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001 Acura 1.7EL
Where, you're asking, did this Acura come from? Did I
blink? Have I missed something?
Relax, folks, and enjoy what you are about to read. Honda
Motor Corporation抯 Acura 1.7EL is not sold in the United
States. Like Red Rose tea bags and real Molson Export Ale,
the 1.7EL is only available in Canada.
Before my buddies across the border get their knickers in a
twist, I hasten to add that apart from its name and
trimmings, the Acura 1.7EL is almost identical to the car
US residents can buy at any Honda dealer in America. It
drives the same, has the same superb mechanicals and
closely resembles: a top-of-the-line Honda Civic 4-door
If you look hard, however, you抣l notice the Acura logo on
the revised front fascia as well as "Acura" and 1.7EL
identity markings on the trunk lid. There are, however, a
number of trim items which make the 1.7EL look distinctly
more purposeful and more affluent ("Euro-looking" in Honda
pr-speak) than an ordinary Civic sedan.
A plethora of differences
First of all, consider the low-aspect tires with their oversize 15-inch alloy
wheels, the woodgrain trim, the strategically-placed extra chrome. In addition
-- and unlike the Civic sedan (the one available in Canada, anyway) -- the
1.7EL can be had with factory leather seats and a power sunroof.
Think of it this way: If rich folks in North America actually bought smaller
cars to use themselves, rather than as birthday gifts for their spoiled kids,
the Acura 1.7EL would be a rich guy抯 daily driver. He might still have the
4wd Estate for weekends at the lake or for Nanny to use to haul the kids to
French Immersion. But the 1.7EL would be the car he drives to the office
So why is the 1.7EL sold in Canada and not in the US? Well, besides eccentric
Canadian tastes in teas and ales, it appears there are substantive differences
in the car-buying habits of our two peoples. While the Acura Integra 4-door
sedan remains popular in the US, it was too costly for Canadian budgets, which
left Acura dealers with a large gap at the high-traffic end of their product
offerings and led to the first EL, with the then-Civic's 1.6 engine. Based on
a redesigned-for-2001 Honda Civic sedan, the new Acura 1.7EL melds the Civic
platform and the 127 hp dohc VTEC engine from the 2-door Civic Coupe Si with
Acura抯 upscale trim and image.
Much like a top-of-the-line Civic
This seems to work extremely well. Best of all, the EL's not a heck of a lot
more expensive to buy than a top-of-the-line Civic: The difference between the
loaded Civic and the 1.7EL Touring is less than $2000 Canadian. But what you
will buy in terms of image alone makes the 1.7EL worth every extra penny, in
For those dollars, in addition to an upscale image, you get a number of
features, including disc brakes on all four wheels (the Civic has a disc/drum
combo), sharp-looking alloy wheels, woodgrain interior trim items, and a
decent stereo CD system. With the Premium model, you also get standard leather
seats -- not available on the Civic in Canada -- plus a power sunroof.
While the Premium costs another $2000 over the Touring model, we抮e still
talking less than $23,500 Canadian for the full load Premium. For comparison
purposes, such a car might cost around $18,500 in the United States.
In an earlier 2001 Civic review I said the plain-Jane Honda Civic is close to
being the best car available anywhere, for anything near the money they抮e
asking. It comes with all you need in a car: air, decent stereo, great
handling, superb reliability and high resale value -- but perhaps not
everything you might want. The 1.7EL, on the other hand, should not only
satisfy your automotive needs but also, more importantly, your wants.
Happily you can pick up a lot more information on the 2001 Acura 1.7EL from
reviews for the 2001 Honda Civic. However, if you begin by thinking of the EL
as a super-loaded, extra-pretty Honda Civic, you抣l at least be on the right
page. And if enough Americans like this idea, they should pester the heck out
of their dealers.
In tougher economic times an Acura for little more than the price of a loaded
Civic makes for a very attractive package.
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