Acura has been lost in the woods for a few years. The combination of out-there designs and lagging somewhat behind competitors in terms of powertrains and technologies caused sales to drop precipitously. Only Acura’s crossovers, the MDX and RDX, seemingly kept the company afloat. But when the automaker revealed the NSX concept a few years ago, it seemed like they were beginning to get their priorities straight. From there, Acura began to change and rejuvenate their lineup. One of the interesting decision Acura made was to replace two sedans, the TSX and TL, with one. The result is the 2015 TLX. So can one sedan take the place of two?
Acura appears to have to learn its lesson that sometimes going over the top in terms of design does more harm than good. The overall look of the TLX is very similar to the larger RLX sedan. The front end gets a toned-down version of Acura’s shield grille along with a set of jewel-eye headlights. Towards the back is a distinctive trunk lid and taillights that extend to the rear quarter panels. Paired with a set of 18-inch alloy wheels, the TLX might be Acura’s best effort in a while to design a handsome vehicle.
In terms of interiors, Acura appears to be taking some ideas from the Germans. The TLX boasts a lot more soft-touch materials than either the TL or TSX, along with a combination of metal and wood trim. The seats in our TLX came wrapped in a brown leather which adds a nice touch of class. Front seats come with ten-way power adjustments, allowing you to find a comfortable position. The back offers more than enough head and legroom for even tall passengers.
In terms of power, the TLX comes with the choice of two engines. The base is a 2.4L with 206 horsepower and 182 pound-feet of torque. Optional is a 3.5L V6 with 290 horsepower and 267 pound-feet. The four-cylinder comes with an eight-speed dual-clutch automatic, while the V6 boasts a nine-speed automatic. The TLX is standard with front-wheel drive no matter which engine you choose. But if you want Acura’s Super Handling-All-Wheel Drive (SH-AWD) system, you’ll need to jump up to the V6.
Our TLX tester came equipped with the V6 and SH-AWD. Despite the what numbers say about the V6, it doesn’t feel powerful at first. The engine takes a moment to wake up, leaving you with some sluggish performance. But once the engine fully wakes up, power comes on effortlessly. We can’t say if this behavior is due to a lazy throttle, the nine-speed automatic, or both. Aside from this odd behavior, the V6 is very refined and has a nice engine note the higher you climb in the rev range. The nine-speed automatic to put it bluntly is a mess. The transmission is very slow when it comes to gear changes and when it does, there is a noticeable clunk. The SH-AWD system might be the TLX’s trump card. This system boasts torque-vectoring tech to help the vehicle in cornering. This system shows its strength in tight corners when you are powering out and the system is able to send power to the rear wheels, reducing the amount of understeer.
As for fuel economy, the TLX V6 SH-AWD is rated at 21 City/31 Highway/25 Combined by the EPA. My average for the week landed at 24.2 MPG.
In terms of the how TLX behaves on the road depends on the drive mode that is engaged. These modes are,
- Eco: Changes behavior of the transmission to go into the highest get to improve fuel economy
- Normal: Provides a balance between Eco and Sport
- Sport: Locks out higher gears to improve engine response
- Sport+: Sharpens throttle response and gives the steering a bit more weight
For most situations, leaving the TLX in Normal or Eco provides a nice balance between performance and driveability. These two modes also highlights one the TLX’s plus points, a smooth ride quality. Bumps and ruts don’t upset passengers sitting in the TLX. Another plus point is how quiet the interior is with barely any wind and road noise. Put the TLX into either Sport or Sport+ and it transforms. The suspension minimizes the amount of body roll and the chassis feels very solid in the corners. Steering has good weight, but some drivers will want a bit more feel.
The Acura TLX shows the company is beginning to head in the right direction. Replacing two sedans with one is a mighty tall order, but Acura was able to pull it off with an impressive list of luxury features and balanced driving characteristics. But the V6 version still has some teething issues such as a poor throttle response and an automatic transmission that needs to go back to the engineering department to fix some of the refinement issues. If you don’t need or want the all-wheel drive, then you should really check the four-cylinder version of the TLX as it seems to be the well-rounded of the two powertrains on offer.
Disclaimer: Acura Provided the TLX, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas
Trim: V6 SH-AWD with Advance Package
Engine: 3.5L 24-Valve, SOHC i-VTEC V6
Driveline: Nine-Speed Automatic, All-Wheel Drive
Horsepower @ RPM: 290 @ 6200
Torque @ RPM: 267 @ 4500
Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 21/31/25
Curb Weight: 3,774 lbs
Location of Manufacture: Marysville, Ohio
Base Price: $44,800
As Tested Price: $45,720 (Includes $920 Destination Charge)