Acura brough the TLX in 2015 to replace its TSX and TL sedans, aiming to combine the appeal of both of those vehicles with a single model. Since then, we’ve discovered the TLX exhibits an agreeable demeanor. It’s not particularly exciting, but it doesn’t have any huge drawbacks either.
This year’s 2018 TLX comes a little more dynamic. Though it’s the same sedan under the skin (it continues to be based on the Honda Accord), Acura has freshened the TLX’s styling to get the sedan up to date with the company’s current design themes. Changes elsewhere are relatively modest. Beyond the additional feature content, the TLX’s updated two-screen infotainment system has quicker responses and more logical operation, and the retuned transmissions are said to improve shift refinement. There’s also a new A-Spec trim level that has a sport-tuned suspension and its own special styling elements.
Overall, though, the TLX is much like it has always been. It’s a smart choice if you desire a lot of value from your luxury sedan but probably not the best if performance is your interest.
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The most viisble change to the 2018 Acura TLX is the sedan’s face-lifted front end. More advanced driver safety aids are now standard across n all trims, the infotainment interface has been revised for quicker responses, and both transmissions have been retuned. There’s also a new sporty A-Spec trim level this year.
Though you might get tempted by the A-Spec for 2018, this entry-level premium sedan is most compelling in its lower-priced trim levels. As such, we like the TLX 2.4L with Technology package. It enhances the TLX’s value and feels lighter and more maneuverable than the more powerful V6 version when driving around turns. The four-cylinder TLX also has a more cooperative transmission than the V6 model. Stepping up to the Technology package gets you worthwhile amenities and convenience features.
trim levels & features
getting a 2018 Acura TLX is straightforward. Acura gives the TLX with one of two engines, a four-cylinder or a V6, and a couple of option packages. Four-cylinder models are front-wheel drive only and are available as either TLX 2.4L or TLX 2.4L with Technology package. The base V6 model is the TLX 3.5L. You can also get the TLX 3.5L with Technology package, TLX 3.5L A-Spec and TLX 3.5L with Advance package. All-wheel drive is offered for all TLXs with the V6.
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The base TLX 2.4L lands with a 2.4-liter engine (206 hp, 182 lb-ft) and an eight-speed, dual-clutch automatic transmission. Standard feature highlights include LED headlights, 17-inch wheels, keyless entry and ignition, dual-zone automatic climate control, simulated leather upholstery and power-adjustable front seats.
For 2018, all TLXs are packed as standard with a suite of driver assistance features collectively labeled AcuraWatch. This includes lane departure warning and intervention, forward collision warning and mitigation with automatic braking, road departure mitigation, adaptive cruise control and automatic high-beam control.
You’ll perhaps like getting the extra convenience features of the TLX 2.4L with Technology package. It adds keyless entry for the rear doors, leather upholstery, automatic wipers, a climate control system that compensates for sun direction, navigation, a 10-speaker premium audio system, blind-spot monitoring and rear cross traffic alert.
TLX 3.5L models are, appropriately enough, powered by a 3.5-liter V6 (290 hp, 267 lb-ft) that’s connected to a nine-speed automatic transmission. Beyond what lands with the base four-cylinder variant, the 3.5L gets 18-inch wheels and more power adjustments for the front passenger seat.
The TLX 3.5L with Technology package gives the same features as the Technology package on the four-cylinder version plus revised leather upholstery and a power-extending thigh support for the driver seat.
For people who desire all the creature comforts, the TLX 3.5L with Advance package awaits. It has all of the Technology package items plus parking sensors, remote engine start, ventilated front seats, heated outboard rear seats, a heated steering wheel, wireless device charging, auto-dimming and power-folding side mirrors, a surround-view camera system and a heated windshield.
New feature for 2018 is the TLX 3.5L A-Spec, which has the features of the Technology package and some of the features of the Advance package, plus a sport-tuned suspension, 19-inch wheels, quicker steering, sport front seats and some cosmetic tweaks.
Each vehicle typically lands in multiple versions that are fundamentally similar. The ratings in this review are based on our full test of the 2015 Acura TLX 2.4L with Technology (2.4L inline-4 | 8-speed dual-clutch automatic | FWD).
NOTE: Since this test was carried, the current TLX has received some revisions, including a cosmetic face-lift inside and out, retuned transmissions, standard driver assistance features and a revised infotainment interface. Our findings remain broadly applicable to this year’s TLX.
|Overall||3.5 / 5.0|
|Driving||3.0 / 5.0|
|Comfort||3.5 / 5.0|
|Interior||3.0 / 5.0|
|Utility||4.5 / 5.0|
Overall performance is modest from the small-engine TLX. Handling is enhanced by four-wheel steering, but the front-drive TLX lacks the composure and speed of its V6-powered, AWD big brother.
With only 206 hp on tap, the four-cylinder TLX lacks the power to spin its tires off the line. Sixty mph arrives in 7.4 seconds, which is on the slow side for the segment. None of the drive modes will hold gears at redline.
Around town, these brakes are perfectly average. Easy to modulate and never grabby.
The steering response is okay in most situations. Weight is appropriately tuned, but feel is lacking. Rear-wheel steering enhances performance in most normal situations, though it can be awkward in long, steady corners.
The TLX’s chassis tuning and four-wheel steering generally enhance handling. However, the TLX’s low-grip all-season tires hurt overall performance.
It comes easy to drive and easy to live with both around town and on the freeway. Multiple drive modes permit tuning to suit your needs between Economy and Sport+. No obvious drivability problems.
The TLX has an appealing balance of ride and handling irrespective of the lack of adjustable suspension dampers, which are available on many rivals. It’s a comfortable sedan for both commuting and long road trips.
The well-padded driver seat gives enough support for moderate driving but also offers ample comfort for multi-hour trips. The rear seat provides generous legroom, but taller passengers will lack headroom.
The TLX manages to absorb road irregularities without being too floaty or bouncy on the highway. We could be comfortable here for hours.
noise & vibration
Active noise cancellation, an acoustic glass windshield and triple door seals are effective in keeping road and wind noise outside the TLX’s plush cabin. The four-cylinder sounds good racing to redline, and it’s never coarse.
Though the TLX’s interior isn’t groundbreaking, it is well built from quality materials. Infotainment controls aren’t as practical or easy as some competitors, but they offer similar functionality. Space and visibility are TLX strengths.
ease of use
The dual-screen layout allows ample information display (e.g., maps and audio simultaneously), but single-knob control lacks functionality and intuitiveness of many rivals.
getting in/getting out
Nothing outstanding in this area. Easy entry and exit front and rear with large enough door apertures. The seat height is reasonable up front and doesn’t stand out as either too high or too low. Average for the class in this regard.
Ample leg- and headroom in the front seats. Rear-seat legroom is impressive. Rear headroom, however, might be a problem for passengers taller than 6 feet. Overall, the TLX will be plenty comfortable for four average-size adults.
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The TLX’s front roof pillars aren’t massive or at such an acute angle that they cause forward visibility problems. The rear pillars are bigger and can hide a car if it’s in the wrong place, but the optional blind-spot warning system helps.
Though it lacks the high-end luxury feel of some competitors, the TLX still offers a package that’s well assembled and appealing inside and out. All knobs and buttons feel high-quality.