A bit of a catch-all like auto. At its inception, in 2014, its objective was to replace two models (TL and TSX) within the Acura range. To add to the complication, the TLX is now partially given the mandate to also replace the high-end RLX car, now withdrawn from the catalog. In short, it casts a wide net. Therefore, we remain a little dubious about the multiple identity of this sedan. Who is this car for? We don't really know at first, but as the kilometers go, everything becomes clearer and meets expectations.
In a category dominated by German firms, the Acura TLX is the preferred alternative for many consumers. Rather of the traditional kind, buyers of this category of car no doubt expect something else, but they don't hate that their car is typed.
However, in this regard, the first TLX suffered from being too "centrist". In a market where you have to show your teeth to defend your territory, the second generation was therefore asked to stand out more.
This fall, Honda's prestige brand presents a new TLX that will serve as the top of the range. The car is imposing, almost intimidating (nearly 5 meters), with ample, flexible, restrained shapes. These were largely inspired by the Acura Precision Concept study presented more than four years ago.
Long hood, endless wheelbase and low profile: the TLX, built in the USA, shows white paw. We cannot decently blame him for it. In this category, conceptual audacity does not pay off, especially when it is carried by outsiders.
Acura, which has already had bitter experience, plays it safe and gives birth to a very homogeneous sedan.
In search of success
The designers of the new TLX have therefore matured at length on the terms of the equation that could prove to be successful.
A car that certainly complies with the dominant standard (read the German brands), but which will try to do well by giving pride of place to technology. In this regard, the TLX now has its bodywork on an architecture (see our technical sheet) which is for the moment exclusive to it. This has a triangulated front suspension, a configuration rather rare in the category.
Added to this are reinforced attachment points, more noble materials and a more balanced weight distribution. The only thing that saddens us is that this TLX is heavier and more massive than the previous generation.
An inflationary surge which, it must be admitted, unfortunately affects the entire industry.
The TLX also adopts the most advanced version (4.0) of its SH-AWD device. This releases power and torque even faster – and still imperceptibly – to the rear wheels. The accompanying torque vector then balances everything between the left and right rear wheels. This SH-AWD does not facilitate maneuvering since the turning diameter is rather large.
On the other hand, it improves stability and agility. Its effect is felt when passing roundabouts or when it comes to stringing turns that are negotiated with confidence with the help of well-balanced assistance steering. Note also that the TLX achieves a happy marriage between comfort and handling thanks to configurable shock absorbers.
Regardless of which version the dealership chooses, only a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine powers the TLX. Sadly, no hybrid or electric thrusters on the horizon. On the other hand, a turbo V6 is expected next spring to drive the Type-S (see the technical sheet).
Until then, we have to deal with the 2-liter, which compared to German benchmarks is nothing short of cruel. This engine mates exclusively to an efficient 10-speed automatic transmission and the handling made pleasant by a very precise gearbox control.
The sound of this engine leaves a lover of beautiful vocalizations a little hungry. However, the acceleration is vigorous and the pick-ups surprisingly smooth. Honda's specialty, i-VTEC technology (variable intelligent valve opening according to speed and load) also helps to contain fuel consumption, which remains reasonable. We will only regret the use of premium gasoline to get all the essence of this mechanic.
Comfortable, with four real seats – albeit limited headroom in the rear – offering a pleasant driving position, the TLX deserved further reflection on the quality of its infotainment system. The touchpad, above all. An aberration, even if an adjustment makes it possible to modulate its degree of sensitivity. Nothing works. We console ourselves with user-friendliness: it is easy to use.
For the rest, nothing salient, nothing decided. Nothing to criticize, no complaints either. There is space, a good finish, an excellent engine, full equipment for the sum asked and comfort to match. The TLX may not say much, but it does have the merit of being as efficient on a daily basis as the leaders in the class, and at a fraction of the price.
After a long absence (10 years in fact), Acura is updating the Type-S acronym. Why not ? The biggest automobile companies all have sports branches from which they derive hefty profits. Just like the current acronyms (AMG, RS, QV, etc.), the Type-S seal once characterized the manufacturer's most impetuous variations. He will always define them. The TLX will be the first to sport this renewed signature over the next year. It will be recognized by its more aggressive appearance, its gum-brimming tires and, most importantly, its 3.0-liter turbocharged V6 engine delivering 355 horsepower and 354 lb-ft of torque.
How long will the TLX have the exclusivity of this frame? That's a question for tomorrow. Today, let us only retain the singularity of this architecture which does not or no longer derive from an existing Honda product. Compared to the platform on which the previous generation was placed, the new one is more sophisticated with its triangulated front suspension. More rigid to torsion by 50% and finally more balanced, its weight is better distributed between the running gears.
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Press will soon publish the test of the following vehicles: Hyundai Elantra, Polestar 2, Nissan Rogue, Subaru Crosstrek and Toyota Venza. If you own one of these vehicles, we'd love to hear from you.
• L4 DOHC 2.0-liter turbocharged
• 272 horsepower at 6500 rpm
• 280 lb-ft between 1600 and 4500 rpm
• Weight: 2270 kg
• Weight / power ratio: 8.34 kg / hp
• Maximum towing capacity: not recommended
• Standard: 10-speed automatic
• Optional: none
• Drive mode: integral (4 wheel drive)
• 235 / 50R18 (basic TLX)
• 255 / 40R19 (Tech, A-Spec, Platinum Elite)
Fuel tank capacity and recommended fuel
60 liters, super
10.1 L / 100 km
Wheelbase: 2870 mm; Length: 4942 mm; Height: 1432 mm; Width: 1907 mm (exterior mirrors folded)