By on June 13, 2017

2018 Acura TLX V6 A-Spec - Image: Acura

Upon its debut in late 2014, the Acura TLX had big shoes to fill. Not only was the TLX intended to replace the Acura TL, the TLX would also serve, at least in part, as a replacement for the Acura TSX.

Not surprisingly, the TLX never sold as often as that duo did at their peak. Acura sold over 113,000 TLs and TSXs in 2005. Yet by the end of their run, in 2013, Acura managed to sell fewer than 42,000 TLs and TSXs. As a result, the arrival of the Acura TLX — and yes, it’s difficult for both reader and writer to keep the letters straight — was heartily welcomed by Acura dealers. The TLX represented a simpler lineup, one sufficiently spacious car, and 47,080 sales in 2015.

But TLX sales have trailed off rather precipitously ever since, and Acura is counting on a thorough refresh for the 2018 model year to spur TLX demand once again.

And quite a spur it must be. Wards Auto is reporting that Acura’s goals for the facelifted TLX are loftier than ever.

We know Acura is increasingly a crossover-oriented brand. In 2016, the Acura division relied upon the MDX and RDX for 67 percent of its U.S. sales, up from 62 percent in 2015.

Acura also hopes to find greater success with that tiny utility vehicle lineup thanks to production enhancements. Some MDX production has moved away from Honda’s constrained Alabama plant to Ohio in order to free up space, both for the MDX — traditionally Acura’s best seller — and the trio of Hondas built at the Lincoln, Alabama assembly plant.

But Acura, with pedigree that includes the Integra, first-gen TSX, handsome third-gen TL, Ayrton Senna’s first-gen NSX, and Ohio’s second-gen NSX, isn’t ready to give up on cars altogether. The problem is, if Acura is going to accomplish anything in the passenger car department, it must do so with the first-gen Acura TLX.

The Acura ILX? We’re waiting, but the ILX is still based on a not-so-great generation of a Honda Civic that was replaced nearly two years ago.

The Acura RLX? The average Acura dealer sells an RLX once every two or three months.

The Acura NSX? That’s a true halo car, undoubtedly an impressive machine, but not a car that has much real meaning for a dealer trying to sell more than 50 total vehicles per month.

2017 and 2018 Acura TLX front end - Images: Acura

If Acura is going to be more than just a crossover brand, the 2018 Acura TLX must be the car that builds on past successes. Though by no means a bad car in its first three model years — Jack Baruth said, “I liked the car just fine,” — the TLX was fighting an uphill battle for two main reasons.

First, as always, Acura lacks the prestige of the truly premium brands with which it competes.

Yet more importantly, the Acura TLX’s exterior design caused the car to appear nonexistent. Oh, it was out there — Acura has already sold 119,253 TLXs in America. But there’s just nothing you can really say about the exterior design of a entry-luxury sedan that has very little styling to speak of. “Shoppers who rejected TLX often did so on the basis of the design not being aggressive enough for a sport sedan,” Acura spokesperson Matt Sloustcher told TTAC in April.

That, Acura hopes, is fixed for 2018. “We think the new design direction and especially the A-Spec will strengthen the product,” Sloustcher said.

The exterior alterations aren’t the only adjustments, either. There’s a new A-Spec model, new infotainment, and more standard safety kit.

Thus, after selling 44,829 TLXs in the model’s first twelve months, 47,080 in 2015, and 37,156 in 2016, Acura hopes to sell 50,000 TLXs per year.

[Images: Acura]

Timothy Cain is a contributing analyst at The Truth About Cars and Autofocus.ca and the founder and former editor of GoodCarBadCar.net. Follow on Twitter @timcaincars.

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49 Comments on “American Honda Expects Facelifted 2018 Acura TLX to Sell Better than Ever...”


  • avatar
    ajla

    Whatcha gonna do when Buick runs wild on you?

  • avatar
    28-Cars-Later

    ““Shoppers who rejected TLX often did so on the basis of the design not being aggressive enough for a sport sedan,” Acura spokesperson Matt Sloustcher told TTAC in April.”

    So Matt it couldn’t be because its just a reskinned Accord?

