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Motoring: Acura replaces TL and TSX with new TLX


The new Acura TLX replaces both the TL and TSX, so how does it compare? It's a decent buy, costing less than $50,000 and is better than most cars in its class.

Nauman Farooq | Interrobang | Sports | April 6th, 2015

The old saying goes, “Two heads are better than one.” However, Honda’s luxury arm, Acura, must think that one model is better than two because the company recently replaced its TSX and TL sedans with just one model and called it the TLX.

Is it the best of both worlds, or will I be yearning for how things used to be?

When Acura first launched the TSX in 2004, the company billed it as a car for its growing customer base, which had cars like the Integra. The TSX offered some of the fun factor of the sporty coupe, now with added practicality. What it was in reality was a rebadged Honda Accord from Europe with a tasty i-VTEC motor. I loved this model, since it was great fun to drive and was reliable, practical and fuel-efficient.

The second generation TSX showed up in 2009, and this model was a lot softer and grown up. It had lost the zing of the original model, but thanks to its practicality, comfort and good pricing, it sold well.

The Acura TL on the other hand has been around for much longer, having first appeared in 1996. The TL had always been a mid-level luxury offering, not one with sporting character, but thanks to powerful V6 motors, it had impressive get up and go.

There have been four generations worth of models of the TL, and the last one I drove was the best yet. It was the TL SH-AWD model, and it was just fantastic. It looked great, handled even better, had a comfortable interior, and thanks to its lusty V6 motor, it was pleasingly fast.

On styling, if you liked the old TSX and TL, you’ll like the new TLX. However, most say Acura hasn’t moved the design game forward enough, as the TLX looks more like an updated TL rather than an all-new car.

In size, at 4,832 mm in length, it is slightly shorter than the last TL and slightly longer than the last TSX. However, the TLX has an almost identical wheelbase to the last TL model – there is only 1 mm between them – so interior volume is the same. In fact, thanks to clever design features, which includes a sleek new electronic transmission module, the TLX feels more spacious than the old TL.

Otherwise, the interior of the TLX will be familiar to anyone who has had an Acura in the last decade, which is not a bad thing. The infotainment system is both clear and easy to use and has voice, touchscreen and control knob features. Spend five minutes with this system, and you’ll figure it out.

The most interesting bit of technology in the cabin is the aforementioned electronic transmission module, which does away with a normal shift lever and replaces it with buttons to put it in park, reverse or drive. This takes a little getting used to, but I quite liked using this. So it is a step in the right direction in my opinion.

Let’s move on to the powertrain. Acura is offering the TLX with four-cylinder and six-cylinder motors, much like how the gen-two TSX was available. The base motor is a 2.4L I4 that produces 206 hp and 182 lb-ft of torque. Power is fed to the front wheels via an eightspeed dual-clutch gearbox.

The model I tested had the upgrade motor, which is a 3.5L V6 that produces 290 hp and 267 lb-ft of torque. Power in this model is fed to the front wheels via a ninespeed automatic gearbox.

The V6 model is also available with Acura’s SH-AWD (Super Handling - All Wheel Drive) system, and while this set up doesn’t give you any more grunt, the extra grip would be great in our winters.

The tester, however, was a frontwheel drive model, and in the winter, finding grip was not easy. Grip wasn’t the only issue. I found the nine-speed gearbox shifts lazily when you use the paddle shifters. Having spoken to a Honda/Acura engineer at a recent event, I was assured that Acura is aware of this lag issue and will have a solution for it soon.

However, leave the transmission in auto and play with its IDS (Integrated Dynamic System), and you’ll find that in Sport+ mode, the box shifts quite well. So, best to let the car do all its shifting, and you’ll be fine.

You’ll also be fine if you do a lot of travelling on the highway, as the TLX is not only comfortable but also quiet. Plus, with features like lane keeping assist, blind spot monitoring and active cruise control, the car pretty much drives itself, which takes most of the stress out of your commute.

It doesn’t drink much either. On a cold, snowy week, it still managed to average 9.4L/100km, which is good.

It also handles well on the highway. What the front-wheel drive TLX lacks in traction compared to the SH-AWD version, it does gain Acura’s Precision All-Wheel Steer (P-AWS) system, which works seamlessly in the background, adding stability at speed, and a sharper turning circle at lower speeds.

The TLX might not look like it has changed much, but there is lots of new tech.

The base model is yours from $34,990. The V6 TECH package is priced from $38,690. The top of the line TSX SH-AWD ELITE model is yours from $47,490. So, pricing is competitive compared to its rivals like the Infiniti Q50 and the Audi A4.

Is this the best new car you can buy for under $50,000? Let’s just say, it is better than most.
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