2016 Acura TLX – Test Drive, Review, Ratings, Spec

2018_Acura_TLX_008A Brings New Exotic Looks

Acura has always been a brand statement of natural performance. The Acura TLX begs no different and this year’s iteration comes with a pretty sweet package of powertrain technology including an all new direct-injection V6 engine and Acura’s second generation Super-Handling All-Wheel-Drive system (SH-AWD).

And there’s more. Transmission system is brought up to (and possibly beyond) modern times with an 8-speed dual clutch available in the V4 engine configuration and a 9 speed automatic on its V6 direct-injection engine.  For 2018 in particular, Acura wants to rub shoulders with big players in the performance sedan arena, and their proposition is the all-new A-Spec trim with more exotic looks in particular to a sharper pentagon front grille design, exclusive 19″ wheel design, a gloss black rear spoiler and more aggressive side pillars.  Upgrades continue into the performance realm with upgraded Michelin Primacy 245/40R19 tires for improved road grip, stiffer suspension setup and a more responsive electric power steering system setup.

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An Interior Built for Aggression

Consider the interior good but not great.  our A-Spec tester model greets you nicely with suede leather popped up with high contrast color stitching, a dual dashboard display, for climate controls and infotainment access, and all the essential steering mounted controls.  The vertical scrolling volume knob and side-scroll button mounted on the steering wheel adds a nice touch to usability and the secondary touch screen helps tidy up the cabin space quite a fair bit.  Though the latter design statement isn’t exactly a without compromise however.  Shuffling the conventional climate controls into the 7″ touchscreen does make the graphical user interface a bit too visually cluttering for my liking.

There’s also the oversized car seats and the steering wheel grip is massive.  It’s not necessarily uncomfortable but the ergonomics certainly reminds you  are in control of a large-scale piece of machinery.

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Rear legroom is praised for thanks to its large size saloon chassis with a comfortable amount of legroom for two mid-size adults and even a third without too much fuss.

Power Meets The Road

Choice of engines come in either a smaller 2.4 V4 engine producing 206 horsepower and 182 lb-ft of torque, or the more powerful 3.5L V6 direct fuel injection engine with 290 horsepower and 267 lb.ft of torque. Transmission technology is where Acura really spices things up with an 8-speed dual clutch automatic transmission equipped as standard on the V4 and a 9-speed automatic on the V6.

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The organic power delivery that defined the signature note of the Acura lineup was what really had the crowd fall for the brand.  But with the Super-Handling AWD (SH-AWD) system, a fair bit of the bio-mechanical in what used to be transparent is now more obfuscated.  Road feel was a bit lackluster, and the large diameter steering wheel and big driver’s seating area didn’t exactly promote a performance inspired environment to play around with.  That said, its quick dance skills can be improved, but there is certainly a big bite on the road thanks to the Michelin Primacy 245/40R19 tires that gives big ego and confidence when throwing the TLX into a corner – hard.  You can thank the stiffer suspension setup for that, although you wouldn’t necessarily appreciate it as much for everyday driving comfort so to speak.

And of course, there’s the acceleration.  Stepping on the pedal feels like there’s a billion things going on in the powertrain trying to figure out what to do for a split second or so before power is finally delivered.  And when it does, the acceleration reminds you of its heavy curb weight of 3,812 pounds a complicated path torque has to travel through its AWD powertrain before it’s delivered to the wheels.

Need or Necessary

Opting for the V6 will tie you down with the 9 speed gearbox, and that’s a lot of gears to sift through. Yet, Acura is convinced that it’s the right way to go to help harness every bit of power out of its V6 as well as improving fuel efficiency. On a driver’s standpoint, I certainly felt the number of gears to hunt through a bit exhaustive and  ended up just switching to automatic shift mode at the end of the day. Though I’m sure, putting the TLX on a proper race track will certainly bring out more merits to its true potential with added driving labour.

You won’t be flogged from opting for the standard 2WD option, and it just might actually be a better choice – that is, you’re not in need of harsh climate immunity. The 2WD system also comes with a modified iteration of the AWD torque vectoring system dubbed Precision-AWD that’s able to distribute power between its two front wheels individually to help with added traction around cornering with the benefit of a more responsive ride on driver demand.

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The base TLX model with a V4 and 8 speed dual clutch transmission can be had for $37,691 while the TLX SH-AWD model is priced in at $42,691 with the top TLX SH-AWD Elite model equipped with all safety and tech amenities comes priced in at $50,191. It’s a pretty hefty price tag, and certainly opens up questions of “what else is out there” for a similar price tag. Throw in an extra few thousand will actually buy you into the Audi S4 league that offers better looks and proper performance. With all said and done, the TLX is certainly not a bad car, though at its current stage, its added technology and performance features leave the TLX in somewhat of a gray area between a luxury saloon or a performance vehicle.

Opting for the A-Spec tech package starts at at$47,390 that also gets you a much more exotic visual appeal while the Elite  $40,990 with Elite A-Spec package furthering its design flare with 18″ 15-spoke design wheels, power folding side mirrors, heated rear outboard seats, and trapezoidal LED fog lights at a price of $50,990

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Specifications

  • Vehicle : 2018 Acura TLX
  • Model : Acura TLX A-SPEC Elite
  • Price as Tested : $50.990
  • Vehicle Type : Luxury Saloon Sedan
  • Seating Capacity : 2+3
  • Powertrain Configuration : SH-AWD
  • Engine : 3.5L V6 DOHC i-VTEC Direct Injection
  • Transmission : 9-speed automatic transmission
  • Fuel Economy:21/34/25 mpg  City/Highway/Combined

Pros

 

  • Large Interior Space and decent interior styling
  • Robust and aggressive road feel with the SH-AWD system
  • Exotic and unique visual looks with the A-Spec styling

Cons

  • 9-speed transmission is a bit excessive.
  • Need for AWD is questionable.  FWD may be a more fun and responsive ride.