For those paying something less than rapt attention, Acura – Honda’s upscale, near-luxury division – builds cars. I know, this sounds like something coming from the Trump pressroom: Fraudulent votes, millions of illegals and – by the way – Acura builds sedans! The latter instance, however, is way true and not (as you might guess) an alternative fact. Acura builds sedans, and speaking in the most general terms they’re worthy of consideration. In this press briefing we’ll discuss Acura’s TLX.
The newish TLX is what you get when the Acura product team begins to think that offering a just-this-much-smaller-than midsize TSX 4-door and midsize TL sedan is one sedan too many. Back in the day we were fans of both, as the TSX had the vibe of a right-sized Accord, and the TL projected the feel of a right-sized Euro (Alfa Romeo?) 4-door. But America hadn’t been buying either argument in quantifiable numbers, so the decision was made to merge both the categories and – after a fashion – the alpha-numerics into one somewhat grand 4-door gesture.
Delivering what is described as a ‘unique and compelling blend of sports-sedan athleticism and premium refinement,’ the TLX sits on a footprint that is just on the far side of Honda’s Accord. To that end it feels comfortable within any urban/suburban congestion (the Whole Foods’ parking lot is our congestion) you might encounter, while feeling reasonably substantial out on the highway. In short, this is definitely the mama bear among sedans big enough for your family, but not so big that a young family or couple of empty nesters feel overwhelmed.
Inside, leather-appointed seats are easy to access, and keep you reasonably planted (and comfortable!) once in them. Rear seat access is adequate, and inside you’ll be comfortable, but like most of these the third passenger is marginalized; think red-headed stepchild, with a full apology to any red-headed stepchildren that might be reading. The rear seats also fold, so if you’re wanting to stow your road bike the TLX will take it, while wishing – like on its Accord sibling reviewed a week or two ago – the trunk opening wasn’t quite so shallow.
Behind the wheel, you’ll find an appropriate amount of information, while I’m still b*tching about Acura’s take on the transmission console. What, exactly, is wrong with a lever operating a conventional PRNDL sequence? This, like the Acura MDX tested earlier, is a series of buttons and switches, and none are what you’d call intuitive. In the name of Soichiro Honda, Acura, give us a break!
Our press vehicle, equipped with Honda’s 3.5 liter V6 and next-gen SH-AWD, composed itself very well both in-town and on the freeway. With that, its vibe is substantial – almost Germanic – but not what I’d call smile-inducing. It’s also, as equipped, north of $40K, and we simply weren’t feeling the love vibe as this 4-door gets into 3 Series and C-Class territory. With that in mind, we’ll build our own…
Acura’s TLX comes in seven (count ‘em!) variations, beginning with the standard – or ‘base’ – TLX and ascending to our press vehicle, the TLX 3.5L SH-AWD with Advance Package. The price spread runs from just under $32K to just this side of $45K; as noted, at $45,000 our forehead breaks out and our eyes start to bulge. I certainly understand the perceived value of both a V6 and all-wheel drive, and while I’ll never be a techie I know a great many of you are. The problem, of course, with automotive tech is that – historically – it’s old tech before the end of that model’s product cycle.
And while we wish, for those of you living in snowbound ‘North’ Texas, Acura offered all-wheel drive in combination with the 2.4 liter 4-cylinder, you can buy a lot of winter rubber for your front-wheel drive TLX with the $2K all-wheel drive would probably cost. So, we’ll do this:
We’d walk into our Acura showroom shopping for the base TLX at a window of $31,900. With the four and front-wheel drive we’ve shaved a couple of hundred pounds from the front end and, in foregoing the Technology package, saved $4K! And not incidentally, that $32,000 transaction is a lower sticker than you’ll find on some Accords, gives you a 35 EPA estimate (and 28 combined) on the highway, and supplies the flickable personality we enjoy on sport sedans. The powerplant’s 206 horsepower isn’t a lot, but we’re not propelling a Honda Pilot here – we’re simply moving a midsize sedan.
So, whether American Honda is inclined to provide you info – via ads or promotions – on the TLX or not, know it’s worthy of a look – especially if you can keep your wish list modest. At $32K we’d put it on our short list, but at a hard-loaded $45K we’d be shopping – and driving – elsewhere.