By on May 18, 2017

2018 Acura TLX, Image: © 2017 Jack Baruth

Stop multi-tasking and listen to me for a minute, because I’m going to tell you the most important thing you’ll read this week.

Many years ago, when I was still in the pharmaceuticals game, I had a business mentor of sorts. He was a thick-set, bald, African-American fellow in his early 60s who dressed exclusively in velour tracksuits and, at the time of this story, had a custom-ordered pink S500, an SL500, and an aftermarket-droptop Lexus SC400 in his garage.

We were sitting at dinner one night and I was griping about a fellow we knew who had been given every chance possible by both of us to become remarkably wealthy. Yet every time one of us gave him a chance, he pissed it away through random acts of fiscal impropriety or domestic violence. I couldn’t understand why this dude could not get his act together and handle his business in an appropriate manner.

“Listen up, young blood,” my mentor said, stabbing me in the chest with a finger about the size of a Mag-Lite flashlight, “you cannot want something for someone they do not want for themselves.” I think I dropped my fork. He was right, of course. In the years since then, I’ve had occasion to remember those words again and again. You cannot want something for someone they do not want for themselves.

I need you to keep that in mind as you read this review. If you are like most automotive enthusiasts, you want Acura to return immediately to the glory days of the beautiful first-generation Legend and the sublime twin-cam Integra. But you cannot want something for Acura that it does not want for itself. Acura is perfectly content with being primarily known as the manufacturer of the RDX and MDX sport-utility vehicles. Those two products are market leaders and they’re more than enough to guarantee Acura’s continued existence. If you continue to hope that Acura will build razor’s-edge sporting compacts and M3 rivals, you will continue to be disappointed. Period, point blank. Got it?

Let’s continue.

2018 Acura TLX, Image: © 2017 Jack Baruth

I’d like to start by offering by heartfelt thanks to the organizers of the 2018 TLX press launch, because they permitted me to fit the event into what was a very cramped schedule for me. Due to some pre-existing commitments, I had to arrive at the host hotel well past midnight, hustle through the four-segment media drive, and get back on the road home before 2 p.m. This didn’t leave any room for the usual press-trip amenities, but it did give me a chance to put 270 miles on my personal 2014 Accord V6 EX-L both before and immediately after driving the TLX. That’s important, because the TLX is, not to put too fine a point on it, a sort of Accord Brougham.

Not that there’s anything wrong with that. When the TLX first appeared three years ago, I put nearly 3,000 miles on two different examples of the car, driving them around both Summit Point’s Shenandoah course and Watkins Glen. I liked the car just fine. Compared to an Accord, it was quieter, featured better interior materials, and offered a few techno-tricks not available on the store-brand Honda sedan. Honestly, that’s all the TLX needs to do to be a worthwhile purchase for some people. There are a lot of middle-aged Accord loyalists out there with enough money to upgrade to an Acura. Their primary concern: the car be no worse than an Accord.

I know this because I’m one of those people. Unfortunately for me, the TLX is worse than an Accord in one way that really counts: the absence of a manual transmission. Had there been a six-speed V6 TLX available in 2014, I’d have bought one without hesitation. Acura offered a six-speed in the previous TL SH-AWD, but apparently the take rate wasn’t enough to justify doing it again. Sucks to be me, right? But it also sucks to be Honda, because I’d have cheerfully given them $45,000 instead of $31,000 for what is essentially the same car.

2018 Acura TLX, Image: © 2017 Jack Baruth

It’s alright. There aren’t enough people like me to matter — and after sitting through Acura’s presentation the morning of the press event, I realized I’m not the target market for the TLX anyway. The intended demographic appears to be people who lead exciting, urban, food-centric lifestyles with a diverse cast of hip friends. I’m none of those things; I’m just some jackass who can afford to buy a different-colored TLX for every day of the week if it would just come with a clutch pedal. Too old, too staid, too rural. Like Ralph Ellison’s narrator in the first chapter of his best novel, I’ve simply become invisible to Acura’s marketing division.

For 2018, the TLX receives a suite of mild but impressive upgrades and a brand-new A-spec model, all carefully calculated to appeal to the above-mentioned unicorn Millennials. You can judge the new front and (on certain models) rear fascia for yourself; I like it. The top-spec V6 Advance offers some new features: wireless charging, power-folding mirrors, heated rear seats, and a “bird’s-view” camera system like what you see on an Infiniti or Mercedes-Benz. But all TLX models get the comprehensive suite of active safety features, called AcuraWatch, which includes lane-keeping assist and is fundamentally identical to the “Honda Sensing” feature pack available on every trim of the Accord.

2018 Acura TLX, Image: © 2017 Jack Baruth

The belle of the TLX ball, in Acura’s opinion, is the A-Spec. At $42,800, it’s cheaper than the $43,750 V6 Advance. You get a special front and rear fascia, big wheels, chrome exhaust tips, some badges, and a tuned-up suspension. I found it impossible to make a significant distinction between the A-Spec and the V6 Advance on the drive route provided. Both of them are hugely competent and quite fast thanks to the always-stellar 3.5-liter V6. You can get a four-cylinder TLX for as little as $33,000, but the base six starts at $36,200 and you’d be a fool not to spring for it. Acura has a lot to say about the virtues of the TLX compared to the German competition, but I can sum up all the salient and/or worthwhile advantages Hitchhiker’s Guide-style:

  • First, it is slightly cheaper than the Germans;
  • Secondly, it has a V6.

