L’articolo driving.ca originale in inglese è interessante sia perché permette un confronto fra la premium Acura TLX e la sua sorella generalista Honda Accord ( vedi le immagini postate ieri ) , sia perché l’Acura TLX avrebbe potuto (e dovuto) essere la Euro Accord, se i vertici di Honda non avessero deciso di non vendere più sul nostro continente un prodotto del segmento D.
Solid evidence Acura is on the right path to being relevant again in the luxury sedan segment
Acura mounts a comeback with its comfortable, tech-filled mid-size luxury sedan
Supremely comfortable driving dynamics, quiet and well-built cabin, smooth nine-speed auto, outstanding highway fuel economy, long list of standard technology, solid performance from V6
Underwhelming exterior, distracting touchscreen, light steering feel, transmission slow to respond to downshifts, only one USB port
Value for money Good
What would I change? Redesign the front end to give it some more visual punch, give the steering some more weight, tighten the suspension a tad, add Apple CarPlay
How I would spec it? I’d opt for the $39,190 2.4L Tech trim. You get most of the goodies and decent performance for under $40K.
Buyers in the entry-level luxury sedan segment are spoiled by choice. In this crowded field, there are no less than seven quality sedans vying for your wallet, from the gold standard BMW 3 Series, to the venerable Audi A4, to Lexus’s IS lineup, to the stylish Infiniti Q50, the Cadillac ATS and Mercedes C-Class.
And then there’s Acura. Diminished in recent years but not forgotten, Honda’s luxury nameplate is attempting a comeback, and the new TLX, a surprising sedan in more ways than one, is leading the charge.
Introduced in 2014, the mid-size TLX replaced its predecessors, the TL and TSX sedans, in one fell swoop. It was a daring move by Acura to streamline its sedan lineup, with the ILX serving as the compact-sized offering in the family, the TLX shoring up the middle, and the full-size RLX sitting at the upper end of the spectrum.
As a response to the previous TL’s bulky and angular proportions, this new sedan is more compact (it’s 97 millimetres shorter in overall length compared with the 2014 TL) and the front end has been re-worked to feature Acura’s Jewel Eye LED headlights and a less bird-nosed shield treatment, a response to the TL’s much criticized beak grille. In the back, the TLX gets a more conventional look compared with the TL’s oddly shaped trunk lid and oversized bumper. The end result is a handsome sedan that doesn’t offend, but is admittedly a little plain compared to some of the other cars in this segment. The front fascia lacks a certain presence and the omission of visible exhaust tips (they’re tucked under the rear bumper) is a big misstep for what is supposed to be a sports sedan.
But, looks aside, it’s the driving experience that really counts, and here the TLX excels with a comfortable, luxurious ride.
The base front-wheel-drive trim starts at $35,490 (all figures before freight and PDI) and comes with a 2.4-litre, four-cylinder engine that makes 206 horsepower and 182 pound-feet of torque. That engine is mated to an eight-speed dual-clutch transmission. This engine/transmission combo is offered in the base and Tech trims. The other option available is a 3.5L V6 mill that makes a more robust 290 hp and 267 lb.-ft. of torque, mated to a nine-speed automatic. This combo is offered in the TLX’s three AWD trims, including our tester, the loaded top-line Elite trim with Acura’s SH-AWD (Super Handling All-Wheel Drive), which carries a price tag of $47,990.
This mill provides the bang you’d expect in a luxury sports sedan and it makes highway passing and on-ramp acceleration effortless. Zero to 100 km/h is achieved in just under six seconds. Throttle response is quick and power is delivered in a linear fashion thanks to the smooth ZF-designed nine-speed auto. Two gripes about the transmission, though: It’s about a second slow to respond to downshifts when using the steering wheel-mounted paddle shifters, and it has a tendency to hunt for the right gear when driving at low speeds. The Honda-designed eight-speed DCT is, by all accounts, a touch smoother in those areas.
