“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
“With four distinct trim levels, the Chrysler 200 can match the wherewithal of many pocketbooks while employing the latest in safety and technology to deliver an affordable upscale driving experience…”
by Rob Rothwell
You can pay a fortune for a premium brand but you needn’t break the bank to buy wheels with style.
Chrysler 200 (starting MSRP $19,945)
Chrysler stunned the marketplace with the introduction of its completely new 200 Sedan, resetting benchmarks for style, panache, and performance within a fiercely competitive segment. And with a starting MSRP of just $19,945, the 200 undercuts many of its competitors, yet its real strength is found in its range of trim levels and power options. The base engine is a 2.4L four-cylinder affair that feeds 184 horsepower to the front wheels through a segment-exclusive nine-speed automatic transmission. Going upscale in the 200 brings with it Chrysler’s powerful 295 horsepower Pentastar 3.6L V6 engine paired with the nine-speed autobox and all-wheel-drive traction. Standard features include eight airbags, Keyless Enter ‘n Go, and Chrysler’s Uconnect 3.0 multimedia centre. Options include Blind Spot Monitoring, Adaptive Cruise Control with Stop and Go, Forward Collision Warning with Active Braking, and Active Park Assist. With four distinct trim levels, the Chrysler 200 can match the wherewithal of many pocketbooks while employing the latest in safety and technology to deliver an affordable upscale driving experience.
2.4L I-4 10.2L/6.4L100km city/highway
3.6L V6 12.4L/7.5L100km city/highway
Acura TLX (base MSRP $34,900)
The four-door Acura TLX Sedan replaces the former TSX and TL sport sedans, merging their respective strengths into a single product positioned as the brand’s mid-level contender. With a base sticker of $34,900, the TLX delivers plenty of sport-inspired luxury built around a 206 horsepower 2.4L four-cylinder power plant fused to an eight-speed automatic transmission. Propulsion is directed frontward unless the V6 Technology Package and Acura’s Super-Handling All-Wheel-Drive system with torque vectoring are opted for. In which case, all four wheels share in 290 horsepower produced by the 3.5L SOHC i-VTEC mill. A sophisticated nine-speed automatic transmission further contributes to the engaging performance of the V6-powered TLX. In addition to a more rigid body structure, the TLX provides increased safety and collision avoidance with the use of technology such as Jewel Eye LED headlights, Lane Departure Warning, Forward Collision Warning, and Blind Spot Information with Cross Traffic Warning. Comfort and convenience essentials include the availability of premium 10-speaker audio along with voice-activated navigation.
2.4L I-4 9.6L/6.6L/100km city/highway
3.5L V6 11.2L/6.9L/100km city/highway
Audi A3 (base MSRP $31,100)
Looking remarkably like the highly successful Audi A4 Sedan despite casting a shadow 245mm shorter, the new A3 Sedan is sure to capture the attention of entry-level Audi buyers that scorn the A3’s hatchback design despite the vehicle’s praiseworthy driving dynamics and general practicality. Pricing for the new A3 Sedan starts at $31,100 with the 170 horsepower 1.8L TFSI I-4 power plant turning the front wheels through the auspices of Audi’s six-speed S tronic automatic gearbox. Upping the ante to $35,900 secures a 220 horsepower 2.0L TFSI I-4 connected to all four corners via Audi’s quattro all-wheel-drive technology. Diesel power is also available in the A3 Sedan, though paired only with front-wheel-drive. Option combinations include Audi’s Styling Package, Navigation Package, and their sport-oriented S line Package. Audi has always been a technology leader, and the A3 Sedan shares in that reputation with a vast array of onboard safety and protection systems.
Fuel Economy: TBD
Mercedes-Benz C 300 Sedan – C400 Sedan (base MSRP C 300 $43,000 – C400 $51,400)
Despite slotting beneath the venerable E-Class in the Mercedes-Benz hierarchy of sedans, the new C-Class Sedan takes on a notably formal appearance and a more upscale demeanor for 2015. It’s also lighter and more powerful thanks to the extensive use of aluminum and a pair of revised engines. The C 300 receives a turbocharged 2.0L I-4 power plant capable of 241 horsepower. Need more oomph? A 3.0L twin-turbo V6 places 329 horsepower under the hood of the C 400. Both engines feed all four wheels through Mercedes-Benz’s 4MATIC all-wheel-drive technology. The sole use of 4MATIC is a Canadian-market exclusive. Along with new sheet metal and a lavishly-appointed cabin, the C-Class is equipped with the latest generation of COMMAND by Mercedes-Benz. This highly sophisticated infotainment/navigation system is lifted directly from the S-Class flagship. Audiophiles will appreciate the availability of Burmester surround-sound audio components, which are hand-made in Germany.