Or to misquote Hilaire Belloc: “Whatever happens, Acura has got / the Honda J35 V6 / and they have not.” In the TLX, this engine is matched to the infamous ZF nine-speed automatic. This is unique to the TLX; with the Accord, the V6 is paired with Honda’s common-and-garden six-speed auto or a CVT if you stick with the four-pot. If you drove both back to back, I think you would prefer the Accord’s less complicated automatic, which doesn’t hunt between gears or stall for discernible periods of time during the many double-downshifts required by the narrow-ratio gearing in the ZF transmission. I cannot, however, argue with the very solid fuel-economy numbers displayed by the TLX during my drive, which hovered in the 28-29 mile per gallon range even with a bit of the ol’ back-road ultraviolence.

2018 Acura TLX, Image: © 2017 Jack Baruth

The other primary mechanical distinction between the Accord and the TLX is the availability of all-wheel-drive on V6 models of the Acura. If this is important to you, then you should get it, but the dry-road handling benefits of the system are mostly cancelled out by the additional weight. I’m reasonably certain that my Accord Coupe could dust any TLX around a racetrack, thanks to the mass advantage and the manual transmission.

Should you put a 2018 TLX in your garage? If you have an older TLX, I don’t think that the improvements warrant a trade-in, pleasant as they may be. If you’re an entry-level Audi or BMW “intender,” you should give the Acura a quick look-over to see if the extra power and likely better reliability are enough to mitigate the loss of perceived prestige that comes with the Acura badge vis-a-vis the Germans.

2018 Acura TLX, Image: © 2017 Jack Baruth

All the mandatory marketing hype aside, surely the buyer for the TLX is the same person he or she has always been: an Accord owner who wants to spend a little extra money. So let’s be forthright about that. The Accord Touring is thirty-five grand. The $8,000 you spend over and above that for the V6 Advance nets you a better interior, a better sound system, a SIGNIFICANTLY QUIETER CABIN — I put that in all-caps so my fellow Accord owners can hear it over the road noise — a variety of minor luxury features, and a better warranty.

2018 Acura TLX, Image: © 2017 Jack Baruth

You could pay more and get less. You really could. And we could conclude there, except for one thing: Shortly before departing for the trip home, I saw a very handsome brown TLX V6 Advance with all the options. It kind of spoke to the Brougham fancier in me. I opened the door and was impressed by the quality and tactile appeal of the interior. If there had been a stick-shift between the seats, I would have called my local Acura dealer on the way home and made a deposit. I’d like to have the extra Acura features and I’m willing to pay for them. I just want to shift for myself, the way I could with a BMW or with my current Honda. But Acura doesn’t want my business — and you can’t want something for someone that they don’t want for themselves, can you?

Acura provided lodging and food to this writer during this event. Jack provided the Accord used as transportation to and fro.

[Images: © 2017 Jack Baruth]

Get the latest TTAC e-Newsletter!

Recommended

134 Comments on “2018 Acura TLX First Drive Review – Accord Brougham...”


  • avatar
    redapple

    Jack.
    More writing like this.
    Nice.

    • 0 avatar
      VW4motion

      Second that.
      Also agree this is basically a car for people that want an awd Accord.

      • 0 avatar
        tonycd

        Jack, how did the car steer and handle?

        I agree with the comments below that the interior comes up short on luxury ambience, so its sport sedan pretensions had better be backed up by good road manners.

    • 0 avatar
      WheelMcCoy

      +1. I especially appreciated the prelude. It made everything that followed easier to accept.

      I like the new grill; it has a dynamic visual effect. I also see exhaust pipes! But without a manual, I know this car is not for me. The new TLX is a nice sedan, but I am at a point in life where it’s give me a manual, or give me electric!

      • 0 avatar
        MartyToo

        Speaking of the prelude, there is also for our consideration a new Prelude on the way for 2018. My money is on being able too slip into it but being too old to climb out. At least they’ll be one more 2dr option.

    • 0 avatar
      tlaccord

      Jack Baruth best review ever thank you had 4 new accords before my 04 TL which has 208,000 miles which I’m keeping. trading in the 13 accord model for a nicer accord 2018 acura tlxv6 advance in june 2017. there is a different feeling driving an acura compared to the honda keep up the excellent writing.

  • avatar

    no manual? I like the author would ahve upgraded but no automatic for me! I’ll keep my TSX 6-speed until it dies..

  • avatar
    ajla

    If you Ctrl+H “Cadillac” for “Acura” and “V8 car” for “manual transmission” then I know how you feel.

  • avatar
    wintermutt

    THIS. // If you are like most automotive enthusiasts, you want Acura to return immediately to the glory days of the beautiful first-generation Legend//
    1989 Legend Coupe with 5 speed and 6 cylinder. Arguably my favorite all around vehicle ever driven.

    current –
    1992 NSX
    BMW X3 2005
    Lexus 2006
    2008 Tundra 4wd Crewmax

    • 0 avatar
      DearS

      I bet the engine layout had something to do with the fun factor of the Legend.

