Acura EL: Ridiculous Rebadge

Acura EL: Ridiculous Rebadge

Canadians are polite.  So polite, in fact, that there’s a popular YouTube video of a Canadian road rage fistfight that ends with the fighters shaking hands, watching hockey, and prank calling Americans from Tim Hortons to brag about free healthcare.

OK, only part of that is true.

Canadian manners are the only rational explanation for the latest Ridiculous Rebadge, which is a warmed over version of the Honda Civic sold in Canada – and only in Canada – as the Acura EL.  My theory is that everyone in Canada knew it was badge engineered crap, but no one wanted to hurt Honda’s feelings by telling them.  A few of the most polite Canadians even bought one, but only out of courtesy.

1997-2000 Acura EL

Similar to the Acura ILX now sold in the States, the EL was pitched to Canadians beginning in 1997 as a luxury version of the Honda Civic.  Except rather than adding actual luxury items like leather seats, Acura tacked on stuff like extra center console storage, an integrated antenna, and chrome interior door handles.  The only visual differences between an EL and a Civic were new taillights, a revised front end, and – get this – new fifteen inch alloy wheels.

Stunningly, Canadians – no doubt wooed by the idea of rollin’ on fifteens – politely bought the EL in large enough numbers that Honda eventually sold a second-generation version based on the 2001-05 Honda Civic.  It would be easier to make fun of Canadians for this if Lexus hadn’t been doing the same thing to Americans for the better part of two decades.

A third generation model came out in 2006, this time called the CSX to throw off Canadians who arrived at the conclusion that the EL was a Civic with a 15 percent price premium and a different grille.  Of course, the same was true of the CSX, which was ditched at the end of the 2011 model year.

There’s a lesson here.  If you want to try to make it in the car business, go to Canada.  They’re too polite to refuse.

Second-gen EL still looks like a Civic

Acura CSX: EL successor, Civic clone

3 Responses to “ “Acura EL: Ridiculous Rebadge”

  1. Pontiac 6000LE says:

    You should take some panoramic pics so your peek-a-boo sequence of pics goes from 2 to 17.

  2. Ltd783 says:

    I had seen the plain EL and CSX, but I was unaware of the CSX Type-S until I shared a car ferry in BC with one. Pretty wild, like a Civic Si sedan with a slightly nicer interior.

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