2018 Acura TLX Rating Breakdown
2018 acura tlx
EPA est City/Hwy
23/33
Starting at
$33,000
Engine
2.4L I4
Power
206 hp

Starting at

$33,000

Engine

2.4L I4

Power

206 hp

City/Hwy

23/33

Seats

5


The Car Connection Expert Review
Brandon Turkus

Brandon Turkus

DISLIKES
  • Design is still too anonymous
  • A-Spec should be available with 4-cylinder
  • Not as spacious as rivals
acura tlx 2018

A new grille and headlights are improvements, but the Acura TLX still lacks design flair.

The 2018 TLX is a difficult vehicle to get excited by, especially compared to the more avant-garde designs from Lexus, Infiniti, Audi, and Alfa Romeo. The new grille is a marked improvement, but the TLX still feels a too anonymous to give more than an average 5 out of 10. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

The death of the TLX's controversial shield-nose grille is a welcomed change that dominates the rest of the exterior treatment. Situated high and splayed wide across the fascia, the new grille and the larger LED headlights are less visually heavy than the 2017 TLX, giving this sedan a clean, refined look.

Acura was less extreme with the rear end, delivering mild tweaks to the taillights, adding a diffuser-like attachment to the rear bumper and building exposed exhausts to brighten up the backside. While the V6 model gets unexciting rectangular exhaust outlets, the A-Spec model gets a handsome pair of 4-inch cannons, integrated directly into the bumper. The exhaust treatment is as eye-catching as the new grille.

Changes in the cabin are milder, consisting of revised seat designs on V-6 models that includes contrast stitching and piping (V-6 Technology models and above, only). The result is a more premium aesthetic for the four standard interior color themes. The piping also appears on the all-black leather/Alcantara treatment and Full Red upholsteries, the latter of which looks fantastic. Ambient light piping appears on the range-topping Advance trim and the sporty A-Spec.

But many of our past criticisms of the TLX remain. For a start, even with a more prominent grille and the sporty A-Spec package, the TLX still feels a little anonymous alongside style-intensive competitors, from traditional mainstream premium brands like Lexus and Mercedes-Benz to near-premium competitors like Infiniti. And while Acura's designers have made significant strides in the cabin, adding piping—of the leather and ambient-light varieties—isn't enough to spruce the place up.

A new grille and headlights are improvements, but the Acura TLX still lacks design flair.

The A-Spec trim adds sporty touches, but not enough substance to elevate the TLX.

The 2018 TLX's carryover powertrains are nothing to get excited about, but the arrival of a new A-Spec trim to challenge the sporty models from Lexus, BMW, Alfa Romeo, and Mercedes is enough to score the refreshed TLX 6 out of 10 points. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

While we've only tested the V-6 TLX and TLX A-Spec, the initial performance from the high-end engine is impressive. With 290 hp and 267 lb-ft of torque, off-the-line thrust is strong and paired with the optional Super-Handling All-Wheel-Drive system it's relatively undramatic. At higher speeds, the loftier torque and horsepower peaks—4,500 and 6,200 rpm, respectively—come into play, presenting plenty of thrust for freeway passes. But the V-6 TLX remains handicapped by its 9-speed automatic transmission.

While Acura says it improved the ZF-built gearbox for 2018—it does feel more willing to engage from a stop—its dynamic abilities are lacking compared to the 8-speed transmission in the BMW 340i, the 7-speed dual-clutch in the Audi A4, and even the 8-speed DCT in last year's 4-cylinder TSX. Even set to its most aggressive, upshifts don't happen as quickly, while the transmission still takes its time on downshifts. Combine that with the simple fact that nine gears are too many to rifle through while driving vigorously, and we'll continue to recommend the 4-cylinder TLX as the enthusiast's choice.

The TLX A-Spec is a bright spot in the range, if only from an engagement standpoint. While the spec sheets say there's a sportier suspension tune on offer courtesy of stiffer springs, firmer dampers, and a larger rear sway bar, the reality is that these improvements are minor. The A-Spec's real trump card is the throatier intake note provided by the Active Sound Control system, as well as a thicker steering wheel and more aggressively bolstered front seats. The changes should do a good job of luring the driver into having fun and push harder through turns, even if the overall dynamic results don't match up. Our main complaint? The A-Spec is only available as a V-6—a 4-cylinder A-Spec probably could have helped notch another point here.

The A-Spec trim adds sporty touches, but not enough substance to elevate the TLX.

Still quiet and comfortable, but spiced up with small design details.

Past TLXs have traded outright driving dynamics for ride comfort and the 2018 model is no different. The quiet, relaxing ride's interaction with a cosseting set of front seats—as well as a healthy dose of technology—help the TLX score a 7 out of 10 on our comfort scale. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

The TLX really deserves praise for its highway cruising ability. At higher speeds, there's little road, tire, or wind noise. And in the unlikely event you hear something unpleasant? Cue up the 10-speaker ELS stereo, which can provide crisp, clear tunes.

Like last year's model, the 2018 TLX is home to an extremely comfortable set of seats. But unlike last year, Acura has addressed some of our criticisms with the seat design, introducing handsome accent stitching and piping on the V-6 Technology, Advance, and A-Spec models. Combined with subtle design changes, the new seats now look as premium as they do comfortable. And they're very comfortable. Wide, heavily cushioned, and just supportive enough in the bends, we'd happily cover 1,000 miles in these chairs.

