1997 Acura 2.2CL 2-Door Premium (91)

Overview:

Yes, this weeks car is a 1997 and it’s not a typo. The Acura 2.2 CL is a bit more up-scale from the cars reviewed over the last couple of weeks, (Hyundai and Saturn in the $14,000 range) at $23,000 plus. If this is in your price range this, new to the market car, is worth test driving.

I think in many ways buying a car is like choosing a mate…very personal, but if you make a bad choice, you can sell the car. And since first impressions are lasting (in both cases), I can say this car reminds me a lot of a previous love, the Toyota Camry. This Acura is definitely a nice automobile and one you can fall in “like” with. When I fall in “love” it takes something faster and with more curve handling, like the Ferrari or Porsche, et al. More sexy, know what I mean. Anyway, after two compacts, this sub-compact provided a little more luxury, but I’m still wondering if there is $10,000 more in features, and ego puffing to justify the added cost.

Standard Equipment:

Well, everything is standard, so Kudos to Honda. And they’ve included lots of stuff, beginning with their 2.2 liter single overhead cam 16 valve 4 cylinder engine, programmed fuel injection, a 5-speed manual transmission, load sensing power assisted rack and pinion steering, 4-wheel power ABS disc brakes and double wishbone suspension with front and rear stabilizer bars, dual air bags, keyless entry & theft deterrent system, leather appointed seats, door panels and steering wheel with tilt column, center console, wood pattern dash and door trim, dual lighted vanities, trunk pass-through with lock, remote trunk & fuel lid releases, power windows & door locks, climate control, cruise control, 6 speaker AM/FM stereo with in-dash CD player, power moonroof, 6 way power seats with adjustable lumbar support, heat rejecting glass and power door mirrors. You probably have as keen a sense of the obvious as I do, and with all the foregoing, it ain’t hard to understand the cost difference between basic and luxury appointed cars. Toys cost money.

Gas Stats:

EPA numbers aren’t too bad at 25 City and 31 Highway MPG.

Pricing: 

Standard Vehicle Price (MSRP) is $23,160 for everything. What you see is what you get. What a concept…. I love it…. Listen up Detroit.

For you old dude’s out there, students of history and trivia buffs, this concept isn’t new. Four score and 7 years ago, the real father of our nation’s automobile revolution, Henry Ford, brought forth on this continent a new car, conceived in his mind and dedicated to the proposition that all men were created to own a car. So when the common man bought a Ford Model ‘T’, he could have it in any color and style he wanted, as long as it was black and exactly like all others that came off the production line. They were truly clones. That was 1909 and the cost was about $850. By 1927, the last year it was in production, the cost had come down to about $300, and 15 million had been sold. That accounted for fully half of every car on the road in 1927…in the world. Way to go, Hank.

Developments in Design
Contributed by: Merkel Weiss

CARS-R-US, Maybe

The new car marketing business is like a graduate study course in psychology. We (the buyers) are divided up into personality stereotypes, and each large segment gets addressed with some kind of vehicle that is targeted to be relevant to the stereotype lifestyle. Does this sound a little like “we are what we drive”? Perhaps it is the other way around. Our vehicle is a reflection of the way we want people to see us. For example: Rough and tumble bad boy – try a Dodge pickup; Sporty and young – a Toyota RAV4 or maybe a Miata; Family with values – Mercury Sable or Buick Regal; Outdoorsy – definitely a Ford Explorer or Chevy Blazer; Young executive – Lexus LS300 or Mercedes E-Class.

Many new cars seek to redefine small niches within larger ones and have great success in doing so. For example BMW has driven a wedge into the center of the lucrative sedan market, the very same marketplace that was the bread and butter for GM and Ford. In fact, it’s a market segment that never really had much in the way of European competition in the past. In doing so, BMW has created a highly successful line of sport sedans bearing the image of “the ultimate driving machine”. Marketing genius.

These new market niche strategies are not always successful however. Witness Mazda who, only several years ago, announced they would concentrate their product line on narrow niche markets. They also make a fine lineup of sport sedans. Perhaps you have already read that due to poor sales, Mazda is now owned 33% and essentially controlled by Ford, and that the RX7 is scheduled to go out of production shortly. Marketing tragedy…the bewildering truth seems to be that the strategy of the marketing team can often be more important than the car itself!

Your comments are welcomed. My e-mail is joe@autolove.com
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