Thursday, August 6, 2015

Beast in Acura TLX outpaces luxury features

Mark Glover’s AutoGlo reviews of the latest motor vehicle models also can be seen on The Sacramento Bee’s website at

This review originally appeared in the July 2015 edition of the Northern & Central California Cruisin’ News published out of Folsom, California – mg

Sacramento, CaliforniaSo, Acura seems to be getting serious again about this horsepower/performance thing.

Besides reviving the NSX supercar, Acura is offering an all-new, performance-oriented sedan for 2015.  It’s the Acura TLX, or as I call it, the performance sedan for those of us who don’t have a million dollars to facilitate purchase of the new-generation NSX.

Let me assure you, this is a good thing.  My week in the 2015 Acura TLX 3.5 SH-AWD Advance – yeah, I know, the model name is way too long – was an enjoyable one.  The performance perks overrode the luxury features, and that’s saying something in an Acura.

The 3.5-liter VTEC V-6 engine maxes at nearly 400 horsepower, and it’s strong enough to make you forget that you are driving a four-door machine.  That’s not an easy trick.  The recently reviewed Dodge Charger comes to mind as one of the few sedans on the market with enough oomph to negate the stereotype-prompting sedan label.

The TLX blazed up and down the freeways like a champ, and its nimble handling on crowded city streets was a surprise to yours truly.  Darn thing handled like a Miata.  Amazing.

It says here on the sticker that my ride was being assisted by a NINE-speed automatic transmission.  Frankly, I couldn’t tell the difference.  Might as well have been an old-school four speed.  Works just as well for me.  Is the double-digit gearbox coming to mainstream America?  Probably.

The engine’s pop was matched to so-so fuel mileage numbers of 21 miles per gallon in the city and 31 mpg on the highway.  Translation: If you want to operate this TLX sedan as a family vacation vehicle, you can do so and get some pretty nice mileage numbers.  Or you can blow it out with the understanding that you’re going to be visiting the gas pumps more frequently.  Totally your call.

No doubt, you should smell the roses when you drive.  On that score, the TLX does not disappoint.  The super-long list of standard features on the tester included a power moonroof, a strong navigation system, heated front seats, a 10-speaker premium audio system and even a remote engine-start feature.  That’s just the short list.

For all this, the sticker read $45,595 with nary a you-pay-for-it option in sight.  Pricey? Yes.  Worth it in this segment?  Yes.

Volunteer passengers were wowed by the tester.  When I asked them to estimate the starting price, all ventured north of $50,000.  A couple weighed in at $60,000-plus.

Passengers were impressed by the audio system, ample room for normal-size adults to spread out and a quiet cabin that fostered normal-volume, thoughtful conversations.

For an automaker that has periodically struggled to separate itself from the pack with a standout luxury/performance offering, I think this new TLX is just what Acura needs.  It’s likely to appeal to a broad base of luxury sedan and performance-car buyers.

As first efforts go, the TLX is a solid “B-plus” to “A-minus” machine.  It’s certainly worth a test drive among luxury/performance sedan shoppers.

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