2015 Acura TLX 2.4 Review
It delivers, but it does so at a cost.
Web2Carz Contributing Writer
Published: January 23rd, 2015
Just like how mommy and daddy work together to make a baby (spoiler alert, toddlers), two Acura models combined their DNA to create a single offspring. The Acura TLX replaces two different models in Acura's lineup, the TSX and the TL. With its new car, Acura hopes to bring former buyers of both models together, under one roof, if only to reduce overlap between its own offerings. The TLX is now the only Acura in the mid-size segment.
But it's more than just an Accord playing dress-up in the attic; the TLX brings to the table several unique features that its more pedestrian brother does not. The end result is an entry-level luxury car that is worth the increased cost over the Accord, provided you'll get some use out of the Acura-only fancy bits.
The TLX's interior is luxurious, if a bit anonymous. It's nice to see the wood-grain trim popping up as small accents around the interior, but at the same time, the massive expanse of black plastic (to be fair, it's softer black plastic) atop the dashboard gives it a bit of a Lexus vibe - and by that, we mean it's pretty boring. The TLX's Tech package includes perforated leather-trimmed seats, which we found comfortable on journeys both long and short.
,br> Regardless of the dashboard's "meh" factor, the interior is definitely one step above the Accord's, and it retains more visual flair than its German counterparts can muster. The gauges and steering-wheel switchgear are well designed, and the latter are easy to commit to muscle memory in a short time.
The most contentious part of the Acura's interior is its dual-layer infotainment system, which is now present on a variety of Honda and Acura models, albeit with slight tweaks between versions. The top portion displays a variety of data (navigation, track information, phone status), and the bottom is relegated to audio controls, system controls (heated seats), and it will also morph into a touchscreen keyboard for nav-system inputs. Some writers consider it convoluted, and it might be tricky if you operate multiple vehicles with different infotainment systems, but if this is your main car and you're reasonably proficient with a smartphone, it's not difficult to get used to.
No two bones about it - this is a pretty sedan. The side profile is generic enough to blend into traffic, but the front and rear fasciae both contain many interesting bits. The front end is much improved over both the TL and the TSX; somehow, Acura managed to keep its front-grille "beak" from growing to Brobdingnagian proportions. The rear end's lights are sharper than the old guard's, as well, giving it just a hint of sportiness amidst an overall demure look. In a nod to 21st-century technological innovation, every exterior light on this car is built with LEDs - the headlights, the taillights, and even the puddle lamps all feature the energy-saving light sources. Bulb replacements? Ha! Save those for the Accord.
On the Road
We were lucky enough to test the TLX's highway mettle with a trip from Chicago to Detroit and back again. Over the course of those 500-some-odd miles, we came to appreciate several things.
First, the motor. Acura's 2.4-liter four-pot is a bit different from the Accord's engine of the same displacement, and we found the difference lay mainly in its sprightliness. The TLX's I-4 was ready to run through the revs any time our foot went deep into the throttle's throw. However, if you want to be miserly with your fuel (premium is recommended, by the by), the TLX will delivery efficiency in spades; even at Michigan's ticket threshold of 78 to 80 mph, the car returned gas-mileage numbers above the EPA-estimated 35-mpg figure.
Next, the transmission. This isn't your garden-variety six-speed automatic; instead, Acura pulled out the technology box and equipped its four-banger with an eight-speed dual-clutch transmission (DCT). Unlike Volkswagen's DSG, which can be a little awkward when starting from a stop, Acura's DCT also includes a torque converter, providing a more "typical" driving experience. Whether the car was in Eco or Sport+ mode, or any of the modes in between, the shifts were immediate and imperceptible.
Finally, all-wheel steering. Acura calls the system P-AWS, standing for Precision All-Wheel Steer. It adjusts rear-wheel toe for additional grip when the going gets spirited, and extra high-speed stability, the latter of which is nearly transparent, but appreciated when tractor-trailer wind gusts kept trying to toss us into the shoulder.
In terms of value, yes, you can have a similarly-equipped (and quicker) Accord for less money than the TLX. That said, you will miss out on a few bits that may or may not be important to you, like a fancier overall appearance (inside and out), LED exterior lighting, a lightning-fast DCT, and all-wheel steering. If you want the more tech-forward car, the Acura easily outshines the Accord. And, with only two main trim levels on the 2.4-liter car (either with the Tech package, or without), the TLX will make for a far more simplified buying experience over a similar German vehicle - the options list for a 3 Series is long, complicated, and straight-up expensive.
When it comes down to it, if you're willing to pay a bit more for a no-nonsense, technologically up-to-date Accord, the TLX should be at the top of your list.
Specs & Price
Engine: 2.4-liter naturally-aspirated inline-4
Transmission: Eight-speed dual-clutch automatic with torque converter
Drivetrain Layout: Front-engine, front-wheel drive
Power Output: 206 horsepower / 182 lb-ft
Fuel Economy (mpg): 24 city / 35 highway
Base Price: $31,445
As Tested: $35,920 (incl. $895 destination)
Tech Package: Navigation with voice recognition, backup camera, 10-speaker premium audio system, HD radio, perforated leather-trimmed seats, blind-spot monitor, forward collision warning, lane-keep assist, rain-sensing wipers, rear cross-traffic alert
Individual Options: Chrome door trim, splash guards, engine block heater, illuminated door sill trim, faux-wood steering wheel, rear parking sensors, LED fog lights, remote start (requires Tech package)
• For more information such as specs, prices, and photos of the 2015 Acura TLX, click here: 2015 Acura TLX.