Road Tests

One Week With: 2017 Acura TLX 3.5 SH-AWD

For those who detest surprises

In the market for a midsize luxury sedan? Congratulations, you’re shopping in one of the most saturated market segments. There’s something for everyone, ranging from the cossetting and cushy Mercedes C-Class to the sharp, driver-focused Alfa Romeo Giulia.

The TLX has served as Acura’s entry into the ultra-competitive segment since it replaced the smaller TSX and larger TL in 2014. With a refresh arriving next month at the 2017 New York Auto Show, we thought it prudent to check out what the outgoing 2017 Acura TLX has to offer.

Visually, the TLX is right in line with Acura’s other models. The infamous “beak” still looms over the front grille, but Acura has learned to temper and refine the distinctive feature so that it blends in with the rest of the car. Of course, underneath the Acura badge are the bones of the Accord, so proportions are similar to the Honda. It’s a clean, if anonymous, design that fits in with the rest of the segment.

The TLX is available in two flavors of powertrain, starting with a 2.4-liter naturally aspirated four-cylinder from the Honda Accord. Our 3.5 SH-AWD tester was fitted with the upgraded engine, a 3.5-liter V-6. Power is a solid 290 hp and 267 lb-ft of torque, returning a 0-60 time right around the high five second mark. Honda V-6 engines rarely disappoint and the TLX is no different. It’s faster than any buyers in this segment require and returns a reasonable 21/31 mpg city/highway.

Power is managed by ZF’s nine-speed automatic transmission, operated by a waterfall-style push-button shifter. As we have consistently experienced with transmissions with more than eight forward gears, the nine-speed isn’t the smoothest. Transitions can be a little herky-jerky and we experienced some tiresome gear hunting. Still, it wasn’t so uncomfortable that we rendered it a deal breaker and, in time, we learned to adjust our driving style to the transmission’s eccentricities.

Unlike its competitors, the standard TLX arrives in front-wheel-drive configuration. Spend an extra $2,200, and Acura will add its popular SH-AWD system. On our TLX, we never encountered a situation where AWD was necessary, but the car felt surefooted and confident.

Inside, the TLX is all business. The straight-to-the-point cabin is part of Acura’s modus operandi and is often a selling point for the brand. Some portions of the interior are gussied up Accord components, but it is far from an uncomfortable environment. Like its competitors, it’s a leather-wrapped environment, including some metal and wood trim pieces. Unfortunately, there is a bit more plastic than we’d like, especially in the center console area.

On-road, the TLX drives well. Steering has a good weight and feel, power is strong, and ride quality is pleasantly neutral. Still, it isn’t as satisfying as some other sharpshooters in the segment. Compared to cars like the Giulia and ATS, the Acura falls short dynamically.

Price-wise, the $33,000 base TLX is right around the entry price point for a BMW 3-Series, Audi A4, and Infiniti Q50. Kit your TLX out like our tester with the available Technology Package ($4,050), Advance Package (driver assistance suite, climatre controlled seats, $3,200), SH-AWD, and V-6, the TLX tops out around a reasonable $49,000. Sales have remained a moderately strong, moving 37,000 units in 2016. This nearly matches the Lexus IS and Infiniti Q50, which saw sales of 37,000 and 44,000, respectively. If each entry in the segment is a different answer to the same problem, the Acura TLX is best seen as a reliable, no-surprises sedan.

2017 Acura TLX 3.5 SH-AWD Specifications

ON SALE Now
PRICE $32,950/$49,214 (base/as tested)
ENGINE 3.5L SOHC 24-valve V-6/290 hp @ 6,200 rpm, 267 lb-ft @ 4,500 rpm
TRANSMISSION 9-speed automatic
LAYOUT 4-door, 5-passenger, front-engine, AWD sedan
EPA MILEAGE 21/31 mpg (city/hwy)
L x W x H 190.3 x 73.0 x 57.0 in
WHEELBASE 109.3 in
WEIGHT 3,774 lb
0-60 MPH 5.8 sec (est)
TOP SPEED N/A

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Buying Guide
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2017 Acura TLX

2017 Acura TLX

MSRP $36,050 2.4 w/Technology Pkg Sedan

EPA MPG:

24 City / 35 Hwy

Safety (NHTSA):

★★★★★

Horse Power:

206 @ 6800