    (not that there’s anything wrong with that)

    Additional: Looking at the before and after, not only is there nothing “aggressive” about the after but it became more, starts with an “r” and ends with a “arded”.

    2017 Honda is weak to a 1995 Honda competitor showing up and eating it’s lunch.

    • 0 avatar
      WheelMcCoy

      “…but it became more, starts with an “r” and ends with a “arded”.

      Hmm… The TLX redesign is highly regarded? Nah. How about, Acura will be well rewarded? No no no.

      What could it be??? :)

  • avatar
    JimZ

    and here I thought with the updated design language, they would get *better* looking. guess not.

  • avatar
    stuntmonkey

    “Shoppers who rejected TLX often did so on the basis of the design not being aggressive enough”

    While I will give that this is true, why is it that everybody wants… Or thinks people want…”aggressive looking cars?” Are we a generation of thugs and murderers?

    When I pick up an architecture magazine, the design might be “edgy” but nobody uses the word “aggressive”. If I buy a new suit I hope it will make me look distinguished and powerful, but hopefully not “aggressive.”

    My problem is that language of car design seems so juvenile compared to aesthetics in other adult pursuits. Acura used to be “smart luxury” (as in quality for money smart) but that will never come across if it doesn’t find confidence in a mature and elegant design language.

    • 0 avatar
      ajla

      Whatever adjectives you would use to describe a ’67 Eldorado is what I want.

    • 0 avatar
      deanst

      I agree completely. In an era where everyone loves their minimalist apple products, why must auto designers get paid by the crease?

    • 0 avatar
      Garrett

      I hate the “aggressive” look trend.

      I do not want my car “murdered out”. I do not want a low roof. I do not want a high beltline.

      Unfortunately, the styling I find most appealing occurred in the 80s. With the exception of Ram pickups, I can’t think of a single model that looks better now than it did back then.

      • 0 avatar
        joeaverage

        Styling lately for many brands seems to be a version of Darth Vader’s helmet. I’m not here to scare anyone. Could we consider aggressive styling played out and move on please?

  • avatar
    FreedMike

    Well, it can’t get a lot worse…

    I’m sure it’s nice enough, but I just can’t see anything about this sedan that makes it a compelling choice. I’d still take a top of the line V-6 Accord.

  • avatar
    30-mile fetch

    Insectoid headlights aside, I liked it better before the refresh. I don’t see how the new mess of a fascia will make the car look more aggressive when everything aft of it is still pretty conservative.

    Is the interior of this car an improvement on the TL that preceded it? Looks like it from the photos. I finally had a chance to drive the TL recently and was really surprised at how chintzy and overwrought the dashboard and console were on that car. Pseudo-modern, bulging, pointlessly busy design with a *lot* of questionable plastics front and center transparently masquerading as carbon fiber and grey wood. Even the gauges suffered for it.

  • avatar
    33873

    The grill definitely has a more minimalist implementation, but it’s disproportionate, almost truck-like – It reminds me of that Seinfeld episode “The Nose Job.” No, Thanks!

    • 0 avatar
      stuntmonkey

      What’s worse is that it’s copied the MDX’s “make the logo bigger” proportions for the Acura badge. Reminds me of the new Ralph Lauren shirts where the Polo logo is a foot tall.

  • avatar
    Land Ark

    For pete’s sake Honda. I like everything about this car and have since day one except the grille. You had a terrific opportunity to fix it and you went and put this MDX grille on a mid-size car.
    I don’t like it enough to pull me away from the IS350 since you aren’t going to stop screwing up your grille either.

  • avatar
    TW5

    It’s a handsome car that goes against some of the heinous styling trends in the luxury segments. It’s also good value for money.

    My only complaint is that you can’t get the V6 with the 17″ wheels. Gotta have my sidewall.

  • avatar

    Here’s what Acura needs to do to improve ALL of their passenger car sales. Rename the ILX the Integra, the TLX the Vigor (or something), the RLX the Legend. Give the cars a better and distinctive design language so they don’t just look like gussied up Hondas. That might drum up more interest and sales for them. As so that new design direction, it’s a bland failure.

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      Great suggestions, but this might require thought and follow through. HMC is only interested in empty platitudes and cheap cosmetics for its faux luxury brand.

