American Honda Expects Facelifted 2018 Acura TLX to Sell Better Than Ever
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.
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.
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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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!
Well, this car was just made irrelevant by the 2018 Accord