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- Highs Composed ride, handsome interior, attractive pricing.
- Lows Confusing dual-screen infotainment system, A-Spec trim oversells its sportiness.
- Verdict The Acura TLX may look like a challenger to the leading compact sports sedans, but it delivers more luxury than driving thrills.
The mild-mannered TLX deserves recognition for its composed driving dynamics and comfortable interior. While its gaping grille and bejeweled headlights are undeniably distinct, the rest of its exterior design borders on the ho-hum. Under the hood is a standard 206-hp inline-four with an eight-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission or a 290-hp V-6 with a nine-speed automatic. Front-wheel drive with supplemental rear-wheel steering that aids handling is standard; V-6 models are available with Acura’s all-wheel-drive system. The TLX’s tasteful interior offers cozy seating, attractive appointments, and choice standard features. A stable of driver assists including automated emergency braking and adaptive cruise control are also standard. The TLX isn’t thrilling, but its quiet competence and refined performance are underappreciated compared with flashier competitors that steal the spotlight.
What's New for 2018?
The TLX receives a refresh that includes a much-needed facelift, updated technology, and new additions to option packages. Most notably, Acura ditched the bleak beak for a much handsomer pentagonal grille with a diamond-mesh insert. Acura also revised the TLX’s front bumper and fenders, hood, side sills, and rear styling. Along with reshuffling the base model’s standard features and packaged equipment, Acura fits every TLX with a redesigned infotainment system that features a simplified interface, quicker response times, and Apple CarPlay and Android Auto capability. All models now also have forward-collision warning, automated emergency braking, lane-keeping assist, and adaptive cruise control.
- TLX 2.4L FWD: $33,995
- TLX 3.5L FWD: $37,195
- TLX 3.5L SH-AWD: $39,195
- TLX 3.5L SH-AWD w/Technology Pkg: $42,895
- TLX 3.5L SH-AWD w/Advance Pkg: $46,745
- TLX 3.5L FWD w/A-Spec Pkg: $43,795
- TLX 3.5L SH-AWD w/A-Spec Pkg: $45,795
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Engine, Transmission, and Performance
The TLX has two naturally aspirated engines that hold their own against boosted rivals. The standard 2.4-liter inline-four makes 206 horsepower and 182 lb-ft of torque; it mates to an eight-speed dual-clutch automatic. The four-cylinder model handles highway passing duties (50 to 70 mph) about as well as the BMW 330i and Mercedes-Benz C300 sedan. The 3.5-liter V-6 develops 290 horsepower and 267 lb-ft of torque routed through a nine-speed automatic transmission. Front-wheel drive with rear-wheel steering is standard, but the V-6 is available with Acura’s Super Handling All-Wheel Drive (SH-AWD). This system can shuttle power to each wheel separately as needed, which improves traction and handling. During testing, our V-6 test car matched the rear-drive Alfa Romeo Giulia from zero to 60 mph at an identical 5.7 seconds. The Acura edged the Alfa by an eyelash (0.1 second) in the quarter-mile. The TLX is a better luxury car than a sports sedan. It delivers a refined ride that is supple without feeling floaty. Combined with its accurate steering and progressive brakes, the TLX is a pleasant car to drive. Our V-6 test car had Acura’s advanced all-wheel-drive system and the A-Spec package, which revises the suspension tuning and steering system for crisper response. Steering effort varies by the selected drive mode, with Sport and Sport+ settings adding heft to the wheel. Body motion was well controlled, although even in A-Spec form it did not goad us into on-ramp heroics.
EPA fuel economy testing and reporting procedures have changed over time. For the latest and most accurate fuel economy numbers on current and older vehicles, we use the U.S. Department of Energy's fueleconomy.gov website. Under the heading "Find & Compare Cars" click on the Compare Side-by-Side tool to find the EPA ratings for the make, model, and year you're interested in.
Interior, Comfort, and Cargo
Understated quality is better than low-grade ostentation. This point is proven inside the TLX’s cabin, with its quality materials and comfortable seats. While it’s not the most luxurious interior in the class, remember that the TLX is also one of the least expensive cars in the segment. Our test car had red accents to the gauge cluster and LED ambient lighting. Faux-suede inserts on the door panels and seats, a thick-rimmed steering wheel, and a stainless-steel footrest add sportiness. The leather-trimmed seats are expertly bolstered, and they supported us comfortably and securely. The cabin’s soft-touch plastics and aluminum-look trim are quality touches. A cool-looking—albeit awkward to use—push-button gear selector is located on the center console, but it’s exclusive to V-6 models; four-cylinder models use a standard mechanical shift lever. The TLX spoils front-seat passengers with more than enough storage space. Its center console incorporates a large bin and a useful tray up front.
Infotainment and Connectivity
Acura’s dual-screen setup is a double-edged sword. Although it displays more information and handles more operations at one time than a single screen, it can be distracting and confusing. The updated interface and the addition of Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are appreciated, but outdated graphics and a single USB port are unbecoming. Every TLX has a shrouded 8.0-inch screen atop its dash and a second 7.0-inch touchscreen directly below it. The top screen displays the backup camera, customizable settings, and navigation (when equipped). The upper screen is controlled by a rotary knob; the lower touchscreen operates climate controls, the radio, and more. A seven-speaker stereo with a CD player is standard, and a 10-speaker ELS Studio setup is optional.
Safety Features and Crash Test Ratings
Overall Safety Rating (NHTSA)
Some older vehicles are still eligible for coverage under a manufacturer's Certified Pre-Owned (CPO) program. For more information visit our guide to every manufacturer's CPO program.