Acura’s Integrated Dynamics System (IDS) offers four modes — Economy, Normal, Sport, and Sport+ — that tailor the car’s driving characteristics to your mood. Of these, Sport feels the most balanced, while the aggressive Sport+ feels a little too unwieldy, with gears being held for too long and the throttle feeling a touch too sensitive. But I guess that’s the point.
The full-time, front-biased AWD system (up to 70 per cent of torque can be sent to the rear wheels when needed) makes for a composed, confident ride, with little understeer when navigating sharp turns. The suspension is also a good balance between comfort and sport — it cushions riders against most road imperfections while maintaining nimbleness. Having said that, the TLX lacks the taut, road-connected feel of BMW’s sportier 3 Series. Steering is also on the light and effortless side, with little feedback from the road, regardless of which driving mode is engaged.
So, the TLX isn’t quite as sporty as some of its rear-wheel-driven rivals. But it is a surprisingly comfortable highway cruiser. The cabin is library quiet thanks to the car’s use of active noise cancellation, triple door seals, and acoustic spray foam in the body. All of this makes the TLX miles more refined than a top-line Honda Accord, its mainstream counterpart. And the nine-speed auto, with its wide ratio spread, keeps things very composed at highway speeds. In the highest gear, the TLX was able to cruise at 120 km/h with the engine revving just a tad above 1,500 rpm! As you’d guess, this is a major boon for fuel economy. On a trip from Toronto to Montreal that covered about 1,200 km, I averaged just 6.7 litres of premium gas per 100 km, surprising numbers for a V6 indeed. Over 700 km of more mixed highway and city driving, I averaged a still outstanding 8.9 L/100 km.
Adding to the comfort level is a very well-built, upscale interior, full of technology. Available in the TLX are such niceties as heated and ventilated front seats, heated rear seats, a heated steering wheel, 10-way power driver’s seat, and more. On V6-equipped models (SH-AWD trim and up), an easy-to-use electronic gear selector takes up prime real estate next to the cup holders. The brown perforated Milano leather seats available in the Tech and Elite trims are supremely comfortable, although they could stand to use a little more side bolstering. And despite having less interior space than the TL, the TLX still offers ample leg and head room up front, with good legroom in the back (headroom, however, is tighter for rear seat passengers than it was in the TL). The deep trunk, at 405 litres with the seats up, is also generously sized.
What doesn’t work as well, though, is the TLX’s dual-screen infotainment system. In an effort to reduce button clutter, Acura moved many functions, including climate control, to the seven-inch touchscreen display. Adjusting the fan speed and tuning the radio on this touchscreen, which can be hard to view under direct sunlight, is a distracting nuisance that could’ve been avoided with physical buttons. Curiously, the TLX still has a physical toggle for adjusting the temperature. Using the navigation screen up top isn’t any easier, as this requires the use of an awkwardly placed control knob and also has several screens to plow through just to set a destination. All of this makes the absence of Apple CarPlay and Android Auto all the more glaring. And for a car with so much tech, there’s only one USB port for charging.
On the plus side, the TLX’s active safety features in this trim work as advertised. The blind spot monitor flashes without being intrusive, the lane keep assist guides the car back into line when wavering, and the adaptive cruise control keeps a set distance (you can set how much buffer room you want) between you and the car in front, slowing down and then speeding up to the established speed when it’s safe to do so.
As a comeback attempt, the TLX is solid evidence Acura is making a major push to be relevant again in this segment. It’s refined to the hilt, possesses athletic qualities, and features loads of tech, even in base trim. There’s good value to be had as well, with the SH-AWD TLX ($40,490) priced $3,500 below the previous SH-AWD TL and the top-line Elite trim offering more power and features than a similarly priced BMW 3 Series (241 hp; 258 lb.-ft.) or Audi A4 (252 hp; 271 lb.-ft.). But styling remains the “X factor” that continues to elude Acura. While the brand has made strides, the TLX still lacks that “gotta have it” quality in its looks. Nevertheless, the TLX offers as close to a total luxury package as you’re gonna find in the entry-level segment. It should definitely be in the mix if you’re in the market.