Test Drive Notes Library
- Fills a nice niche. It’s not a real alternative to a BMW 5-Series. Or even 3-Series. But it doesn’t cost nearly as much. Think of it more as what Acura was originally - a nicely tuned, upscale Honda. Which is a pretty nice thing to be.
- Solid. The TLX has a very substantial, high quality feel. Inside, everything feels well put together, from the thick steering wheel to the bolstered leather seats, and creates an upscale impression inside.
- Looks. This is admittedly subjective, but in its A-Spec trim, the car looks great to us, especially with the A-Spec additions. It’s got that combination of looking a little more special and powerful than your average car, but not so much that you look like a show off. It’s subtly and tastefully powerful looking.
- Powerful and sporty. Especially in A-Spec trim. It’s fun to drive. It’s not going to out handle a BMW on twisty roads, but day to day handling is very good. Corning is flat. Power from the 3.5 V6 is excellent. The all wheel drive system and 9-speed transmission worked well for us. EPA says to expect 23 mpg overall (20 city, 29 highway). We got less than that in predominantly city driving.
- Size. No surprise, because it’s based on the already hugely popular Honda Accord, the TLX is an almost perfectly sized sedan for a lot of people. Not too small, not too big. Fits four people easily and five acceptably. It’s easy enough to maneuver in a city, but offers a spacious, airy feeling up front, and decent room for back seat passengers.
- Standard safety. We drove the highest trim TLX, with a list price of just over $45,000, and it came with everything. We need to point out that there are lots of sedans over $45,000 (hello, BMW) that make you pay extra for the safety stuff that you’d be dumb not to buy right now. So good for Acura, for making all TLX’s (even lower trim versions) come standard with Acura’s “Acurawatch” package, which includes forward collision warning, automatic emergency braking, and lane keeping assist. Also standard on the A-Spec is blind spot and rear cross traffic warning.
Test Drive Notes Library
- Stiff ride. The primary failing of the TLX A-Spec is that it occasionally jolts your internal organs. The ride is supposed to be firm. And on well paved roads, it’s great. But hit a decent-sized pothole or an oddly shaped bump and, wow, it’s like someone momentarily swapped out your Acura for a Peterbilt. It makes us wonder whether we’d like the non-A-Spec TLX better. You can still get the great 3.5L, 290 hp V6 (or opt for the four-cylinder, 206 hp engine), and you’d lose a little of the cool styling. But you’d probably benefit from getting 17 or 18-inch wheels, instead of the 19-inch kidney smackers that come with the A-Spec package.
- Transmission controls. To try to make the TLX with the six cylinder engine seem more special, Acura created a push button transmission selector where the normal gear selector usually resides. It’s not awful, but it feels like a gimmick. And it adds nothing to benefit the driver. In fact, it makes you look at what you’re doing every time you change gears, where in the past, you could probably do it by feel. Also, whereas with a standard automatic shifter, you can click it to the left to engage the transmission's manual mode and then shift with the steering wheel’s paddle shifters, in this Acura, to engage the manual mode you have to cycle through the “dynamic mode” button until you get to the setting you want. That’s an ergonomic step backwards.
- Backup camera at night. The backup camera is fine during the day, but is almost useless at night. For some reason, whether it's poor resolution or weak back up lights, it’s hard to make out much of anything when backing up at night. And at night in the rain, fuggetaboudit.
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