The 2015 Acura TLX has to fill a big hole left by two sedans, the compact TSX and the midsize TL. With an impressive powertrain lineup and improved luxuries, the 2015 TLX fills that hole and is a credible alternative to the usual suspects in the midsize luxury class.
What’s in a name? For the 2015 Acura TLX, it happens to be the combination of two old nameplates: the compact Acura TSX and the midsize Acura TL. The Japanese luxury automaker realized that the TSX and TL were competing with each other for the same customer – one that was looking for a midsize luxury sedan. In their wisdom, Acura decided it would be a good idea to have one model take the place of two. Thus, the 2015 TLX was introduced.
The TLX’s shape is almost a carbon copy of the larger Acura RLX sedan. Such elements as jewel-eye headlights, a beak-shaped grille and a uniquely shaped trunk lid are here. Compared with the TL and TSX, the TLX is right in the middle in terms of size. This allows for a nicely proportioned shape, which makes the TLX possibly one the best looking models in Acura’s lineup yet.
Acura has really stepped up with its interiors. The 2015 TLX boasts a lot more soft-touch materials, along with a combination of wood and metal trim. It makes the TLX a very inviting place to spend time. Helping this feeling out is a set of leather seats that provide excellent comfort and support. Front-seat passengers get 10-way adjustments to dial the right seating position. There is also heat and cooling for the front seats. Rear seat space is quite good with more than enough head- and legroom. Trunk space is average for the class with 13.2 cubic feet.
There is a choice of two engines for the TLX. The base 2.4-liter four-cylinder produces 206 horsepower and 182 pound-feet of torque. The four-cylinder comes paired with an eight-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission and front-wheel drive. Optional is a 3.5-liter V6 with 290 horsepower and 267 pound-feet of torque. This is paired with a nine-speed automatic transmission and the choice of front-wheel drive or Acura’s Super Handling-All-Wheel Drive (SH-AWD).
My TLX tester was the V6 model with the SH-AWD system. Despite the high power numbers, the V6 doesn’t quite feel as powerful as the specs would suggest.
It takes a moment for the engine to wake up and deliver the power needed for the situation. But when it does, power comes on effortlessly and smoothly. It’s a shame the same cannot be said for the nine-speed automatic transmission. The transmission has slow and clunky shifts, which makes it feel somewhat less refined than the V6.
How the TLX drives depends on which drive mode you have engaged. Eco mode has the transmission go into the highest gear to improve fuel economy. Normal provides a balance between Economy and Sport modes, and Sport locks out higher gears to provide more response from the engine. Sport+ sharpens throttle response and tightens up steering.
I found that for day-to-day driving, leaving the TLX in Eco or Normal provides a nice balance between performance and drivability. Leaving it in Eco or Normal also shows one of the bright spots of the TLX, a comfortable ride that makes bumps non-existent. Also, the TLX’s noise cancelation system makes it one of the quietest models in the class.
When you put the TLX into Sport or Sport+, it transforms into a very capable sport sedan. The car hunkers down with the all-wheel drive system providing tenacious grip. Steering gains a bit more weight, but some drivers will want a bit more road feel.
In terms of fuel economy, the TLX V6 with SH-AWD is rated by the EPA at 21/31 mpg city/highway, or 25 mpg combined. I saw an average of 24.2 mpg during one week of driving.
The TLX employs Acura’s dual-screen infotainment system. The bottom screen is touch-sensitive and provides audio and climate controls while the top screen displays navigation and other key information. This system is one of most frustrating systems, providing a limited amount of information of what you’re listening to on the lower screen. Not helping matters is a separate set of controls for the navigation system. This idea seems great on paper. But in practice, the system needs more work.
The 2015 Acura TLX has quite the resume when it comes to safety. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) has given the TLX the highest rating of Good in most of their tests. The only test where the TLX stumbled was the small overlap front test, where it received the second-highest Acceptable rating. Still, the IIHS gave the 2015 TLX its highest honor, a Top Safety Pick+ award.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) gave the TLX a top five-star rating for its overall performance in crash tests.
In terms of equipment, all TLX models get a full suite of air bags, traction and stability control, electronic brake distribution, brake assist and a tire-pressure monitoring system. Opt for the top-of-the-line Advance model and items such as adaptive cruise control, forward collision warning and lane keeping assist come as standard.
The Acura TLX begins at $31,445 for the base four-cylinder model. Pitted against its competitors, the TLX comes out on top with an impressive range of standard equipment such as 10-way power front seats, dual-zone automatic climate control, Bluetooth, a backup camera, keyless entry and push-button start. The top of the line TLX V6 SH-AWD Advance rings in at $44,700 and gives a fair number of competitors a run for their money in terms of standard equipment.
The 2015 Acura TLX pulls off the seemingly impossible task of replacing two models. It makes an impressive value argument with balanced driving characteristics and impressive luxury features. However, the nine-speed automatic needs bit more work and the infotainment system could be easier to use. If you are considering the TLX, you might want to give the four-cylinder model a shot if you don’t need all-wheel drive.