QOTD: Is the Acura TLX's Facelift Too Little Too Late?

Timothy Cain
by Timothy Cain
qotd is the acura tlx s facelift too little too late

The Acura TLX did not start poorly. When the TL/TSX replacement arrived nearly three years ago, we asked whether the TLX could restore Acura’s car business. First month results were strong.

The next month, the TLX’s early results suggested that, by Acura standards, the core Acura sedan might be a hit.

The Acura TLX then produced some very impressive results in just its third month of availability. In fact, so great were those results, when nearly 5,000 TLXs were sold in October 2014, that Acura has only exceeded that total once in the 28 months since. Instead, TLX sales have rapidly declined, sliding 5 percent in 2015’s fourth-quarter, plunging 21 percent in calendar year 2016, and falling 19 percent so far this year. TLX sales have declined in 14 of the last 16 months, year-over-year.

But 2017’s New York International Auto Show will host the reveal of a refreshed, facelifted Acura TLX next month. Acura says the TLX will feature “a design direction that has already successfully influenced the styling of the 2017 Acura MDX.”

U.S. sales of Acura’s car sales are down 27 percent this year. The Acura brand is down 13 percent. The loss of more than 1,000 TLX sales in just two months is a big factor in the brand’s decline.

Is a refreshed Acura TLX way too little, way too late?

Quick, spacious, and handsomely equipped, the TLX can be had with different engines and transmissions as well as front- or all-wheel drive. Compared with premium rivals, the TLX is affordable, as well. Priced from $32,950, the TLX’s base sticker is thousands of dollars cheaper than the price of top-selling German rivals.

Plus, while as bland as plain rice, the Acura TLX was never incompetent. It handles well, rides very well, and is reasonably efficient. True, the shifter can be annoying and it’s not a particularly aggressive sports sedan. But on paper, this is far from a bad car.

If only the TLX didn’t feel like a very expensive Honda, perhaps we’d have a winner.

And there’s very little Acura can do with a thorough refresh to turn the idea of an Acura TLX into a more prestigious notion.

With crossovers now accounting for seven out of every ten Acura sales, will a refreshed 2018 Acura TLX be enough to get Acura back on the entry luxury map, or is a refresh way too little, way too late?

Timothy Cain is the founder of GoodCarBadCar.net, which obsesses over the free and frequent publication of U.S. and Canadian auto sales figures. Follow on Twitter @goodcarbadcar and on Facebook.

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  • SuperCarEnthusiast SuperCarEnthusiast on Mar 30, 2017

    Acura designers should be fired for the ugly pentagon shape front grill! It is the same beek front grill just blacken out and trim in chrome! New look? Right!

  • CaptainJon CaptainJon on Mar 31, 2017

    The TLX is a fine car. The issues it faces are not unique and have been mentioned here. -The market for sedans is in notable decline. -Honda and sedans in general have moved up-market in features. -The notable improvements between the TLX and Accord are not things that excite the general buying public anymore. There are some very special things about that car. The 8-speed dual clutch transmission with torque converter is wonderful. It has taken a few software updates, but it makes wringing out the 2.5 a lot of fun. (Not manual transmission fun, but if you're going to give that engine one transmission, it splits the difference well enough.)The leather quality is a step up. The sound system is a step up. The mentioned transmission is a giant leap up over the CVT in the 4-cyl accord. The PAWS adds another dimension to the car's handling. The car is quieter on the road in my comparison. These are not small differences when combined in a single package. All this comes at an attractive price point, even in comparison to the Accord. The TLX was miss-marketed as a "sports" sedan. What it is, is a completely comfortable and capable highway cruiser and commute companion. Enough so that my wife bought one for her commute. On the highway she's getting within spitting distance of 40mpg with a completely competent drivetrain. She likes the way the dealership treated her at purchase and during servicing. Gripes: Terrible info-tainment, tires that should have been left in the trash, and it could use a little more rear leg room.

  • Tassos The rich get richer and the poor get poorer. I have mentioned this before, and it applies here again.Go to the U of Michigan College of Engineering parking lot. How can you say what car the $300,000 a year (ACADEMIC year of 9 months, mind you, summer pay is extra, and consulting a whole lot on top of that) and what does the $50,000 a year secretary drive?Hint: Teresa was out chair's secretary, started a year ago. She had to resign in just a few months because her 75 mile EACH WAY from her home in Lapeer MI to ANn Arbor MI just KILLED HER when gas prices rose.What car did Teresa drive? Take a wild guess. An F150? A Ram pickup? A Silverado? One of these. In a fee months she had to resign and find a lesser job in the whole lot lesser U of M Flint (but why would she care? she's just a secretary), which halved her commuting distance to a still significant 75 mile round trip every damned day.So the poor keep buying pickups and get poorer, and the rich keep NOT buying them and get richer.
  • Cprescott It is ugly enough. But why? You refuse to build enough of your products for your consumers.
  • Cprescott Only if your income also gives you more votes.
  • MrIcky It's always nice to see a car guy put in charge of cars instead of an accountant. I wish him well and look forward to some entertaining reveals. I think he and Gilles may be the only industry people that I actually enjoy listening to.
  • Master Baiter It doesn't matter whether autonomous vehicles are better or worse drivers than humans. Companies with deep pockets will find themselves sued over incidents like this. Enough lawsuits and the whole business plan collapses. Cheaper to just put a human behind the wheel.