    • 0 avatar
      Middle-Aged Miata Man

      The first-gen cars were OK to look at (and, like you noted, quite rewarding to drive) but I’m not entirely sure that Jack didn’t mean the second-generation (1991-1995) Legend.

    • 0 avatar
      iantg

      I was an Integra fan. My first car was one of the first gen Integras (an 89 LS 3 door). Absolute joy to drive. I had a second gen Integra some years later (a 93). At this point, Acura is a good choice if you feel that a Volvo is too showy.

      I went BMW some years ago and long for something comfortable, but not terribly showy. The RDX seems like a pretty competent little car. I had an 05 X3 and absolutely adored it, but the newer X3’s are kinda meh.

  • avatar
    ant

    nice review.

    I’m pretty sure the manual v6 accord coup isn’t long for this world either. I believe there are only a few months left if one wants to buy one of these new.

    A friend of mine has a coup with v6 and stick, and he is very happy with the car.

    Another thing that sticks in my craw is the cheap looking instrument gauges in modern Hondas. I believe the only ones left that I’d find acceptable are the Accord, and HRV, and the Accord get redesigned this fall. I think they do this to make the Acura more appealing.

    I’ll be going somewhere else for my next new car.

    • 0 avatar
      jalop1991

      “I’m pretty sure the manual v6 accord coup isn’t long for this world either.”

      Well, perhaps technically you’re correct.

      I fully expect them to change the name of that car to Prelude. After all, that’s really what it is, right?

    • 0 avatar
      donatolla

      “I’m pretty sure the manual v6 accord coup isn’t long for this world either.”

      Most definitely true…if an Accord doesn’t have a V6, does it still matter in comparison to a Civic?

  • avatar
    ZCD2.7T

    The A-Spec package pushes this car nicely in my direction, and I don’t care about the lack of a manual transmission, but I DO care that even with the V-6, the TLX won’t keep up with the turbo 4-cylinder A4 and 328i in a straight line.

    Now, add the MDX’s Sport Hybrid drivetrain and I might well head down to a dealer for a look/drive…

  • avatar
    jh26036

    Another forgettable car from this so called premium brand.

    I remember seeing the 2nd and 3rd generation TL as being everywhere (Boston). I honestly don’t remember the last time I saw a “newer” one or maybe they are just invisible.

  • avatar
    legacygt

    My Dodge Durango has a rotary selector for the automatic transmission. It has 4 detents to select P R N and D. I hate it. It’ is not intuitive and provides no tactile feedback as to which gear you’ve selected. (The round dial looks and feels the same whether it’s in Drive or Reverse.) I’ve gotten used to it but that doesn’t mean it’s good. It’s not. And it is much worse than the traditional lever. While I believe the trend away from levers is driven by cost, I’ll accept Dodge’s explanation that the rotary dial frees up space as it is more compact than a gated lever. (I’ll even accept this knowing that the Grand Cherokee has a lever in the exact same spot of what is essentially the same interior.) So my question to Acura is, “what’s their excuse?” They’re array of transmission buttons takes up a ton of space. It’s longer than any lever setup. If you include the parking brake it seems to run nearly the entire length of the bottom seat cushion.

    Can we do anything to get our levers back?

  • avatar
    -Nate

    “The intended demographic appears to be people who lead exciting, urban, food-centric lifestyles with a diverse cast of hip friends.”.
    .
    ? Do they include a gun so you can shoot yourself when you realize this ? .
    .
    -Nate

  • avatar
    Coolcar2

    I wanna like this, I really do but it just does not feel special for the amount they charge over the Accord. I used to own an RL (wife’s car) back in the day and when it was in the dealer for service I was given a red first gen TSX as a loaner – loved that car! So tossable and planted. It begged to be driven. This version just seems so, meh. The interior does not look premium (accept for those brown seats in the last pic). You sit in any other car that competes with this in the “luxury” segment and they pamper you a bit more and give off more of a premium feel with materials and design. The interior design just does not do it for me and that is the part of the car you have to look at daily. I do think the front looks better but unless these really make an impression in-person I will have to pass.

  • avatar
    countymountie

    The front end looks sharp. A vast improvement over the past few years. Acura has never really done anything for me and likely never will. A buddy had a 95 Legend and while it was a very nice and capable car, it evoked no feelings either way. It was a total appliance.

    I agree with Jack on one point though. I would love to see a manual lever poking up through the console of the example with the brown leather seats/door panels. But he’d still be the only buyer so why bother?

  • avatar
    30-mile fetch

    An entertaining, informative, and unconventional review as always Jack. You make this car sound genuinely appealing, but then we come to the $8000 price difference and this:

    “hunt between gears or stall for discernible periods of time during the many double-downshifts required by the narrow-ratio gearing in the ZF transmission.”

    Bad transmissions are difficult to live with, I wouldn’t want to pay eight grand for one. I don’t know if the additional noise suppression and features would make up for it, but I do know that if I’m in the $40K sedan bracket I don’t care about an additional mpg or two.

    Which means I’m not in Acura’s target market either, but for different reasons. I don’t have the interest or wealth to pay a premium for a worse powertrain in a nicer version of an already nice enough car. Stingy middle-classers don’t buy the Lexus ES either.

