by: Mike Ginsca
If you’re still unsure where the TLX falls in the Acura family, don’t worry you’re not the only one. The Acura TLX replaced not one but 2 cars in the Acura range back in 2015. The smaller TSX and larger TL have been combined making the TLX. For the 2018 model year, the TLX receives styling updates and a few minor updates to the overall package.
Engine – A 2.4L inline-4 producing 206hp is the base engine for the TLX but this Tech A-Spec demo vehicle comes with the 3.5L V6 that is capable of producing 290hp and 267 lb-ft of torque. The power delivery is smooth and linear as you’d expect from a naturally aspirated V6. It also makes quite a good noise too when you put the hammer down… it’s just too bad that most of the noise is fake and it’s coming from the speakers. Fuel economy is not bad either with a combined average of 11.2 L/100km during my test drive.
Braking – The brakes are average for the Acura TLX. They’re not the fixed caliper design of the old TL A-Spec but they still provide an ample amount of braking force to stop the 1745 kg body.
Handling – The TLX feels like it has a split personality when it comes to handling. On one hand the suspension of this A-Spec is a bit firmer than the base model and the SH-AWD system can send majority of the power to the back wheels for better turning. But on the other hand, the suspension is still not firm enough to be considered a true sports sedan. It’s still leaning more towards a luxury sedan than anything else. Add to that the vague steering feel, and the Acura TLX just doesn’t feel as confidence inspiring as its German counterparts when it comes to spirited driving.
Transmission – The 2.4L engine receives an 8-speed dual clutch transmission however that transmission is not available with the V6. Instead the bigger engine gets a traditional automatic transmission with 9 gears. Shifting gears is quick and smooth and the transmission has multiple drive modes to suit your driving style. However this particular transmission has been plagued with issues in the past such as mis-shifts, jerky shifts, and going into neutral by itself. ZF (the manufacturer of the transmission) has recalled more than half a million transmissions but some people still have issues with them. So buyer beware.
Ride Comfort – The Acura TLX is a very comfortable sedan. As mentioned earlier, the suspension is more soft than firm which irons out road imperfections. Big potholes don’t upset the car too much but just be careful when driving too quickly over them as to not damage those 19” wheels and tires. The plush seats provide hours of comfort on long road trips or gridlock traffic not only for front occupants but rear occupants as well. Just don’t get caught in the middle rear seat as headroom is non-existent.
Noise, Vibration, & Harshness – The cabin is very well insulated from outside noises, so much so that the speakers have to be used to amplify the engine’s noise under hard acceleration. Elsewhere in the cabin nothing vibrates, nothing squeaks, and everything has a solid feel to it.
Interior Design – The cabin of the TLX feels like just about every other modern Acura. Same steering wheel, same button layout, same dual center screen. There are no complaints regarding the layout of the physical buttons (and yes, there is a volume knob) nor are there any complaints about the drive select buttons. They work and look great. My only complaint of the interior design is the dual screen layout. The bottom touchscreen is much more responsive than Acuras before it but certain tasks like scrolling through a menu or entering a destination on the sat nav feel too tedious by using the rotary knob to control the top screen.
Odds and Ends
Gadgets – Like many Honda/Acura products, the TLX comes packed with active and passive electronic safety features. Without getting into too many boring acronyms, the Acura TLX can maintain a set speed, partially steer, and brake in an emergency by itself. In the past some of these systems had false alerts or were too hasty in their intrusiveness but with the 2018 TLX, they are much more refined. Convenience wise, this Tech Packaged TLX has heated seats, passive keyless entry, remote engine start, power everything, and a sunroof. A 360 camera system, ventilated seats, and wireless phone charging are available on the top of the line Elite trim but honestly it’s not really worth the money. Best thing to do is go for this A-Spec trim with the Tech package.
Exterior Design – This is an area that I would say “to each their own” because the exterior design of the 2018 Acura TLX is not one I would call beautiful. As I’ve stated in another Acura review, the new grille and gigantic Acura emblem make it look like the designers threw the emblem at the grille and made it look like a crater impact. Furthermore the bulges in the hood are very pronounced and look awkward from the driver’s seat. Around back it is a much nicer design than the front. The circular exhaust tips and diffuser give it a bit of a sporty credential and the LED taillights look really good at night.
Overall the 2018 Acura TLX is a comfortable sedan. It’s not the most sportiest of sedans but these days it’s hard to find a place to truly enjoy a sporty drive and this is not a trackday star. However I would not recommend this V6 TLX but rather the 2.4L Acura TLX with the A-Spec Tech package. It’s more fuel efficient, less expensive, you get the same features, and you don’t have to worry about that 9-speed automatic transmission ruining your day.
Thank you to Acura Canada for providing the vehicle. www.Acura.ca
Editor at large and gearhead. Can drive anything on 4 or 2 wheels... sometimes 3 wheels too.