By on March 10, 2014

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Acura has a habit of debuting concept cars that look nearly identical to the production version – which is part of the reason why we’re showing you the concept version of the Acura TLX, when undisguised photos of the real thing have surfaced.

Over at Vtec.net, spy photos from KGP have surfaced of an undisguised TLX. Without the big wheels and fire engine paintwork, the TLX looks much more subdued, with a mix of ILX and RLX styling cues. The TLX will replace the TL and TSX, both fine cars in their own right. The TL 6MT SH-AWD was, in my opinion, a rather underrated car. Despite its ungainly looks, it proved to be an entertaining performer in deep snow, thanks to the trick AWD system and the meaty Blizzaks installed by Honda Canada. The TLX will get both a 2.4L 4-cylinder and a 3.5 V6 powertrain with DCT and 9-Speed automatic transmissions respectively- no word on an MT option.

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61 Comments on “Acura TLX Spied With A Beak Job...”


  • avatar
    Skink

    Harelip.

  • avatar
    dal20402

    I remember an article in one mag or another way back when the second-generation TL came out that talked about how hard the product manager had to fight to get that car’s chrome dual exhaust finishers onto the production version of the car.

    Two chrome exhaust tips.

    And that’s totally consistent with what we see here. The concept looks great. It has some neat detailing, all of which except the wing mirrors and maybe the aggressive lower lip is totally production-ready. And yet the production version, while inoffensive, is blander than yesterday’s Camry.

    This is a company that has some marvelous engineering chops but has had all of the styling micromanaged out of it.

    • 0 avatar
      tonycd

      Agreed, on all counts.

      The linked article describes the final styling as “tame,” and I agree with that assesement too. This car is not ugly (except for the damn beak), unlike the outgoing 3rd-generation TL. But the ultimate damnation of this styling job is that it could easily be mistaken for a car with no real sporting chops under the skin. At the time it came out, you could never have said that about the high-water mark for the model, the 04-08 second-generation TL.

      It may be unfair to hold subsequent generations of the car up against one of the prettiest sedans of this era, but dammit, if you can’t do something different that’s as good, then do what everyone from Mini to Beetle to Kia Soul does: just don’t change it. It wasn’t broken.

      • 0 avatar
        Kyree S. Williams

        I agree. This absolutely looks no more special than the Lexus ES. And the ES isn’t a bad car, mind you, but there’s nothing particularly distinguished about it.

      • 0 avatar
        IHateCars

        “This car is not ugly (except for the damn beak), unlike the outgoing 3rd-generation TL.”

        You mean 4th gen…the 3rd Gen (’04 – ’08) was arguably the best looking (I’m sure best selling) generation of TL.

        I agree with Derek that the 4th gen TL was a very underrated car due to the polarizing styling. It’s a shame because it is a very capable AWD sedan that gives the S4 a run for it’s money.

        As far as the new TLX, I like the concept more than the production version…more dynamic. The wheels on the cars in the spy shots are really boring. I also think they are aping the 3rd Gen look a bit, at least in the front end. I suspect that the Acura fanboy aftermarket will be mocking up replacement grilles as we speak like they did for the previous version…which looked a Hell of a lot better with a different grill! If you remove the cross bar on this grille it’s a dead ringer for the 3rd gen TL.

  • avatar
    Pch101

    The Temple of VTEC photos look like son of RLX. That’s not a particularly good thing.

    On the whole, I think that I would prefer what was revealed during the car show, but with an aftermarket grille.

  • avatar
    johnhowington

    the current gen kia optima looks better. for shame honda.

  • avatar
    geeber

    The production car looks like a super-size ILX from some angles.

    I like the overall look – but then, I’m apparently one of three people in this country who doesn’t mind the toned-down “plenum” grille and also likes the ILX.

  • avatar
    Dirk Stigler

    Fundamentally, this reads to me as an ILX with the extra inches to make the proportions work. That said, it also looks very much like a 7/8 scale Lexus ES350. A Universal Japanese Luxury Sedan.

  • avatar
    readallover

    If the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result, Acura executives are insane.

  • avatar
    thegamper

    My personal opinion on Acura is that they went for the moonshot on design, not unlike Cadillac on its “art and science” theme. The Japanese luxury cars have never been particulary distinctive as the German brands every carmaker wants to emulate. Cadillac’s designs were and still are polarizing on some levels but have softened and evolved into something I think most people can appreciate as attractive. More importantly, Cadillacs are instantly recognizable as Cadillacs. Something BMW, Mercedes and Audi have always been fairly good at to varying degrees.

