2015 Acura TLX Review
MIDDLEBURG, Va.: Acura would like you to think of its new TLX luxury sport sedan as three cars in one.
It’s not because the new 2015 Acura TLX is replacing two outgoing models (TSX and TL) and the new one should be seen to be offering even more.
It’s actually because the 2015 Acura TLX will come in three distinct variants that the Acura folks have packaged to appeal to different segments of the marketplace. Neither the TSX nor the TL have been setting the world on fire from a sales standpoint, with combined Canadian sales peaking at 9,600 units in 2004. Since then it has been a steady downhill slide, thus the new TLX that Acura hopes will reinvigorate the brand and hopefully take them back to the sales levels of a decade ago.
“We have created a new vehicle and priced it to appeal to both the TSX and TL buyers,” said Dave Gardner, Acura Canada’s vice-president of sales and marketing at the launch of the TLX in rural Virginia.
Gardner explained that Acura has been pleased with the sales of its luxury SUVs (the MDX and RDX), but recently the sedan side hasn’t enjoyed the same level of success.
So Acura has a lot riding on this new sedan that sits smack dab in a segment populated by high-ticket luxury models. It is benchmarked against competitors like the Audi A4, BMW 3-Series, Mercedes-Benz C 350, Infiniti Q50 and Lexus IS 350. That’s a pretty impressive bunch to say the least.
What Acura wants to do with the TLX is create a clear hierarchy in its sedan lineup with the RLX as its flagship, the TLX as the mid-level offering and the ILX as the gateway model.
The new TLX is closest in size to the outgoing TL, but it has a shorter front overhang, lower roofline and short rear deck. In all, it is 97 mm shorter, yet it has the same interior space and the same wheelbase.
Rather than creating a whole new look, the TLX appears to take design cues from both the cars it replaces. It’s not a vehicle that will stand out in a crowd from a styling standpoint; the key will be to get potential buyers into the car for a test drive. That’s where Acura believes it will shine.
The TLX is chock full of new technology including two new engines, two new advanced transmissions, Precision All-Wheel Steer (P-AWS), next generation Super-Handling All-Wheel Drive (SH-AWD) and a new feature called Agile Handling Assist (AHA).
The base TLX comes with a 206 hp, 2.4-litre inline four-cylinder engine, mated with a new eight-speed dual clutch transmission with torque converter and Precision All-Wheel Steer (P-AWS).
For more power, buyers can opt for the 290 hp, 3.5-litre V6 with a nine-speed automatic transmission and P-AWS in either front- or SH-AWD format. The V6 features Variable Cylinder Management (VCM) where three of the cylinders are deactivated when power demand is low such as during highway cruising.
Of course, the main goal here is to improve fuel economy. It also features Acura’s stop/start system.
Acura Canada executives say they expect more than 75 per cent of sales here to be V6s, heavily weighted toward the AWD version. But my driving partner and I came away most impressed with the entry-level four-cylinder model that starts at $34,990.
I drove all three variants during a scenic tour along winding secondary roads in Virginia and West Virginia. And while it may be a little noisier than its V6 counterpart, the I4 appears to be the “little engine that could.”
It is paired well with the eight-speed transmission and gets the most out of its modest output. In short, it just feels right and attains Acura’s stated goal of a ‘synergy between man and machine’ thanks to its lighter weight and more precise handling.
The TLX is outfitted with what Acura calls its Integrated Dynamics System with four driving modes’ Econ, Normal, Sport and Sport+.
I found myself driving in Sport mode most of the time, however Econ provides up to three per cent savings in fuel economy if that’s your goal.
I found that it took all the life out of the car, but for some, economy will be key reason for selecting this mode. Sport+ is a new feature and it eliminates unnecessary shifting and provides maximum driver performance. Normal sits somewhere in the middle and may be fine for highway cruising.
The cabin of the TLX is driver-focused. Everything is nicely finished with soft touch materials, but it may not have the same feeling of luxury as some of its competitors.
But it is comfortable, extremely quiet and can be loaded with all the latest technology available in the Acura automotive world.
There is seating for five adults and a cargo capacity of 406 litres in the trunk. The 60/40 split rear seats fold for added cargo room when needed.
Among the standard features are heated front seats, keyless entry with push button start, Jewel Eye LED headlights, power moonroof, 10-way power driver’s seat with memory settings, multi-angle rearview camera, capless fueling system, dual-zone automatic climate control and a Canadian-exclusive front windshield de-ice.
TLX models with the 2.4-litre engine can be upgraded to the Technology Package ($3,700) that includes features like a navigation system with voice recognition, 490-watt 10-speaker ELS surround sound audio system, lane keeping assist, lane departure warning, forward collision warning, blind spot monitor, remote engine starter, rain sensing wipers, perforated Milano leather trimmed interior and Canadian exclusive power folding side mirrors, and heated steering wheel and rear seats.
V6 models can be outfitted with the Elite Package ($3,600) that offers Collision Mitigation Braking System, Road Departure Mitigation, adaptive cruise control, ventilated seats, LED fog lights, front and rear parking sensors, headlight washers, auto-dimming side mirrors and automatic puddle lights.
One unique feature is a push-button electronic gear selector on the V6 models. The base model has a traditional shifter on the centre console.
Fuel economy ratings for the 2.4L engine are 9.6/6.6/8.3 L/100 km city/highway/combined. The front-drive 3.5L V6 gets numbers of 11.2/6.9/9.2, while the SH-AWD achieves 11.2/7.5/9.6.
All in all, the TLX is a good effort from Acura. Will it be enough to grow sales’ Only time will tell. However, traditional fans of the brand should be pleased and techies will love all the exciting features that are too numerous to mention here.
The key will be getting potential new customers into the driver’s seat for a test drive.
Built in Marysville, Ohio, P-AWS versions of the TLX will be available in late August and SH-AWD models arrive in the fall.