2015 Acura TLX: New luxury sedan battles icons

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Call it consolidating and call it risky. But Acura has eliminated two of its popular sedans and created the 2015 Acura TLX. The five-passenger sedan fits in the middle. It’’s longer than the TSX, shorter than the TL, and it’’s now the only entry level luxury sedan in Honda’’s upscale nameplate’s lineup.

The Weekly Driver Test Drive

As Acura approaches its 30th birthday in the United States, the 2015 Acura TLX makes its debut as a midsized luxury sedan. It’s offered in three main trims, Base, Technology and Advance. The latter trims are primarily option packages included on the front and rear-wheel drive base model offerings.

My Weekly Driver was the top-line 3.5-liter V6. It had 24 valves, 290 horsepower and advanced from 0-60 mph in a swift, 6.5 seconds, about one second faster than its 2.4-liter sibling with 206 horsepower. The four-cylinder model is equipped with an eight-speed automatic; the larger engine is available only with a nine-speed automatic.

The 2015 Acura TLX is new car for the upscale Honda nameplate.
The 2015 Acura TLX is a new car for the upscale Honda nameplate. Images/James Raia, 2015

One of Acura’’s strong traits is the list of standard features throughout the line-up. The Base model’’s list is a substantial notebook’’s worth, including: 17-inch alloy wheels, all-wheel steering, LED headlights and brake lights, a sunroof, heated side mirrors, keyless ignition and entry, dual-zone automatic climate control, vinyl (leatherette) upholstery, heated front seats, an eight-way power driver seat (with power lumbar), a four-way power front passenger seat (eight-way on V6), 60/40-split-folding rear seatbacks, a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel and an auto-dimming rearview mirror.

Also standard are Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity, a rearview camera, Siri Eyes Free functionality, two display screens (an upper 8-inch display and a lower 7-inch touchscreen) and a seven-speaker sound system with a CD player, satellite radio, smartphone app integration (Aha and Pandora), an auxiliary audio input jack and an iPod/USB audio interface.

The Technology and Advance packages (the Upgrade) on my test vehicle added comprehensive features lists that advanced the TLX into the plush category of its competitors — BMW to Lexus, Audi to Infiniti.

The Technology Package: Leather upholstery, driver memory settings, lane departure warning, a blind-spot monitoring system, rear cross-traffic alert, forward collision warning, voice commands, a navigation system and an Acura/ELS 10-speaker sound system.

The Advance Package: 18-inch wheels, front and rear parking sensors, remote ignition, LED foglights, auto-dimming side mirrors, ventilated front seats, adaptive cruise control, lane-keeping assist and automatic braking for forward collision mitigation.

Equipment aplenty is fine, but how does the new Acura drive? The sedan is appreciably quiet, thanks to the comfortable, well-padded seats, solid door panels and quality carpeting. It’’s a smooth operator, with steady acceleration throughout the transmission, and it remains quiet at city and freeway speeds.

With its all-wheel drive option, the Acura moves in and out of traffic with authority. It’’s not a speedster, but its tight steering and grip of the road provides a feeling of confidence. Drivers have four driving modes: The Econ mode uses reduced climate-control loads to save fuel. There are also Normal, Sport and Sport+ modes. Sport adds weight to the steering and has a more aggressive shift strategy. The Sport+ is more aggressive and includes paddle-shifting for those who, even momentarily, wish to assume they’re driving a sports car.

Like the sharp-angled Acura logo, the interior of the new Acura is modern, angular and handsome. And there are also high-gloss Zebra wood accents that look classy and further position the TLX solidly into the mix of the entry level luxury sedan segment.

Likes:

Quiet ride at all speeds.

The all-wheel drive adds to the already sporty handling.

Lots of features standard, many of which are options on other vehicles in the same price range.

Dislikes:

The infotainment center, like many other manufacturers’’ systems, is complex with mediocre graphics.

Many competitors’ cars have better acceleration.

Facts & Figures: 2015 Acura TLX

Acceleration: 0-60 mph, 6.5 seconds.
Airbags: 7.
Fuel economy: 21 mpg (city), 31 mpg (highway), 25 mpg (combined) nine-speed automatic transmission.
Horsepower: 290.
Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price: $44,700.00.
Manufacturer’s Web site: www.acura.com.
Price As Tested: $45,595.00
Warranty: Bumper to bumper, 6 years/70,000 miles; Powertrain, 4 years/50,000 miles; Corrosion, 5 years/unlimited mileage.

What Others Say:

““In replacing the TSX and the TL, Acura has crafted a better car using the finest attributes of both. If you can live with rear-wheel drive, a manual transmission or the fanciest badges, the TLX make a very compelling case.” — Car & Driver.

“The TLX is the definition of smart luxury if you value the driving experience and appreciate Acura’s cutting edge technologies, technologies like 4-wheel steering or Super Handling All-Wheel Drive over the prestige bestowed by having a European badge on your car’s nose.” — Kelley Blue Book.

“It deftly balances enthusiast-oriented driving dynamics and everyday comfort with a high-level/tech-savvy interior and it deftly delivers excellent fuel mileage with either engine and a strong value proposition given its price.””— — Edmunds.

The Weekly Driver’’s Final Words:

“”There’’s a lot of competition in the five-seat sport sedan segment, and the new Acura TLX fits in just fine with all of its European competitors. It’’s stylish, quick enough and as comfortable as its German rivals.””

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