THE PROS & CONS
- What’s Best: Performance and handling on par with the best European sports sedans.
- What’s Worst: Gimmicky four-button shifter.
- What’s Interesting: The AcuraWatch suite of safety systems would be a standout in any segment.
Acura’s A-Spec package raises the already competent 2018 TLX intermediate into a true performance sports sedan, with the all luxury fittings and connectivity that goes with it.
Shown for the first time earlier this year at the New York International Auto Show, the 2018 TLX A-Spec shared the Acura stage alongside the rest of the much refreshed and enhanced TLX offerings.
Now that may sound confusing — so stay with me.
For 2018, TLX comes standard with a 2.4-litre direct injection twin-cam inline four-cylinder producing 206 hp and 182 lb/ft of torque with an eight-speed dual clutch automatic transmission driving the front wheels.
At the world preview in New York, Acura described the TLX as “one of the most technologically advanced and well-equipped vehicles in the segment”.
For example, the TLX is fitted with an upgraded dual centre stack screen with On Demand Multi-Use Display (ODMD 2.0) interface that supports Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.
It is 30 per cent faster and the seven-inch screen has a capacitive display that is more responsive to the touch and is positioned within easy reach of the driver and front passenger.
Seen for the first time on the 2017 MDX SUV, the TLX sports Acura’s new diamond pentagon grille and five-lens LED “Jewel Eye” headlights.
TLX boasts the AcuraWatch system that combines Collision Mitigation Braking System (CMBS) with automatic emergency braking, Forward Collision Warning (FCW), Lane Keeping Assist (LKAS), Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC) with Low-Speed Follow (LSF) and Road Departure Mitigation (RDM) — making it one of the safest sedans in the segment.
But, if you scroll down through the specifications you come to what we have here, the TLX A-Spec SH-AWD Elite priced at $53,207.50, plus $2,172.50 destination fee.
It’s the SH-AWD Elite part that makes this car worth it.
SH-AWD is a package and it stands for Super Handling – All-Wheel-Drive.
This system distributes torque seamlessly between front and rear axles (up to 90 per cent up front, up to 70 per cent in rear) and up to 100 per cent of the torque sent to the rear can be applied to either wheel.
But part of the package includes a 3.5-litre, direct injection single cam V6 producing 290 hp and 267 lb/ft of torque with a nine-speed dual clutch automatic transmission.
The Elite Package packs in goodies such as eight-way power seat for the front passenger, front and rear parking sensors with surround-view camera system and auto-dimming side mirrors.
Then there is the A-Spec Package with special 19-inch alloy wheels and a host of trim items such as A-Spec front and lower fascias, mesh grille, side sill garnish, steering wheel, black roof liner, red interior accent lighting, and I could go on, but you get the picture.
The cabin is dominated by the dual touchscreen, but what I liked best were the tach and speedo with large faces with numbers to match plus a nice, meaty leather-wrapped steering wheel.
The driver’s seat is positioned with the pilot at the nexus of the controls – a Honda/Acura strong point.
I’m still getting used to the four-button (Park, Reverse, Neutral, Drive) transmission shift gear, which I previously encountered this year on the MDX.
At the rear of the shifter is a button marked “Dynamic Mode” that allows the driver to change from the “Normal” setting to “Sport” to increase steering feel and quicken throttle response. On SH-AWD models, the system more aggressively distributes power to the outside wheels in a curve.
The surround-view camera is great fun to play with, but where it really comes in handy is when nosing into a parking spot and seeing the curbstone so as not to damage the lower fascia.
Another plus is the LaneWatch camera facing rearward on the bottom of the passenger side mirror.
When you switch on the right turn signal a view of what’s behind is shown on the upper screen. When it comes to passing and getting back into the lane, it beats blind spot alerts hands down.
The 3.5-litre is perhaps the smoothest running V6 in the industry and now with 290 hp and a slick shifting nine-speed dual clutch, the TLX A-Spec is downright quick.
Also Read: Infiniti Q50 Luxury Sedans Enhanced for 2018
Traction control and pitch/yaw stabilization ensure there is no drama at launch, but you’ll feel yourself being pressed back into the seat at full bore.
I put a lot of distance on the TLX A-Spec, much of it on secondary highways where the SH-AWD made for remarkable steering and response when I pushed it.
After several days, I reluctantly returned the TLX A-Spec, which had shown me that Acura has put together a mid-size performance sedan with all the right stuff.
If you’re in the market for this type of car and have been thinking European, the 2018 Acura TLX A-Spec might just make you think again.
2018 Acura TLX A-Spec Elite
BODY STYLE: Mid-size luxury/performance sedan
DRIVE METHOD: All-wheel-drive with nine-speed dual clutch automatic transmission
ENGINE: 3.5-litre, direct injection SOHC (290 hp), 267 lb ft torque
FUEL ECONOMY: (Premium) 12.0/8.2/10.3L/100 km, city/highway/highway
CARGO: 405 litres
TOW RATING: Not recommended
PRICE: $53,207.50 not including $2,172.50 destination fee
WEB SITE: www.acura.ca