While the now-standard AcuraWatch suite of driver-assistance features is primarily on board to keep both driver and passengers safe, the system also reduces driver fatigue. There's no need to make constant minor steering corrections at freeway speed in the TLX because the combination of lane-departure warning with active lane control help keep the car centered. Adaptive cruise control, meanwhile, maintains a safe distance and adjusts speed accordingly.

Beyond the changes, the TLX is broadly the same. Head, shoulder, hip, and leg room is unchanged. In fact, the passenger compartment is 93.3 cubic feet, just like it was in 2017. That means many of our complaints from last year still apply—the BMW 3-Series and the Mercedes-Benz C-Class have more spacious cabins and an extra inch of second-row leg room.

Still quiet and comfortable, but spiced up with small design details.

The 2018 Acura TLX has performed well on most crash tests.

The 2018 Acura TLX has performed fairly well on federal and independent crash tests, but it's the standard automatic emergency braking on all models that has our favor.

Federal testers gave the TLX five stars across the board for safety, including five stars in each of their subcategories. The IIHS mostly agreed and gave the TLX top "Good" scores on all crash tests, except an "Acceptable" rating for front small overlap crash protection. The IIHS rated the standard automatic emergency braking system on the TLX as "Superior," its highest score. We give the TLX an 8 for safety. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

A rearview camera is standard on all models and blind-spot monitors are options on base and V-6 versions, standard on A-Spec cars.

The 2018 Acura TLX has performed well on most crash tests.


NHTSA 5-Star Safety Rating

2018 Acura TLX Models

Overall Rating

5/5

Overall Frontal Barrier Crash Rating: (5/5)
Overall Side Crash Rating: (5/5)
Overall Side Barrier Rating: Not Rated
NHTSA Roll-over Resistance Rating: (5/5)



Insurance Institute for Highway Safety Ratings

2018 Acura TLX Models

Side Impact Test Good
Roof Strength Test Good
Rear Crash Protection/Head Restraint Good
IIHS Small Overlap Front Test Results Acceptable
IIHS Moderate Overlap Front Test Results Good

A new infotainment system, wireless charging, and ambient lights give a more modern feel.

While Acura's mid-cycle updates don't include a lot of new equipment, there are a few crucial updates on hand, including standard Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility and a faster, more attractive infotainment system. That's enough for the TLX to score a 9 out of 10. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

While Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are the big news, they're only a part of a revamped infotainment system. Acura made the switch from a resistance-type touchscreen—one that takes its inputs from physical pressure of a human finger—to a capacitive-type touchscreen, like you'd find on a smartphone. The result, the company claims, is a 30-percent improvement in response speeds.

It makes a big difference. While we still dislike Acura's twin-screen infotainment system, the more responsive touchscreen paired with traditional buttons is easy to manipulate. That's partially because Acura reworked and simplified the menu structure for the infotainment.

Also new is an optional wireless charging system, if you have a compatible smartphone. The compartment ahead of the shifter where the charge pad lives is big enough for an iPhone 7 Plus.

Beyond these new additions, the TLX remains a near-luxury sedan with an impressive array of both standard and optional equipment. As is Honda tradition, Acura sorted all that extra gear into Technology or Advance packages. The former adds $3,700 to the price of either the 4- or 6-cylinder TLX and adds navigation, HD radio, Milano leather upholstery (V-6-powered models get the same upholstery but with contrast stitching/piping), blind-spot monitors, and cross-traffic alert.

The Advance Package is only available on the V-6 and adds $3,850 on top of the price of the Technology Package—so you'll pay $7,550 to take the V-6 TLX from base to loaded. The Advance Package includes everything from the Technology Package and then adds ventilated front seats, heated rear seats, a heated steering wheel, auto-dimming, power-folding side mirrors, a heated windshield, a surround-view camera system, front and rear parking sensors, remote start, wireless phone charging, ambient light piping, a rear spoiler, and LED fog lights/puddle lights.

A new infotainment system, wireless charging, and ambient lights give a more modern feel.

Most versions of the 2018 Acura TLX will manage combined fuel economy in the mid-20s.

Changing the looks of the 2018 Acura TLX didn't much change its fuel economy.

The EPA estimates that front-wheel-drive versions of the TLX with a V-6 will manage 20 mpg city, 32 highway, 24 combined. That earns a 6 on our fuel economy scale. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

That's likely to be the most popular version of the sedan, but others don't stray far from that mark. The most efficient version of the TLX is the inline-4, which is EPA rated at 23/33/27 mpg.

Adding all-wheel drive doesn't dent fuel economy much: 21/30/24 mpg. Adding the sportier A-Spec package does: 20/30/23 mpg with front-wheel drive, 20/29/23 mpg with all wheel drive.

Most of the competition for the TLX has moved to smaller, turbocharged engines for their sedans for better fuel economy, but the Acura remains competitive with its V-6.

Most versions of the 2018 Acura TLX will manage combined fuel economy in the mid-20s.


Fuel Economy Information

Ratings Based on 4 cyl, 2.4 L, 8-Speed Double Clutch

27

Combined

3.7 gals/100 miles

23

City


33

Highway

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