2018 Acura TLX A-Spec: Sporty but sensible

Posted by Wheels On Edge about 2 years ago
The midsize sedan segment in Canada is in an interesting place. Vehicles like the Honda Accord, Toyota Camry, and indeed, the Acura TLX (formerly TL and TSX) tend to take the back seat to crossovers and SUV’s. Back in their early days in North America, Acura cemented their reputation with vehicles like the Integra and the Legend, offering luxury, sportiness, fun and value for money. In the midst of a mid-cycle refresh, can the TLX regain the appeal its segment once had, while bringing back the magic of the early Acuras? We found out.

Much of the TLX A-Spec’s changes are visual. Next to a standard TLX, the A-Spec is far more aggressive, featuring 19” gunmetal wheels, dark chrome accents,  trunk spoiler, side skirts and a re-sculpted front and rear. Inside the seats and dashboard take on a sportier look, ditching wooden accents for a darker brushed metal look. The seats - said to be inspired by the NSX supercar - are available in either red leather or black leather with alcantara inserts. The seats are also more bolstered than the standard model, but still comfortable.
The A-Spec features some engineering tweaks as well, giving the car a sportier feel than a standard TLX without sacrificing its comfortable ride. The steering and transmission were tweaked to feel more engaging and responsive, while the stiffer suspension helps cut down on body roll in corners. Acura also did some work on the exhaust. It’ll sound louder from the driver’s seat, but not all of the sound is natural. Some of it is piped in through the speakers. 

Under the hood, our A-Spec was equipped with a 290-horsepower 3.5L V6 engine mated to a 9-speed automatic gearbox. Coupled with Acura’s Super Handling All Wheel Drive (SH-AWD) system, the TLX won’t carve corners or thrust you into the back of your seat like an NSX, but it’ll get you going smoothly and quickly. The SH-AWD system focuses more on smoothness and stability than all out performance. Actions like making a right turn or changing lanes feel precise and controlled - even in inclement weather or on poor road surfaces.
At highway speed, the A-Spec can cruise quietly at low RPM’s thanks to its 9 gears. The gearbox responds quickly when shifting in manual mode, but under normal driving, it can feel slow. This is especially apparent when switching from Reverse to Drive, or when mashing the gas pedal during overtaking. Acura ditched a traditional gear shifter in the TLX, utilizing a series of buttons instead. While this does save some vertical space, it will take some getting used to. Below the gear buttons, a ‘Dynamic’ switch lets drivers toggle between various driving modes that affect throttle response, transmission behaviour and the AWD system’s behaviour. 

On the technology side, Acura’s safety technology, dubbed ‘AcuraWatch’ is now standard on the TLX. This suite of driver aids include lane keeping assistance, collision mitigation braking and a birds-eye camera view. A dual-screen setup inside allows the TLX to display navigation and infotainment simultaneously. It also comes with Android Auto and Apple Carplay compatibility. Modern smartphones can also enjoy a wireless charging pad. But the interface and design of the on-screen display is not quite as refined as that on the cheaper Honda Accord. Plus, the Accord also features a optional Heads Up Display - an option absent from the TLX.
The TLX A-Spec starts at $44,407 in Canada. Our tester, with the optional V6 engine (among other features,) came in at a heftier $53,207. The TLX, at the end of the day, is a comfortable and practical family sedan. While the A-Spec isn’t quite as sporty as Acuras of past like the Integra, it still injects some much needed aggression into the brand’s lineup.

Written by Shane Kalicharan


Tags:
2018 Acura TLX, A-Spec, SHAWD

Latest Articles

See All
  • 2019 Mazda MX-5 RF: Potent Pocket Rocket
    2019 Mazda MX-5 RF: Potent Pocket Rocket

    August 13, 2019 - Short of the mid-cycle refresh, the yearly tweaks and updates to a vehicle during its production years are typically quite minor. A slightly retuned ECU here, perhaps a softer touch material around the shift boot there. The small stuff, as it were. B

  • Win $5,000 for your Jeep Or Toyota from RedRock 4x4
    Win $5,000 for your Jeep Or Toyota from RedRock 4x...

    August 6, 2019 - Attention all Jeep and Toyota owners: here is your chance to win $5,000 in parts and accessories for your rig on ExtremeTerrain (XT), brought to you by RedRock 4x4. RedRock 4x4 is fast becoming one of the most trusted names in the off-road aftermarke

  • Top 5 F150 Mods Under $500 | The Haul
    Top 5 F150 Mods Under $500 | The Haul

    August 6, 2019 - In this episode of AmericanTruck’s (AT) “The Haul” YouTube Video Series, host JustinDugan selects his favorite five functional products under $500 for 2009-2014F150’s.Including parts from AT’s most popular categories like Truck Lighting, F150 Lift Ki

  • Building a JL Wrangler for the Trails and Street
    Building a JL Wrangler for the Trails and Street

    August 6, 2019 - In this episode of ExtremeTerrain’s (XT)Throttle Out YouTube video series, host Ryan Huck plans and executes a JLU Wrangler Sport build that can handle whatever terrain you throw at it; whether it be asphalt, gravel, rock trails, or mud. Keeping it

  • Everything You Need To Know Before Buying A Car
    Everything You Need To Know Before Buying A Car

    August 3, 2019 - A car is for most people the second-largest purchase you will make, so before you buy one there a few key things you need to know and some essential things you should do, so here goes

  • 2019 BMW X7 xDrive40i: Lavish, Large and in charge
    2019 BMW X7 xDrive40i: Lavish, Large and in charge

    August 1, 2019 - Remember the late 90s and early 2000s when massive luxury SUV’s like the Lincoln Navigator and Cadillac Escalade were the pinnacle of opulence? Actors, rappers, politicians, ne’er-do-wells and other well-off folk took pride in their souped-up SUV’s.

  • How Can You Extend Your Car's Lifespan?
    How Can You Extend Your Car's Lifespan?

    July 24, 2019 - Taking your car for routine maintenance, even when things seem fine, is absolutely essential if you want to make sure that it's always running as smoothly as possible.

  • 2019 MINI Clubman: Mighty Mover
    2019 MINI Clubman: Mighty Mover

    July 22, 2019 - The lovable Mini of the 60’s is easily one of the most iconic vehicles of all time – whether you’re into cars or not. It was a symbol of British ingenuity, offering consumers a vehicle that was practical, economical and stylish. The modern Mini is a

  • Things Every Car Owner Should Know
    Things Every Car Owner Should Know

    July 22, 2019 - If you are a new car owner, there are a lot of things you will want to learn, and here are some of the essential things you need to know as a car owner.

  • 2019 Ford Ranger Lariat Sport: Return of the Ranger
    2019 Ford Ranger Lariat Sport: Return of the Range...

    July 18, 2019 - Is Ford’s new Ranger a return of the compact pickup? Let’s find out.

Share This!

or