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2018 Acura TLX: Back to Performance

By Steve Wheeler, June 17th, 2017

Acura significantly refreshes its midsize TLX performance luxury sedan for 2018, offering more standard features and a sporty new A-Spec choice for V-6 models. The TLX remains a solid choice in this highly competitive segment.

Manufacturer photo: Acura significantly refreshes its midsize TLX performance luxury sedan for 2018, offering more standard features and a sporty new A-Spec choice for V-6 models
Manufacturer photo: Acura significantly refreshes its midsize TLX performance luxury sedan for 2018, offering more standard features and a sporty new A-Spec choice for V-6 models

Thankfully, the entire front end of the TLX is new. All remaining features of the old Acura grille are gone, replaced by a dynamite new diamond pentagon grille that creates a strong, athletic look. Get close enough and you'll notice a really cool spider web pattern.

The new look is all part of Acura's goal of returning to its precision performance roots, Acura officials told journalists gathered in Kentucky for the launch of the new TLX, Acura's top-selling car and one of the company's most important vehicles.

"We're taking (Acura) back to a performance brand," said John Ikeda, Acura vice president and general manager. "If we're going to be a performance brand, we need a performance look."

Those Acura designers were under the gun to come up with the new face of Acura, but take a breath and relax. This new look -- based on the 2015 Precision concept -- is fantastic.

Manufacturer photo: Acura significantly refreshes its midsize TLX performance luxury sedan for 2018, offering more standard features and a sporty new A-Spec choice for V-6 models

The new A-Spec trim, aimed at significantly upping the TLX sport ante, features a matte black grille with a chrome surround, exclusive badging, a rear diffuser, and 19-inch gray wheels. Jonathon Rivers, lead TLX product planner, said the A-spec variant "gives our customers a completely new option."

Also new for 2018, every TLX model gets standard AcuraWatch, the company's suite of sophisticated safety technology that includes autonomous emergency braking, forward collision warning, adaptive cruise control, lane keep assist, and road departure mitigation. The move now means that 70 percent of all Acura vehicles sold will have AcuraWatch.

TLX engine choices remain the same for 2018: a 2.4-liter inline four-cylinder and a 3.5-liter V-6. The smaller engine develops 206 horsepower and 182 lb.-ft. of torque while the V-6 kicks out 290 horses and 267 lb.-ft. of torque. The four-cylinder is paired with an eight-speed dual-clutch transmission with paddle shifters, and the V-6 gets a nine-speed automatic with paddles. Acura's SH-AWD system is available, and I recommend it.

On hilly, twisting roads outside of Louisville I found the 2018 TLX was confident and sure-footed in aggressive driving. Crossing into Indiana, a rather beat-up 2013 Mustang was poking along in front of me at about 50 mph, so I decided to punch the throttle to test the passing power of the TLX. The vehicle powered around the pony car easily -- perhaps too easily.

Turns out, the Mustang was being driven by an Indiana state trooper, who pulled me over. He let me go with just a warning, but if you're driving in Indiana, watch out for stealthy law enforcement vehicles. Or better yet, go the speed limit and don't pass a trooper.

Manufacturer photo: Acura significantly refreshes its midsize TLX performance luxury sedan for 2018, offering more standard features and a sporty new A-Spec choice for V-6 models

The interior of the TLX is very nice, and retains its popular dual-screen layout. You can see the navigation map and pretty much whatever else you want without having to toggle back and forth across various screens. The 8-inch hooded upper screen is high on the center stack, and the lower 7-inch unit has a new capacitive touchscreen. Once you set the two screens, you may not find it necessary to change anything again, ever.

While the two-screen format is the same as previous models, the infotainment systems are completely new, now featuring Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.

Inside the TLX, the lines are clean and the detailing is high-end. Headroom in front is 37.2 inches, and in the rear it's 36.7 inches. Rear-seat legroom is 34.5 inches.

When it comes to safety, the new TLX should score well when testing is complete. The TLX offers more standard safety and driver assist features than any previous version. In addition, every TLX gets the AcuraWatch system.

The 2018 TLX V-6 models starts at $36,200. The TLX 2.4L starts at an even $33 grand.

Specifications

Base price $36,200 (as tested: $37,150)
Curb weight 3,616 lbs.
Displacement 3.5-liter
Engine type 24-valve V-6 w/DI
Epa mileage rating 20 mpg city, 32 mpg highway
Fuel capacity 17.2 gal.
Horsepower (net) 290 at 6200 rpm
Overall length 191.7 in.
Torque (lb.-ft.) 267 at 4500 rpm
Transmission 9-speed automatic
Vehicle type 5-passenger midsize AWD sedan
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