“Credit must go to Acura for making a new, totally different kind of car.”
Acura has replaced two cars in its fleet with just one – gone are the (old) TLX and TL, replaced by the TLX.
This car is offered with a wide array of engine and transmission choices in front wheel drive (FWD) or all wheel drive (AWD). The price starts at $34,990 and runs up to $49,642, which means it will appeal to a wide range of buyers.
The TLX is based on the Honda Accord and comes with a base 4-cylinder engine with FWD and all-wheel steering. This model also comes with an all-new 8-speed duel clutch automatic. Then the V6 equipped cars can be ordered with FWD and all wheel steering or AWD. This is where it gets confusing; the AWD cars come with a different, 9-speed automatic.
To be honest, taking two cars and mashing them into one is beyond confusion.
The length of the TLX is shorter than both the older cars but the wheelbase is longer than the TLX and the same as the old TL. Acura has stuck with the shield grille design that has received much criticism over the years. However, it toned down the blunt and edgy look of the grille and incorporated tasty looking duel LED headlamps, yet another signature of the brand.
The front and rear overhangs are nice and tight making this car look compact and athletic. Wheel sizes range from 17-inches to 18-inches depending on the trim level. All models come with a rear view camera and higher trim levels are fitted with a cross-traffic monitoring system that alerts the driver of incoming traffic when backing out of a parking spot.
Acura and Honda are moving towards a two-screen centre console for radio and entertainment information and navigation and backup camera capabilities. This looks first rate but it can take a while to master the quirks of the system.
The rest of the cabin is covered in soft-touch materials, first rate fit and finish and a sporty design that is eye catching. Cars equipped with the optional 9-speed transmission get a different shift controller in the between the seats. This is unique take on something that has been working perfectly well for decades. Sometimes change for change sake is not better. The rear of the TLX isn’t the biggest in the mid-size class; cars like the VW Passat dwarf the legroom in the TLX. The base model comes with faux leather and heated front seats. A tech package is optional and it includes a heated steering wheel and heated rear seats, features that come standard on the Tech package V6 model.
The base engine is a 2.4L direct injection 4-cylinder with 206hp and all the power goes to the front wheels though an all-new 8-speed duel clutch automatic. In addition FWD models of both the base 4-cylinder and V6 equipped cars gets Acura’s Precision All Wheel Steering (PAWS) system as standard equipment. This actually turns the rear wheels, ever so slightly, for slow speed maneuvering or high-speed stability. The V6 is a 290hp 3.5L unit with an optional AWD system that replaces the PAWS system. This model also gets ta different 9-speed ZF automatic that is shared other automakers like Chrysler and Range Rover. This is the car I test drove and it radically changes the character of the TLX compared to the old TL AWD. The transmission wants to shift to the highest gear possible to conserve fuel but the downside is the more sedate driving experience. The more powerful 3.7L found in the TL is no longer offered. The TLX feels solid and capable but very different from the older cars it replaces. Don’t expect more of the same; this is a whole new product.
Credit must go to Acura for making a new, totally different kind of car. The TLX is nothing like the cars it replaces, which is good and bad. There is certainly a lot packed into all trim levels and at a price that is attractive but sometimes change has one yearning for the good old days. The 4-cylinder cars provide a gateway into the premium experience but buyers might want to try the beautiful V6 equipped Honda Accord as a reference; it might actually be a better buy. The V6 cars, especially the AWD model is not nearly as responsive as the old car. It doesn’t feel as solid or as performance oriented as the last car and the 9-speed automatic can feel very busy at times. The biggest problem will be telling customers what this car is. There are so many different engine, transmission and packages that it could confuse the customer.
Power: 2.4L 4-cylinder with 209hp or 3.5L V6 with 290hp
Fill-up: 11.2L/7.5L/100km (city/highway V6 AWD)
Sticker price: $34,990-$49,642