Judged alone, the 2018 Acura TLX is a fairly good luxurious sedan. It is moderately highly effective, quiet and well-appointed and its obtainable SH-AWD choice is a improbable efficiency all-wheel drive system.
Sadly for the TLX, it would not exist in a vacuum. It lives proper in the course of the midsize premium-to-luxury sedan section the place it faces stiff competitors from the likes of Infiniti, Lexus, BMW, Audi and extra. Even manufacturers like Mazda and Honda are stepping their sport up and edging into the premium sedan market, slowly encroaching on the TLX’s territory. Amongst these ever extra quite a few friends, the Acura has a more durable time standing out.
But it surely places up a valiant struggle with this 2018 mid-cycle refresh with a stable loadout of ordinary tech and driver help options, some stable upgrades within the type of an A-Spec efficiency package deal and a price that is arduous to disregard.
290 horsepower V6
The TLX comes normal with a 206-horsepower 2.Four-liter four-cylinder engine making 182 pound-feet of torque and mated to an Eight-speed twin clutch transmission that additionally encompasses a torque converter to easy out round city efficiency. The four-banger is a front-wheel drive solely affair and the most effective worth within the lineup beginning at $33,000.
Nevertheless, when you’ve gone to the difficulty of selecting the 2018 TLX over the 2018 Honda Accord, you are in all probability right here for the V6. Test that field to step as much as a 290 horsepower six-cylinder engine mated to a 9-speed automated transmission with both front-wheel drive and rear-wheel steering or with Acura’s Tremendous Dealing with All-wheel Drive (SH-AWD) system. Our instance featured the latter.
290 horsepower is a reasonably vital benefit on-paper and on-the-road over the TLX’s competitors, most of which have stepped right down to turbocharged four-cylinders when priced competitively with the V6’s $36,200 (or $38,200 with SH-AWD) place to begin. Nevertheless, in every day driving it would not actually really feel way more highly effective, partially because of the engine’s reluctance to rev and partially to transmission, which is sort of a enjoyable damper except you’re taking issues into your individual arms with the paddle shifter.
At 267 pound-feet, the V6 has a easy torque supply that is good for relaxed driving, however the turbo-fours that the competitors has switched to are likely to make extra torque at decrease RPMs and rev extra freely, which additionally considerably explains the Acura’s much less energetic avenue efficiency.
There are numerous “Built-in Dynamic System” driving modes — Econ, Regular, Sport and Sport+ — that alter the efficiency of the transmission, steering, throttle response and all-wheel drive system, however I struggled to actually really feel a lot distinction between the modes beneath most circumstances.
The TLX V6 SH-AWD is estimated by the EPA to cruise for a mixed 24 mpg (21 metropolis and 30 freeway). The addition of the A-Spec upgrades to our tester prices the sedan an mpg throughout the board, bringing the mixed estimate down to only 23 mpg. These aren’t terribly spectacular numbers and extra price acutely aware TLX patrons ought to at the very least think about the the four-cylinder mannequin’s slight financial system benefit at 27 mpg mixed (23 metropolis and 33 freeway).
A-Spec efficiency package deal
Our TLX featured the A-Spec efficiency and styling package deal obtainable to each the entrance and all-wheel drive V6 fashions. Along with A-Spec badging in and out, the package deal provides darkish exterior trim, distinctive entrance and rear bumpers, bigger exhaust suggestions and purple accents across the cabin.
On the efficiency facet, A-Spec fashions function bigger 19-inch wheels shod with meatier 245mm broad tires. The suspension will get stiffer springs with firmer dampers and the rear stabilizer bars are beefier to assist stop roll when cornering.
Should you’ve opted for front-wheel drive, then the P-AWS rear steering will get amped as much as kick in sooner and extra aggressively. Go for SH-AWD like we did and the entrance steering will get beefed up for a faster ratio and a heavier on-center really feel.
General, the A-Spec fashions ought to really feel tighter, firmer and extra responsive than the usual suspension, however even with the upgrades the TLX felt delicate and indifferent from the street beneath it. On the freeway, numb steering and the broad tires’ tendency to observe ruts within the street meant I needed to work arduous to only preserving the sedan centered in my lane. Tucking into a fast lane change or squeezing a bit of additional pace out of an off-ramp was satisfying sufficient, however the TLX principally felt too mushy to take the A-Spec designation too critically.
Tremendous Dealing with All-Wheel Drive
My opinion of the 2018 TLX’s efficiency actually turned a nook, so to talk, after I acquired it away from the boulevards and interstates and chucked it into a couple of hilly corners. It was right here that I acquired a really feel for the way the SH-AWD system creates a reasonably participating and dynamic journey.
Even the SH-AWD geared up TLX mannequin encompasses a front-wheel-biased torque break up. There’s at all times some energy heading to the rear wheels, however beneath most cruising circumstances the lion’s share of obtainable torque flows via the entrance wheels. When accelerating or if slip is detected, the SH-AWD system can ship as much as 70-percent of the obtainable torque to the rear and, when turning, it might probably torque vector to 100-percent of that rear grunt laterally to both rear wheel. That is the magic of the SH-AWD system.
