2018 Acura TLX: Cosmetic dentistry gives it a winning smile – STLtoday.com
TLX becomes the second Acura to adopt a new smile and the result could make it the poster-child for cosmetic dentistry.
Following the example of the 2017 MDX crossover, the 2018 TLX midsize sedan jettisons the dental-appliance grin that looked like the visor from a medieval suit of armor, trading it for what Acura calls a “Diamond Pentagon” grille.
We simply call it a massive improvement — so much so observers may miss TLX’s other front-end alterations: reshaped bumper, hood and fenders. In back, V-6 models continue the makeover with new geometrically shaped exhaust-pipe frames and a remolded bumper, complete with an integrated air diffuser.
The other big change for TLX in 2018 is the introduction of an A-Spec package, which, along with interior and exterior upgrades, includes firmer suspension tuning and a more robustly calibrated rear anti-roll bar.
Making sure the neighbors know you’ve got more than the garden-variety TLX, A-Spec models on the outside show unique 19-inch wheels, gloss black trim and round exhaust tips. Inside, at the buyer’s discretion, is red or black leather, brushed aluminum-look trim, unique sport steering wheel and heated and vented sport buckets with Alcantara suede inserts.
Available with front- or all-wheel drive, TLX, though not as lively as, say, a BMW 3-Series or Audi A4, endears itself with civil deportment and whiz-bang technology.
It can be had with a 2.4-liter, 206-hp I-4, which buttons to an eight-speed automatic, or a 3.5-liter, 290-hp V-6, which mates to a nine-speed automatic. Both engines are naturally aspirated and both can be had in front-drive models. The V-6 can also be equipped with what Acura modestly calls Super Handling All-Wheel Drive, as was the A-Spec V-6 we drove.
Among other virtues, SH-AWD features torque vectoring, a bit of legerdemain that, if the need arises, can turn an individual rear wheel faster than its counterpart, helping the car hustle around corners with additional confidence while pretty much banishing understeer.
Another handling aid we had was Agile Handling Assist (AHA!), which uses the stability system and brake modulation to enhance control in athletic cornering.
Finally, TLX’s driver-assist stuff includes four drive modes: Econ, Normal, Sport and Sport+, each adjusting to its own parameters power steering assist, throttle sensitivity, transmission shift points and AWD mapping.
With all that, our V-6 AWD returned 26 mpg in 140 miles, more highway than surface streets.
Inside, the tech fest continues with three information screens — two in the center stack and one in the gauge binnacle — and, thankfully, one old-school feature: a knob for the radio volume. There’s also infotainment compatibility with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.
While no racer — 0-60 in about 6 seconds — TLX AWD’s handling technology provides a very satisfying drive behind a new look that’s quite handsome.
Dan Wiese is a freelance automotive writer. He is a regular contributor to the Post-Dispatch and to AAA Midwest Traveler magazine’s online Web Bonus. You can e-mail him at email@example.com