A Farewell to the Stickshift Acura
In 2015, Acura’s lineup will be auto-only for the first time ever.
With the 2016 Acura ILX giving up its six-speed manual in favor of a new dual-clutch transmission, the Acura lineup will be without a manual transmission for the first time since the brand's inception in 1986. The new 2016 Acura NSX signifies that there is still some life in Honda's premium brand, but the way we see it, the manual transmission is done at Acura. New dual-clutch transmissions are taking over, and we don't foresee the manual coming back to the lineup anytime soon. Here's hoping that Acura will prove us wrong in the future.
Here, in chronological order, we take a look at all of the Acura models that have ever offered a shift-it-yourself option over the brand's 30-year history.
Acura Legend (1986-1996)
The Acura Legend was the brand's first model to go on sale in the U.S., and was originally based on the Honda Accord sedan. The first sedan models in 1986 initially offered a 2.5-liter V-6 engine that could be paired with a five-speed manual, while the coupe was powered by a slightly larger, 2.7-liter V-6 when it hit showrooms in 1987.
The Legend was redesigned in 1990, and continued to offer a V-6/5-speed manual combination. The V-6 was updated for more power in 1993, and the manual transmission went up to six speeds for coupe versions of the Legend. A GS trim level then briefly offered the six-speed manual and the coupe's sport suspension in the sedan between 1994 and 1996.
Acura Integra (1986-2001)
Along with the Legend sedan, the Integra compact was one of the first models to launch the Acura brand in the U.S. in 1986. The first-generation, Civic-based hatchback offered a manual transmission for its four-cylinder engine.
The second-generation Integra debuted in 1990 and added a sportier GS-R model with a 160-hp VTEC four-cylinder engine. This model started to put the Integra on the map as a world-class sport compact, and the third-generation Integra took this even further when it hit showrooms starting in 1994.
The third-gen Acura Integra GS-R's VTEC four-cylinder engine jumped up to 170 hp, and an Integra Type R debuted in 1997 with an even more powerful engine boasting 195 hp, a five-speed manual transmission, and an 8,400-rpm redline. This special Integra remains the only Type R model Honda has ever sold in the U.S.
Acura NSX (1990-2005)
Acura's seminal supercar was a breakthrough for the brand, showing that the Japanese could produce a world-class sports car that was reliable and accessible. At the beginning of its long, 15-year production run, the NSX came standard with a 3.0-liter V-6 engine and a five-speed manual transmission. In 1997, that powertrain combination bumped up to 3.2-liters and a six-speed transmission, and this 290-hp configuration held out until the car went out of production in 2005, though a four-speed automatic was also offered.
Acura Vigor (1992-1994)
The easily forgotten Vigor was only offered briefly in the 1990s as a sub-TL luxury sedan. It did distinguish itself by being the only Acura offered with an inline five-cylinder engine, Honda's 2.5-liter motor from the G-series engine family. It came standard with a five-speed manual transmission and made 196 hp, and was longitudinally mounted even though the Vigor was a front-wheel-drive car.
Acura CL (1997-1999; 2003)
The Acura CL was essentially the coupe version of the midsize TL sedan, and the first generation debuted in 1997 with both a 2.2-liter four-cylinder and a 3.0-liter V-6. The smaller engine was available with a five-speed manual transmission, and the updated 1998 and 1999 models could also pair a manual with the larger, 2.3-liter four-cylinder.
When the CL returned in 2001, the new model did not originally offer a stickshift. A 3.2-liter V-6 was the only engine choice, but Acura added a Type-S model starting for the 2003 model year that finally paired this engine with a six-speed manual along with other performance-enhancing options including a limited-slip differential.
Acura RSX (2002-2006)
The Acura RSX replaced the Integra starting in 2002, but the name change didn't accompany much of a change in objective. The RSX was still a sporty hatchback, and offered both 160-hp standard models and a performance-oriented, 200-hp Type-S. Both were available with manual transmissions, with the standard RSX having a five-speed and the Type-S having a six-speed.
Acura TL (2004-2014)
The first two generations of the Acura TL sedan, produced from 1995 to 2003, went without a manual transmission and were relatively staid luxury sedans. In 2004, Acura re-energized the TL with more daring styling, a much more powerful V-6 engine, and, yes, a shift-it-yourself option. From 2004 to 2006, the sportier TL offered a six-speed manual for the 3.2-liter V-6 on the standard car. Then, when the car was revised in 2007, the manual-transmission option was restricted to the new Type-S model with a larger, 3.5-liter V-6 that made 286 hp.
The fourth-generation TL introduced for the 2009 model year continued this sporty trend with the available manual transmission in the SH-AWD model. This six-speed transmission paired with a larger, 3.7-liter V-6 engine that put out 305 hp through all four wheels.
Acura TSX (2004-2014)
The Acura TSX was a compact sport luxury sedan based on the European-market Honda Accord. When it debuted in the U.S. in 2004, it was well-received by the press, with much of the praise being heaped on the delightful six-speed manual transmission paired with the standard 2.4-liter four-cylinder.
When the second-generation TSX was introduced in 2009, it continued to offer a stickshift option for the four-cylinder. Sadly, the manual did not make its way onto the rare TSX Sport Wagon, and disappeared for 2015 when the TSX and TL were combined into one model, the 2015 Acura TLX.
Acura ILX (2013-2015)
The Acura ILX was introduced for 2013 as a new entry-level model for the brand, and borrowed from the Civic Si's engine bay for the 2.4L model that came only with a six-speed manual transmission. ILX sales never really took off, and comparisons to the mainstream Civic were inevitable since the standard ILX and ILX Hybrid borrowed their middling four-cylinder powertrains and automatic transmissions from the ubiquitous Honda compact.
Acura is focusing in on the ILX lineup for 2016, doing away with the manual option and narrowing the powertrain options down to a one-choice-only 2.4-liter four-cylinder paired with the company's new eight-speed, dual-clutch automatic transmission introduced in the TLX.