When cornering arduous, the TLX actively shifts energy to the skin rear wheel, rotating the sedan actively into the flip moderately than letting the nostril push out into understeer. Which means I might preserve extra pace and regular throttle via most turns moderately than slowing to keep away from understeer. Choose the suitable gear with the paddles to take the transmission’s bizarre shift program out of the equation and you have got a efficiency formulation that is surprisingly grin-inducing. At the least, as much as a sure level…
Push too arduous and the TLX’s weight and scale begin to grow to be extra and evident. It is a large gal and the SH-AWD system can solely accomplish that a lot earlier than physics steps in and tells you to calm proper on down by pouring on all of that understeer that SH-AWD had been cancelling out. Plus, there is a good little bit of physique roll and pitch when driving with zest, even with the A-Spec upgrades. And although the steering is kind of responsive, it would not provide a lot in the way in which of suggestions.
I feel Roadshow’s Chris Paukert put it greatest when he mentioned that “it might be robust to label the TLX a sport sedan.”
On Demand Multi-use Show 2.zero
Maybe the largest enchancment to this mid-cycle refresh of the TLX is the second-generation On Demand Multi-use Show (ODMD) infotainment stack. This two-screen setup options a big 7-inch display screen under and a bigger Eight-inch show up prime.
It is an okay setup. The decrease display screen is a capacitive contact show and residential to the audio supply menus and local weather controls. The higher display screen is managed with a bodily management knob positioned on the backside of the middle stack and residential to the remainder of the infotainment capabilities together with navigation and normal Android Auto and Apple CarPlay connectivity. The onboard maps and voice command work nicely and total the menu system has been simplified and optimized. Acura claims the software program is now 30% sooner than the final era.
However “okay” is hardly a glowing overview; I’ve acquired a fairly a couple of nits to choose. For starters, displaying the Android Auto and Apple CarPlay interfaces on the higher display screen means drivers must work together with them utilizing the bodily controller which is clunky and simply horrible. I might have most popular to see them on the decrease display screen the place I might use them extra naturally with touchscreen, however Acura actually needed to maintain the navigation maps up prime.
Talking of the bodily controller, I do not prefer it. The bizarre positioning on the base of the dashboard is awkward ergonomically and its proximity to the decrease show and resemblance to an enormous quantity knob created all types of confusion over the primary few days. I might find yourself zooming the map after I needed to regulate the quantity or wanting on the mistaken display screen for a second after tapping the Settings button.
I welcome the elevated performance and the refinements to this method and applaud Acura’s fixed efforts at enchancment. And having seen the only broad display screen of the following era MDX in Detroit earlier this yr, I do know that higher issues are on the horizon for the TLX when it will definitely will get a full redesign. For now, I am unable to assist feeling like they’re sharpening up a basically flawed infotainment system with two screens and two totally different management schemes.
AcuraWatch driver help tech
One space the place I’ve blessedly few complaints within the driver help division. The TLX will get a number of issues proper right here beginning with making the automaker’s AcuraWatch suite of superior driver help tech normal on all fashions.
Even when you get essentially the most primary four-cylinder mannequin, your TLX will function adaptive cruise management that works in cease and go site visitors, lane preserving steering help and ahead pre-collision alerts with auto-braking and pedestrian detection. Stepping as much as the Tech Bundle provides blind spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alerts whereas the highest Advance trim degree provides a encompass view digicam, which is extraordinarily useful when parking.
My solely actual nitpick right here is that often the lane departure system would warn me to place my arms on the wheel after they’d been there the entire time. I’ve had this occur on different Honda/Acura techniques whereas cruising on straight freeway segments and a lightweight wiggle of the wheel clears the alert. I am guessing possibly my contact is simply too mild for no matter torque sensor they’re utilizing to detect the motive force’s arms.
Not a foul alternative, however you might do higher
The 2018 Acura TLX A-Spec is a stable improve over the earlier mannequin yr. The dashboard tech is quicker and, because of the inclusion of Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, extra versatile. The A-Spec package deal barely sharpens the efficiency and the motive force help suite is extra full.
Nevertheless, that is only a mid-cycle refresh and plenty of of our points with this platform are nonetheless current right here. The twin-screen ODMD infotainment is in determined want of an overhaul, not simply an replace. The V6 engine is highly effective, nevertheless it’s additionally much less environment friendly and dynamic than a lot of its competitors.
Nonetheless, the TLX has one large benefit. Equally geared up, it is cheaper than the, and the competitors from Audi, Benz and Bimmer. The 2018 TLX begins at $33,000 for the four-cylinder and tops out at $45,750 for the V6 SH-AWD Advance earlier than vacation spot costs. Our V6 SH-AWD stickered at $44,800. Its a stable worth for an entry-level luxurious sedan.
Nevertheless, the TLX’s greatest competitors comes from inside its circle of relatives tree. For the cash, I feel I might moderately have a fully-loaded— a sentiment shared by many of the Roadshow workers. A Honda Accord Touring 2.0T boasts extra torque than the Acura’s V6, however with related gas financial system to the four-banger. It options the identical driver help tech however with a greater, easier dashboard. It seems to be much less polarizing and absolutely loaded it prices the identical $33,800 that the TLX begins at. In actual fact, the one goal benefit the Roadshow workers might agree that the TLX has over an Accord is the SH-AWD choice, which hardly appears value the price for many patrons.