    • 0 avatar
      ToddAtlasF1

      And I have little doubt that he’s right about the transmission, but I wonder why everyone pretends that the 8-speed ZF isn’t even worse on every shift, merely benefiting by there being a paltry amount fewer of them.

      • 0 avatar
        HotPotato

        The biggest issue with the 9 speed is apparently unpredictable heavy throttle downshifts due to the two dog clutches. Does the 8 speed use a different design? If so, then maybe that’s why it gets fewer complaints. Gear hunting is no big deal if the shifts are smooth.

  • avatar
    87 Morgan

    Nice write up, I enjoyed it.

    Oddly, I find the blue one pictured to be an attractive car. I can’t say that I have ever felt that way about a modern Acura.

    If I had to pick I would select the Acura over the Accord for the noise alone. The 4 door Accord MT I had for 3 weeks last June was awful. The road noise is inexcusable for a manufacture as accomplished as Honda. The coupe that I traded the for was quieter, though the road noise in that car was too loud as well.

    • 0 avatar
      whynotaztec

      Disappointed to hear that road noise is still an issue with Accords. I have a 12 and the noise is just tolerable, but I thought the newer ones were better. By comparison my Wrangler is quiet, and the Cruze is practically a tomb.

      • 0 avatar
        MartyToo

        13 and newer are quieter but still not as quiet as they should be. We owned ’08 and ’09 Accords. The ’13 I have is a much improved car but I’d wager the Acura is a heck of a lot nicer. Dialing in ride quality is far beyond the Accord.

  • avatar
    Halftruth

    Ok so no manual, but no shifter either. Did you like/dislike the push button set up on the TLX? I don’t care for it by the looks of it but how was it to use?

  • avatar
    3800FAN

    Having a GIGANTIC ACURA logo on the front screams classless. LOOK AT ME!!! SEE!!! IT’S AN ACURA!!!!

    Mercedes can get away with it because of the thin lines of their logo but when acura tries it,,,, it looks tacky.

    • 0 avatar
      ShoogyBee

      I think a blacked-out Acura logo would make the front end look pretty sinister, especially on the A-Spec version. I’d also throw bricks at Mercedes-Benz for offering that illuminated three-pointed star on the grille as an extra-cost option. Talk about stupid and ridiculous.

  • avatar

    The whole Acura playbook is “I want a BMW but OOHHH the MONNEY”. The BMW guy they are going after is the mass market, not B&B.

    The difference in soundproofing is no doubt intentional. While I’m sure the engineering cost money, the foam blocks everywhere can’t be too expensive. My Caddy is super quiet, but I’m amazed at the soundproofing I pull whenever I work on the car…I’ve also soundproofed cars in my earlier days, and you can work wonders with some lovingly laid out rug backing…

    I got past gen TL loaners back when my dealer was attempting to rebuild my MDX transmission (took three tries but they eventually got it). A SH AWD car with the uprated stereo was very fast, no nonsense. The base TL had old school GM suspension settings and one of the worst car sound systems I’ve heard short of a single speaker AM radio, mid dash.

    Road noise is a time thing to me. If you are in a car 30 mins, you probably won’t notice….in three hours, you will…oh, you will…..

    • 0 avatar
      kvndoom

      Re: soundproofing. I know I’ve said it before, but Acura is what Honda would be if Acura didn’t exist.

      Perfect example is the now-defunct TSX. If Europe it was an everyday run of the mill Honda Accord. In the US it was a “luxury car.”

  • avatar
    Corey Lewis

    “and an aftermarket-droptop Lexus SC430”

    So would that be a regular SC430, or an SC430 with fabric roof substituted for the metal one, or did you mean SC400?

  • avatar
    Corey Lewis

    Brand is of big time importance to these aspirational lease-me-payment-debt-happy Millennials. And I’m not sure the badge is going to cut it with them.

    Especially not when they can lease a GLA for less money.

    • 0 avatar
      FreedMike

      Here’s an interesting question: is all this “millenial” advertising really aimed at millenials, or at middle aged folks who imagine themselves as millenials? How many millenials can really afford a car like this?

      I’m going with the latter.

      (And, frankly, if you want a new car every couple of years, I’d say leasing is a far smarter option…so maybe the “debt happy” folks are smarter than we’re giving them credit for.)

      • 0 avatar
        Corey Lewis

        I was at an insurance dinner this week, and at least in this industry the people at the top are very interested in Millennials, new markets (young people), emerging professionals, and start-ups in Silicon Valley.

        I think they want the youth.

        And they’re not that smart, cause they charge things to cards, buy stuff they can’t afford (so they look good), and never get out of debt. Oh, and they think “gig jobs” are a good idea.

        • 0 avatar
          FreedMike

          I’m not sure how overspending makes millenials much different than the generation that came before them…this grand country of ours was built on overspending, you know.

        • 0 avatar
          WheelMcCoy

          Millennials would bristle at that characterization.

          A real-estate agent said Millennials would be able to afford a home if only they gave up their avocado toast.

          https://mobile.nytimes.com/2017/05/15/business/avocado-toast-millennials.html

        • 0 avatar
          baconator

          I’m a professional who lives in Silicon Valley – alas, much too old to be a Millennial – but at least doing well enough to afford an Acura if I wanted to. And I just could give a rat’s ass about the TLX.

