Earlier this month, Honda invited me up to northern Michigan to be among the first to drive their new-for-2015 Acura TLX. The launch is a big deal for Acura, which hasn’t enjoyed the same kind of success that its Japanese luxury rivals, Lexus and Infiniti, have had in recent years. The new TLX brings order to the Acura showroom, combining the compact, sporty feel of the outgoing 2014 TSX with the luxury and quiet refinement of the also outgoing 2014 Acura TL model (hence, TLX). Weirdly, though, instead of bringing just one new model to show off, Acura brought two.
Let me explain.
Every time there’s a new product launch from a big automaker, the talking heads at the company talk about how each trim level- like the Sonata Eco vs. the Sport or the Chrysler 200S vs. the 200C- really feels “like a totally different car”. In my experience, even when there’s a radically different engine or power train under the car, that’s all bulls***. Sure, maybe things happen faster in a supercharged V8 Mustang than they do in the naturally-aspirated V6 version, but they’re the same things happening, you know? In the case of the 2015 Acura TLX, however, the incredibly toss-able, 4 cyl., four-wheel-steered TLX feels radically different from the deadly serious, supremely capable 290 HP SH-AWD V6 version. If I were blindfolded with my hands tied at my sides in the passenger seat of each version of the car, I’m confident I could tell you which one I was in once we started moving. Maybe even with earplugs in.
It was a bizarre thing to experience, and I mentioned it to Acura’s chassis engineer, who was on-hand to answer press questions.
“That’s because it’s so stiff and quiet,” he explained, before going off on the Acura’s extensive use of high-strength steels, triple door seals, active noise control, and (industry first?) acoustic spray-in foams. Those things conspire together to seal the Acura TLX’ cabin and reduces body leakage/road noise by 50% compared to the “softer” TL this car is replacing. He may have a point, too- with the cabin so well insulated, you’re left strapped into a seat that’s bolted into a rigid unibody that is, itself, bolted to an engine and suspension system … and that engine and suspension system become the things you are most aware of inside the car.
In other words, it’s a damn near perfect sports sedan experience.
2015 Acura TLX | the Look
Few people will call the outgoing Acura TL a bad car- or even a mediocre one. Fewer still, however, would call Acura’s TL a good-looking car, and Acura was very eager to correct that problem with the new TLX. For their part, the stylists did a good job with the TLX, creating a look that’s both upscale and distinctively Asian, without looking like a Power Rangers extra.
Job done, then- and, if there’s a criticism of the new Acura to be found, it might be only that it looks too similar to the Honda Civic-based ILX. That may be good for the ILX, or bad for the TLX, or it may just speak to the fact that Acura has finally found its “signature look” for the new decade (albeit 4 or 5 years in).
2015 Acura TLX | the Drive
At this point in most of my car reviews, I usually start talking about how this interior feature works or that infotainment system (more often than not) absolutely doesn’t. In the case of the 2015 Acura TLX, I can’t really do that- because, despite having taken some 160 pictures during my five or six hours in various TLXs, I only took one picture of the car’s interior …
… and that, I’m guessing, doesn’t tell you much.
What you’re looking at in the above 2015 Acura TLX interior photo is a rubber-lined “mobile device tray” that allows drivers/passengers to place their phones in a separate little cubby which slides away (with two iPhones in it, still plugged into the car’s USB port) to reveal a nifty little storage area. It’s genius, works perfectly, and makes every car that doesn’t have it seem like it was designed by people who’ve never owned a smart phone.
As for the rest of the interior, it was invisible. My attention was, 100%, on the somewhat intangible “driving experience” itself and on how much stupid fun it was to jam the 206 HP VTEC 4 cylinder into corners or how crazy serious and (dare I say it?) Benz-like the V6 SH-AWD version of the new Acuta TLX felt. “Teutonic,” someone said, accurately.
In other words, it’s a damn near perfect sports sedan experience. Again.
That said, I’ve got to give you all something, so here are a few pics of my favorite tourist traps along Honda’s northern Michigan drive route, as well shots from the yacht club I eventually ended up having dinner at. There was some mistake and I ended up with both surf and turf on my plate, but I did not complain.
As for the TLX, itself, I must channel Chicago’s greatest hero, Ferris Bueller:
Original content from Gas 2.