    • 0 avatar
      JMII

      Only if the cars still drove like an Integra or Legend.

      “Shoppers who rejected TLX often did so on the basis of the design not being aggressive enough for a sport sedan”

      Or maybe, just maybe because the car itself was not sporty? Where is my 2 door Acura? Where is my RWD Acura? The wife got an Infiniti Q60 as the TLX was never even on our radar. We looked at TSX and TL years ago and they were decent cars but seemed to be missing 10% – not sport enough but also not luxurious enough compared to other vehicles with similar costs.

      • 0 avatar
        Astigmatism

        I owned a 3rd-gen TL and thoroughly enjoyed it. I was underwhelmed by the styling of the TLX, but my ownership experience with my old car was so positive – barely ever in the shop, cheap when it had to be serviced, friendly dealers, low depreciation – that I thought I’d give it a try. There was literally nothing about the car that excited me: no steering feel, the engine felt tuckered out compared to the old V-6, etc. I actually preferred the driving experience in my old TL. Ended up with a GTI instead.

    • 0 avatar
      WheelMcCoy

      Integra, Legend… they’re a lot to live up to. Expectations would be so high, I’m guessing Acura doesn’t want to — or cannot — go that route. Instead, they would be happy with a nicer Honda (already difficult to do right) that drives better, is quieter, looks aggressive, and has higher HP talking points.

  • avatar
    stingray65

    Acura is in the same boat as Lincoln. Honda/Ford keeps making nicer versions of Hondas/Fords and then wonders why the sales of Acura/Lincoln clones of respective Honda/Ford models keep declining. How about providing something besides an ugly grill as a differentiating factor? Acura has an opportunity now that Honda is dropping the V-6 from the Accord – why not keep the V-6 available for Acura?

  • avatar
    vagvoba

    Looks like a Kia.

  • avatar

    But can it push out the ILX as Most Beloved Loaner While My Wife Is Getting Her MDX Serviced…?

  • avatar

    Acura…the car you buy when BMW is too much money….but you really love the Bimmer.

    I wuz there during the glory days of Honda…you shoulda seen it.

    Integra…Legend…the first TL’s….Civic Si….the first NSX.

    Acura is Elvis, late career.

    • 0 avatar
      FreedMike

      “Acura is Elvis, late career.”

      I disagree completely. Bad as he was, he was never boring. Can’t say the same about Acura, I’m afraid.

    • 0 avatar
      bechsteinb

      I don’t disagree with this comment. Just turned in my ’14 535i and got the ’17 TLX because I couldn’t justify that BMW lease payment anymore, and all the new comparable 5 series cars are even more expensive. I’m not going to say the TLX rivals the Bimmer, but I test drove a lot of alternative lux-sport sedans before deciding on the TLX, namely: Lexus GS FSport (feels too heavy/lumbering, and for that price, go with the 5), Lexus ES 350 (not even a contender–super sleepy). Genesis G80 was a boat–luxurious, but no fun at all. Infinity G50 was sporty, but the ride was very stiff, unrefined and uncomfortable. Audi A4 was a top choice but too small for the price, and the A6 is about the same price as the 5.

      So… the TLX won for being the most nimble with the most Euro-like ride (I have the loaded 6-cyl SH-AWD). The sport modes are fun, though lacking in steering feel, but then, so are most cars in this class. And fully loaded, it’s $20,000 less than the BMW I’d probably rather have, but I’m feeling a little smug about what I’m paying for a very nice car right now.

  • avatar
    DeadWeight

    Acura NSX is a fat, portly pig and pathetic attempt at a halo performance vehicle! #SAD!

    And Acura can go f*ck itself as it’s no longer a relevant maker of anything but rebadged Hondas at a time when the Honda vehicles they are derived from increasingly less reliable, more poorly built, uglier, less durable and highly-cheapness models compared to their predecessors of a decade or longer ago.

  • avatar
    NeilM

    Acura sunk way below my level of consciousness when they gave their cars meaningless and easily confused model names. Integra, Legend, everyone remembers those. But TL, TLX, TSX — WTF?