C 300 10.9L/7.5L/100km city/highway
C 400 11.1L/8.4L/100km city/highway
BMW 228i – M235i (base MSRP 228i $36,000 – M235i $48,750)
Reminiscent of the legendary 1968 BMW 2002 Coupe, today’s 228i and M235i Coupes combine the outstanding driving dynamics of the stubby BMW 1-Series Coupe, which they replace, with a sleeker, more aggressive interpretation of the iconic brand’s ethos. The 228i is the tamer of the pair, but with 241 horsepower and 258 lb.-ft. of torque, its 2.0L twin-turbocharged I-4 engine delivers highly spirited performance nonetheless. If outright exhilaration is the target, the M235i is the ticket. Its twin-turbocharged 3.0L I-6 mill produces 322 horsepower and 332 lb.-ft. of endless torque. For true driver-oriented motoring, both vehicles can be fitted with a 6-speed manual gearbox in place of the new 8-speed automatic transmission. BMW’s xDrive all-wheel-drive traction is also available, but can only be paired with the automatic transmission. With the availability of a manual gearbox backed by a choice of turbocharged power plants, the new BMW 2-Series may just be the “ultimate driving machine.”
228i 9.1L/5.6L/100km city/highway
M235i 11.2L/7.1L/100km city/highway
If you’re in a car that you don’t connect with, everyday routine can be even more arduous than it has to be…
Bryan Hourt, Acura’s Assistant Large Project Leader – Vehicle Performance tells of his upbringing on a ranch in Northwest Nebraska.
Appropriately, he talks about horsepower.
He explains that when you connect with the animal, getting on with life’s daily tasks is so much easier. If you’re out of sync with your horse, you have to work twice as hard at what you’re doing since you have to think for both yourself and it.
In one situation, you enjoy yourself and get more done without having to micromanage. In another, it’s just exhausting.
The latter of the two can be likened to driving. If you’re in a car that you don’t connect with, everyday routine can be even more arduous than it has to be. Its quirks rub you the wrong way. All the time.
But, if you love your car, if you know exactly what it’s going to do in any given situation, and you trust it, life on the road is so much better.
Enter the 2015 Acura TLX. It blends another type of horsepower, with grace and poise.
When I slipped inside the cabin of the all-new TLX, pushed the start button, then selected the “D” button on the centre console, and drove off, confidence was apparent from the get go.
It’s a vehicle that was designed with performance in mind from the ground up. Furthermore, its chassis features a newly designed four-wheel independent suspension system, a great system to help you enjoy the country roads in Middleburg, Virginia, or in the chaos of urban life.
It’s tame at slower speeds – it has very good table manners – but has the ability to take on higher speed challenges without breaking a sweat.
I might have taken a corner or two relatively swiftly, but the steering feel, and its ability to maintain composure in a turn was quite impressive.
Not to mention, each model comes with what’s called IDS, or Acura’s Integrated Dynamics System.
This feature allows drivers to customize their driving experience through four selectable modes – ECON, Normal, Sport and Sport+. Depending on which setting you’re using, Acura says, “IDS will adjust power-steering effort, throttle response, transmission shift logic, HVAC system operation, and the control logic for either the P-AWS or SH-AWD systems. The new Sport+ mode, a first for Acura, unlocks the full performance potential of the TLX with the most aggressive settings in all areas.”
Whether you want that extra bit of gusto, or you are driving around town, the TLX has a mode for you!
Three TLX models will be offered. The first comes with a 2.4-litre, i-VTEC inline-4 engine with an 8-speed Dual Clutch Transmission (8DCT) with torque converter, and Precision All-Wheel Steer (P-AWS). It has an output of 206 horsepower and 182 lb-ft of torque.
Then there’s a trim with a 3.5-litre, i-VTEC V6 engine with a 9-speed automatic transmission and P-AWS. That produces 290 horsepower and 267 lb-ft of torque, and gets 10 more horsepower and 13 more lb-ft of torque versus the 2014 TL 3.5-litre engine.
Lastly, there’s the TLX SH-AWD with next-generation Super-Handling All-Wheel Drive, available only with the 3.5-litre, 290 horsepower V6 and 9-speed automatic.
Eventually, both the TSX and TL will be succeeded by the TLX. It makes sense. Dimensionally, the TLX will be positioned between the ILX entry-luxury sedan and the RLX flagship Acura sedan. There’s room for five, 405L of cargo room around back and many places to store your personal items.
Sure there are sportier offerings in the segment. The new Mercedes-Benz C-Class is one of them. So is the Audi A4. But what works for the TLX is its understated elegance. It’s very pleasant to drive, and with a centre stack that’s been stripped of unnecessary buttons, it’s a lot more user friendly to work with.
Granted, I’m still not a fan of its front-end styling. Yes, the signature Jewel Eye headlights are a very nice touch, but the grille just doesn’t do it for me.
Front-end looks aside, I’d describe my experience in both the 4 and 6 cylinder TLXs to be pleasant. Not the bad pleasant, the kind of adjective you use to describe a mother in-law or awkward coworker. But pleasant in the way that it’s quiet, does the job well and is a pleasure to drive.
The 2015 TLX has a starting MSRP for the 4-cylinder engine at $34,990.
Visit www.acura.ca for more info.