2018 Acura TLX AWD A-Spec

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The Acura TLX is not the best luxury midsize sedan out there but it does give you a lot of bang for your buck. For 2018, the TLX gets refreshed with a more aggressive exterior and an upgraded infotainment system.

 

The five-passenger TLX is available in six trims: 2.4L, 2.4L with Technology Package, 3.5L, 3.5L with Technology Package, A-Spec and 3.5L with Advance Package. Starting prices range from $33,000 to $45,750 which is at the low end of the spectrum for a luxury midsize sedan. Front-wheel-drive is standard and you can add Acura’s SH-AWD all-wheel-drive system to the 3.5L and above models for 2-grand.

 

The 2018 TLX offers AcuraWatch as standard equipment on all trims, which leads the pack of luxury midsize sedans in advanced safety and driver-assistive technologies. The AcuraWatch suite includes Collision Mitigation Braking System with Forward Collision Warning, commonly called Automatic Emergency Braking; Road Departure Mitigation with Lane Departure Warning; Lane Keeping Assist System; and Adaptive Cruise Control with Low-Speed Follow.

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The A-Spec trim gets some cosmetic touches including a more fierce-looking grill, a decklid spoiler, A-Spec badging and 19-inch wheels. A-Spec models have the same feature set as the TLX V6 with Technology Package as well ventilated front seats, wireless charging pad and LED ambient light piping found in the Advance Package.

 

The base engine in the TLX is a 2.4-liter four-cylinder that makes 206 horsepower and 182 pound-feet of torque paired with an eight-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission. My tester has the 3.5-liter V6 that makes 290 hp and 267 lb.-ft. paired with a nine-speed torque-converter automatic. You can also shift yourself with the paddle shifters on the steering wheel.

 

While the A-Spec offers sportier handling, performance is still more about comfort than athleticism. The nine-speed shifts seamlessly and there’s enough power for passing at highway speeds. The SH-AWD system keeps it planted on twisty roads. You can choose between Eco, Normal, Sport and Sport+ driving modes. The larger 19-inch wheels make for a firmer feel. Overall, it’s a nice, comfortable ride but not one that will get your blood pumping.

 

Fuel efficiency is a little better than average for the segment. EPA mileage estimates for the A-Spec are 20 mpg city and 29 mpg highway with a combined rating of 23 mpg. I got 23 during my week with a mix of city and highway driving. Stop/start technology helps improve mileage.

 

The interior is pleasant enough but it’s not as posh as some rivals. There are some hard plastics. Still it’s functional and modern. Seats are comfortable and supportive but taller passengers will probably wish for more leg- and headroom, especially in the back seat.

 

All TLX models come with two info screens: a lower seven-inch touchscreen for audio and climate, and an eight-inch display screen for navigation, fuel efficiency, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. The system works faster and is more intuitive than the system in last year’s TLX. However, there’s only a volume knob so you have to go through the touchscreen to perform basic functions as changing radio stations and adjusting the seat heat and cooling settings. This gets annoying. Honda/Acura should really add some knobs or buttons! At least you can change radio stations with the steering wheel controls.

 

Other standard features on all trims include push-button start, multi-angle rearview camera, seven-speaker sound system, satellite radio, Bluetooth, USB port, Pandora music streaming, real-time traffic, hands-free text messaging and email and Siri Eyes Free.

 

The TLX has 14.3 cubic feet of cargo space in the trunk which is a little less than the segment average. There are several places in the cabin to stash smaller items.

 

The good:

Low starting price among competitors

Lots of standard features including AcuraWatch suite of advanced safety and driver-assistive technologies

Upgraded infotainment system is quicker and more intuitive than outgoing version

AppleCarPlay and Android Auto are standard on all trims

 

The not-so-good:

Interior is fine but not as plush as some rivals

Taller passengers may feel cramped

Rivals have more cargo space

Have to use touchscreen to perform basic functions such as changing radio stations and adjusting climate settings

 

Pricing info:

My tester starts at $44,800. Destination fee is $950 bringing the grand total to $45,750.

 

Bottom line:

The 2018 Acura TLX isn’t the best performer or the most upscale midsize luxury sedan. But if comes with a long list of standard features and does a lot of things right at a comparably low price.

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