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Review of the 2015 Acura TLX: Best of Both Worlds

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On: Wed, Dec 9, 2015 at 9:24AM | By: Lou Ruggieri

Review of the 2015 Acura TLX:  Best of Both Worlds

For someone who has owned an Acura TL in the past, we can attest that, for the money, it is one of the best cars out there. I have always been impressed with Acura's entries into the luxury market, as they take so many of the drawbacks of other luxury models and make them strengths. Where BMW will make you add each and every item you want as an additionally costed item, Acura makes most of those things standard fare, making the base price a lot closer to the sticker price than BMW or Mercedes.

For 2015, Acura has axed two of its very successful models in the TL and TSX, and combined them into one model: The TLX. Off the bat, the TLX takes the sportiness of the TSX and the upscale class of the TL and comes up with an entirely new car that is its own car and yet has elements that remind you of both of the outgoing cars.

There are two variations to choose from for 2015. The base model is the TSX 2.4. As you might guess, it sports a 2.4-liter DOHC inline-4-cylinder that produces 204 horsepower and 182-pound-feet of torque. This is the same 4-banger that resides in the Honda Accord, which, unlike days gone by, is actually a good thing. For a little engine, the 2.4 has a lot of tech, sporting a direct-fuel injection system, Honda's i-VTEC valve timing system, and a high compression ratio of 11.6:1 which does require premium fuel. Power is sent to the front wheels via an in-house-designed 8-speed automatic transmission that was created with the goal of improving smoother starts from a dead stop, which it accomplishes nicely along with lightning-quick shifts that would make Mario Andretti jealous. The 2.4 also gets Precision All-Wheel Steer (P-AWS) (four-wheel steering for those that prefer general terms).

The high-end TLX is the SH-AWD, which, again using name recognition, one could guess that the SH-AWD is, in fact, an all-wheel drive sedan that uses a more powerful 3.5-liter SOHC V-6 that produces 290 horsepower and 267-pound-feet of torque. This capable V-6 sports Honda's Variable Cylinder Management, which cuts cylinder use down by three under times of low-load to help conserve fuel. The powerful motor funnels all of that power through a newly reworked ZF 9-speed automatic transmission to all four wheels. The SH-AWD model can't utilize the same all-wheel steering the FWD four cylinder uses, but it does employ Acura's torque-vectoring rear differential to help dissipate understeer by sending more power to the outside wheels during a turn. Both car versions come with heated front seats, dual-zone climate control, sunroof, paddle shifters, full-LED head and taillights all standard. Try getting that in a BMW for no added charge.

In terms of performance, the TLX models don't embarrass themselves. 0-60 mph in the 2.4 takes a respectable 7.2 seconds and hurries through the quarter mile in 15.6 seconds @ 91.1 mph, while the SH-AWD takes only 5.9 seconds to get to 60 mph and 14.4 seconds @ 98.4 mph to run through the quarter mile. Acceleration is the only category that distinctly separates the two models. Braking from 60-0 mph is nearly identical at 122 feet for the 2.4 and 124 feet for the SH-AWD. In terms of lateral acceleration the 2.4 comes in at 0.84g while the SH-AWD posts a 0.82g average. The difference in curb weight may have something to do with some of those performance numbers: The 2.4 weighs in at a solid 3,478 pounds while the more tech-filled SH-AWD tips the scales at a somewhat portly 3,764 pounds. That weight and power difference does have an effect on fuel economy as well. The 2.4 shows off a very Honda-esque 24/35/28 city/highway/combined mpg while the SH-AWD comes to the table with a slightly less impressive 21/31/25 mpg. So depending on what your priorities are, there is a TSX model for you. If it's fuel efficiency and price, then the 2.4 works. If it's a bit more power and all-wheel drive, then the SH-AWD should fit the bill nicely.

Stylistically, the TLX has a reserved yet sporty look that harks back to the first and second generation TL up front and is very reminiscent of the TSX from the rear. This Acura doesn't imbue you with a bloodlust for it, nor does it make your heart race instantly, like, say, for instance, an M4 or RS4 might, but then, it isn't intended to be a track-ready luxury speedster. The TLX is much more understated. It goes about its business with a quiet confidence that seems very comfortable in its own skin. It isn't the best at any one thing, but, in totality, it may just be the best at everything when all the scores average out. On the road, either version is library-like quiet and feels as sturdy as a cruise ship going down the highway, thanks to a very rigid frame. The 2.4 does feel lighter on its feet, especially around corners, while the SH-AWD feels as though it has much more than an 84-horsepower power advantage than it's four-cylinder sibling as it rockets through highway on-ramps.

One of the most attractive features of the TLX is its price. The 2.4 has a base price of just $31,890 while the SH-AWD comes in with a base of $42,595. Even optioned out to the gills (which isn't much in Acura-speak), the price of each car doesn't raise up more than a few thousand dollars, unlike most other luxury brands that can jump up tens of thousands when it's all said and done. So while we will miss both the TL and the TSX, we have to say that we are very happy to welcome the TLX into the world as a very proud bearer of the bang-for-the-buck torch for 2015 and beyond. Acura seems to have taken the best of both cars and created a 5-passenger full-sized sedan that feels a lot smaller than it is. And if money were no object, sure, we might not jump at the TLX first, but when it's our checkbook opening up, the TLX is exactly where we would start, and, quite possibly, end our search for a competent, sporty, yet mature sedan that does everything very well.

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