|2013 Acura ILX (Photo: Wikimedia/IFCAR)|
That's fine and whatever, but designers and product planners think it's a good idea to incorporate elements of these things into new cars, especially those they want to sell to people of my demographic (well, those of us who are gainfully employed). I like the ability to connect my iPhone through Bluetooth and Internet radio steaming through the speakers is cool. But I do not want to update my Facebook status while driving, or post something witty to Twitter. Product planners of the auto industry, listen up: that's not going to get more Millennials to buy your cars.
What might work is if these entry-level "premium" cars they're pitching didn't look like they're made for our parents. The latest case comes from Acura, in the form of the totally shrug-inducing ILX sedan.
|Acura Integra three-door (Photo: Flickr/Grant.C)|
People who didn't want something quite as pedestrian as a Civic but wanted a posh-ish badge went for an Integra, and rightfully so. It was a nicer Civic that was just as economical but had nicer dealers.
Acura wants back in the economy end of the premium sector with the ILX. Their first thought must have been the old Integra, hence the name. But the L in the middle of that stupid set of letters must stand for luxury, and that's a worry. The ILX goes the "shrunken luxury" route to a small premium car, rather than "sport sedan with niceties." Sure, there's a 201-horsepower six-speed manual version. But even that one doesn't look exciting. Honestly, the ILX is no new Integra. Worse for Acura, it's nothing to get too excited over either.
|Buick Verano (Photo: Flickr/Michelin Media)|
Inside, it's nicely swathed in leather and bright trim and it actually feels really nice. Like the ILX, it also comes with push-button start, a smart sat nav, Bluetooth and ways to stream Pandora in the car. It would be desired by Millennials if it just didn't look so grown up. In fact, it'd be a perfect car for my mother.
The Acura and Buick would be perfect cars for parents of Millennials. Every mother and father who drove to pick up their kids (and their neighbors' kids) from my elementary school in their late-'90s Explorer or early-'90s Mercedes wagon now drives something much smaller. If Hillary Clinton weren't busy being secretary of state right now (and didn't have Secret Service driving her and Bill around), either car would work for her. There are lots of Baby Boomers in this country trying to downsize from their minivans and big SUVs into things with fewer seats, since they're not doing carpool duty anymore.
|Buick Regal Turbo (Flickr/2011BuickRegal)|
Buick's best chance is to go after people downsizing from their big Lexuses or Cadillacs with the Verano, for fuel economy or different reasons. The Regal, which doesn't cost a whole lot more, looks sportier and more fun. Acura missed an opportunity to attract young people again with an athletic-looking, sporty small hatch and sedan. Instead, the ILX looks and, based on other journalist accounts, drives like a luxury Civic. For the life of me, I can't think of anyone who gets up in the morning and says, "Yes, that's exactly what I want."
Automakers just don't understand us.