Highlight: The midsize Acura TLX serves as both the replacement for the polarizing TL and the sportier TSX.
Test vehicle’s MSRP: $36,420 front wheel drive/$45,720 all-wheel drive (base model $32,365)
Seating Capacity: 5
Standard Safety Features: air bags; ABS; Daytime Running Lights; an automatic dimming rearview mirror; electronic brake distribution; a stability control system; rear camera; a tire sealant repair kit; automatic headlights with wiper integration; electronic parking brakes; an automatic brake hold system; a hill start assist system; and a tire pressure monitoring system.
Standard Equipment: 17-in wheels; an 8-speed automatic transmission; a front wheel drive configuration; a power moonroof; power front driver’s seat with lumbar support; power passenger seat; heated front seats; a dual zone automatic climate control system; a push-button ignition starter system; a keyless entry system; a leather steering wheel; leather-like seats; steering wheel mounted controls; and a manual operated tilt/telescopic steering wheel
Upgraded Features on TLX with Tech Package: a 9-speed automatic transmission; a 290-horsepower, 3.5-liter, 6-cylinder engine; an all-wheel drive configuration; a 10-speaker audio system with HD radio; a navigation system; a rain-sensing wiper system; leather seats; an electronic blindspot lane changing system; a forward collision alert system; a lane departure warning system; a lane keep assist system; and a cross traffic monitor system.
Upgraded Features: On TLX SH-AWD with Advanced Technology Package: 18-inch wheels; an all-wheel drive system; a remote start system; a radar-activated cruise control system; auto dimming mirrors; parking sensors; LED fog lights; an electronic gear selector; heated and ventilated front seats; a collision mitigation braking system; a road departure mitigation system; and a start/stop idle system.
Standard Audio: a 7-speaker AM/FM/CD with a satellite system
Bluetooth Connectivity: Yes
iPod connectivity: Yes
Bumper-to-Bumper Warranty: 4 years or 50,000 miles
Powertrain Warranty: 6 years or 70,000 miles
Standard Engine/Horsepower: 2.4-liter, 4-cylinder/206-hp
Recommended Fuel: Premium Unleaded
Standard Fuel Mileage: 24-city/35-hwy
What’s New: The all-new TLX is the replacement for both the TL and the TSX models.
Pros: The Acura TLX, with its jewel-like headlights, is available in two models with either a front wheel drive or the brand’s signature super handling all-wheel drive configuration. Acura’s newest midsize sedan is available with two powertrains: a 4-cylinder and a 6-cylinder. The brand’s signature super handling all-wheel drive system is only available with the 6-cylinder engine.
Both TLX models are available in several trims: a base and a technology package. An advanced technology package is also available, but it’s reserved for the 6-cylinder model with the 9-speed transmission. The TLX can be loaded up with the latest high-tech safety driving aids. Those features include everything from a radar-activated cruise control system to a lane keep assist system to a road mitigation braking system. Acura has never been known to skimp on technology.
Fortunately for us, we had an opportunity to review both models. Our 4-cylinder model was outfitted with a technology package, while the premium equipped 6-cylinder model included every option you could throw on the vehicle.
The front wheel drive 4-cylinder model drives more like a well-behaved midsize luxury vehicle, while the 6-cylinder model, with the super handling all-wheel drive system, adds a spunk and excitement level that literally reminded us of how fun a vehicle can be without having to pay the premium price required of the German sedans.
The styling of the TLX is no longer polarizing, like the larger TL it replaced. The new exterior styling reminded us of the third generation TL, which was built from 2004 to 2008.
Both TLX models offer easy-to-use features too, including the dual infotainment screens, which housed both the navigation and the audio systems.
Cons: The TLX, which replaces the TL, is actually a smaller vehicle. The TLX equipped with the 4-cylinder engine lacks the fun factor found with the 9-speed model we reviewed. The base TLX, with the 4-cylinder engine, reminds us of a glorified Honda Accord except it comes with a longer warranty and less room, especially in the rear. Ok, the lack of room doesn’t just affect the 4-cylinder, it’s a gripe we have with the 6-cylinder model, too.
The higher-end model with the 9-speed transmission uses a push-button gear selector. While that may seem like this advancement is a step toward the future, it literally reminds us of being in a more mature Lincoln. We would have preferred a traditional gear selector as opposed to a push button mechanism.
Added to that, with all-new powertrains, we could only hope that Acura would build a TLX that doesn’t require premium fuel. To our surprise, both the 4-cylinder and 6-cylinder powertrains require premium fuel. It makes no sense, especially with the sluggish 4-cylinder.
While the TLX exterior design isn’t polarizing like the TL it replaced, it sure isn’t a standout in the segment. In fact, the conservative but safe design really doesn’t provide the cachet we were expecting. The design is not a knockout like we witnessed firsthand after seeing the stunning red concept vehicle that debuted at the North America International Auto Show.
Verdict: Acura’s newest midsize sedan literally carries the burden of two vehicles, seeing that it replaced both the TL and TSX. The TLX two models will appeal to different drivers. Buyers in the market for a midsize luxury sedan can opt for a 4-cylinder, a 6-cylinder, a front wheel drive or an all-wheel drive model. Both TLX models offer seating for 5, the latest safety driving aids and a great driving experience, especially when opting for the 9-speed super handling all-wheel drive configuration. The new TLX continues to offer competitive pricing, too.
Competition: Audi A4; BMW 2-Series; Buick Verano; Cadillac ATS; Lexus IS; Lincoln MKZ; Mercedes-Benz CLA; and Volvo S60
Jeff Fortson is an auto analyst and editor of a car-buying website helping to connect consumers to the auto industry. To learn more about his popular car-buying workshop, the latest recalls, the radio show or to configure a new-vehicle, drive on over to www.JeffCars.com. Follow him on Twitter/JeffCars.