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A new sportier variant of a redesigned, already-sporty sedan

2012 Acura TSX Special Edition Review | Car Reviews and news at ...
2012 Acura TSX Special Edition Review | Car Reviews and news at … | acura tsx tires

ProsComfortable, easy V6 power, all-wheel drive

ConsTight rear-seat room, annoying transmission buttons

Value for moneyGood

What would I change?Needs more personality

How I would spec it?As is

It’s not like Acura is the only upscale brand to have its best-selling automobile taking a back seat to an even better selling crossover. No, in the same boat one could add Audi, Cadillac, Infiniti, Jaguar, Lexus, Volvo and several others. Of course, manufacturers are to blame for this predicament; they’ve done too good a marketing/advertising job convincing consumers that only a crossover in their driveway will satisfy their needs, wants and desires.

This is messed up, and it’s not because I have any dislike of crossovers, upscale or otherwise. Some are actually a kick to drive. But there’s something particularly enjoyable about spending time in a well-engineered mid-sized sedan, especially ones that find the right balance of sport and luxury. And I thank Acura for this because it was time spent with its second-generation 3.2TL, produced from 1999 to 2003, when I first discovered this ideal balance — and it came with a significantly lower price point that caused a lot of hand wringing amongst its competition.

Click here for exclusive local dealer pricing on the 2018 Acura TLX

For the 2015 model year, Acura replaced the TL and its slow-selling TSX with the TLX, a ballsy move in that not only did one car have to do the work of two, it had to revitalize to Acura brand while competing in one of the most competitive and scrutinized automobile segments. Ultimately, while it hasn’t set the world ablaze, it has done well for Acura, putting up solid numbers.

This brings us to the 2018 TLX, refreshed and reflecting what Acura says is its new design direction. More to the point, the tester is the new A-Spec variant, which “amps up the sporty character of TLX and features exclusive design elements inside and out, along with key enhancements to chassis tuning and wheel/tire specification.”

That’s painting with broad strokes, though, with more than a smattering of PR hyperbole thrown in. From an engine output point of view, the A-Spec is no different from the rest of the TLX lineup. That means a mild 206-horsepower, 2.4-litre four-cylinder for the front-wheel-drive model; but a far more potent 290-horsepower, 3.5L V6 and a nine-speed automatic transmission are standard with the SH-AWD all-wheel drivetrain. Given that the tester — its lengthy trim designation is V6 SH-AWD Tech A-Spec — weighs a fairly trim 1,742 kilograms — more ponies are superfluous. Acceleration is strong, particularly in the mid- and higher ranges, the normally aspirated V6 making its power easily.

2018 Acura TLX V6 A-Spec

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2018 Acura TLX V6 A-Spec

2018 Acura TLX V6 A-Spec

2018 Acura TLX V6 A-Spec

2018 Acura TLX V6 A-Spec

2018 Acura TLX V6 A-Spec

2018 Acura TLX V6 A-Spec

2018 Acura TLX V6 A-Spec

2018 Acura TLX V6 A-Spec

2018 Acura TLX V6 A-Spec

2018 Acura TLX V6 A-Spec

As is now becoming commonplace among performance-oriented vehicles — in the TLX’s case its called the Integrated Dynamics System (IDS) — there are four selectable modes (Econ, Normal, Sport and Sport+) that allow for a customizable driving experience. Depending on the setting, IDS will adjust steering effort (more on this later), throttle response, transmission shift logic, heating/air conditioning system operation, active sound control and, for AWD models, the control logic for the SH-AWD system.

2012 Acura TSX Special Edition Review | Car Reviews and news at ...
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Naturally, the Sport+ mode ups the car’s performance potential with the most assertive settings. Generally, though, Sport mode turned out to be more enjoyable, tightening up the steering but not nearly as aggressive on the shift points. Econ hobbles the TLX’s get-up-and-go-in favour of supposedly greater fuel efficiency, while Normal is best suited for highway cruising.

While the nine-speed is the very model of smoothness, I’m not a huge fan of the transmission controls, with separate buttons to push for park, reverse, neutral and drive. I’ve never understood the need to make things complicated when simpler solutions abound.

