Tuesday, September 8, 2015

2015 Acura TLX: Charged with the Task Of Reviving Acura's Car Line Up

Highlight: The 9-speed TLX replaces the traditional gear selector with a push button system.

Test Vehicle’s MSRP: $36,420 front wheel drive/$45,720 all-wheel drive (base model $32,365)

Seating Capacity: 5

Standard Safety Features:  Air bags; ABS; Daytime Running Lights; an automatic dimming rearview mirror; electronic brake distribution; a stability control system; rear camera; a tire sealant repair kit; automatic headlights with wiper integration; electronic parking brakes; an automatic brake hold system; a hill start assist system; and a tire pressure monitoring system

Standard TLX Equipment: 17-inch wheels; an 8-speed automatic transmission; a front wheel drive configuration; a power moonroof; power front driver’s seat with lumbar support; power passenger seat; heated front seats; a dual zone automatic climate control system; a push-button ignition starter system; a keyless entry system; a leather steering wheel; leather-like seats; steering wheel mounted controls; and a manual operated tilt/telescopic steering wheel

Upgraded Features on TLX  8-Speed with Tech Package: a 10-speaker, 455-watt audio system with HD radio; a navigation system; a rain-sensing wiper system; leather seats; an electronic blindspot lane changing system; a forward collision alert system; a lane departure warning system; a lane keep assist system; and a cross traffic monitor system

Upgraded Features on TLX 9-Speed SH-AWD with Tech Package: 18-inch wheels; an all-wheel drive system; a 290-horsepower with a 6-cylinder engine; a remote start system; a radar-activated cruise control system; auto dimming mirrors; parking sensors; LED fog lights; an electronic gear selector; heated and ventilated front seats; a collision mitigation braking system; a front seat belt pretension system; a road departure mitigation system; and a start/stop idle system

Standard Audio: a 7-speaker AM/FM/CD with a satellite system

Bluetooth Connectivity: Yes

iPod connectivity: Yes
Bumper-to-Bumper Warranty: 4 years or 50,000 miles

Powertrain Warranty: 6 years or 70,000 miles

Standard Engine/Horsepower: 2.4-liter, 4-cylinder/206-hp

Recommended Fuel: Premium Unleaded

Standard Fuel Mileage: 24-city/35-hwy

What’s New: The all-new TLX is the replacement for both the TL and the TSX.

Pros: The Acura TLX, with its jewel-like headlights, has entered in the premium car segment with a non-polarizing exterior design. The TL, which was a larger vehicle, literally pushed the design cues so much that it alienated a number of Acura loyalists and failed to attract conquest buyers (or buyers who owned competitive makes) to the brand. Thus, Acura’s designers decided to play it safe this go around with a more conservative, mainstream design, appealing to a large audience.

With that said, we had an opportunity to review both a front wheel drive and an all-wheel drive TLX. Both vehicles were outfitted with a technology package. The technology package in the 8-speed TLX consisted of a 455-watt, 10-speaker audio system, real-time traffic updates, a navigation system, rain sensing wipers, leather trim seats, a blind spot lane changing system, a lane departure warning system, a lane keep assist system and a rear traffic cross alert system. In addition to the featured noted in the 8-speed model, the 9-speed all-wheel drive model adds a radar-activated cruise control system, automatic dimming side mirrors, front and rear parking sensors, welcome interior lights that automatically comes on when one approaches the vehicle, a collision braking mitigation system and a road departure mitigation system.

However, the distinction is that one was outfitted with a 2.4-liter, 4-cylinder engine, while the other was driven, no pun intended, by the brand's signature super all-wheel drive configuration which was powered by a 3.5-liter, 290-horsepower engine. Our personal preference was the 9-speed automatic in the all wheel drive TLX, which was more of a driver oriented vehicle.

Moreover, the 9-speed TLX also included Acura’s stop-start technology, which was designed to increase fuel efficiency. Ironically, the TLX with the 8-speed transmission offers a whopping 35-mpg on the highway.

Cons: The TLX, which replaces the TL, is actually a smaller vehicle. The TLX equipped with the 4-cylinder engine lacks the fun factor found with the 9-speed model. Although fuel efficient, the 4-cylinder engine just seemed underpowered for a premium class vehicle. Had the TLX been equipped with a 4-cylinder turbo that might have been acceptable for us. In fact, the base TLX reminds us of a glorified Honda Accord except its equipped with a longer warranty and less room, especially in the rear.

On the other hand, the higher end model, with the 9-speed transmission, uses a push button gear selector. While removing the traditional gear selector might seem like an advancement, it literally reminded us of being in a more mature Lincoln. We would prefer today’s traditional gear selector, as opposed to a push button mechanism.
Moreover, we can't get over the TLXs requiring premium fuel. It literally makes no sense, especially with the 4-cylinder engine, when other automakers have powertrain systems which allow unleaded regular .
And we’re surprised that Acura has not incorporated Honda’s signature LaneWatch system, which gives the driver an overview of vehicles on its right side before changing lanes. This high-tech safety feature should definitely be incorporated into Acura’s line up.
Lastly, the vehicles’ design is not as cutting edge, as the stunning red concept vehicle that debuted at the North America International Auto Show two years ago. The current vehicle exterior styling doesn’t quite translate or offer the same wow factor we experienced at the auto show!

Verdict: While the TLX offers a number of high tech amenities that will wow anyone who loves the latest gadgetry, the exterior styling has lost its distinctive design edge. In fact, the design team decided to play it safe with the TLX, so that it appealed to a larger population. In doing such, Acura's car sales have skyrocketed, even under the weight of filling in the gap for not one, but two discontinued models. 

Competition: Audi A4; BMW 2-Series; Buick Verano; Cadillac ATS; Lexus IS; Lincoln MKZ; Mercedes-Benz CLA; and Volvo S60

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