Five Details that Make the 2018 Acura TLX A-Spec
A performance-oriented trim for the refreshed four-door
Along with its cosmetic facelift, the 2018 Acura TLX receives a sporty new trim, the A-Spec. Effectively an upgrade of the V-6 Technology Package, the 2018 TLX A-Spec trades some features from the range-topping V-6 Advance for performance-oriented upgrades. Here's a breakdown of what's new:
1. Sportier Exterior
Unless it's wearing its exclusive Still Night Blue Pearl paint, you have to look fairly closely to tell the 2018 TLX A-Spec apart from the rest of the lineup. However, the sporty variant does bear a number of unique design cues in addition to said paint and trim-specific badges. The cues give the A-Spec a younger, more athletic look than the standard TLX, which could lure buyers like those that enjoyed the third-generation Acura TL A-Spec of the mid 2000s.
Up front, the A-Spec receives a matte black version of the TLX' new pentagon grille, a black chrome surround for the grille, and LED foglamps. The rear end receives four-inch round exhaust tips, a decklid spoiler, and a diffuser. Both front and rear receive an updated fascia, and 19-inch Shark Gray wheels complete the package.
2. Sportier interior
The inside story on the TLX A-Spec is basically the same outside — several cosmetic tweaks and unique elements. In addition to badges, cosmetic revisions include the addition of Alcantara-trimmed door and seat inserts, while functional changes consist of sportier bolsters for the front seat pads and a thicker steering wheel that's a pleasure to hold.
Two unique interior schemes are offered — a black/Alcantara setup and a statement-making full red that goes best with the A-Spec's exclusive blue paint. While red leather is certainly not to everyone's liking, both options make the TLX's interior a considerably sportier-looking place to be.
3. Retuned suspension
Acura only made minor changes to the TLX' suspension setup when creating the A-Spec, but if you've ever played with suspension settings on a car of your own, you know how much of a difference even a little change can make.
Both FWD and AWD versions of the TLX A-Spec receive retuned damper valves and retuned steering (according to Acura, on-center steering effort at 62 mph is roughly 16% higher). SH-AWD-equipped variants also receive quicker steering ratio, a slight increase of 0.1 kgf/mm in spring rate at all four corners to 3.0 kgf/mm up front and 3.1 kgf/mm at rear, as well as a stiffer rear anti-roll bar; the A-Spec's is 25.4 mm wide and has a 3.8 mm thick wall, increases of 0.7 mm and 0.1 mm, respectively.
4. Higher-performance tires
It would be a stretch to call the Michelin Primacy MXM4 all-seasons worn by the A-Spec "performance tires," but it is a grippier offering than the Bridgestone or Goodyear tire offered in the rest of the TLX lineup. Sized 245/40R19, the Michelins are also wider and have a thicker sidewall than the 225/50R18s on other V-6 models.
5. Revised Integrated Dynamic System settings
To help the TLX A-Spec get the most out of its new tire and suspension setup, Acura fitted it with a revised version of its Integrated Dynamic System driving mode setup. The electronic power steering, P-AWS rear-wheel steering system, and stability control all receive a performance-oriented tune for all four modes — Eco, Normal, Sport, and Sport+.
When the TLX arrived for 2014, it replaced two models — the slightly smaller TSX and slightly larger TL. While there is no doubt that, thanks to its new nose, the 2018 TLX is a better looker than the outgoing model in all of its flavors, an argument can be made that the lineup is still not broad enough to fill both sets of shoes. Visually, the A-Spec is a step in the right direction, but do these seemingly minor changes make for a significantly different — and, hopefully, improved — driving experience, truly diversifying the lineup? Come back on May 18 to find out in our first drive.