For 2015, Acura has introduced the TLX sedan to replace the larger TL and the smaller TSX, aiming to compete with the classic BMW 3-series in the midsize luxury sedan class.
The new TLX comes down between the outgoing models on the same longer wheelbase as the TL, but with shorter overhangs to trim the massive appearance. TLX is wider than the TSX and narrower than the TL, while maintaining the interior space of the TL.
Acura also does away with the more powerful 3.7-liter V-6 engine of the TL, and replaces it with a more fuel-efficient 3.5-liter V-6. Horsepower is also in the middle, at 290, up from TSX’s 280 but down from TL’s 305. There is also a base 2.4-liter four-cylinder that produces 206 horsepower.
Cylinder deactivation and idle stop/start also help boost fuel economy to 24 mpg city/35 highway for the base TLX with the four-cylinder; 21/34 for the TLX V-6; and 21/31 for the TLX V-6 SH-AWD model.
The new engine stop/start system operates seamlessly, with no perceived “clunk,” no noticeable change in sound and no hesitation on acceleration.
Three basic versions are offered: front-drive, four-cylinder; front-drive six-cylinder; and all-wheel-drive, six-cylinder. Additions and changes bring the total number of models offered to seven. Prices range from $31,445 to $44,800.
Super Handling All Wheel Drive modifications are offered on the 3.5 models with either a Technology Package or an Advance Package, which adds $2,200.
The Technology Package comes with either the four- or six-cylinder engine,coupled with an all-new eight-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission, and includes the Acura Navigation System with 3D view, Acura/ELS Studio Premium Audio System with hard-disk-drive media storage and 10 speakers, Forward Collision Warning system, Lane Keeping Assist System, Lane Departure Warning, and Forward Collision Warning.
TLX’s Advance Package comes with the V-6 coupled with an all-new nine-speed automatic transmission with steering-wheel-mounted shifter paddles, and adds the Road Departure Mitigation System, heated and ventilated front seats, remote engine start with vehicle feedback, adaptive cruise control with low-speed follow, and a Collision
Mitigation Braking System with head-up warning.
Adaptive cruise control maintains a safe distance (programmed by the driver) between vehicles, speeding up and slowing down according to traffic flow. Lane keeping holds the vehicle between the lines, with audible warnings and gentle nudges to the steering wheel. In theory, the car could drive itself on straight roads or roads with gentle curves.
The nine-speed transmission is connected to a pushbutton shifter on all-wheel-drive models. The buttons aren’t as intuitive as a shift lever, and no space is saved on the center console. Shifting is quick and smooth, however, and performance is sharpened in Sport -Plus mode. All models have the Integrated Dynamics System with four drive
modes: Econ, Normal, Sport, and Sport-Plus.
Each model builds on the previous, adding or replacing features. The top model – TLX 3.5 V-6 Advance, which I tested – also had some exclusive features and Super Handling All Wheel Drive, which replaced Precision All Wheel Steer. In the event of understeer, SH-AWD sends power to the inside front wheel and the outside rear wheel and forces the car to rotate even in the midst of the understeer.
Precision All-Wheel Steer (P-AWS) is the first system that enables the rearwheels to adjust toe angles independently of each other. Working in concert with the Agile Handling Assist system, which applies braking to front and rear wheels on the inside of the turn, P-AWS helps enhance vehicle stability, maneuverability and control and works best in tight corners at moderate speeds.
P-AWS and SH-AWD work imperceptively, but I was aware of increased confidence in sharp turns where understeer might be a problem at excessive speed.
My tester was Slate Silver Metallic, with Graystone leather interior, fauxwood and satin-finish metal trim, riding on five-split-spoke 18-inch machine-finished aluminum-alloy wheels. There are seven exterior colors available, including Graphite Luster Metallic and intriguing Black Copper Pearl, and four interior colors – depending on the exterior color chosen – including Espresso and Parchment.
There was plenty of headroom and legroom in the front (37.2 inches/42.6 inches) and the seats were very comfortable. Passengers in the rear had adequate headroom (36.7 inches) but less legroom (34.5 inches), although the outboard seats were equally comfortable.
The cabin was quiet and the ride was comfortable though slightly firm. New acoustic foam around the A-pillars, noise-blocking panels in the doors and stronger door seals upped the quiet factor.
Standard features on all TLX models include power moon roof; Jewel Eye LED headlights; LED-illuminated taillights, brake lights, side mirror-integrated signal lights, rear license and Center High Mount Stop Light; acoustic glass windshield; remote-operated windows and moon roof-open function; cap-less fuel lid; dual-zone, adaptive automatic climate control with humidity control and air filtration; keyless-access system with smart entry, pushbutton ignition and Acura personalized settings; power windows with auto-up/down, auto-reverse and key-off operation; driver’s 10-way power seat with power lumbar support; heated front seats; 60/40 split fold-down rear seatback; tilt and telescopic steering column; leather-wrapped steering wheel; steering wheel-mounted controls for cruise, audio, phone, Multi-Information Display and available voice recognition; and connectivity pocket with sliding tray.
All models also come with active sound control; ambient cabin lighting; automatic-dimming rearview mirror; retained accessory power for windows and moon roof; two 12-volt power outlets; Siri Eyes Free, SMS, MMS text message and email capability; on-demand multi-use display; Bluetooth HandsFreeLink; Aha, Pandora, SiriusXM, Bluetooth streaming audio, USB, MP3/auxiliary input jack; speed-sensitive volume; Homelink; compass; and maintenance minder.
Standard safety features include multi-view rear camera with dynamic guidelines; Honda’s ACE body structure; and dual-stage multiple- threshold front air bags, side-curtain air bags, and driver’s knee air bag.
All models also include hill-start assist, electric parking brake with automatic brake hold, cruise control, auto-on/off headlights with wiper integration, heated side mirrors with reverse-gear tilt-down, LED daytime running lights, tire-pressure monitoring and fill assist, tire sealant and repair kit, expanded-view driver’s mirror, and a theft-deterrent system with electronic immobilizer.
In addition to the Advance package, my tester had GPS-linked climate control,sport seats with perforated leather, eight-way power front passenger seat, Song By Voice; rain-sensing wipers; blind-spot information, rear cross-traffic monitor, AcuraLink Real-Time Traffic with exclusive street and freeway conditions and Traffic Rerouting, and color multi-information display with turn-by-turn guidance.
My top-of-the-line TLX Advance also came with front and rear parking sensors, auto-dimming side mirrors, road-departure mitigation system, front seatbelt e-pretensioner system, LED fog lights, and puddle lights. Navigation, climate and audio systems were mainly controlled using buttons on the center stack to select functions to display on the lower touch screen. Multiple functions, divided into multiple folders, made programming and retrieving time consuming and often frustrating.
The base price for my TLX was $44,800; with $920 freight, total sticker price was $45,720.
The automotive columns of Emma Jayne Williams have appeared regularly in the Star-Telegram since 2007. Contact her at email@example.com.