    Giving Acura a distinctive design was and maybe still is a good idea. It is only one cog in the gear though and unfortunatly it is a hideously ugly cog. I really think Acura needs an entirely new direction in styling. Whoever keeps greenlighting these new designs should be sent packing. Honda has the ability to compete on every level with any luxury player but insists on continuing down this disasterous design path, platform sharing with lesser models, and warmed over corporate engines/parts found across Honda’s model range. Essentially, the same course that nearly doomed Cadillac and Lincoln is still fighting to escape. Those who dont learn from history……

    • 0 avatar
      George B

      Acura’s problem is the brand doesn’t offer much extra status over Honda. Since the 2009 TL, Acura has been both more expensive and uglier than it’s equivalent Honda. The second problem is their cars inherently have the large front overhang of a FWD car in a market where RWD BMW sets customer expectations about the basic proportions of a luxury car.

      Southpark 2006 Acura Cake
      http://www.southparkstudios.com/clips/104406/acura-cake

      I suspect that Honda is capturing some of the 2004-2008 Acura TL customers with the new Honda Accord Touring trim level. http://dmcar.net/2013-honda-accord-touring/ It’s almost as expensive as the TL was in the pre-beak generation and comes with most of the same luxury features.

  • avatar
    thegamper

    Bring back the Legend. Call it a Legend (no alphabet soup), give it a unique engine, RWD/AWD, a long wheelbase and the best tech on hand. Most importantly drop the corprate grill. Heck, use similar proportions and design to the original….it still looks pretty good after all these years IMO.

  • avatar
    sparc

    Concept gave me hope, but this is not that good looking. Enough to get me to look elsewhere. Why pay this much if it can’t look a little modern?

    Looking at the TLX makes me feel like i’m some drone in a cubicle. boring…

    • 0 avatar
      jefmad

      How can you like the concept and not this car?
      They are almost exactly the same.

      • 0 avatar
        dal20402

        It’s all in the details. The overall impressions they leave are quite different. The concept looks like a sport sedan, while the production version looks like a slightly tidier Lexus ES.

      • 0 avatar
        Macca

        Exactly, dal. In looking at the 3/4 front view of the concept and the production versions, I’ve also noticed that the production version has a much taller rear end and a much more pronounced wedge shape to a thinner nose, versus the more chunky, flat beltline of the concept.

        It’s tough to describe, but it appears from the concept that the beltline is nearly parallel with the base of the vehicle, nearly flat. The production version spy shots show a much different story – the greenhouse beltline slopes downward steeply to the front of the vehicle, making the side of the vehicle’s proportions more awkward and decidedly less sporty.

        Check out the picture of the two I edited with cheesy lines to indicate these different proportions. The vertical lines are the same length for the respective versions, indicating the slope of the beltline – I do realize that some perspective issues likely play a role here, too.

        http://oi57.tinypic.com/2v81i5e.jpg

        • 0 avatar
          Zykotec

          It’s just that all the official shots of the ‘Concept’ are trying their best to hide the ‘big butt’. The cars are mostly identical except for wheels and bumpers.

          • 0 avatar
            Macca

            I dunno Zykotec – I definitely hear what you’re saying, but I have a sneaking suspicion that the concept might differ by a few cm in a few key dimensions. It might just be creative angles in the photography, but the concept’s overall shape is more blocky and less wedge-like than the production version.

            Some of this may also be due to differences in the suspension and ride height too.

        • 0 avatar
          Kyree S. Williams

          I absolutely agree with you. That’s why it’s difficult to know whether or not you truly like something until it’s on the road (or until candid shots of it have been taken, such as this set). This dissonance between photograph and production model can work in a manufacturer’s favor, however. A lot of people didn’t like the pictures of the Cherokee, but once it was on the road, it got a surprisingly positive response for its design.

        • 0 avatar
          This Is Dawg

          I gotta side with Zykotec on this one. Look how tiny the back wheel looks in the concept pic. The amount of body between the back wheel well and the beltline looks the same to me, just with much more flattering photos for the concept.

  • avatar
    Avatar77

    NEEDZ MOAR HEDLITEZ=Acura styling language, 2013-14.

  • avatar
    raresleeper

    Seems that the only car whose front fascia we refer to as having a “beak” is Acura. This is certainly no term of endearment.

    This further reinforces that this car’s looks can’t be too good.

    This thing still needs a nose job.

  • avatar
    ceipower

    TLX ,RLX,MDX …..What the ….Integra , Legend , and even Vigor made more sense to me. As for the beak… It’s as if Honda was run by Henry Ford 2nd. The “Duce” always said “never Complain , Never Explain”

  • avatar
    mjz

    Acura and Lincoln stubbornly refuse to change their universally derided grille designs. It simply defies logic.

    • 0 avatar
      Zykotec

      As an artist, and wannabe designer, I love the Beaks, but not as much as I love the Baleens. In this case the majority is just ‘wrong’. But, I admit, if you want to make money, listening to the majority is usually considered a good idea.

