2015 Acura TLX First Look
Ready to Battle With Lexus and Audi
The 2015 Acura TLX has morphed from prototype to production form at the 2014 New York auto show, revealing that the luxury brand's four-wheeled future doesn't exclusively involve crossovers like the MDX and RDX. Now that we know more about the 2015 TLX's specs and have peeked into the the sport luxury sedan's interior, it looks like the car might just be up to the job of replacing two outgoing sedans.
With the TL and TSX permanently retired from Acura's lineup after the 2014 model year, the 2015 Acura TLX steps in with a four- and six-cylinder models, as well as a choice between front-wheel drive (I-4, V-6) and all-wheel drive (V-6). The 2015 TLX I-4 produces 206 hp at 6800 rpm and 182 lb-ft of torque at 4500 rpm from its direct-injection 2.4-liter I-4, compared to the 2014 TSX 2.4-liter's 201 hp at 7000 rpm and 170 lb-ft at 4300 rpm with an automatic transmission. The TLX's four-cylinder engine is mated exclusively to a new eight-speed dual-clutch transmission with a torque converter, which is said to provide smoother performance in stop-and-go traffic. Acura expects fuel economy for this variant to be EPA-rated approximately 24/35 mpg, up from the TSX's 22/31 mpg.
If you absolutely must have more power, the 2015 Acura TLX also offers a direct-injection 3.5-liter V-6 that's good for 290 hp at 6200 rpm and 267 lb-ft at 4500 rpm -- up from the 2014 TLX 3.5-liter's 280 hp at 6200 rpm and 254 lb-ft at 5000 rpm. While there's no mention of a more sporty halo variant of the TSX, the TLX's 3.5-liter powerplant already makes 310 hp and 272 lb-ft in the RLX flagship. Unlike the 2014 RLX, though, the 2015 TLX V-6 comes with a new nine-speed automatic that's lighter than the 2014 TL's six-speed automatic. Fuel economy is estimated at 21/34 mpg with front-wheel drive, and 21/31 mpg with the so-called super-handling all-wheel-drive system that's 25 percent lighter than before.
All front-drive 2015 Acura TLXs have Precision All-Wheel Steer, which turns the rear wheels a little to improve handling, while the TLX SH-AWD model gets technology that no other model will, at least at first: engine stop-start. Thanks to a 28-volt Active Control engine mount, engine vibration is said to be reduced, but we're looking forward to testing out the system for ourselves.
What the 2015 TLX prototype at the 2014 Detroit auto show lacked was an interior. Now that we're approaching the car's launch later this year, the 2015 TLX at the New York auto show has a full interior that appears modern but not particularly game-changing. That's OK, though, as Acura isn't restricting the high-end options we've seen on the best-selling MDX. The 2015 TLX will make available Milano leather, a new Road Departure Mitigation system that can actively help the car stay in its lane, adaptive cruise control, heated/cooled front seats, a Collision Mitigation Braking System and, something many current Acura drivers may not be familiar with: quiet. Engineers reduced open air paths in the 2015 TLX by 50 percent, and the car is the first Acura to have acoustic spray foam. Triple door seals, Active Noise Control, and an acoustic glass windshield might help the TLX meet the "vault-like" quietness we've been told is part of the package.
Also included with every 2015 Acura TLX are LED headlights, Siri Eyes Free tech for iPhone owners, and an electronic parking brake that can retain braking pressure to help smooth driving on steep hills. What might help the TLX the most with its premium credentials is the standard-on-every-model Integrated Dynamics system, which adjusts the steering, throttle response, transmission shift logic, and HVAC operation in Econ, Normal, Sport, and Sport+ modes. Every TLX also has motion-adaptive electronic power steering, and Acura says the car will earn five stars overall from the NHTSA and a Top Safety Pick+ from the IIHS.
Put all this together and you may just have a well-rounded entry into the incredibly crowded premium $30,000-$45,000 sedan class. Can the 2015 Acura TLX attract buyers of the soon-to-be-redesigned Audi A4, Lexus IS, or even lower-trim BMW 3 Series sedans? We'll find out soon.