2015 Acura TLX Elite V6
Two become One.
Over the years the auto industry has seen its fair share of consolidation. Back in 1906, Charlie Rolls and Freddy Royce decided to combine forces which turned out pretty well, aside from a few bumps in the road. Quite the opposite came to pass in Daimler and Chrysler’s “Marriage of Equals”, and don’t ask Ford Motor Company about its ill-fated Premier Automotive Group, which at one time even included a Formula 1 team. Although it doesn’t always happen that way, consolidations are meant to ease and simplify. Acura is betting (hoping?) that the philosophy pays dividends where their newest model is concerned, the TLX.
The TLX has been tasked with replacing two popular and well-liked models in the Acura portfolio, the larger, more serious and luxurious TL and the smaller, playful TSX. The biggest thing wrong with these two cars was that they competed in segments too close to one another, and there were many occasions where the TSX lured buyers otherwise set on getting into a TL, and vice versa. Perfect, thought the Acura product planners. This is a perfect opportunity to streamline our lineup and make room for a CUV variant (we jest, however it’s rumoured that Acura will get a more luxurious version of Honda’s upcoming HR-V, so that’s not an entirely baseless joke.)
PROS: Perfectly sized, a sweetheart of a V6 engine, terrific value.
CONS: Unintuitive and laggy infotainment system, thirsty despite fuel-saving technologies, jerky transmission behaviour.
THE VERDICT: The TLX combines the very best of the TSX/TL but still has some room for improvement.
The good news is they’ve succeeded for the most part. The TLX combines the best of both worlds- it’s perfectly sized, fun to drive and it can be outfitted with all the luxury accoutrements that are status quo these days. But like many examples of consolidation before it, compromise is unavoidable and that is evident here. It seems like the car is trying to hit too many targets, like doctor who’s trying to be successful as both a neurologist and cardiologist- not an easy thing to accomplish. Also, a manual gearbox could be had whether you opted for a TSX or TL whereas now the sportiest gearbox is a dual clutch unit. At least Acura’s slick Super Handling all-wheel drive can be ordered, something that used to be exclusive to the TL.
V6 power was exclusive to the TL for a few years, but Acura made it available in the TSX for model year 2010, further blurring the lines between the two models. In an effort to appeal to as many shoppers as possible (and to keep pace with their competitors) the TLX will cater to those looking for four or six cylinder power. The four holer is available exclusively with a snappy shifting 8-speed dual clutch gearbox but not with AWD. V6 powered versions can opt for Acura’s virtuous SH-AWD although shifting duties are delegated to a 9-speed gearbox.
The 9-speeder is sourced from ZF who make some of the best automatic gearboxes we’ve sampled- the Jaguar F-Type and BMW 7 series come instantly to mind. We were a bit disappointed to discover that in the TLX, it suffers from a bit of an identity crisis. At times, its shifts are barely noticed as you move around town. Other times it seems indecisive, and will shove the next ratio home with startling, unwelcome firmness. It also suffered from hesitation when asked to move off from say, a traffic light. Other than these missteps, it won’t call attention to itself. At least the paddle shifters that control it have satisfyingly quick responses, and once you get used to the push button shifting you’ll appreciate how roomy the console is compared to other cars in its class.
Our V6 powered TLX was thirsty during our road test; we managed 13.1L/100km. I take part responsibility for the so-so fuel economy- I just can’t resist Honda’s V6 engines, and every chance to run it up to its silken redline, I took. In order to maximize efficiency, Acura equipped our tester with an engine start/stop system and Variable Cylinder Management (VCM) which will seamlessly shut down and reengage three cylinders according to throttle position. Of the two, VCM is more polished and refined than the unceremonious shudders sent through the car when it fires up again. Perhaps it could learn from its bigger brother, the RLX- we’ve yet to encounter another example of the technology that’s less invasive.
The TLX’s interior does appear to take a page out of the RLX playbook, at least in some areas. As is the case with the flagship, so too does the TLX enjoy a remarkably quiet driving experience. The engineers have done a noteworthy job of evincing noise, vibration and harshness from the driving experience. They must’ve paid close attention to the ride characteristics because the TLX makes traversing even the most wretchedly paved roads a pleasure. It’s geared more towards comfort than sport, but in a time when so many cars equate “sporty” with “harsh” we don’t view that as a bad thing. If we can find any major nits to pick in the cockpit, it has to be the Honda hand-me-down two-tiered infotainment system- it lacks intuitiveness and doesn’t respond to commands all that fast.
The TLX is the newcomer to the premium entry-level sedan space, but it doesn’t feel like it. You can feel that Acura really endeavored to distill the finer points of the TSX/TL models into the new model. They managed to give the TLX good value as well, as even our loaded Elite tester undercuts many of the usual suspects in the class by thousands of dollars. Perhaps the only thing missing is a performance variant to take on some of the speedier offerings from those the TLX will be competing against. A plea to Acura: please revive the spicier Type S versions of yesterday.
2015 Acura TLX V6 Elite — Specifications
- Price as tested: $45,290
- Body Type: 4-door, 5-passenger sedan
- Powertrain Layout: Front engine/front-wheel drive
- Engine: 3.5-litre V6, DOHC, 24 valves
- Horsepower: 290 @ 6,200 rpm
- Torque (lb-ft.): 267 @ 4,500 rpm
- Transmission: 9-speed automatic
- Curb weight: 1,647kg (3,631 lbs.)
- Observed Fuel Economy: 13.1L/100km (18 mpg)