A new grille and sporty A-Spec trim aren't enough to elevate the comfy and feature-laden 2018 Acura TLX.
It’s only been on sale for three years, but the 2018 Acura TLX gets an update that drops its polarizing shield-nose grille and adds a sporty new A-Spec model.
Despite these changes, the TLX remains a near-luxury sedan with a balanced driving character.
The TLX earns a 6.8 on our overall scale thanks to its comfort and impressive features. We’d ask more from the styling. (Read more about how we rate cars.)
A new grille sits between a pair of reshaped headlights and above a less busy lower bumper, while in back, visible exhaust outlets appear for the first time and join tweaked taillights. In the cabin, ambient light piping along both sides of the center console and new seat designs freshen up what's otherwise a perfectly OK cabin.
The new A-Spec model will likely receive the most attention. It wears a sportier exterior, a unique grille, standard 19-inch wheels, and 4-inch exhausts integrated into the rear bumper. Its cabin has two trim choices for its more heavily bolstered seats, while an A-Spec-specific steering wheel gives drivers meatier grips. On the hardware front, the A-Spec receives a slightly firmer suspension and an Active Sound Control that amplifies intake noise in the cabin.
Both the TLX's base 2.4-liter 4-cylinder and 3.5-liter V-6 are carried over from last year's model. The 4-cylinder engine works alongside an 8-speed dual-clutch transmission (which includes a torque converter, a unique twist) to send power to the front wheels, while the V-6 uses a 9-speed automatic to send its power to the front or all four wheels.
New tech for 2018 includes an updated 7.0-inch touchscreen infotainment system with revamped menus and response times that are up to 30 percent faster than last year's model. The LED headlights score an auto on/off function alongside standard high-beam assist, which should improve on the 2017 TLX's “Marginal” rating in the IIHS' headlight testing, while wireless cellphone charging brings a dose of the future to the cabin.
With the 2018 TLX, Acura sets a base price of $33,995, including a mandatory $995 destination charge. That sum will cover a 2.4-liter base model. The new A-Spec trim starts at $43,795, while a top-of-the-line TLX Advance sells for $44,745. Acura's excellent Super-Handling All-Wheel Drive is a $2,000 option on all V-6 trims, while 4-cylinder models remain front-wheel-drive only.