Acura TLX Test Drive.

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The new Acura TLX is a great-looking sedan in the flesh. 
The RWD proportions look fantastic. And the overall design is much simpler and cohesive than the RDX. It also does look more upscale than the Honda Accord. (as it should)
The version I was driving for a week is the SH-AWD with the Advance package. So it is the loaded model for $48 300. Or about $10 000 more than the basic FWD TLX.

The interior is one of the best I have experienced in a long time. You are just surrounded by high-quality materials everywhere you look. With beautifully finished details. (The open-pore wood/metal trim on the console is just fantastic)
The general setup is reminiscent of the RDX, with a prominent driving mode switch in the middle. And the infotainment trackpad on the console. But the whole thing sits much lower and gives the interior a much more open feel.
The front seats look a feel great. With tons of adjustment (At least on the Advance model) Although they might feel a bit tight for some larger people. As no matter how I adjusted it, I could always feel the side bolsters being a little bit tight and was wondering how comfortable that would be for someone of larger stature.
Acura’s trackpad system and the lack of a touch screen takes a few minutes to master.  But it’s actually quite amazing. And you can even configure the main screen to just display your favorite radio stations if you want. AM, FM, and Sirius. All on one screen. Which ends up being very convenient.
As usual, Acura’s high-end stereo (ELS 17 speaker system in my test car) is just amazing . And one of the best I have ever heard.
A convenient volume knob is located on the console. easily available to both driver and passenger.
The rear seat was a bit of a surprise, As it is not as roomy as expected. The legroom is a bit tight for a car this size. I was able to fit behind myself, but anyone taller than me would have a problem ( I am just 5’11”)
Strange for a FWD based car. There is less room back there than in the Honda Accord. Or the RWD Cadillac CT-5 I was driving a few weeks ago. (The Acura is actually about an inch longer than the CT-5.
While the Accord is a bit longer than both.)
The trunk is really roomy, and the rear seats fold flat. But the actual opening of that trunk is pretty small. Due to the slick fastback design. So it is actually hard (and sometimes not even possible) to get large packages in. Even if they could technically fit inside. These super-slick fastback sedans should really have a hatchback…

The first thing you notice when you start the car is how super quiet and smooth the engine is. 
The 2.0 Liter is even quieter than in the Accord. And actually quieter than the 3.0 Liter V6 in the Cadillac CT-5.
Only when pushed hard do you really notice it. It is not on par with a silky 6 cylinder of course. But as far as 4 cylinders go, this is one of the smoothest and quietest around.
The 10-speed auto is also very well behaved. Quite a different experience from the 3.0 Liter CT-5 where you can hear every shift in an attempt to sound and feel sporty. The TLX has a pure luxury feel. 
In the Comfort Driving mode, the car is really luxurious. With a very smooth ride. And you just basically feel like driving it like a luxury car. The steering is light and precise, everything feels very solid and the ride is very quiet.
In sport mode, the steering has of course a much firmer feel. But the ride isn’t that much different. That sport mode also comes with a fake exhaust sound. While it seems much more natural than the one in the Honda Insight, it can still be a bit annoying after a while. 
The transmission also gets a bit sharper in the Sport mode,  and there is always plenty of power. 
I think it actually has more power than most people will ever need in this car. 

The Acura TLX AWD is rated at 21/29 MPG. I achieved around 18/19MPG around town. Which is fine for a powerful mid-sized luxury sedan.
But I easily got 34/35MPG on the highway most of the time. Which is excellent.
I also think Acura could find a way to use a version (with a bit more power) of Honda’s excellent Hybrid system as an option in the TLX. 
(I easily got 50MPG in the Accord Hybrid last year.) 

The Acura TLX is an excellent luxury sedan. Many have compared it to the Honda Accord, but Acura has been able to make the TLX a very different car. 
It truly feels much more upscale and luxurious than a loaded Accord. 
There is always plenty of smooth and quiet power available. The ride (in comfort mode) is extremely smooth.  Everything feels rock solid. The low dashboard gives it a very nice open feel. Reminiscent of older Honda”Acura models. Which is great.
This is just a very refined car that is a pleasure to drive.
I am actually curious to see how the base model is. With a lesser stereo system, and a non-adjustable ride
At $ 48 300, the TLX is much cheaper than its similar-sized competition from Germany. (An Audi A6 starts at around $55 000!)
But it is quite close to the Cadillac CT-5. End a bit less than the new Genesis GV80 or the revised Jaguar XF (Now starting at $45 000)
This is really a great car that deserves an audience. I am afraid that Acura is pushing the sporty side too much in the way they advertise the TLX.
 The upcoming Type S will be sporty enough for those who want “sporty”.
As it is the new TLX is a wonderful luxury car at a great price. 

Conversation 13 comments

  1. I just don't like that center stack. Why are the transmission controls so large and prominently placed? They seem to take up a lot of real estate in the dash. And a track pad to operate the screen? How does that work at speed? Over bumps?

    I agree that this car looks so much better in person. In photos it almost doesn't look much different that the previous TLX. But in person you can really see how wide it is and the RWD proportions. When is Acura going to cave and just give us a real RWD chassis?

  2. Vince, having myself also seeing one in the flesh a couple weeks ago, I couldn't agree more. It has a very low, wide, and sleek appearance that isn't accurately translated in photos. I haven't yet sat in one, but the interior design looks to easily be best in it's very respective class. Packaging is another story entirely however. It was definitely sacrificed at the expense of design. If it was my decision however, I would still have a difficult time choosing between a base TLX and an Accord Touring 2.0T. I would probably lean toward the more practical Accord, pending a test drive.

  3. The center of the dash looks…..well hung.

    Yeah, First thought I had. Once seen, it can't be unseen.

  4. I always thought the TLX competed against the Audi A4 and Genesis G70? Has it changed classes entirely just because it's larger. By the way, the GV80 is an SUV. Of course I know you know that.

  5. I just don't see why you need to spend $55,000 more on an over-engineered mid-size German that will be both unreliable and expensive to fix after warranty. I feel like the only two entries in this segment is this and the Genesis G80. The Volvo V60 is pretty decent too but it's been out for a while.

  6. Sorry about the GV80. Of course, I meant the G80 sedan.

    As for competing with the A4/G70. I am not sure why. The Acura is basically the same size as an E-Class/5 series and A6.
    It is about 10 inches longer than a C-Class. The Acura also has more power than a base E-Class, BMW 5 Series, or Audi A6.

    I don't see why people still compare the TLX to smaller, less powerful cars.

    I also agree 100% about spending $55 000 (Base price) on unreliable German cars…

  7. The TLX is compared to "smaller, less powerful cars" because it is classified by EPA as a compact sedan. And it shows as evident by the smallish interior for a relatively large sedan.

  8. They shouldn't have been so cheap with the cost cutting in some visual areas.. such as look at the picture that has both front and rear door panels.. rear panel same design but wood trim missing

  9. Oh Acura (Honda). Still lost IMO. Sure, (great?) quality and engineering. Mid-size body but competes with compacts and not favorably (C Class, 3 Series, A4, G70 all do better). I miss the Honda of the 80's and 90's when they were benchmark. Hyundai and Genesis now more exciting!

  10. As nice of an effort as this is, I see a lot of recent Mazda in the long hood, sort of RWD, and slightly too short rear cabin proportions. The CX-5 suffers from this same look, as do most current Volvos. I'm guessing the next Mazda6 will also have this look, and in moving upscale will be prime competition for the TLX.. but unfortunately for Acura, the 6 will actually be RWD.

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