2018 TLX New Car Test Drive
The Acura TLX is a front-wheel-drive compact/midsize premium sedan that was launched as a 2015 and didn't change for its first three years. Its merits were often lost in the arguments over whether its grille that looked like a vector-shaped shield was distinctive or ugly.
For 2018, TLX gets rid of that grille, with a cleaner front fascia, new LED self-dimming headlamps, and a subtly bulked-up hood. Inside, there's ambient lighting piping on the sides of the center console, along with new seat designs.
There's also a sporty new model with its own grille and fascia called the A-Spec, with front-wheel drive or all-wheel drive. The Acura TLX A-Spec has a firmer suspension and amplified intake noise into the cabin. Heavily bolstered seats and a thick steering wheel are added to complement the suspension. In addition to distinctive exterior trim, there are 19-inch wheels and four-inch wide exhaust outlets in the rear bumper. It's designed to challenge sporty models from Lexus, BMW, Alfa Romeo and Mercedes-Benz.
Acura TLX competes with near-luxury models from Germany, including the BMW 3 Series, Mercedes-Benz C-Class, and Audi A3.
The standard engine is a 2.4-liter four-cylinder making 206 horsepower and 180 pound-feet of torque, enough to give the nimble TLX a balanced character. The bigger engine is a 3.5-liter V6 making 290 horsepower and 267 pound-feet of torque, but because it adds 500 pounds to the weight of the TLX, it doesn't feel that much quicker than the four-cylinder. In addition, its 9-speed automatic transmission isn't as smooth as the 8-speed dual-clutch automated transmission in the four-cylinder model.
However if you want all-wheel-drive, specifically Acura's sophisticated Super Handling All-Wheel Drive (SH-AWD), it only comes with the V6.
The TLX earns five stars in crash tests by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. In one of the tests performed by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, for small-overlap frontal impact, the TLX ranked only Marginal. Other IIHS tests yielded Good scores (the highest rating). When fitted with optional safety features, the TLX was rated Superior for frontal-crash prevention.
Fuel-efficiency is good on the highway, with a big drop in the city. The four-cylinder TLX is EPA-rated at 24/35 mpg City/Highway, or 28 mpg Combined. The front-drive V6 model is EPA-rated at 21/34 mpg City/Highway, or 25 mpg Combined. SH-AWD sinks the Highway figure to 31 mpg.
The 2018 Acura TLX 2.4L ($33,000) includes 2.4-liter engine, rearview camera, moonroof, power seats, keyless start, Bluetooth, seven-speaker audio with satellite radio, and hill start assist. The Technology Package ($3700) adds navigation, AcuraLink infotainment, perforated leather upholstery, and a premium 10-speaker Acura/ELS Studio audio system. (All prices are MSRP and do not include $995 destination charge.)
TLX 3.5L ($36,200) gets the V6 engine and 18-inch wheels and is available with the Technology Package ($39,900) or Advance Package ($43,750) that adds adaptive cruise control, automatic emergency braking, front/rear parking sensors, and heated/ventilated front seats.
Other optional safety features include forward collision warning, lane-keeping assist, and blind-spot monitoring.
TLX 3.5L SH-AWD ($38,200) includes all-wheel-drive and V6, and is available with the Technology and Advance packages ($45,750).
TLX A-Spec comes with either front-wheel drive ($42,800) or SH-AWD ($44,800).