          The real issue the auto industry faces is that non-enthusiasts don’t aspire to “nice” cars in the way they did in years past. My wealthiest close friend has a 10-year-old manual-transmission SLK and a Chevy Suburban. He could daily a Bugatti if he wanted to, but he takes Uber a lot and won’t shop for a car until one of his blows up entirely, and neither is likely to. I just had breakfast with another thirtysomething who just sold his company for $1.2B and cleared $20M for himself. He and his wife celebrated by packing up their two young sons in their Prius and camping in Yosemite for 6 weeks. Now he’s looking for another job. He’s a pilot and might buy a small airplane, but I don’t think he’d buy more car than maybe an X5 or Q7. Same with pretty much all the wealthy folks I know – they don’t care to drive anything even remotely commensurate with their wealth. Most of my other friends have Priuses or Subarus, even the ones who could afford a McLaren.

          In a world like that, who buys a TLX?

          • 0 avatar
            SuperCarEnthusiast

            Many wealthy people still hold on to their 15 year old vehicles because they have no need to buy another “new” car. They just do other things with their money and they like the fact that they can park the car anywhere and worry about someone stealing it.

          • 0 avatar
            carsofchaos

            Very true points. My great uncle was a multi-billionare (passed in 1995). His vehicle of choice? A Buick Lesabre. Not a classic 1960 Lesabre or anything like that….an ’85 Lesabre. Sure he had a Leer jet and a helicopter, but for driving he just didn’t give a rat’s ass.
            BTW if your wealthy friend has a single daughter over the age of 18, give her my number!

    • 0 avatar
      30-mile fetch

      Someone in the neighborhood just went from a ~8yo TSX to a GLC. Feeling their oats, apparently. Hopefully it’s a lease.

      • 0 avatar
        Eyeflyistheeye

        I’m so out of it I thought you were talking about a Mazda GLC until I realized that it’s part of the Mercedes alphabet soup family of SUVs.

    • 0 avatar
      facelvega

      Forget a GLA, you can lease a 3-series for less money. Everybody I work with fits the description of marketing’s favorite aspirational demographic, and they all drive European cars, mostly leased. I don’t know anyone who would seriously look at a TLX. They’d be more likely to just get a Civic or a Fit if they were considering Honda (or really a Subaru if they were considering Asian at all), but since the Golf is good right now, they’re just getting those when they need a cheap runabout.

      Here’s a top of my head count of about fifteen or so families including both their current and recent cars: 8 BMW, 5 Volvo, 4 VW, 4 Subaru, 3 Mercedes, 3 Audi, 2 Land Rover, 2 Honda, 2 American cars, 1 Porsche. Mix of east and west coast cases.

    • 0 avatar
      runs_on_h8raide

      The NY Metro tri-state area streets are flooded with leased BMWs and Audis. Not as much for Merc, surprisingly. I’d also say Infiniti is very big in the tri-state area as well, due to a very large Asian demo that doesn’t want Nissan/Honda/Toyota, but not the flashiness of the Germans and even Lexus. Infiniti seems to be a conservative choice for this demographic.

      Acura used to be tops of the luxury JDMs in the tri-state area right up until they dropped the Legend. Once they did that, it was a sad decline. Legends were everywhere.

      • 0 avatar
        baconator

        When you price out leases in the real world, Mercedes go for $100-200 more per month than the comparable BMW or Audi. The purchase base skews accordingly. Last I looked, the E-Class still had the largest percentage of buyers that pay all-cash outright than any other car.

  • avatar
    Driver8

    Nice A-E’s.

    I have a relative, an Acura lifer who has leased consecutively since Legend days, that currently drives a recent make TLX. It’s fast, but video game numb and reasonably quiet (with regard to wind noise anyway) but ride and road noise is *dreadful* because of its faddish wagon wheel, low profile shoes. Outward visibility equally sucks.

  • avatar
    MartyToo

    I like the review too but as an old f@7t EXL V6 coupe owner – you didn’t mention the extra doors. I’m too old to want to clutch but still want to feel younger than I am. I could use the AWD in the winter but I don’t want the extra doors.

    Nonetheless the other way to look at this for me is that short of a 2dr Acura I could learn to love an AWD Accord.

    • 0 avatar
      runs_on_h8raide

      My dad was an Acura lifer until he drove the Acura V6 coupe. Now he’s got that. Lease is up in December, hopefully Honda still offers a V6, let alone a coupe for the Accord. I’m tempted to buy out the Accord Coupe, the lease is b/o is only 17.5k. I love that car. It trounces every flat brim hat wearing driver behind the wheel of a WRX or STi I’ve ever come across at the lights or highway rolling. The J35 is a ‘legend.’

  • avatar
    Mandalorian

    TLX is honestly a good value as far as luxury sedans go. The E-Class and 5-Series has just become such terrible values for money, especially with 4-banger base engines and a significant upgrade cost. Of course the masses have (sensibly) shifted to the ML and X5.

    • 0 avatar
      a5ehren

      Yeah…I remember growing up (I’ll say early/mid-90s here) that the 5-series and LS were at least attainable cars for upper-middle class professionals like my dad.