  • avatar
    Zykotec

    I know I’m probably biased, but how is Lexus allowed to do the ‘Predator’ grille, Infiniti can do the ‘headlights that obviously weren’t designed with this car in mind’-thing,Audi can cover the whole front of their cars in grilles and intakes, and still everyone keeps complaining about the so-called ‘beak’ on the Acuras, which is apparently a broader upper chrome trim part in the grille, bordering on a grille block?. Could it be because the rest of the cars are so clean and understated? It’s hardly a landmark, like a Mercedes or Rolls Royce grille.
    (OK,I admit it could have been better in bodycolour on most models, if the grille frame was still chrome/brushed)

    • 0 avatar
      dal20402

      Beak hate came from the 2009 TL, where it was truly atrocious. The later cars with the tamed beak really aren’t that bad, but people hate the beak out of habit and association with that first TL version.

      Beak or not, this TLX, the latest RDX, and the RLX are pictures of conservative blandness. Too bad, because they are more interesting under the skin.

    • 0 avatar
      White Shadow

      Because the Acura beak is gaudy in it’s not-quite-chrome-but-still-inherently-shiny kind of way, which is nothing like Audi’s corporate grille or even the ridiculous Lexus spindle grille. But seriously, Audi manages to pull it off brilliantly and it look great on almost all of their vehicles. The only downside is that a non-Audi fan would probably have a difficult time telling one model from the next looking at the cars from straight on.

      • 0 avatar
        Zykotec

        As a non-Audi fan, I can confirm that last statement. Add to it that I can’t tell the last three or four generations apart either…(I’m guessing more leds on the newer models, although leds can also be cheap dollar-store upgrades)
        I always get so dissapointed when I think meet a gorgeous A5 while driving, and as I get close enough I realize it’s just a dime a dozen A3/4/6/7 or whatever…the only problem I have with the Lincoln Baleens, (and all German grilles) is that they are ‘fake’ though, unlike the small slats in the Acura grille which aren’t 12 times bigger than what they would need to be.

        • 0 avatar
          White Shadow

          I actually own an A5 and I think it’s one of the most beautiful coupes on the road. But as a fan and owner, I don’t have that much of a problem differentiating one model from another. I can see how some people might though….

        • 0 avatar
          This Is Dawg

          I really dislike Audi’s direction after 2007. Those are my favorite front and back ends they’ve made, save the A7 of course. To me, it looks like Audi and VW sedans are going to merge into LED-accented rectangles.

          But by far my biggest complaint with the new Audis is this particular set of headlights:

          http://pictures.topspeed.com/IMG/crop/201307/2014-audi-a4-11_600x0w.jpg

          Every time I see one on the road, the gap in the LED makes it look like the car is stick looking up at something.

          And then there’s this:

          http://www.tampabay.com/resources/images/dti/rendered/2013/09/BL_lights092813_11605043_8col.jpg

  • avatar
    APaGttH

    How can Honda be so tone deaf? In the concept pic on TTAC other than the nose being a bit overdone, this is a great looking car.

    The real deal is as bland on the outside as the Satan spawn of a Camry and Malibu out on a drunken bender.

    I just don’t get it – it’s like the bean counters want to actually kill Acura and they are doing all they can to say, “hi Buick, please, just take all our customers, take ‘em, we don’t want a near luxury brand anymore. Congrats and love and kisses.”

    I just don’t get it. I have always liked Acura but they haven’t made anything really appealing since the beak language appeared.

  • avatar
    Kyree S. Williams

    I’m more annoyed that Acura has decided to forgo exhaust-tips on all of its cars. They would have looked really good on the MDX, RLX and this TLX.

  • avatar
    White Shadow

    I hate Acura’s recent trend of giving a new car duel exhaust outlets and then hiding them under the bumper. Why, Acura, why? One of my favorite styling elements is a nicely finished exhaust tip on each side of the car….even if we’re not talking about a true dual exhaust system.

    • 0 avatar
      Kyree S. Williams

      And then they go and replace the exhaust-tips with those awkward-looking chrome-rimmed reflectors. it doesn’t make sense to me, either. I’m pretty sure Acura still wants sportiness to be associated with its brand-image, and visible exhaust tips do that. Even Hyundai understands that tactic, because most Sonata packages have single-pipe exhaust systems that are tucked behind the bumper, but the (sporty) SE trim has a visible dual-exhaust setup, as do any models with the (sportier) 2.0T engine (SE 2.0T and Limited 2.0T)…

      • 0 avatar
        White Shadow

        Yup, I can’t stand those pseudo chrome things that are popping up on so many new cars these days. Just give me a set of tips on each side of the car and I’ll be a happy camper. I mean, this is something that will die out as electric cars gain popularity, so let’s keep them around for now!

        • 0 avatar
          WheelMcCoy

          >>I mean, this [exhaust tips] is something that will die out as electric cars gain popularity…

          I like exhaust tips too. Hiding them seems to be Acura’s way of associating themselves with “clean”. And their cars are actually very clean from an emissions point-of-view. Add “Earth Dreams Engines” marketing and you feel all green, warm, and fuzzy.

