In September we asked if the TLX could restore Acura’s car business. In October, we realized that by Acura standards, the TLX could quickly end up as a hit. And now in November, with October 2014 U.S. sales results in hand, the Acura TLX is a hit.
We could apply all manner of qualifying statements: it’s early; other cars are transitioning to a new model year as Acura ramps up the TLX; year-over-year comparisons only highlight the dire straits which were afflicting the TLX’s predecessors; the TLX is relatively inexpensive and thus obviously a more justifiable proposition for buyers moving up to “luxury” cars.
Or, the TLX is exactly what potential Acura customers had been desirous of for years. Not too big, not too small. A choice between an efficient four-cylinder or a similarly efficient but far more powerful V6. Front or all-wheel-drive. Transmissions which, at least in terms of ratios, leapfrog the competition. Somewhat subdued but not unattractive styling. And an advertised base price below $31,000.
The result? Only four premium brand cars – 3-Series/4-Series, C-Class, ES, 5-Series – and only six premium brand vehicles – RX and MDX included – outsold the TLX in October 2014.
4890 TLXs were sold in October, a 95% year-over-year increase compared with the combined total of the TL and TSX in October 2013, a 26% increase compared with the TLX’s own total from September of this year. During a month in which brand-wide Acura sales rose 8%, the TLX accounted for 31.7% of all Acura sales. These were tremendously useful figures for Acura last month, as the ILX, RLX, TL, TSX, MDX, RDX, and ZDX all posted year-over-year decreases.
Non-TLX sales were down 26%.
What of the TLX’s competitors? The vast 3-Series/4-Series range is virtually a brand unto itself, with more permutations than Law & Order, CSI, and NCIS put together. As a result, the 3-Series/4-Series lineup (up 16% to 13,621) sells in brand-like numbers, with more October sales than Cadillac, Infiniti, or Lincoln; more than Volvo, Posche, Land Rover, and Jaguar combined. Mercedes-Benz sold 7412 copies of its new C-Class in October – no one would deny the C-Class is a long-time success.
Lexus’s ES, meanwhile, was down 1% to 5932 units. (The IS was up 6% to 3771 October sales.) Nissan sold 4188 Maximas; Buick sold 4071 LaCrosses; Infiniti reported 2964 Q50 sales. Audi and Cadillac both reported fewer than 2700 total A4 and ATS sales, respectively. Mercedes-Benz CLA sales were down to 2596, a 47% drop compared with its peak month of October 2013.
It will take more than a year, at least, to see if the TLX has the long-lasting appeal of venerable German nameplates or even Lexus’s more comfort-oriented ES. If we can judge cars based on three months of results – admittedly, it’s early – the TLX is an undeniably potent force for American Honda. Moreover, on the subject of premature heralding, any suggestion that these strong results are symptomatic of pent-up demand for a long-awaited car only serves to point out that Acura may possess a larger, more fervent fan base than we would have believed; that the TLX has been deemed by many to be a car worth waiting for.