The Two Tiers of Luxury: Which Do You Prefer?

"Tier 2" does not mean "inferior."

“Tier 2” does not mean “inferior.”

Is a Lincoln as good as a Lexus?

Can an Acura take down an Audi?

Will an Infiniti be as good as a BMW?

There are two groups of cars in the luxury world: the ones that command respect and the ones that desperately want it. Automotive News breaks these down a little more formally, calling them the “Tier 1” group and the “Tier 2” group.

Tier 1 includes BMW, Lexus, and Mercedes-Benz. Tier 2 includes Lincoln, Acura, Cadillac, and Audi.

If I were making the rules, I’d put Audi up in Tier 1, because it has decidedly outsold the others in Tier 2 and has, in my humble opinion, eclipsed the quality level of BMW.

The Tier 1 group continues to establish its dominance, while the Tier 2 group struggles to maintain relevance. Are cars from Tier 2 worth considering?

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Which Is Better: The Old Acura or the New?

2015 Acura TLX

I remember seeing a brand new 2004 Acura TL for the first time. I worked at an ad agency and had just purchased a new ’04 Jaguar X-Type. A co-worker showed up a few days later with the new Acura, perhaps trying to one-up me. She said her purchase was just coincidentally timed, but I always had my doubts.

Regardless of her intent, I was smitten by that car. It didn’t have the curvaceous eye-catching looks of the Jag, but it was still beautiful, luxurious and most of all, felt solid and well crafted.

The Jaguar always felt a little questionable, even when it was new over 10 years ago.

When Acura refreshed the TL in 2009, the car fell a few rungs down the style ladder and sales slowly declined until it was discontinued this year. The car, with its now-infamous beak grille, had grown too big and too underpowered to take on its German rivals.

To replace the TL, Acura created the all-new TLX in hopes it could re-ignite U.S. buyers’ flaming passion for the brand.

The strategy seems to be working.

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Cars Coming Soon: Acura Tweaks the Beak, Previews New Models

Acura ILX beak

One of the worst design decisions in recent memory came courtesy of designers at Acura, who thought placing the snout of a toucan on the front end of the company’s cars was a good idea.

The design has led to endless ridicule and even the admission that designers “may have gone too far” with what has become known as “the beak.”

In spite of all the negative feedback, the company has chosen not to abandon the beak, but instead to tone it down on future models. Will that help the Acura stable become less awkward? Probably not.

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Five Car Brands Better Off Dead

Have you ever taken the time to flick through a list of every car brand that has ever graced the planet?

To put it simply: There have been a *lot*. Wikipedia has a list broken down by country, with automakers from Angola to Uruguay, past to present. The U.S. alone has its own dedicated page of hundreds of current and former automakers.

There have been so many that only a small percentage exist today. Which of course begs the question: When we look back 50 years from now, which auto brands will exist only as entries in an online encyclopedia? We’ve already witnessed the demise in the last two years of more brands than kicked the bucket in the previous 30.

And I think there are a few more that would be better off dead or at least yanked from U.S. market.

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