Vehicle Review: the 2017 Acura TLX

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honda-tech.com 2017 Acura TLX Advance Package review Derek Shiekhi

Honda-Tech spent a week behind the wheel of the mid-range Acura TLX sedan, discovering it’s strengths and weaknesses.

Do you know what TLX stands for? As an acronym, it’s meaningless. It doesn’t stand for anything, according to a Honda rep I contacted. As a model name, TLX translates to the car that replaced the TSX and TL sedans. To be more specific, the letters T, L, and X mean “Performance Luxury Sedan” in Acura speak. Do those words translate into a driving experience, though? I found out over the course of a week behind the wheel of a 2017 Acura TLX with the Advance Package.

honda-tech.com 2017 Acura TLX Advance Package review Derek Shiekhi

Performance

The TLX is available with either a 206-horsepower/182-lb-ft 2.4-liter I4 or 3.5-liter V6 with 290 horsepower and 276 lb-ft. My $43,540 test vehicle had the latter power plant. Sure, it might have had less than 300 horsepower, but I didn’t mind that. It was an adequate dose of power for the amount of weight it had to handle. I wasn’t bent out of shape about averaging a little less than the EPA-estimated 25 mpg combined. What frustrated me about the TLX was its sluggish throttle response. I expected it to be relaxed when I had the Integrated Dynamics System in its Eco setting and mild mannered in Normal mode. Unfortunately, I still had to get deep into the right pedal in Sport and Sport+ to get the TLX to show any enthusiasm. Taking the TLX through the twisties of Austin, Texas’s City Park Road was like trying to have a conversation at an epic party with someone who’s clearly tired and just wants to go home.

honda-tech.com 2017 Acura TLX Advance Package review Derek Shiekhi

Acura pairs the V6 with a 9-speed automatic. Shifts were smooth and on time whether I left the gearbox on its own or pulled back on one of the Sequential SportShift paddles behind the 3-spoke steering wheel. Initially, I was leary of the buttons-only main controls for the transmission. I was surprised to discover that using them to quickly get out of parking spots and on the move became second nature after one or two uses. However, I did miss being able to pull back on a shift lever to get to the next gear during a spirited drive. Acura’s tranny controls may save space, but they also lose a sense of engagement and fun.

The TLX puts its power to the road through either a torque-vectoring Super Handling All-Wheel Drive (SH-AWD) system or the front-wheel drive/all-wheel steering setup that my media loaner had. On-center feel was solid. A little too solid. What was great for highway cruising to the DFW Auto Show was grating on my nerves when I attempted to hustle the TLX through a series of curves. Trying to get the TLX to change directions quickly was like trying to get that buzzkill friend I mentioned earlier to walk out to the dance floor and bust a move.

honda-tech.com 2017 Acura TLX Advance Package review Derek Shiekhi

Luxury

In case you couldn’t tell, I was underwhelmed by the TLX’s athleticism. Luckily, I don’t always feel the need to rocket the car I’m driving into a chicane. Sometimes it’s nice to just drive a road instead of attack it. Whenever I was in the mood to do that, the TLX did nothing to spoil it. The ride quality was firm without being harsh or punishing. The combination of the Advance and Technology Packages meant I had features such as a heated/ventilated seat under me and whoever rode shotgun, an 8-inch LED navigation screen in front of me, Adaptive Cruise Control at my fingertips, and a 10-speaker ELS Studio Premium Audio System all around me. Is the wood trim in the TLX real? No, but with its rich color and eye-pleasing mix of highs and lows, it’s some of the best fake forestry I’ve ever seen. Acura could teach other automakers a thing or two about how to do it right.

honda-tech.com 2017 Acura TLX Advance Package review Derek Shiekhi

Sedan

I drove a 1998 Acura Integra LS sedan for eight years. Cloth seats, 4-speed auto, 14-inch wheels – you get the picture. It wasn’t a particularly fast or attention-getting car. That doesn’t mean I didn’t think it was a good-looking vehicle, though. It was just understated – right up my alley. I felt the same way when I looked at the TLX. It was a well-proportioned collection of curves whose only real visually unavoidable flourish was its beautiful array of jewel-like LED headlights.

honda-tech.com 2017 Acura TLX Advance Package review Derek Shiekhi

Second-row head- and legroom was enough to comfortably fit me (I’m 5’10”). I do not envy anyone who has to sit in the middle seat for more than a trip to the corner store – unless they’re a child. People that size are the only ones who would have enough space above and in front of them.

honda-tech.com 2017 Acura TLX Advance Package review Derek Shiekhi

I had a sometimes pleasant, occasionally disappointing, constantly enlightening week with the 2017 Acura TLX. Those three letters may not be an acronym for anything, but I now know what the words “Performance Luxury Sedan” mean after they go from being groups of letters on a website to being an Acura.

Derek Shiekhi's father raised him on cars. As a boy, Derek accompanied his dad as he bought classics such as post-WWII GM trucks and early Ford Mustang convertibles.

After loving cars for years and getting a bachelor's degree in Business Management from Texas State University, Derek decided to get an associate degree in journalism from Austin Community College as well. His networking put him in contact with the editor of the Austin-American Statesman newspaper, who hired him to write freelance about automotive culture and events in Austin, Texas in 2013. One particular story led to him getting a certificate for learning the foundations of road racing.

While watching TV with his parents one fateful evening, he saw a commercial that changed his life. In it, Jeep touted the Wrangler as the Texas Auto Writers Association's "SUV of Texas." Derek knew he had to join the organization if he was going to advance as an automotive writer. He joined the Texas Auto Writers Association (TAWA) in 2014 and was fortunate to meet several nice people who connected him to the representatives of several automakers and the people who could give him access to press vehicles (the first one he ever got the keys to was a Lexus LX 570). He's now a regular at TAWA's two main events: the Texas Auto Roundup in the spring and the Texas Truck Rodeo in the fall.

Over the past several years, Derek has learned how to drive off-road in various four-wheel-drive SUVs (he even camped out for two nights in a Land Rover), and driven around various tracks in hot hatches, muscle cars, and exotics. Several of his pieces, including his article about the 2015 Ford F-150 being crowned TAWA's 2014 "Truck of Texas" and his review of the Alfa Romeo 4C Spider, have won awards in TAWA's annual Excellence in Craft Competition. Last year, his profile of Wagonmaster, a business that restores Jeep Wagoneers, won prizes in TAWA’s signature writing contest and its pickup- and SUV-focused Texas Truck Invitational.

In addition to writing for a variety of Internet Brands sites, including JK-Forum.com and Ford-Trucks.com, Derek also contributes to other outlets. He started There Will Be Cars on Instagram and Facebook to get even more automotive content out to fellow enthusiasts.

Derek can be contacted at [email protected]

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