Modern Motoring: The 2016 Acura TLX

Acura’s mid-sized sedan, the TLX, now in its second model year for 2016, combines the old TL and TSX, which to me, supports the “addition by subtraction” method. With the sedan segment fighting an uphill battle against SUV’s, the luxury division of Honda (and all luxury offerings, really) needs to do as much as possible to show Canadian consumers why sedans should stay relevant. They’ve provided a convincing argument in the 2016 TLX.
For a cold, wet week in February, I toted around town in an obsidian blue pearl coloured TLX, making full use of the heated steering wheel and ultra quiet interior, thanks to an acoustically treated interior and triple sealed doors. 

Appearance-wise, their signature “Jewel Eye” headlamps look sleek, and slowly but surely, they’re minimizing that “love it or lump it” aggressive beak “shield.” Softened edges now give it a belt like look opposed to a loud, belt-buckle type look.
Short overhangs and a wider stance contribute to a stylish appearance and there are the right amount of curves and lines that offer a modern, attractive look without screaming “look at me, look at me!”
Standard 17” (available 18”) wheels frame the TLX nicely the rear of the car has a clean look and feel.
For a mid-sized vehicle, it gives off a “smaller than you think" feel but it certainly won’t be mistaken for the smaller ILX. Good thing the interior is spacious, which we’ll get to later.
While I’m sure it’s tempting to muddy up the design of a luxury offering with excess design lines, I’m quite happy with the overall exterior design. 

There are two very different engines to be had:

  • The first is the 2.4L i-VTEC 4-cylinder one offering 206 horsepower and 182 lb.ft of torque via an 8-speed dual clutch automatic transmission with a front wheel drive system.
  • The alternative comes on the higher trim level, which sees a 3.5L i-VTEC 6-cylinder motor producing 290 horsepower and 267 lb.ft of torque through a 9-speed automatic gearbox with an all-wheel drive system.

Sadly, there’s no manual option available.  

My trim had the 2.4L engine, which responded well to my right-foot commands. Acceleration was smooth and the handling was crisp. 
Acura’s Integrated Dynamics System lets the drive chose between Comfort, Normal, Sport and Sport + depending on what driving style you prefer. 
While 206 ponies served me well, it’s by no means a class leading figure and there may be some who say that 206 horsepower just isn’t enough in a luxury offering. And perhaps they have a point. Even a turbo charged engine would increase the allure in the luxury segment, especially since there’s nearly 100 horsepower difference between engines. 
However, the flip side is that motorists focusing on fuel efficiency will gravitate towards the 2.4L engine, knowing that it’ll still provide ample power and strong driving dynamics.

Inside, the cabin is much bigger than what you’d expect from the outer appearance. There’s ample space for the driver and front passenger, the look and feel of materials are quite good and there’s definitely a luxury feel. A clean, modern design element is predominant throughout without a cluttered look. Also, the perforated premium Milano leather-trimmed interior makes a big difference in upscale feel.
A 10-way powered heated seat keeps the driver in place (4-way for the front passenger) and the seating itself is very comfortable and thigh/back support scores well. 
The two tiered infotainment system (the bottom one is a large, seven-inch touch screen) features a volume knob (thankfully!), a series of buttons, switches and a main dial to navigate the screen if you want it to be fingerprint free. With the system being so easy to navigate, there’s little chance of hitting the wrong button or entering in an incorrect command. 
The Tech package, which I had, features navigation, a premium sound system, AcuraLink, Blind Spot Monitoring, Cross Traffic Monitoring, Forward Collision Warning, heated rear seats, Lane Departure Warning along with some other cool goodies. 

Overall, the 2016 TLX performs well from a looks, efficiency, technology and driving perspective. Fuel efficiency is impressive at 9.6/6.6/8.3 for city/highway/combined on the L/100km scale. My week of combined driving saw me in the low sevens, which only strengthens the argument for the smaller engine. 
I’d like to see an all-wheel drive system available on the 2.4L version because, well, some folks in the luxury segment want that and it saves them from having to bump up to the larger engine choice.
Priced from $35,290 for the well-stocked base model to $47,790 for the fully jammed SH-AWD Elite model, with three other trims between the bookends, there’s plenty of bang for the buck to be had (my Tech tester chimes the cash register at $38,990) from Honda’s luxury line.

Still in its infancy, time (and buyers) will tell how successful the Acura TLX is in the fickle Canadian market. The plus side is that Acura’s put forth a strong competitor in the mid-sized luxury sedan market that should at least be test driven a time or few.