Acura muddled through the last few years seemingly unsure if it was all about performance or luxury or tech. But now the 2018 Acura TLX is here, showing off reinvigorated styling in a premium sedan with sport chops and, finally, more usable dashboard electronics.
Unveiled at a private event ahead of its public debut at the, the 2018 Acura TLX comes with the same engine options and is built on the same front-wheel-drive architecture as the 2017 model, meaning it isn’t a generational update. Significant updates make it more than just a refresh, however.
Losing the “shield” that still adorns other Acura models, the TLX takes on what the company calls its “diamond pentagon grille,” first seen on the Acura Precision concept last year and making its first production appearance on the new MDX SUV. The former shield was much criticized, but the new grille brings in a more conventional yet modern design, giving the front of the car more presence.
As in the previous model year, Acura retains its standard LED headlights, which give the TLX a unique night-time look.
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Acura retains TLX engine options, with the base model offering a direct injection 2.4-liter four cylinder, using Honda’s i-VTEC variable valve technology to produce 206 horsepower and 182 pound-feet of torque, only available in a front-wheel-drive configuration. A step up to the 3.5-liter V6, also using direct injection and i-VTEC, results in 290 horsepower and 267 pound-feet of torque. Notably, Acura eschews forced induction, which has found its way under the hoods of many of its peers.
Acura’s all-wheel-drive system, available with the V6 engine, features torque vectoring across the rear wheels, over-driving the outside wheel in turns for better cornering.
A-Spec sharpens up
To bolster its performance credentials, Acura came up with the TLX A-Spec, a performance variant with roots in the old TL Type S. Equipped with Acura’s V6, the TLX A-Spec shows off styling accents along the body, such as round fog lights and a rear diffuser. It also comes with larger wheels and wider tires. Acura gave it a suspension tune for sharper handling and tighter electric power steering.
One big change that tech aficionados will notice is in the dashboard. While the hardware looks similar to the previous TLX, with a stacked LCD, touchscreen and buttons-dial control set, Acura changed the underlying software. Instead of the former confusing and duplicative graphical interface for navigation, stereo and phone, it uses something more akin to the electronics in the recent Honda Accord. Acura also says the new software means 30 percent quicker response times for user inputs.
Helping drivers out considerably will be support for Android Auto and Apple CarPlay.
And similar to its strategy with the MDX, Acura makes active safety standard on the 2018 TLX. That means a forward collision warning system with automated braking, along with lane departure warning and prevention. The sensors enabling those systems also support adaptive cruise control, which automatically matches the speed of slower traffic ahead. This system also works in traffic jams, according to Acura.
These updates to the Acura TLX make it more competitive against the premium set, which includes cars such as the, and , although it still has the stigma of front-wheel-drive architecture.
As of the 2018 TLX’s debut in New York, pricing is not available. And we won’t likely see this one in dealer lots until the end of the year.
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