      These days a 540 is deep in the 50s with any options and the LS starts around 70k. My wife and I make good money (especially for our age cohort and location), but I don’t see any way that we’ll be in that class of car within the next decade.

      By comparison, a TLX V-6 is pretty close to what those cars were back then, but why in the world would I get one when an Accord V6 (or, uh, a Toyota Avalon :0) is 95% as good for 75% of the money?

      • 0 avatar
        Mandalorian

        AWD seems like the main reason to pick a TLX over an Accord. Maybe there are a few other tech features not available on the Accord as well.

        In the days of a 540 stickering in the mid-$60k range, it’s easy to see why people are leaving them in droves for loaded Grand Cherokees, Explorers, and Yukon Denalis.

      • 0 avatar
        NormSV650

        Luxury cars don’t hold their value. Just like Jack’s Accord vs my old Buick Verano 2.0T. My discounted purchase price had them even and while my money is worth more at purchase time than Accord gambling trying to justify it.

  • avatar
    PrincipalDan

    God I do love that shade of blue and the metallic brown.

    Predicted depreciation after say 2 years on this little beauty? CPO might be very attractive for an Acura. I’ve noticed the wealth citizens of Santa Fe/Taos/Insert SW artist colony here only keep their Acuras for about 2 years before returning them to the same dealer they had all the service done at. :-)

  • avatar
    kvndoom

    “Listen up, young blood,” my mentor said, stabbing me in the chest with a finger about the size of a Mag-Lite flashlight, “you cannot want something for someone they do not want for themselves.”

    Holy sh1t, you used to work for Marcellus Wallace.

  • avatar
    Land Ark

    The interior door pulls of the Accord coupe are a crime against humanity.

  • avatar
    sportyaccordy

    Jack,

    Those shoes and socks deserve nicer jeans.

    With that out of the way, I’m not ashamed to say I’m a big TLX fan, and now that I’ve got over the angst of not having a 3rd pedal in my daily driver it’s definitely a (used) contender. The $40-50K market is pretty effing stout…. GS350F, TLX A-Spec, Q50 Red Sport, A4, even the MKX with the ridiculous 2.7TT is a decent buy…. and that price point will put them all in my radar when the G37S’s time is up if I can’t get a coupe.

    I will say this (for the millionth time)- one would have to be an IDIOT to drop 40-50K on a 3 series *with the ZF8. OK, they’re quick, and the ZF8 is brilliant, but the 2.0T’s engine curls my nose with its proletariat engine note and lumpy power delivery. It’s pretty much a guarantee that you’re getting less content for the money, only now you don’t get the sweet engine or chassis dynamics to make up for it. And again the cabin in even a mid grade 3er is not much nicer to the eye or touch than your Accord.

    So for all the people whining about how “unspecial” this car is…. what is? All entrants in this segment have pluses and minuses…. some skew one way more than others but they’re all largely competent commodities. I wouldn’t knock anyone for getting a TLX A-Spec over a cloth seat 320i.

  • avatar
    ciscokidinsf

    Jack, how was it driving the TLX with the horizontal row of transmission buttons as a shifter?
    Somehow that doesn’t appeal to me for a daily driver.
    Give me a shifter that is clear (even if it’s round) vs. a row of buttons.

  • avatar
    ponchoman49

    If one of these passed me on the road I would seriously not have known it. So bland and generic and forgettable. The lack of a stick, the goofy acting 9 speed and the invisible styling do not make me want to visit my Acura dealer which is 50 miles away.

  • avatar
    ferdburful

    Are the seats better than the Accord/Pilot? The Honda seats in those two vehicles just are awful for my back. I can’t drive for more than 2 hours in either vehicle without being laid up the next day.

  • avatar
    Conslaw

    Nice article, Jack. Does the V-6 have direct-injection? Did Acura keep the unique version of the 9-speed that has a torque converter combined with the direct-shift transmission or is this a standard 9-speed automatic?

  • avatar
    28-Cars-Later

    Nice piece.

    I sat in a TLX at the auto show, and it felt like being in a sardine can. This is “luxury”?

    • 0 avatar
      S2k Chris

      Sardine can? Really? As a man of, uh, solid size, the generous shoulder room is one huge point in the Acura’s favor. It has an inch or two of width that most other cars in this price class lack; 3-series, IS, even GS all have bulky B-pillars that occupy the space my left shoulder wants to.

      • 0 avatar
        Corey Lewis

        You should check out a LaCrosse, it’s generously sized!

        • 0 avatar
          S2k Chris

          No.

        • 0 avatar
          28-Cars-Later

          I didn’t sit in the front but did check out the rear seating of the Lacrosse, which seemed generous. You just can’t win, get the Honda quality but not the space, get the space but not the Honda quality.

          • 0 avatar
            ajla

            They still make the RLX. It’s a larger car, uses the 6-speed instead of the 9A, and the extra 20hp only makes it like a tenth slower than the TLX.

            It seems like you can get a 2015 with around 30K miles for about $30K.

          • 0 avatar
            sportyaccordy

            “You can have both- buy an RLX. PLEASE, I BEG YOU,” begged the Acura dealer.

