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Acura is a luxury automotive brand founded by Honda in 1986. At that time, Honda initiated a trend whereby Japan's largest manufacturers spun off premium divisions in a bid to effectively compete with Cadillac, Lincoln and the European luxury brands. A few years later Toyota responded with Lexus and Nissan with Infiniti. The Acura line is composed chiefly of sedans and SUVs along with the NSX super car.
The origin of the Acura name is derived from Latin — acu — defined as "done with precision" or "mechanically precise." Originally, Honda pronounced the marque as "a-coor-uh," but customers preferred "Ah-cure-uh" so the new name stuck.
The first two models were the Acura Legend and the Acura Integra, the former a high end luxury sedan and coupe; the latter derived from the Honda Civic platform. The Legend was replaced by the RL, itself now known as the Acura RLX. Among the more recent retired models of note include the Acura TL and Acura TSX.
Designed originally for the US market, Acura was also introduced to Canada, then on to Hong Kong, Mexico and China. The brand is also sold in Russia, the Ukraine and Turkey, but has no presence elsewhere in Europe. Furthermore, Acura isn't even sold in its home market, Japan.
Though Acura has long strived to emphasize its luxury attributes, the brand has also found much success in racing. At the 1993 SCCA Pro Rally, a team driving an Integra GS-R nabbed the Production Category World Championship and the renowned Wooden Cup. In Pirelli World Challenge competition, the Integra Type R set records from 1997 to 2002 by garnering the most pole positions, wins and championships of any model before or since. And by working in cooperation with Real Time Racing, two versions of the NSX participated in 50 races, winning 14 and taking another 26 podium finishes as well as a driver's championship. In more recent years the Acura TSX has had its own share of victories.
Today, Acura competes with luxury brands that include Mercedes-Benz, BMW, Lexus, Audi and Cadillac.
Its top two models are both crossover SUVs: the midsize MDX and the compact RDX. The former competes with the BMW X5 and the Audi Q7. The latter competes with the Lexus RX 350, Infiniti QX50 and the BMW X3.
As for sedans, the Acura ILX, TLX and RLX provide standard front-wheel drive, while all-wheel drive is available on TLX and RLX models. Consumers might cross shop similar models from Buick and Audi when considering these sedans.