  • avatar
    Fred

    I’m always the contrarian and the older I get the more I am. I’ve always liked the TLX which I’ve put a few hundred miles on as loaners when I took my TSX in for service. Looks like a AWD model is about $45,000. More than a Subaru, less than a Audi.

    • 0 avatar
      S2k Chris

      “Looks like a AWD model is about $45,000. More than a Subaru, less than a Audi.”

      You can get an A4 with plenty of toys for ~$45-48k. That’s my choice over the TLX.

  • avatar
    Kyree S. Williams

    I think the front fascia is a vast improvement over the “Power Plenum” beak thing, both here and on the ’17 MDX. It’s aggressive, but not overly so. It’s attractive, but not derivative. I like it. They could, however, have made the Acura emblem about 33% smaller.

    • 0 avatar
      WheelMcCoy

      I like it too. It’s dynamic and gives the TLX presence. I’ve read the large Acura emblem is needed because it hides forward collision detection gear, but I don’t buy it. Modern tech can be miniaturized. Agree, the emblem needs to be smaller. Or if larger, make it detachable so families can play frisbee in the park.

      • 0 avatar
        Kyree S. Williams

        Actually, that probably *is* why the emblem is so large. Several other automakers (Cadillac, Volkswagen, Mercedes-Benz on vehicles without the badge-less “formal grille”) also use the front emblems as radar plates, and they have large-ish badges, too.

        The alternative is either to place the radar lower in the bumper (Ford, BMW, FCA) or to use that weird radar strip on the grille (Jaguar, Mercedes-Benz on vehicles *with* the former grille, Hyundai / Genesis…). I guess it does need to be that big.

    • 0 avatar
      MLS

      The early iterations of “Power Plenum” were laughably hideous, but by the end of its life it had been reduced to a fairly innocuous, narrow strip of silver plastic as in the image accompanying this article. I view the new cowcatcher grille as a step backward.

  • avatar
    Hummer

    I don’t really get this design language, it’s like they tried to be “wild” with the plastic, but somehow managed to make it completely unexciting, yet at the same time so neutral as if to not offend anyone. It’s the sameness whether it’s this, the Malibu, Hyundai, or Mercedes, it’s as if they’re the trying to make the car have a premium look, but the way the front is, it makes the rest of the car look like a whale – without exception. Additionally everyone of these cars manage to have an awful rear end, I can’t see why, the low look on the front leaves a perfect opportunity for an attractive rear, yet we get the godawful Malibu rear section.

    This Acura front end would be significantly more attractive if it didn’t extend so far past the front wheels, that looks cheap.

  • avatar

    Whatever. Another boring sedan from Honda. I do not see any real redesign – they just slapped on even uglier grill and that’s it. And very likely numb steering inspired by Camry kills this car for me. As much as I still like early 2000s TL I would skip Acura altogether. BTW Accord looks more premium Asian car.

  • avatar
    White Shadow

    I think the new nose looks far better and most definitely more aggressive than the older version. Sales will increase markedly. Count on it.

  • avatar
    Dave M.

    And with this redesign the Plenium grille design is finally dead after 10 years. There is a God. I have to agree with the Gen 3 TL being a beautiful design; Gen 4 introduced Plenium and it’s downhill from there.

    I also liked the last gen CL too – sharp looking car without screaming “look at me”.

  • avatar
    BillGk

    For all that say that the TLX is a rebadged Accord, you’re wrong.

    The new 2018 Accord gets new series of better, more powerful and efficient engines.
    The new Accord also gets a new 10 speed vs the buggy ZF 9speed that has plagued every car it was installed in

  • avatar
    Jerome10

    Won’t make a difference.

  • avatar
    SuperCarEnthusiast

    If my pre-used cars deals fall through; I will wait to see if the new TLX is heavily discounted and maybe purchase one. I will buy it in all black exterior and lite color interior or coffee color interior.

  • avatar
    SuperCarEnthusiast

    I test drove the new TLX and it handles great and very nice driving sedan. But the interior is dated, especially the dual screen infotainment system layout. It looks terrible compare to other vehicles. Front grill is not very attractive, kind of like the beak look better! It looks like bizarre! LOL!


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