The Acura TLX faces the same challenge as other sedans these days. The car-buying public’s taste has shifted from the traditional four-door transportation to crossover SUVs. Of course, not everyone is buying an SUV, but automakers like Acura are scrambling to make their sedans more attractive to customers. With that in mind, Acura has freshened the look of its TLX, and added a new sportier model, the A-Spec, to their 2018 lineup.
Most agree that the restyled nose of the 2018 TLX is big improvement over the one on its predecessor. The new, pentagon-shaped grille with a large Acura logo, makes a stronger impression than the “shield” design it replaced. Sleek LED headlamps, and distinctive creases on the hood provide additional character to the new TLX. My white test car with black trim, in place of chrome, looked really sharp.
Inside, the cabin features a twin cockpit design up front. The center control panel sports two displays. A large eight-inch screen on the dash shows data, such as a navigation map, while below it a touchscreen and dial handle the input. It is not a simple system, and takes some time to get used to.
Accommodations in the TLX are cozy. There is sufficient room for a tall driver, but the front passenger’s knee room is restricted by the protruding dash. In the rear, head- and legroom are tight, and pity the person sitting in the middle, his or her scalp will scrape the overhead light. Trunk space is okay—about average in size for its class at 14.3 cubic feet.
Compensating for the tight dimensions is a nicely finished cabin. My test car had upscale furnishings, like leather seats with suede-like center panels and contrasting piping. Brushed silver accents highlighted the dash, console and doors. Black headliner, soft to the touch, complemented the rest of the cabin.
Acura offers buyers a choice of two power trains. The first is a 2.4-liter, four-cylinder mill with 206 horsepower teamed with an eight-speed automated manual transmission. The second is a 3.5-liter, V-6 with 290 horses mated to a nine-speed automatic. The TLX is available with front-wheel- or all-wheel drive. My test car had the V-6 with AWD, and it had more than enough power to haul a fully loaded car with five passengers up a steep mountain road.
The TLX comes in four editions. The base model is available with either a four- or six-cylinder engine. It is well equipped with luxury items, like heated front seats, seven-speaker audio, and active safety systems, such as adaptive cruise control, lane-departure alert and forward collision warning and braking. The “Tech” version adds upgrades like leather, 10-speaker audio and blind-spot monitoring. The “Advance” adds more luxury with a heated steering wheel, heated rear seats and a 360-degree-view camera,
New for 2018 is the sporty A-Spec model, like the one I drove. The A-Spec distinguishes itself visually from its siblings with a blacked-out grille and trim, black 19-inch wheels and a rear-deck spoiler. Inside, drivers get a hefty sport steering wheel, wireless phone charging and ventilated seats, trimmed with leather and Alcantara.
On the road, the A-Spec struts its stuff with Acura’s Super Handling All-Wheel Drive (SHAWD) and solid V-6 power. The SHAWD enhances cornering capability by transferring power to the outside wheels, for sure-footed handling. The power train is assisted by a selectible drive system which can quicken throttle response; alter gearshift points and tighten up the steering. Select “Sport” or “Sport+” and you are ready to take on any twisty road. However, the improved handling comes with a price, the TLX’s ride becomes choppy on bumpy roads.
TLX pricing starts at $33,950 for the base 2.4L model, and ranges up to $46,850 for the top-of-the-line Advance. My upper range A-Spec test car had a suggested retail price of $45,750.