By Shari Prymak
There was a time when Acura was well known for its robust lineup of formidable sport sedans. Cars like the TSX and TL sedan gained popularity thanks to their attractive combination of performance, luxury, and value for money. With consumer tastes shifting towards crossover SUVs, Acura’s sport sedan lineup has become a bit of a shadow of its former self. The latest, TLX, however, hopes to change that. Although it may be a bit of a minnow when compared to the sales dominating RDX and MDX crossovers, it offers Acura fans a taste of the brand’s former glory days when sedans ruled supreme.
Unlike Acura’s previous sport sedans which rode on modified versions of the Honda Accord platform, the TLX rides on an advanced architecture that’s unique to Acura. This gives the TLX a far more performance-driven focus when compared to the models that came before it. The TLX certainly has the look of a proper sports sedan with an attractive overall design. The A-Spec and Type-S trims are the sportiest looking variants with dark finish wheels, blacked-out trim, and a rear lip spoiler.
The interior too has a very sporty look to it with cool animated display graphics, and nicely sculpted steering wheel, and supportive sport seats. A-Spec models receive unique finishes such as a combination leather and ultra-suede seating material which has a nice look and feel to it. The rest of the materials are high quality and appropriately luxurious for a car of this type. The TLX receives Acura’s latest 10.2 inch infotainment system with the touchpad user interface. It’s a graphically impressive system with a responsive, well laid out menu structure, but it does take quite a bit of time to master and can be rather distracting to use on the move.
The standard TLX is powered by a turbocharged 2.0L 4-cylinder engine which produces a potent 272 horsepower and 280 lb-ft of torque. The engine comes matched to a 10-speed automatic transmission and Acura’s famous Super Handling All-Wheel Drive (SH-AWD) system. Although not especially fast or sporty sounding, the turbo four offers strong performance that’s well matched to the sharply-tuned chassis. The advanced torque-vectoring all-wheel drive, combined with the button-down suspension, allows for responsive, well-balanced cornering appropriate for a sport sedan. Those wanting even more power and sharper handling can take a look at the TLX Type-S, which swaps the 4-banger for a turbocharged V6 producing 355 horsepower and 354 lb-ft of torque.
The TLX has a starting MSRP of $44,490 that climbs to $52,190 for the fully-optioned Elite trim. The Type-S model commands a sizable price premium over equivalent 4-cylinder model. With an MSRP of $49,790, the A-Spec seems to be the sweet spot in the range. It includes all the desirable technology features of the lower Tech model plus several sporty garnishes and the amazing sounding ELS Studio 3D premium sound system that should be a dream for audiophiles. Although in line with rivals, the pricing does represent a substantial jump from the previous generation TLX. Not only was the previous generation model a better value, but it also came with a well-proven and charismatic naturally-aspirated V6 engine that makes the current model’s 4-cylinder seem a bit flat.
The TLX has a lot to offer those looking for a well-appointed luxury sedan with a strong performance edge. Its promise of Honda-like build quality and long-term reliability is a major selling point as well. Despite its inflated price tag when compared to its predecessor, the pricing structure is in line with value-priced sport sedans such as the Lexus IS, Genesis G70, and Cadillac CT4. Whether that’s enough to lure potential buyers away from lower priced alternatives is questionable. After all, the Honda Accord 2.0 and Mazda 6 Turbo offer similar features and driving experiences for far less money. For those prioritizing performance over budget, however, the Type-S is a more unique package that should have the goods to dispel any doubts.