2015 Acura TLX 2.4 First Test
When Acura introduced the TLX sports sedan earlier this year, it was something of a two-fer -- a car that replaced the small, sporty TSX and the larger, luxe-oriented TL. To that end, Acura vowed that the TLX would be even more engaging to drive than the former and nearly as spacious and comfortable as the latter. Did it deliver? Mostly.
The tester in our garage is a 2015 Acura TLX 2.4 Tech, which means it contains the base 2.4-liter I-4 engine similar to that found in the discontinued TSX but with direct-injection, which boosts output slightly to 206 hp and 182 lb-ft of torque (an additional 5 hp and 10 lb-ft over the TSX). An eight-speed dual-clutch gearbox, complete with torque converter for smoother around-town driving and torque-multiplication benefits off the line, is the only available transmission. All-wheel steering is standard and is said to combat the front-wheel-drive sedan’s inherent understeer in low-speed cornering, while contributing to stability at higher speeds.
The Acura TLX is a 2015 Motor Trend Car of the Year contender - find out in November whether it has what it takes to win.
The Tech package adds roughly $4,000 to the TLX’s entry price, but the list of included equipment is long. Acura bundles navigation with voice recognition, a multi-view rear camera, AcuraLink communications system, ELS premium stereo, leather seats, blind-spot monitoring, forward collision warning, lane-keeping assist, rear cross-traffic monitor, and rain-sensing wipers. That’s not shabby for $4K. All TLX models include such niceties as LED headlamps, dual-zone climate control, and a touch-screen infotainment system. The cabin is handsome with good-quality materials and comfortable seats, though the dual-screen display still isn’t everyone’s cup of tea.
Unfortunately, the TLX does loose an incremental amount of cabin space to the TL, and most adults taller than 5’8” will find the rear seat a bit cramped. The extra structural bracing behind the rear seat also eats into the space available in the trunk pass-through area. With the rear seats folded down, the throughway is more oval-shaped than square.
It’s clear from behind the wheel that engineers tried to make the TLX a sporty sedan. The ride is on the firmer side for the premium sedan segment, and Acura’s extensive work to increase torsional rigidity has paid off -- the TLX feels very taut, and body movement is well-controlled. The direct steering also contributes to the TLX’s nimble, eager feel, and the car general feels pretty neutral in the corners.
The familiar 2.4 engine has enough poke to get the TLX off the line briskly, and we were pleased with its smoothness and sound. But our instrumented testing shows it’s not any quicker than the TSX it replaces. In fact, at the track we managed a 7.2-second 0-60-mph run, which is actually 0.2 second slower than the last TSX we tested, a 2012 manual-equipped 2.4-liter model. That gap held out at the quarter-mile, with the TLX returning a 15.6-second time at a slightly higher 91.1-mph trap speed. This was especially surprising to us given the similar curb weights of the two cars (the TLX weighs just 100 pounds more than the TSX, despite its additional equipment and larger overall size) and the TLX’s advantageous, quick-shifting dual-clutch gearbox. Those looking for more straight-line punch will want to investigate the optional 3.5-liter V-6 TLX or a BMW 320i -- our last 2014 version managed a 6.6-second 0 to 60 mph run and a 15.1-second quarter mile. Other competitive times from the MT test archive include a 2012 Audi A4 2.0T Quattro (5.8 seconds to 60 mph) and a 2013 Cadillac ATS (6.0 seconds to 60 mph). Admittedly, all these competitors have turbocharged 2.0-liter engines, something Acura doesn’t offer, and the Audi and Cadillac both have a strong horsepower advantage.
On the figure-eight course the TLX managed slightly better, with a best lap of 27.0 seconds at a 0.74g average. The TSX required an additional 0.2 second and registered a significantly lower 0.62g average. Braking from 60 mph to a standstill was identical between the two cars, at 122 feet. On the skidpad, the TLX pipped its ancestor by just a hundredth of a g, hitting 0.84g. Dynamically, the TLX is more entertaining to drive with its fairly neutral tendencies as opposed to the steady push the TSX was keen to deliver. The 320i we tested ran a 26.1-second time around our figure eight, nearly a full second quicker, and stopped from 60 mph in just 109 feet. The A4 and ATS ran 25.9-second and 26.3-second figure eights, respectively.
As a complete package, the TLX feels like a good compromise between the TL and TSX and is vastly improved over both of those cars in terms of driving dynamics, interior aesthetics and quality, and available technology. That said, the TLX 2.4 can’t quite keep up with its turbocharged competition. Keep a watch for our full test of the more powerful Acura TLX V-6, coming soon.
|2015 Acura TLX 2.4|
|PRICE AS TESTED||$35,920|
|VEHICLE LAYOUT||Front-engine, FWD, 5-pass, 4-door sedan|
|ENGINE||2.4L/206-hp/182-lb-ft DOHC 16-valve I-4|
|TRANSMISSION||8-speed twin-clutch auto|
|CURB WEIGHT (F/R DIST)||3478 lb (60/40%)|
|LENGTH x WIDTH x HEIGHT||190.3 x 73.0 x 57.0 in|
|0-60 MPH||7.2 sec|
|QUARTER MILE||15.6 sec @ 91.1 mph|
|BRAKING, 60-0 MPH||122 ft|
|LATERAL ACCELERATION||0.84 g (avg)|
|MT FIGURE EIGHT||27.0 sec @ 0.74 g (avg)|
|EPA CITY/HWY/COMB FUEL ECON||24/35/28 mpg|
|ENERGY CONS., CITY/HWY||140/96 kW-hrs/100 miles|
|CO2 EMISSIONS, COMB||0.69 lb/mile|