2018 Acura TLX Preview
Competes with: Buick Regal, Cadillac CTS, Lincoln MKZ, Mercedes-Benz C-Class
Looks like: A nicer grille and subtle tweaks for the current model
Drivetrain: 206-horsepower, 2.4-liter four-cylinder and eight-speed automatic with front-wheel drive or a 290-hp, 3.5-liter V-6 and nine-speed automatic with front-wheel drive or all-wheel drive
Hits dealerships: June 2017
Acura is giving a light once-over to its TLX mid-size luxury sedan. For 2018, it gets tweaked styling as well as an update to its multimedia technology. Acura is also adding a sporty A-Spec option package similar to one already offered on the Acura ILX compact sedan. The TLX will remain available in four-cylinder, V-6 front-wheel-drive and V-6 all-wheel-drive variants. All-wheel drive will be newly available on all TLX models with the V-6; you could formerly get it only after you added the Technology or Advance Packages.
The TLX was a new model for 2015, replacing the TSX and TL sedans, and soldiers into 2018 against a headwind for sedans versus more popular SUVs, including Acura's own MDX and RDX.
The refreshed 2018 model remains a "tweener" — a premium sedan, but without the full-on luxury (or heady price tag) of similar-size sedans from upscale European makers.
More 2017 New York Auto Show Coverage
The most noticeable appearance change is a disappearance: Gone is the Acura shield grille, the pentagonal shape now filled with three-dimensional diamonds inspired by Acura's Precision Concept grille. Otherwise, there is a new front bumper, a bit more sculpting to the hood, and slightly reshaped LED headlights and amber LED daytime running lights and turn signals. The rear also gets a new bumper, including dual, square exhaust tips on V-6 models.
The A-Spec package, available on V-6 models, adds a more aggressive front bumper and round foglights. It also gets sporty side-sill molding, and the rear end features round exhaust tips as well as black trim and a black spoiler. The A-Spec wheels are dark-finish 19-inchers.
The interior retains the familiar Acura design and its dual infotainment displays, but they are driven by new software that should address some of the system's past weaknesses. Acura says the system offers faster response and "more intuitive menus" for a user experience that is about 30 percent faster. The multimedia also now will support Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone integration (catching up with cheaper Hondas), and the 7-inch touchscreen now has a "capacitive" display, meaning it can respond to pinch, swipe and zoom gestures.
Other interior tweaks include new seats with contrast stitching and piping in the Technology Package, and a 360-degree camera in the Advance Package. The A-Spec package adds sportier bolstering and Alcantara inserts for the leather seats, brushed aluminum-look trim, a sportier steering wheel and red ambient lighting.
Under the Hood
The powertrains carry over from 2017, including the 206-horsepower, 2.4-liter four-cylinder with eight-speed automatic and front-wheel drive and the 290-hp, 3.5-liter V-6 mated to a nine-speed automatic and available with front-wheel drive or with Acura's torque-vectoring Super Handling AWD.
The A-Spec package is not entirely an appearance group. In addition to the bigger 19-inch wheels and performance tires, the package includes stiffer suspension tuning and a rear stabilizer bar. We won't know until we get our hands on one what effects these upgrades have on ride quality.
In a big step forward, all 2018 TLX models will have the AcuraWatch suite of safety and driver assist technologies standard on all models, including the four-cylinder TLX. The full suite formerly was available only on V-6 models as part of the top-level Advance Package. The camera and radar system includes forward collision warning with automatic braking, adaptive cruise control with low-speed capability, lane keep assist and road departure assist.