Which Acura TLX Competitor Scares Acura Dealers? Apparently, the 2018 Honda Accord

It made perfect sense. In 2009, when Hyundai wanted customers to view its new Genesis luxury sedan as a premium bit of kit, Hyundai did not compare the Genesis to the Sonata. In an early marketing campaign, Hyundai’s voiceover said the Genesis is “as spacious as a Mercedes-Benz S-Class, yet priced like a C-Class.”

When the time came to market the Genesis R-Spec, Hyundai reached way upmarket to compare 0-60 mph times with the Porsche Panamera. Hyundai wasn’t under the mistaken impression that the Genesis would steal thousands of sales from $100,000 Benzes and Porsches. But Hyundai was crafting an image. Hyundai didn’t require you to believe that the Genesis was a viable S-Class alternative — the company just wanted you to understand that this is premium-oriented S-Class-sized sedan at a C-Class-like price.

Long before the Hyundai Genesis tried to cultivate a premium persona, Acura was failing to keep up with Lexus in the quest to be viewed as a true luxury rival for the German establishment. It’s still a problem. So Acura dealers are now just trying to make sure you understand that the Acura TLX is better than the Audi A4 Lexus ES Infiniti Q50 2018 Honda Accord.

It’s not as though the suggestion’s so outlandish. Sharing a foundation with the departing ninth-generation Accord and built at the same Marysville, Ohio, assembly plant, there’s much that unites the duo.

Moreover, it’s not as though the suggestion has never been made before. Consumer Reports discussed the merits of a basic TLX and a loaded Accord in early 2015, pointing to the Accord V6’s quickness but the TLX’s all-wheel drive.

It’s also a question commonly asked by users at DriveAccord and TLXForums, as well. Accord fans wonder whether the facelifted 2018 Acura TLX could lure other Accord lovers away from the new Honda; TLX drivers wonder about the loss of the Honda Accord’s now discontinued V6.

It makes sense to draw comparisons between the TLX and Accord. Critics do. Consumers do. But should Acura?

Its dealers do.

Karen Radley Acura in Woodbridge, Virginia, wants to help you figure whether you should purchase a 2018 Acura TLX or a 2018 Honda Accord. Shockingly, Karen Radley Acura prefers “the sporty styling of the TLX,” the dealer’s website says. As if to clarify the degree to which Karen Radley Acura is biased, the split image shows the facelifted 2018 TLX but the outgoing 2017 Accord.At Sunnyside Acura in Nashua, New Hampshire, the dealer’s website gives the redesigned Accord no purchase. “Honda is the parent company behind luxury brand Acura, so it should come as no surprise that both the 2018 Acura TLX A-Spec and 2017 Honda Touring offer something special,” Sunnyside writes. That’s right: new TLX, old Accord.

First Acura in Seekonk, Massachusetts, adopts the same approach, but flubs its 2018 TLX imaging, showcasing the older car instead. “In more ways than one, the 2018 Acura TLX marks itself as a leader in the world of the mid-size sedan,” First Acura says. “This is especially true when it’s compared with both its luxury and non-luxury competitors.” How it’s true, but then especially true, when the TLX comparison shifts from all midsize sedans to, er, all midsize sedans is an unknown that will likely never be known. But the midsize sedan with which First Acura compares the 2018 TLX? The 2017 Honda Accord, of course.Acura dealers in Woodbridge, Nashua, and Seekonk surely encounter buyers who cross-shop the TLX and Accord. In fact, we’d argue that it’s wise for potential Acura buyers to drive a 2018 Accord back-to-back with a TLX. But these are the very kind of comparisons that loudly announce to the world that Acura still can’t be taken seriously as a premium brand.

It’s as if Cadillac’s Escalade commercials drew attention to the quality of a GMC Yukon but suggest that you might prefer the Escalade’s premium ambience. Imagine Lamborghini, in a fit of transparency, showcasing just how comparable Audi R8 and Lamborghini Huracán performance specs were before declaring differences such as steering wheel material and seat adjustability.

Dealers, of course, sometimes have objectives that don’t entirely line up with their respective automakers. And a handful of Acura stores won’t be the last outlets to publish unflattering relationships. But for a brand that’s already seen the plebeian 2018 Accord leapfrog its products in terms of technology, Acura doesn’t need anybody to highlight just how much of a Honda its midsize sedan truly is.

Timothy Cain is a contributing analyst at The Truth About Cars and Autofocus.ca and the founder and former editor of GoodCarBadCar.net. Follow on Twitter @timcaincars.

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