NYIAS 2017: 2018 Acura TLX Is What The TLX Always Should've Been

Timothy Cain
by Timothy Cain
nyias 2017 2018 acura tlx is what the tlx always should ve been

“We’ve really upped the ante in terms of styling, emotion and road presence,” Acura general manager Jon Ikeda said, talking about the refreshed 2018 Acura TLX shown by Honda’s upmarket brand at 2017’s New York International Auto Show.

And for once, an auto executive’s hyperbole matches reality.

The 2018 Acura TLX’s ante has been upped. It appears as though the grille that’s somewhat awkward on the refreshed Acura MDX is far more cohesively adapted to Acura’s affordable 3 Series alternative.

Given the anonymity of the first TLX, which ran for three increasingly less successful model years through 2017, an aggressive exterior is a positive step in the right direction.

“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. “We think the new design direction and especially the A-Spec will strengthen the product.”

Yes, the A-Spec. Acura doesn’t upgrade the powertrain for A-Spec buyers, but it’s more than just cosmetics. The A-Spec trim is optional on V6-engined TLXs with either front or all-wheel drive. Expect the standard kit made obvious in the accompanying images: “exclusive” front fascia, LED fog lights, lower side sills, rear diffuser with dual-exhaust, decklid spoiler, and dark 19-inch wheels. But Acura is also fitting A-Spec TLXs with a sport suspension; aggressive damper settings, Acura says, with A-Spec-unique power steering. AWD A-Specs will have stiffer springs and a rear stabilizer bar.

In other words, not all TLXs will drive like the TLX A-Spec. Nor will they look like the TLX A-Spec.

But the general theme of styling that finally allows the TLX to stand out in a parking lot full of Camrys will fortunately reach across the lineup.

Of consequence inside is a new infotainment unit, compatible with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Acura says the new system is 30-percent faster, but some buyers will still be put off by a controller below the touchscreen that operates the higher screen.

Collision Mitigation Braking System with automatic emergency braking, forward collision warning, lane keeping assist, adaptive cruise, and road departure mitigation will be standard across the 2018 Acura TLX line.

Every V6 trim level, not just the upper grades, will now offer all-wheel drive, known in Acura speak as SH-AWD. A 2.4-liter four-cylinder continues as the standard powerplant.

Gone are the days when Acura managed to sell more than 100,000 copies of its TL and TSX on an annual basis. That was more than a decade ago. The TLX, which replaced both of those cars, isn’t the major player in Acura showrooms now. That’s a role filled by Acura’s crossover duo: MDX and RDX.

Yet even as the TLX lost its early momentum, it didn’t become a dreadfully uncommon car. Only six premium brand cars sold more often in 2016, and the TLX outsold the Audi A4, BMW 5 Series, Audi A3, Mercedes-Benz CLA, and every Cadillac car, among many others.

We’ll give credit where it’s due: the 2018 Acura TLX won’t be as likely to fade into the background. If luxury sedans can hold onto their current market share, perhaps the TLX refresh can hold onto what remains of Acura’s car business.

Perhaps the TLX could have done a better job of holding on to Acura’s car business if it looked like this from the get-go.

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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  • 33873 33873 on Apr 15, 2017

    A step in the right direction, but something still looks proportionally "off" in the front. This car still doesn't know what it wants to be. After looking at this car, I'm still completely satisfied driving my 07 TSX for the foreseeable future. It's pretty sad when a brand new Acura is completely undesirable.

  • Bd2 Bd2 on Apr 16, 2017

    Acura designers - lol! The new grill shape/design is even worse than the "beak."

  • Lorenzo This series is epic, but I now fear you'll never get to the gigantic Falcon/Dart/Nova comparison.
  • Chris P Bacon Ford and GM have decided that if you can't beat 'em, join 'em. Odds are Chrysler/Cerberus/FCA/Stellantis is next to join in. If any of the companies like Electrify America had been even close to Tesla in reliability, we wouldn't be here.
  • Inside Looking Out China will decide which EV charging protocol will become world wide standard.
  • Chris P Bacon I see no reference to Sweden or South Carolina. I hate to assume, but is this thing built in China? I can't help but wonder if EVs would be more affordable to the masses if they weren't all stuffed full of horsepower most drivers will never use. How much could the price be reduced if it had, say, 200hp. Combined with the instant torque of an EV, that really is plenty of power for the daily commuter, which is what this vehicle really is.
  • Ajla It's weird how Polestar apparently has better BEVs than Volvo. And this is the same price as a Pilot and Plus optioned Polestar 2 AWD.