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        Yes, really. “Luxury” means space and comfort for all passengers, especially in a car that size. Perhaps if the center console were a bit more reasonable, or the door panel a bit thinner it would be more in line with “luxury”.

        • 0 avatar
          S2k Chris

          I guess but it’s basically the biggest thing (that isn’t a Buick) in that price class so it seems like a silly gripe. 3/A4/C/IS/Q, none are more spacious in the driver’s seat.

        • 0 avatar
          sportyaccordy

          No it doesn’t. Cars this size have never been very spacious. If that’s what you’re looking for you’re missing the point.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            My very faux luxurious W-body is more spacious for the driver than the TLX (but not for rear passengers).

            What I’m hearing, and what Jack’s brougham piece implies, is that there is no point to the TLX because it is just another Accord.

          • 0 avatar
            Corey Lewis

            Would it then not imply that Oldsmobile had no point, because it was just another brougham Chevrolet?

          • 0 avatar
            PrincipalDan

            Oldsmobile had a point back when it was GMs “Engineering Division” – first GM division to make sway bars standard, did the heavy lifting on the UPP for GMs first FWD applications, etc.

            Once it became just another “Oldsmobuick” then Olds had no point.

            Acura is basically Honda’s “Tech Division” which is the current equivalent of an Engineering Division.

          • 0 avatar
            Corey Lewis

            At which point do you define Oldsmobile’s usefulness as gone?

            1976, with the flat front Ninety-Eight?

          • 0 avatar
            PrincipalDan

            I was trying to remember the last serious engineering that Oldsmobile had to do for itself and had exclusive rights to for at least a while before being shared with other divisions.

            The Quad 4? The Shortstar? The Aurora platform that they had to share with Buick for the Rivera?

          • 0 avatar
            Corey Lewis

            Bravada Smart Trak perhaps? The others were 4×4.

          • 0 avatar
            PrincipalDan

            Dang it! This is why I miss Dr. Olds. He’s been gone a long time from commenting here but at least he had a huge amount of Olds history committed to memory. I’m fairly certain his retirement coincided with the shuttering of the division.

          • 0 avatar
            Corey Lewis

            I don’t want to count the Aurora, because I don’t like it, and Oldsmobile was useless long before then.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            Oldsmobile’s purpose post “tech” division was to carry Our Lord to the discriminating prole.

          • 0 avatar
            Corey Lewis

            The Park Avenue Ultra was *superior* to the Ninety-Eight Regency Elite.

  • avatar
    phila_DLJ

    Nice shoes! But no mention of what that photo is about in the article. If it’s meant to be left to my imagination, very well.

    The ASpec sounds like a nice proposition; I just don’t think that’s a very Acura blue. Oh sure, there were Integras and RSXs in that color, but nowadays it screams “WRX” to me.

    Speaking of shoes, how are the brakes on the TLX compared to the Accord? And Honda’s bizarre new proprietary transmission “activity center”?

  • avatar
    IBx1

    “The intended demographic appears to be people who lead exciting, urban, food-centric lifestyles with a diverse cast of hip friends.”

    *sad chuckle*

  • avatar
    pprj

    The problem with the V6 Accords and Acuras is the VCM in their 6-cyl engines.

    It drove me nuts in my V6 Accord. Sold the car quickly.

    Acura, please give us the option to turn it off. PLEASE.

  • avatar
    KOKing

    I had a friend who intended to replace the family 3rd gen TL with a TLX and ended up keeping the TL (and the TLX), as the latter was ‘such a POS.’
    I have it on good authority that, as been mentioned the V6 Accord is not long for this world, as the 2018 will be boosted 4cyl only for the US.
    And I FINALLY understand from this article’s last sentence why Accords in the last 15yrs are SO DAMN NOISY.

  • avatar
    John R

    Invisible Man reference. I’m impressed…[golfclap]. Keep it up, I got Langston Hughes on my bingo card.

  • avatar
    Sigivald

    Sadly for Acura, every time I see one I think “overdone, overpriced Honda”, “MDX drivers can’t, wot?”, and “pity what you’ve done to that poor, innocent Integra”.

    Most of that isn’t directly the brand’s fault, but … there it is.

    Combine that with their styling, and I won’t even look at them.

    (I’ll look at Lexus, but at this point it’s in disgust with how far their aesthetic has fallen lately, so no partisanship there.

    I do like the semi-sleeper nature of the TLX, sure, but … I am even less Acura’s target market than Jack is.)

  • avatar

    Hella fun read!

  • avatar
    4drSedan

    Here’s what my mind does when I read a review for what seems to be an appealing car…

    1) Hey I want one
    2) How much? I could get the Accord V6 with leather for X dollars cheaper (8,000 in this case)
    3) It’d be even cheaper to get the Accord 4 banger in an EX-L
    4) If I got the Sport I could get the stick, and it’s cheaper still
    5) The base Accord does all I need it to.
    6) My 18 year old Accord does all I need it to
    7) Screw it, I’ll keep driving it.

  • avatar
    Frank Galvin

    Jack – this was a great piece. Really, this is top notch. Just for the hell of it, and to confirm what I already knew, Ctrl+f yielded none of the usual worn out, tired, overused cliches: “silky” – not happening, “chunky” – a wheel is not a goddamn can of soup, ‘box – stop the presses, an auto writer actually took the time to spell out automatic and/or transmission.