In addition to the improved lateral grip and responsiveness offered by Michelin Primacy P245/40R19 rubber, A-Spec models are the recipients of a retuned electric power steering system and damper settings. All-wheel-drive A-Spec models also get a quicker steering ratio for increased response, and a stiffer spring rate and rear stabilizer bar for improved body control. Despite all this good stuff, this TLX’s steering feels somewhat sluggish in the turns, as if an excessive amount of weight is sitting over the front tires. There are no complaints about grip, however. The car holds a tight line on highway on-ramps with just a hint of roll.

The A-Spec’s differentiation from other TLX trims starts at the front with a matte-black diamond pentagon grille with dark chrome surround and a more pronounced lower front fascia flanked by round LED fog lights. The A-Spec 19-inch alloy rims are finished in Shark Gray paint and combine with flared side sills. At the rear is a gloss-black decklid spoiler, smoked LED taillights and a fascia featuring a lower diffuser accented by four-inch dual exhaust tips. A matte-black side window surround and A-Spec badges on the front fenders and rear decklid complete the look.

Inside, the A-Spec’s front seats have more serious bolsters and come with contrast stitching and piping (the tester’s red leather is a bright and welcomed change from boring old black). There’s also red LED ambient light piping, red highlights in the gauges, a black headliner and pillar treatment, brushed aluminum-look instrument panel trim and a thicker steering wheel.

2018 Acura TLX V6 A-Spec

2018 Acura TLX V6 A-Spec

2018 Acura TLX V6 A-Spec

2018 Acura TLX V6 A-Spec

2018 Acura TLX V6 A-Spec

2018 Acura TLX V6 A-Spec

For the tech geeks, all 2018 TLXs feature a redesigned dual-screen user interface with, what Acura claims are more intuitive menus and command structures, complemented by a new seven-inch capacitive touchscreen with a 30-percent faster response time and Android Auto compatibility. The new TLX also supports Apple CarPlay. As for the navigation system, it was OK yet less than outstanding, a couple of time choosing less direct routes to get to the programmed destination.

2012 Acura TSX Special Edition Review | Car Reviews and news at ...
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Size-wise, the TLX sort-of slots in between compact and mid-sized — rear-seat legroom will be on the tight side for taller passengers. Price-wise – $35,990 to start, $47,390 for the as-tested A-Spec model – the sedan’s primary rivals are compact-sized upscale nameplates such as the Audi A4, BMW 3 Series, Cadillac ATS, and numerous others. So, what you’re getting for the same (or less) money than the aforementioned competition is a larger car — and V6 power when opting for all-wheel drive.

The TLX, while a technically proficient sporting sedan — slightly more so with the new A-Spec — is difficult to truly like. It’s a matter of personality; Acuras have always struck me as rather impersonal. Yet, with winter about to make an appearance, I can’t help but think how much more enjoyable it would be to scoot around snowy streets in the TLX than most like-priced and like-sized crossovers.

AWD midsize sport sedan

3.5L SOHC V6

290 horsepower @ 6,200 rpm; 267 lb.-ft. of torque @ 4,500 rpm

Nine-speed automatic

Four-wheel disc with ABS

P245/40R19

$35,990/$47,390

$2,172.50

(L/100km) 12.0 city, 8.2 highway

Active noise cancellation/active sound control, adaptive cruise control with low-speed follow, auto-dimming rear-view mirror, automatic climate control, capless fueling, HandsFreeLink-Bluetooth wireless mobile phone interface with steering wheel-mounted controls, HomeLink remote, keyless access, multi-angle rear-view camera with dynamic guidelines, multi-Information display, on-demand multi-use display, power windows with auto-up/down, auto-reverse and key-off operation, pushbutton start, remote engine starter, two-position memory for driver’s seat, side mirrors and climate control, steering wheel-mounted audio, phone, MID and cruise controls, tilt and telescoping steering column, premium audio system with AM/FM/Sirius tuner, MP3/Windows Media Audio compatibility, in-dash CD player and seven speakers including subwoofer, Apple CarPlay/ Android Auto, Bluetooth Streaming Audio, speed-sensitive volume control, USB device connector, heated power-adjusting side mirrors with driver recognition, reverse gear tilt-down and integrated LED turn indicators, Jewel Eye LED headlights, power sunroof and more

2012 Acura TSX Special Edition Review | Car Reviews and news at ...
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