WHAT IT IS: The TLX is Acura’s return to the sports sedan segment, and they have created an extremely compelling package. There are two engines available, a turbocharged four-cylinder that produces 272 horsepower and a turbocharged V6 that produces 355 horsepower. The four-cylinder is available as either a front-wheel drive or an all-wheel drive configuration, while the extra power from the V6 gets only the AWD. My test model was the four-cylinder AWD that was also optioned with the A-Spec trim, which is mostly a several thousand-dollar appearance package, but it does look good. Special “Shark Gray Interwoven Wheels” and an optional red leather interior top the visual highlights. While my test model was white, the only way to get the stunning Apex Blue Pearl paint option ($500) is on the A-Spec trim. Electric blue exterior with red interior? I don’t care if it is a little gaudy, sign me up!
Driving the TLX is really enjoyable. Even with “only” 272 horsepower, the turbocharger really makes the TLX feel alive, and the handling was great with Acura’s SH-AWD system. I know that most Texas buyers skip paying the AWD premium because of our lack of winter weather, but the $2,750 seems worth the price of admission.
The ELS stereo and infotainment were excellent, and I loved having the heated and cooled seats for how bipolar our weather can be. I will admit that my white test model blended into the parking lot surrounded by more “normal” vehicles, but most of the colors that Acura sells tend to pop more. I would definitely be choosing the red or blue, but I do appreciate that some Acura buyers might not want the brashness of a loud exterior color.
MPG: 24 combined/21 city/29 highway
Price: $48,195 as-tested with most options. $39,900 base price.
Upsides: Different and enjoyable.
Downsides: Less panache than other luxury sedans.
Wrap-up: I think that the big selling point for the TLX is that it really elevates itself as more interesting in almost every way from something like a Honda Accord or Nissan Altima. It looks special, it provides a heightened driving experience, all of the interior materials feel nicer, and you get the reliability of owning a Honda-engineered vehicle. Would I choose this over a Mercedes C-Class? Yes. Over a BMW 3-Series? That is a much tougher question. I love that Acura decided to bring the TLX back, and I think it is a great choice if you are looking for a sports sedan outside of the typical German manufacturers.