In this ongoing series, Boston.com talks with automotive authorities about why you should consider driving — or avoiding — a specific model.
2018 Acura TLX
Heavy on standard features and light on starting price, the Acura TLX is a solid luxury sedan that won’t break the bank. Still, three years after it hit the market as a right-sized replacement for Acura’s TL and TSX nameplates, the TLX is often overlooked in the compact luxury sedan segment. But for those in the know, its Goldilocks charm means that the car strikes a balance between sufficient legroom and city handling while maintaining a rare sense of individual
The 2018 Acura TLX comes standard with a 206-horsepower, 2.4-liter, four-cylinder engine paired with an eight-speed, dual-clutch automatic transmission. Buyers seeking bigger thrills may opt for the 290-horsepower, 3.5-liter, V6 engine mated to a nine-speed automatic transmission. Front-wheel drive is standard, but V6-equipped models may be outfitted with Acura’s Super Handling All-Wheel Drive system. The TLX’s top-of-the-line A-Spec trim, new for 2018, punches up the typically staid sedan with a sportier look and tuning.
Inside, the five-passenger sedan uses leatherette upholstery, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, and heated front seats. Buyers can upgrade to leather- and Alcantara-trimmed upholstery, a heated steering wheel, and sport front seats. The TLX comes equipped with Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, an 8-inch screen display and a 7-inch touch screen, hands-free text messaging and email, and Siri Eyes Free. A 10-speaker sound system and wireless phone charging are available. The available Technology package ($3,700) and Advance package ($3,850) add features like heated and ventilated front seats and navigation.
The 2018 Acura TLX received a five-star overall rating from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. The sedan also earned top scores in nearly all crash tests performed by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety except for the small overlap front test, which measures a collision’s impact on the vehicle’s front corner. Acura’s standard suite of driver assistance features, called AcuraWatch, includes forward collision warning and automatic emergency braking, putting the TLX ahead of many of its competitors. The package also includes adaptive cruise control, lane keep assist, and lane departure warning. Buyers can upgrade to blind spot monitoring and a 360-degree-view camera.
The base model delivers 23 mpg around town and 33 mpg on the highway. Those numbers fall to 20 mpg in the city and 32 mpg on the highway for V6-equipped models.
The 2018 Acura TLX starts at $33,000.
What the experts are saying
“The 2018 Acura TLX just misses earning our highest safety award because of an acceptable rather than good rating in the challenging small overlap front crash test. For crash prevention, the TLX is ahead of many other vehicles because it has a standard forward collision warning and automatic emergency braking system that earns a superior rating, and standard headlights that get an acceptable rating in our nighttime track tests. Automatic emergency braking is the most effective of the latest crop of advanced safety features and has been shown to prevent crashes as well as injuries.” – Russ Rader, senior vice president of communications at the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety
Choice of engines
“In consolidating two models, the TL and TSX into one model range, the all-new TLX, Acura still covers both bases by offering a choice of [naturally aspirated] four-cylinder and […] V6 power. The former is equipped with a traditional shift lever and an eight-speed, dual-clutch transmission for a sporty feel, while the V6 is equipped with a 9-speed transmission and Honda’s rather unique push button arrangement to control the gearbox. With either, you get a roomy four-door sedan that sports a more conventional grille (gone is the mail-slot shield look of previous Acuras) and boasts enthusiast-oriented road manners.” – Matt DeLorenzo, managing editor at KBB.com
“Acura has given its midsize sport sedan a much-needed makeover for the 2018 model year. Its new face is highlighted by LED headlights and modern sculpting. Although its interior is essentially the same as last year’s, technology updates to the infotainment system make it faster and more usable, especially when paired with your smartphone. Our favorite is the TLX SH-AWD, which stands for Super Handling All-Wheel Drive. This system transfers torque front to back and left to right to ensure the TLX goes where it’s pointed. We appreciate its dynamic capabilities on mountain roads, comfortable interior on the highway, and capable infotainment system when trying to get from point A to B. While its new look finally matches its capabilities, with most buyers opting for crossovers, we wonder if it’s too little too late.” ― Calvin Kim, road test editor at Edmunds
Correction: A previous version of this article incorrectly stated the TLX came with a turbocharged four-cylinder engine.