Acura’s TLX is a technology-rich, comfortably smooth luxury sedan, with a significant update for 2018 adding good looks and a new trim level with attitude. The TLX faces off against the BMW 3 Series, Audi A4 and Infiniti Q50, boasting excellent safety features, a strong value proposition, and compelling options like Super-Handling All-Wheel Drive (SH-AWD) and a potent V6.
You'll Like The 2018 Acura TLX If...
The new TLX is one of the smartest investments in the segment, thanks to its mix of performance, technology and resale value. It also finally has the good looks that show off all the pluses that this car has to offer.
You May Not Like The 2018 Acura TLX If...
The TLX doesn’t have the prestige of the 3 Series or C-Class, but it's an excellent car that most people will enjoy. The new A-Spec model is fun, but doesn’t add more power and isn't in the same atmosphere as the BMW M3, Audi S4 or Cadillac ATS-V.
The TLX's major refresh adds a performance-biased A-Spec model, which has sport-tuned suspension, unique styling cues, a different steering ratio and interior differences compared to the rest of the lineup. To get a better idea of what it's like to own the TLX A-Spec as your daily driver, check out our 2018 Acura TLX A-Spec Ownership Review. All models receive fresh, attractive new front-end styling. Acura also made the infotainment system easier to use.
The TLX's interior reflects close attention to detail, with fantastic fit and finish and appealing color choices. Acura has made the 2-screen infotainment system easier to use by streamlining menus and reducing the system's response time. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are operated in the top screen through a click wheel, which frees up the lower touch screen for other functions. New features include a surround-view camera, heated steering wheel and rear seats, and built-in wireless charging. The V6 TLX comes with a push-button-operated transmission. A-Spec models have different gauges and steering wheel, plus seats with more side bolstering.
You have to notice a car to see how good it is, and the Acura TLX finally has the styling that will get it noticed. With a clean pentagon grille and sharper LED headlights, the new front end draws the eye and makes the car look fresh and youthful. V6-equipped models add chrome accents in the front and rear, and Advance models receive LED fog lights and a rear spoiler. The A-Spec TLX fills the grille with matte-black diamond accents, adds A-Spec-specific styling cues in the front and rear, and rides on 19-inch Shark Gray wheels.
While there are two engines to choose from, our drive time in the TLX focused on the V6-equipped A-Spec and the V6 Advance. The steering is linear and nicely weighted in both models, but in the A-Spec the response is quicker. There is no power difference between the two V6 models (290 horsepower), and the 9-speed automatic, retuned for 2018, shifts quickly and smoothly. In addition to a sport-tuned suspension, the A-Spec offers better-bolstered seats and unique 19-inch tires. The result is a sporty driver-centric car that's a blast on curvy roads. With the A-Spec you lose some ride quality on straight stretches of road; if that's a problem, you can look to the more serene V6 Advance. The V6 Advance is the more comfortable of the two on the open road and the seats feel a little flatter, but this trim level is still great fun to drive.
The Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) for the 2018 Acura TLX starts just under $34,000 for the base 4-cylinder model. The FWD V6 starts at a bit over $37,000; opt for a fully loaded V6 -- the 3.5 with the Advance Package -- with SH-AWD, and you can expect to pay more than $48,000. The new TLX A-Spec starts at just under $43,800, plus $2,000 if you want SH-AWD. The Lexus IS starts at about $39,000, the Audi A4 at about $37,000 and the Infiniti Q50 at just under $35,000. To get a better idea of what people are paying for the 2018 Acura TLX in your area, check out the KBB.com Fair Purchase Price. As for resale, we expect the TLX to hold strong 5-year residual values, similar to the Audi A4 and higher than the BMW 3 Series and Infiniti Q50, but just shy of the Lexus IS.
Base engine for the TLX is a 206-horsepower, 2.4-liter 4-cylinder with an 8-speed dual-clutch transmission. The TLX 2.4 rides on 17-inch wheels and comes with adaptive cruise control, heated side mirrors, paddle shifters, 7-speaker audio, Bluetooth, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility, moonroof, and 10-way-power driver seat with power lumbar adjustment. (The passenger seat is power-4-way adjustable.) Standard seat material is Leatherette; front seat heaters are also standard. There's an extensive list of standard safety features -- including AcuraWatch with forward-collision warning, lane-keep assist, road-departure mitigation -- plus collision-mitigation braking and seven airbags.
The TLX's optional engine is a 290-horsepower, 3.5-liter V6 with a 9-speed automatic transmission. Acura's Super Handling All-Wheel Drive is available in V6-powered models. Other options include navigation, 10-speaker audio, leather seats, GPS-linked climate control, parking sensors, rear seat-heaters, ventilated front seats, surround-view camera system, blind-spot information, rear cross-traffic monitor, and wireless smartphone charging. The A-Spec model is the only way you can get an Alcantara interior; it's also the only one available in Still Night Blue Pearl paint and with 19-inch Shark Gray wheels.
SUPER HANDLING All-WHEEL DRIVE
While many cars are available with all-wheel drive, SH-AWD is different. In addition to providing all-weather traction, SH-AWD is a torque-vectoring setup that constantly routes torque to all four wheels -- splitting power front and rear, and to the individual rear wheels -- improving cornering and stability.
A-SPEC SPORT-TUNED SUSPENSION
The A-Spec package brings a new, more driver-centric attitude to the TLX. At the core is an A-Spec-unique suspension with larger stabilizer bars and stiffer spring rates. It works with a quicker steering ratio and special 19-inch tires to make canyon roads downright entertaining.
Under the Hood
There are two available engines. The 206-horsepower, 2.4-liter 4-cylinder is backed by an 8-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission. Models powered with the 4-cylinder are front-wheel drive (FWD) only. The optional engine is a 290-horsepower, 3.5-liter V6 with a 9-speed automatic transmission. Both transmissions have been retuned for 2018. SH-AWD is optional with the V6; any TLX models that aren't equipped with all-wheel drive (AWD) receive Precision All-Wheel Steering. The V6 engine is well-suited to this sedan, and thanks to stop/start (AWD-only) and cylinder deactivation, it offers a lot more power than the 4-cylinder without a huge fuel-economy penalty.
206 horsepower @ 6,800 rpm
182 lb-ft of torque @ 4,500 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 23/33 mpg
290 horsepower @ 6,200 rpm
267 lb-ft of torque @ 4,500 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 20/32 mpg (FWD), 21/30 mpg (AWD), 20/30 mpg (FWD A-Spec), 20/29 mpg (AWD A-Spec)
For 2018, Acura has given its best-selling TLX sedan its first update, and it's a good one. The original TLX did a fine job of establishing itself as a technology-rich, comfortably smooth luxury sedan, but it didn’t stir the driver's soul like other cars in its class. That changes this year. Building on the strong foundation of the first TLX, Acura added gorgeous front-end styling and a compelling A-Spec model that gives the driving experience more bite. Throw in excellent safety features, a strong value proposition, and options like Acura's Super-Handling All-Wheel Drive (SH-AWD) and a potent V6 engine, and the TLX is the readiest it has ever been to compete with the BMW 3 Series, Audi A4 and Infiniti Q50.