Three years after its introduction onto the market and not content to rest on its laurels, the Acura is still making improvements to the TLX. Not that it needs them, necessarily. The TLX has been a reliable and viable option for near-luxury sedans since it's debut. But this is a fast-moving market with no room for error. The 2018 model is more dynamic. It has design tweaks that make it feel fresh and tech, safety, and comfort options that come standard. In a competitive market peppered with big names, the TLX finally stands out as its own sedan, beautiful inside and out. New touches make an already good drive a new experience, with an athletic bite inside of an elegant skin. What more do you want from a sedan?
How does the interior feel?
The TLX dash sports two interactive touch screens that are easy to use and quick to react. The top 8.0-inch display is recessed into the dash and is controlled with an ergonomic rotary knob while the lower screen is a tilted 7.0-inch touch control and is just as comfortable to use. They both have different roles to play, with the top screen in charge of navigation, the backup camera, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto systems and customizable settings and the bottom centered on climate control and radio. A radio with cd player comes as standard along with a seven-speaker system but can be upgraded to an HD radio ten speaker ELS studio system. Extras are in abundance if you are willing to pay for them, although the amount you spend is a reflection of cars in this class and in no way excessive. Heated steering wheels, ventilated front seats, heated rear seats, remote start, and wireless phone charging are all on offer in various packages and bundles that give the TLX a bespoke feel that punches way above its weight.
All this, and safety features?
Indeed! The comfortable driving experience is enhanced by the peace of mind with the addition of several driver aids that comes standard on the 2018 TLX. Driver fatigue has been greatly reduced thanks to standard features like adaptive cruise control, automatic high beams, front collision warning, front automatic emergency braking, lane departure warning, and lane keep assist. You can upgrade to the Technology package to add navigation, blind spot monitoring, and a cross traffic alert. There is an additional Advanced package that drivers can opt for, though the Technology package is a prerequisite: this gives the TLX power folding side mirrors, a surround view camera, and remote engine start with vehicle feedback. That should keep you out of trouble.
What's the engine like?
The 2018 has two powertrains available and make good use of advanced technology for improved performance over the 2017 model. The standard is a 2.4 liter inline four which produces 206hp and 182 lb-ft of torque, enough power for easy highway driving. It comes with an automatic eight-speed dual clutch, and the standard is front wheel drive only but does have a rear wheel steering system for added balance. The 2.4-litre engine is EPA rated among the best and is only within one mpg of class leaders: you'll get 33 mpg on the highway, 23 mpg in the city and a combined rating of 27 mpg. The second powertrain is a 3.5 liter V6 which bumps up to 290 hp and 267 lb-ft torque. Acura has rebuilt their ZF gearbox for the 3.5 liters and made it a super responsive nine gear automatic and, coupled with the standard front wheel drive system and rear wheel steering; it handles the extra power effortlessly. There is an option to upgrade to Acura's super handling all-wheel drive (SH-AWD) system which provides power individually to the wheels as its needed, which produces extra traction and handling. Fuel economy will have to improve on the 3.5 liter model in the future, standing as it does now at 29 highway/20 city/ 23 combined, but it's still a market standard ride for people looking for a reliable sedan.
So, how does it drive?
Acura markets the TLX as a sports sedan, but the drive quality of the car coupled with the comfort in the cabin drives the needle closer to a performance-type luxury sedan. It won't necessarily win any track races, but it's got enough kick for the sedan driver who likes a ride that doesn't feel stodgy. The standard in line 4 is quick off the line, quick on the highway and quick into your heart. The V6 ups the ante further, giving drivers a jolt of power that still feels comfortable. It's not quite exhilarating, but maybe that's ok: a car like the Acura TLX should give a taste of the forbidden but stop short of encouraging you to do anything too risky. The AWD system has a revised suspension tune with stiffer springs and a better steering system for a crisper response, but the standard is still a refined ride, supple and with smooth stopping. With all that engine and power, the TLX is one of the quietest sedans on the market, but it doesn't feel so disconnected that you lose sight of the ride itself. Overall it's quiet, quick and light on its feet, with touches that respond like a performance vehicle at a price point that you won't find anywhere else in its class.