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

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A Luxury Saloon with the Perfect Ingredients

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.

Standard Looks

I’m not going to lie. It’s a good looking car, but not great. And because it’s classified in the luxury saloon category, its larger size does limit some design potential in general. Still, its front fascia encompasses Acrua’s signature front grille design and engraved with its Jewel-Eye LED headlamps that really marks a distinctive look from the crowd.

Though targeted as a performance saloon, the seats doesn’t remind you of it with basic and minimal lateral seating support. Nevertheless, seating is comfortable and front cabin space is plentiful. There is no shortage of tech gadgetry either with its complete set of amenities including XM radio, voice navigation and bluetooth phone connectivity. Its wireless phone charging pad was a complete disappointment as I never witnessed it working under multiple attempts, and voice navigation was completely hopeless. But even with that said, the infotainment touch screen interface is well laid out and fairly responsive to the user’s touch.

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.

Raw Power

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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Our specific tester comes configured with the more powerful V6 and SH-AWD system. Open acceleration again, reveals what Acura does best with true organic naturally aspirated power, and the SH-AWD system works well in keeping all four wheels planted upon launch. There’s more to it than just longitudinal launch though. In addition to power distribution between the front and rear axis, the SH-AWD utilizes torque vectoring that can also dynamically assign torque power individually between its rear left or right wheel as well. This; in turn, helps keep the TLX achieve optimal balance and power upon exiting turns.

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Steering is smooth, light and nimble – a definite compliment given its larger chassis and heavier weight. Speaking of weight, the AWD does incur a bit more at 3774 lbs while its FWD configuration with the same engine is 154 lbs less. And because the AWD induces more mechanical complexity in its drivetrain, there is definitely a bit of loss in acceleration responsiveness.

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.

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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.

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.

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Specifications

  • Vehicle : 2016 Acura TLX
  • Model : Acura TLX
  • Price as Tested : $42,691
  • 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

  • Raw and organic power from V6
  • Light and nimble handling
  • Excellent driving comfort

Cons

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