota’s Lexus and Nissan’s Infiniti.

NSX Supercar

In the early 1990s, Acura introduced the NSX sports car. Aside from being history’s first all-aluminum production vehicle, the “Everyday Supercar” also boasted a V6 engine that featured Honda’s new VTEC technology.

Vigor and Integra

During this period, Acura continued introducing more generations of the Integra, attained high customer satisfaction scores and released the Vigor compact sedan. Meanwhile, the Integra’s tuner-friendly reputation attracted those who enjoyed customizing their cars.


Acura also began building its name in motorsports and earned several class victories in Daytona, Sebring and more.

Declining Sales and Name Changes

Unfortunately, sales began to decline mid-decade as Honda also coped with the collapse of the Japanese asset price bubble. Around that time, the company changed their model naming conventions by introducing letters and numbers – for example, the Legend became the Acura 3.5RL.

Best-Selling TL

By decade’s end, things turned around thanks to the 1999 Acura 3.2TL. This redesigned version of the Vigor was a sporty yet luxurious sedan that set the blueprint for future Acura models and became the brand’s best seller. Acura found further popularity with the MDX when it became the first crossover SUV to offer three rows of seating.

RSX Coupe

The Integra was soon replaced by the RSX coupe, but remained appealing to car tuners. The Integras used in Acura’s tour racing ventures were similarly replaced by RSX coupes during this time.


Despite reported transmission issues with older versions of the TL, Acura’s third generation of the model found many fans thanks to its 270 horsepower V6 engine and 6-disc DVD-Audio system. The affordable 4-cylinder Acura TSX sedan was also brought to the American market in the mid-2000s.

Super Handling-All Wheel Drive System

In terms of technological advancements, Honda made history by adding their Super Handling-All Wheel Drive system to its second generation Acura RL. That system was also found in Acura’s first compact crossover SUV, the RDX. However, it was the TL and TSX that brought the company the most sales in this period.

ZDX Coupe

During the latter half of the decade, the four-door ZDX coupe became the first North American-built Acura. On the sports car racing front, the company produced its first car designed specifically for endurance racing, the Acura ARX-01.

Marvel Entertainment

The next decade brought Acura to the forefront of pop culture when the company teamed up with Marvel Entertainment. Starting with the box office smash and superhero flick, “Iron Man 2,” several Acura models made appearances in multiple films of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.


In 2012, Acura put their Honda Civic-inspired compact luxury model the ILX on the market. The next year, production began on the RL substitute, the RLX. With enhanced all-wheel drive and steering systems, it became Acura’s new flagship sedan.

Precision Crafted Performance

Throughout the years, Acura has found success by producing bold, comfortable and competitively priced luxury, performance and near-performance cars. By continuing to offer revolutionary technologies, numerous safety features and state of the art designs, Acura is sure to remain relevant in the automotive industry.

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