First introduced in 2015, the Acura TLX made an immediate impact, displacing the TL and TSX sedans which had been consistent fixtures in the Acura lineup across the previous two decades. It also represented a niche subset of the lineup, since over 2/3 of Acura’s sales as of 2015 were compromised of SUV offerings, a shift which continues to this day. But any relative complacency Acura showed in terms of sedan offerings went out the window all-too quickly, when speaking of the TLX.
In terms of the models it had replaced, the TLX stood as a near-perfect amalgam of the two (well, at least in terms of exterior dimensions). But its slightly more modest interior volume and trunk space lent it a more sporty feel which helped it to stand out. This was, of course, a good thing since its moniker certainly left something to be desired.
TLX, RLX, ILX, RDX, MDX and even the NSX. Now listen, I’m fully in support of iconic automakers like BMW using an aloof naming system, but I’m hesitate to accept the same kind of uninspired levity from the likes of Acura. Sure, it’s still a luxury brand, but strictly entry-level in terms of aspiration. I guess I’m just looking for a little effort here.
Aversion to alpha-centric naming systems aside, the front-wheel TLX managed to refute stereotypes which implied that “X” denotes all-wheel drive capability. But since this distinction separated the TLX from the lion’s share of its stablemates, Acura prudently served up the option of AWD, helping to make it feel like more of an organic inclusion in the automaker’s evolving vision.
And the FWD versions enjoyed the assistance offered by Acura’s P-AWS electric rear steering. Delivering enhanced stability under braking, overall handling and agility, the TLX handled like a dream regardless of which version was selected. And the overall experience was enhanced further courtesy of a strut-type front suspension which created a well-controlled motion and an incredibly smooth ride quality.
Served up with two powertrains, the choice of either a 2.4-liter four-cylinder or the 3.5-liter V6 did little to affect the TLX’s amazingly quiet cabin, nearly devoid of wind and road noise. And while the V6 met every expectation placed upon it, the four-cylinder proved surprisingly enticing due to the high marks given to its engaging and eager personality.
Needless to say, a restyling for 2018 was apropos considering Acura’s recommitment to ‘Precision Crafted Performance Design’. Boasting a radically aggressive pentagonal grille and chiseled front fascia, the A-spec trim (available only in the V6) gave the (already) well-styled TLX even more visual cache.
And now the 2019 Acura TLX takes that intoxicating aesthetic of theV6 A-Spec and extends it to the four-cylinder TLX as well. This is a smart move considering that it redefines the TLX based on the inherent strengths of the design language. Considering the high marks given to the 206 horsepower inline four-cylinder, enhancing it cosmetically levels the playing ground a bit. It includes the updated front and rear fascia, including matte black trim in place of brightwork and darker lights. Inside, custom gauges crafted of simulated aluminum add a nice touch, and the thicker steering wheel is a beefy accent that any driving enthusiast would approve of. Throw in a heaping handful of A-Spec badging throughout and the rounded exhaust tips and the I4 TLX becomes a visually comparable offering to its 290 horsepower V6 sibling. That said, it is worth noting that the four-cylinder rolls in on 17-inch wheels, while the V6 still enjoys the 18-inch wheels that come standard.
And speaking of standard, features for both variants include keyless ignition, smartphone integration for music streaming, dual-zone climate control, leather upholstery and heated front seats. For the preventative safety-conscious crowd, the AcuraWatch safety suite comes standard, including adaptive cruise control, forward-collision warning and emergency braking, along with lane-keep assist.
Opt for the Technology Package, and you can enhance the safety features to include blind-spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic detection. In cabin, the upgrade serves up a navigation system and a 10-speaker sound system, while enriching the upholstery as well.
Bottom-line, the TLX may have only had a short life thus far, but it has provided a perfect testimony in favor of continual evolution. “If it aint broke, don’t fix it” they say. We say, “if its going to make it even better, go right ahead and fix whatever you want”.