          Nah, give me dual exhaust tips.

  • avatar
    300zx_guy

    It is kind of generic looking, I can see how the profile could be confused with a Lexus ES. That said, Acura would love some ES sales numbers. And the beak is worlds better than the Lexus spindle. Maybe the Type-S model will be closer to the concept’s more aggressive rocker panels and front/rear valences. Have they shown the interior yet? Haven’t been impressed with their recent interiors, even the RLX.

  • avatar
    gasser

    This non-progress styling plus the 2.4 ancient engine will end Acura as we know it. Within 3years all the profit will be from RDX and MDX. Where is the value to explain the cost premium over Honda models? RLX for $60K????
    Really????

    • 0 avatar
      dal20402

      Styling, OK, but there ain’t nothin’ wrong with the K24W. It’s unusual in still being naturally aspirated but it’s the best naturally aspirated four out there right now, period. And where did you get “ancient?” The engine was first introduced for the 2013 model year.

  • avatar
    cargogh

    I don’t know what Acura is doing. For 25 years I’ve watched Acura, Lexus, and Infiniti develop. Lexus has beat it into my brow that it is all about quality; Infiniti is the Japanese BMW, and Acura has a beak.

  • avatar
    krayzie

    Aren’t those wheels just ugly interpretations of the BRZ/FRS rims? Even the color / finish scheme is the same, just thicker more ugly spokes.

  • avatar
    TEXN3

    It’s funny really, Acura has always been in this predicament since the early 90s. They offered more “soulful” cars back then but they were perceived as boring yet capable. Go read a 22 year old review of the Legend or Integra (not a GSR or Type-R), they had bland styling back then. acura sales were suffering until the MDX. The 3rd gen TL developed some enthusiasm for the brand but of course, it was FWD and just not good enough for the burgeoning internets. The prior-gen TL folks didn’t upgrade to RLs, they went to the MDX.

    Personally, I think this is a good looking car which will age well just like the Integra and Legend of 20 years ago. And even back then, the drivetrains weren’t cutting edge but they were highly developed, proven, and very smooth. Especially when everyone else is going goofy with their styling. BMW was criticized in the 90s for being bland, yet now we prefer the E39 as the “classic” BMW. We wanted a unique looking Acura that didn’t look like a copy of something else and we ended up with the 4th gen TL.

    Of course, I say this as a former owner of a 92 Integra GSR, 98 3.2TL (short-Legend), 02 3.2TL (first Accord based TL and my cousin has it now with 227k miles) and my is the current owner of a 12 Accord. I guess I’m biased in seeing that Acura is still making fine cars and they’re not going downhill but they’ve stayed relatively stagnant in the sedan market for over 20 years. The problem I see is that why get an Acura when you can get an Accord.

    My favorite Acura sedan would be the 05-09 RL, love to have one of those but they didn’t sell because Audi.

    • 0 avatar
      Macca

      Good points, but I’d also argue that expectations have shifted dramatically over the last 20 years. The bar was raised several years ago and Acura seems painfully unaware.

      It always amazes me when I get in a newer Acura – their interiors really are dreadful. A sea of gray plasticky buttons on the center stack and big swoopy pieces of plastic trim painted to look like aluminum – nothing befitting of the prices they’re charging. Infiniti stepped up their game several years back to offer more premium materials (real aluminum, real wood) and Lexus has taken on a more avant garde approach, but there’s Acura with huge swaths of toy-sword plastic and the typical Honda button-fest.

      I’m just not sure what their angle is. It seems like they’re trying to capture the ‘staid’ market, but Lexus has that all but locked down with the ES. Infiniti at least offers RWD and V8s and has gained differentiation from the Nissan lineup. I guess Acura really is just counting on the up-sell from Accord owners looking for more alumo-plastic trim?

      Plus, blaming the RL’s poor sales on Acura is an east out. It didn’t sell because it was a smallish $50k+ ‘flagship’ with an anemic V6 & 5-speed AT to lug around 4000 lbs and Civic-esque wedge styling. I’m just not sure what there was to draw anyone to that car, for MSRP pricing, at least. You could always pick one up used – they run about $17-$18k today in great shape.

      • 0 avatar
        cargogh

        That’s why people always mention a fit’s Acura-like instrumentation. It’s nice on a fit.

      • 0 avatar
        EX35

        Well said. Personally, I will not spend $50K+ on a FWD-based platform. Never. As i’ve said before, buyers in this price range want RWD, whether they know it or not. They want the feel that only RWD can deliver. They want the styling that only RWD can deliver.

  • avatar
    EX35

    Build a damn RWD platform. How many times must it be said. Those front overhangs look ridiculous.


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