  • avatar
    bortlicenseplate

    Very enjoyable read, Jack. I liked the Clockwork reference. I’m in the market for something like the TLX (i.e. a quick, affordable, reliable AWD sedan or wagon) but for similar money, it would be hard to ignore a used GS- or IS350 AWD. The only thing that sways me towards the TLX is fold-down seats, which are lacking in the GS. Anybody here driven a GS 350 and a TLX?

  • avatar
    ShoogyBee

    If they really want to attract millenials to the electric blue A-Spec version, all that it needs is a giant wing spoiler. /s

  • avatar
    chiefmonkey

    I’m going to be the difficult schmuck who criticizes the new grille. It’s the right idea, but something in the execution went wrong: it’s like too big or something! Just doesn’t look right.

  • avatar

    The manual transmission is dead.

    You can’t get it in the C Class, BMW has said they’re killing it (less than 3% take rate at the moment), Audi capitulated and brought it back for the A4 but they really wanted it dead . . . . just give up already.

  • avatar
    RedRocket

    I’m sitting here shaking my head at all the comments about the “nice writing” in this review.

    The story shouldn’t be about his schedule or his shoes or his love of manual transmissions or his Accord or his former career. It is about a new-car introduction, so it would be nice to hear about how it performs and rides and handles. The fact that he describes the 9-speed transmission as hunting for gears, when others say it is significantly improved, makes me wonder how much he drove the car at all.

    But hey, we get another “Jack’s Life” segment. Sucks to be us, looking for useful information.

  • avatar
    rextang

    Nice Neumoks. Mine are blue. I used to make fun of men who bought blue shoes. They are also made to be worn without socks if you dare.

  • avatar
    SuperCarEnthusiast

    After owning a new Legend back when Acura started out; I still have a fondness for the brand. But I never purchased another Acura because the brand just went somewhere else in terms of looks, handling and price. I kind of thought that if Acura got it act together; I would go out and buy another. But it seems that they are stuck in the same loop! LOL!

  • avatar
    jimmyy

    I recently drove a relatives 6 year old TL for 30 minutes. It had 160K miles on it. While I rarely drive a high mileage vehicle, I looked at that odometer several times. I thought I was seeing things. I have never seen a car hide it’s age like that. Other than wear on the console where your elbow rests, on the door panel where your elbow rests, and a heal wear mark in the floor mat near the accelerator, you could not tell the vehicle was high mileage. No rattles or squeaks at all. Tight steering and great brakes. Flawless automatic transmission. Fast. That in itself is enough to get out the checkbook for an Acura. But, I won’t. I have become too cheap.

  • avatar
    Cactuar

    Is the Accord engineered to be loud on purpose to give the Acura an advantage?

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      I’ve argued for some time Accord has been handicapped to justify the fake “luxury” division at 20-25% margin.

      • 0 avatar
        Corey Lewis

        They all do this though. Think of the procession from Impala – LaCrosse – XTS. Original – plus fake – totally fake.

        • 0 avatar
          28-Cars-Later

          Acura in particular was a real division for a number of years offering JDM type models assembled in Japan which were mostly different than HMC USA. Now it is cookie cutter HMC USA and ceases to have relevance.

          • 0 avatar
            Corey Lewis

            A fair point. Infiniti will be the next to fall. JDM Lexus vehicles have been decreasing as well.

  • avatar
    Synchromesh

    I’ve owned 2 Hondas back to back – a ’93 Accord and a ’00 Integra GS-R sedan. Loved both, they were great cars. Thought I was a diehard Honda fan. Until they discontinued the RSX and started going “upmarket”. The ’04-08 TL was the last decent-looking Acura and then when I saw the beaked ’09 models I realized straight up that I will not be buying any Acura/Honda for a long long time. Let’s face, the Civic Si doesn’t hold a candle the the WRX and they simply have nothing else that’s at least vaguely resembles old Hondas. And the new ones – just cookie-cutter trash. But I get it, it’s all about sales and not enthusiasts.

  • avatar
    rjg

    Go back and check the price of a 540 when you were a kid. Inflation adjusted, it will be much more than a current 540. Then again, the current version of an e34 or 39 540 is a 550. A 95 540 was about 48k back then or 78k in today’s dollars. An m550 is 72. And of course even a base 530 could outperform an e34 or 39 540 while blowing it out of the water in terms of features, safety and reliability.

    Lament the fact the bmws of our youth were way more engaging to drive but they certainly weren’t cheaper.


Back to TopLeave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Recent Comments

  • S2k Chris: Disagree. I’d definitely not want to miss out on the trick Virtual Cockpit in this thing. Plus...
  • S2k Chris: Wonder if all the people who yelled about “the bed’s so short it’s worthless!”...
  • tnk479: Correction – sellout politicians that sell tax dollars for votes and turn productive people into cucks....
  • Pig_Iron: Where’s my Scirocco?
  • bikegoesbaa: Also, I’m not sure if the 1.6T in my Fiesta ST is a “creation and gift of the...

New Car Research

Get a Free Dealer Quote

Staff