Review: 2018 Acura TLX V6 SH-AWD A-Spec
The TLX gets a much needed upgrade for 2018.
In a sea full of entry-level luxury sedans, it’s not hard to see why the TLX can be overlooked. Since the TLX first debuted back in 2015, it’s been the first good-looking sedan from Acura since the original TSX. With its good looks and superb daily-drivability, we always wondered why we didn’t see more TLXs out on the road.
After a week with the ever gorgeous 2018 Acura TLX V6 SH-AWD A-Spec in Still Night Blue Pearl, we discovered what the TLX is. It’s that one song in an album that you always skipped and realized it was amazing after finally listening to it.
No turbochargers here. At least not yet…
In what seems to be the last of its kind, the TLX that Acura sent us came with the familiar 3.5-liter V6. The J35 six-cylinder produces 290 horsepower at 6,200 RPM and 267lb-ft of torque at 4,500 RPM. While most of its competitors have switched to turbocharged 4-bangers, Acura chose to stick with its big gun and we’re not complaining. The J35 V6 is as smooth as ever and boy does it sound quite lovely too. We assume the next generation will come with a variant of Honda’s 2.0-liter turbo engine from the 10th generation Accord.
Helping to put the power down, the TLX A-Spec comes with a ZF 9-speed automatic gearbox. While the gear shifts are buttery smooth in automatic mode, shifting manually with the paddles isn’t as immediate as we’d like. If you’re going to find yourself driving on a nice back road, we suggest switching to Sport+ mode and letting the computer do all the shifting for you.
Touring Car-like handling, the A-Spec means business.
The TLX has never been known to be a full-blown sports sedan, at least, not to us. However, after putting it through its paces on some winding roads, we have to say that we were proven wrong. For starters, at 3,838lbs, the TLX A-Spec does a superb job of hiding its weight when driven to the limit. The speed at which it changes direction from left to right, and vice versa, would make you think you’re behind the wheel of a much lighter 4-door like a Civic Si.
A large part of the TLX’s agile handling can be credited to the SH-AWD system. Not only is power constantly being transferred from front to rear and back, but also side-to-side. The AWD wizardry is always on top of managing where the power is best needed in any given situation. When you think you’re at the limit, the AWD system les you know that you could push it a little further. That what you call confidence-inspiring, boys and girls.
A luxury sports sedan that can do both
In normal driving, in the city and highway, the TLX A-Spec turns its game face off and relaxes, as if taking a brisk walk in the park. And that’s the true beauty of the TLX: its duality. If you want to take the long way home and drive through your favorite mountain road, it’ll handle it no problem. Sitting in traffic and driving through terrible roads is an absolute breeze too. The A-Spec package does include stiffer springs over the base trim, but the ride is still comfortable and compliant. The tuning of the dampers is bang on as well.
Without the A-Spec package, the TLX was already a good looking sedan, but it never turned any heads. However, once Acura gave us our first peek at one with the A-Spec package, wow was it quite a looker. It’s exactly what the doctor ordered. We almost wish the TLX came with the A-Spec package from the get go. The front lip, side skirts, rear bumper, trunk lid spoiler, and gunmetal wheels all come together in perfect harmony to give the TLX sporty, yet stylish aesthetic. The best part is that the TLX backs up its sporty looks.
A perfect balance of luxury and sportiness
Taking a step inside, everything is classic Acura and that’s a good thing. The thickly-rimmed, leather-wrapped steering wheel feels great in the hands and can even be heated if so desired. The buttons on the wheel all work as intended, making it easy to use without having to take your eyes off the road. Though, the dual screens on the dash can be a bit much, and somewhat redundant. Hopefully future models will switch to a single screen.
The front seats are very comfortable on long road journeys while still being able to hold you in place during cornering. Rear seat leg room is adequate as long as you’re under 6-feet tall. Trunk space is rather generous making trips to Costco a piece of cake. The best part of the A-Spec interior happens at night when red strips of light appear along the door panels, center cup holders, and along the dashboard. It’s a simple yet, elegant touch to indicate the sporty spirit of the A-Spec package.
For $45,000, is the 2018 TLX V6 SH-AWD A-Spec worth it? Are you looking for an entry-level luxury sports sedan that you can commute in Monday through Friday and have fun in the canyons on the weekend? Look no further, the TLX A-Spec is the one. We’ll take ours in Still Night Blue Pearl please.