3.5L V6 with Active Cylinder Management
290 hp @ 6200 rpm
267 lb.-ft. @ 4500 rpm
It is not very common for a manufacturer to replace two models in its line-up with a single car. The new TLX is the replacement for both the TL and the TSX, and as such, it is offered in quite a few trim levels, ranging from affordable to premium territory price-wise.
Starting at $34,990, you get what can be considered a direct replacement of the TSX, a front-wheel-drive 2.4L 4-cylinder car. Topping out at $47,490 for the Elite V6 with SH-AWD, the TLX seems to be on par with where the top of the line TL was. Size-wise, it is a lengthy car and although a bit shorter than the outgoing TL, it has the exact same wheelbase (2775mm) and a bigger trunk (405L).
The V6 Elite SH-AWD version we tested came absolutely loaded and for the price tag, it could be considered pretty good value. Features like Active Cruise Control, heated leather steering wheel with audio controls, heated leather appointed front and rear seats, sunroof, ELS sound system, navigation, Bluetooth and USB port, collision mitigation, lane keep assist, blind spot monitors, rear view camera, stability control, auto start stop and remote starter are all standard equipment in the Elite trim level.
The exterior design is very Acura, meaning that all the lines are within the firms design language without any attempt to differ, while all the latest trends are present. The headlights for example, are jewel eye LED and the Acura beak is once again present, but this time, thanks to the new NSX, it is absolutely cool looking. Sleek yet conservative overall, the side is mildly sculpted, while the rear just looks too similar to other vehicles in the market. Seen from the back alone, it could easily be confused with a Sonata or Legacy.
Inside the cabin, high quality materials have been used for all the upper bits, but start to cheapen out as you feel your way downwards. In combination with the forwards tilted – angular design, it looks and feels more like an improved TSX but nowhere near where the TL was. It does feel luxurious and well made, but it certainly lacks the snug feeling and sporty posture of the TL. Also, some switch gear, like the indicator stalk, feel a bit cheap. The interior design is also based upon the latest Acura trends. The instrument cluster is analog and complemented by small but useful LCD displays, while on the dash there are two larger color LCD screens, the nearest one being a touch screen with haptic feedback. The infotainment system feels improved and displays even more information than before. The round dial to control it still gets the job done but again, other competitors have much more user friendly implementations in place. The wood finish and intuitive push button gear selector definitely add points to the presentation, while the IDS (Integrated Dynamics System) and Auto Start Stop system add very desirable features.
The way the steering wheel feels and looks, sticking out of the dash instead of being nicely tucked in reminds me of the Honda Accord. Also, the heated seats only warm up your bottom, but not your back and despite being very comfortable, they totally lack side support. In continuation to the tradition set by its predecessors, the TLX still has pretty tight rear seats in terms of both legroom and shoulder room. Headroom is adequate but due to the overall narrow dimensions, two adults of fair height can be transported at best; at least their bottoms will be warm. The trunk size is also not the best in class, as at 405 L it is about 100 L short from being impressive.
Under the hood, the super smooth 3.5L V6 with active cylinder management is capable of 290 HP and 267 lb-ft of torque and it is a unit to love if you value refinement above all. In fact, it is so smooth, after driving for a while, you’ll just want to pull over, open the hood and make out with it. After you’re done burning our tongue, you can also burn some rubber, as performance figures in this TLX are pretty impressive. From a standstill, the 100km/h mark comes in 6.2″ which is well into sports car territory. On the go, the engine is very flexible, also thanks to the ZF sourced 9-speed dual clutch automatic transmission. In sport mode, it tries very hard to become exciting, as it blips the throttle at every downshift, just like you’d like it to do if you were on a race track. In reality though, it shouts and barks when it shouldn’t while when really asked to downshift quickly while braking before a turn, it just can’t cope. I would trade that fake eagerness for just quicker shifts when the paddle shifters are used. Equipped with active cylinder management and auto start stop, it returns good fuel economy figures. You surely won’t be disappointed by the 10.9lt/100km it averaged on a combined circle during our week with it.
On the road, the TLX is relaxed, quiet and very civilized, meaning that driving it feels very easy and stress free. Pot holes are dealt with nicely, very rarely upsetting the passengers and most importantly, the suspension is very quiet in operation. Long distance cruising is very pleasant and the ELS sound system is able to add a very pleasing soundtrack to the journey. The steering is light and returns very little in terms of feedback and at the same time the brake pedal is quite numb near the top, so in normal mode, it won’t be the most involving experience behind the wheel. If you’re interested in a sportier drive, you can set the IDS to sport or sport+, start using the paddle shifters and put the chassis through it paces. Or at least in theory you can; the gearbox gets all edgy and angry when still in auto, blipping the throttle at downshifts and with its very aggressive shifting it is pushing you go drive harder. But when you decide to accept the challenge and start driving hard, the gearbox is purely a letdown. It will deny shifts that are much less aggressive than the gearbox itself was trying to be and will leave you without any power right where you need it; hitting the apex. All that is a shame really, as the handling is pretty good, minus the very limited feedback from the wheel. The TLX turns in sharply, holds its posture and even tries to be exciting by introducing a little tail wagging upon exiting the corners. With a better gearbox that wouldn’t bluff (like the one in the 4-cylinder model), and brakes that could resist fade better, the TLX’s handling would’ve been the surprise of the year; in a positive way.
While not delivering the driving excitement of its most direct competitors like the Q50 and ATS the TLX definitely has two aces up its sleeve; refinement and pricing. In the real world, where the police pulls you over every time you try to enjoy your car, being comfortable pampered with high tech features becomes more important, more realistic, and in those terms, the TLX probably wins.
Top Safety Pick+
Some cheap materials
Heated seats only heat bottom
Gearbox in manual mode