It has now been nearly half a year since Acura debuted their latest brainchild, the TLX. I’ve now had a considerable amount of time in the car, both at the first drive event last summer, and through a cold-weather test I performed last Christmas. When I decided to attend a conference down in Miami and fly my parents down for a weeklong exploration drive through the Sunshine State, Acura offered me what they thought would be the perfect road trip companion. I happily obliged, and picked up the keys to my 2015 Acura TLX P-AWS at Miami International Airport.
Initial impressions of the car were no different than those I already had. There are things I seriously love about this car, and they mostly have to do with its impeccable road manners. Some write off the TLX fairly quickly as it’s the lovechild of the now-defunct TL and TSX, and is often referred to as a compromise between two different car classes. I couldn’t disagree more; this Acura is a solid contender in the premium segment. We can opt for either the 2.4L i-VTEC powerplant I opted for here, or the 3.5L V6 with SH-AWD, which is definitely beneficial for those living in our frigid Canadian climate.
There’s a big reason I think the 2.4L is the model to go for. Firstly, this 4-cylinder is a new version of the outgoing K24 motor, shared with the Civic Si. The upcoming 2016 Acura ILX also receives this new block, and here it sports 206 horsepower and 182 lb-ft of torque. The V6 model comes with the ZF-made 9-speed gearbox, while the I-4 has Acura’s first dual-clutch transmission, a delicious 8-speed unit. Using the IDS (Integrated Dynamics System) to put the car into “Sport+” allows you to use the paddle shifters for maximum fun. As one would expect from a car with i-VTEC, there’s a noticeable kick just past the 4,000rpm mark as the system kicks in.
Back to those road manners I was talking about; one thing that became evident on this road trip is how well sorted the TLX is on the interstates. It’s a great car when bombing around the curvy roads, but it really is in its element cruising along with the flow of traffic with the IDS set to “Eco”. The car hums along in eighth gear and makes almost sounds at all, and the windows are sealed tight to prevent any outside noise from coming into the cabin. The suspension is sorted nicely as well, the front is now a strut-type setup and other than the larger turning radius, the results are all positive. The Acura is approaching Lexus-levels of smoothness and serenity without sacrificing things like direct and precise steering feel or sharp throttle response.
Florida doesn’t really have too many curvy roads or any real hills. In this sense, the only thing the state has in common with California is the warm weather. Hence, I wasn’t really able to push the TLX around any treacherous mountainside roads. Even still, it didn’t take me long to determine just how accurate and defined the steering is. There isn’t as much feedback as you’d expect from, say, the Integra Type-R of the past, but the TLX is very responsive and can be a corner carver anyhow. The Precision All-Wheel-Steer (P-AWS) is a system that allows the rear wheels to turn as well through a corner, allowing for significantly more control and a more accurate “point-and-go” setup. This system is only available on front-wheel-drive TLXs and not pairable with SH-AWD (which itself is V6-only).
One particularly noteworthy drive we made was down the US-1 from Miami into the Florida Keys, right down to Key West. This three-hour trip one way was the day after I picked up the TLX, and it allowed me to get acquainted with it. Averaging 55-60mph over the six-hour drive, the car’s fuel economy has to be praised. On this particular drive, which was about 385 miles, the car returned 42mpg, or 5.6L/100km. If this isn’t impressive enough for you, my week’s average, with a full load of luggage and generous use of the air conditioner, was still no worse than 6.9L/100km on premium fuel. These numbers are right in line with hybrid sedans such as the Toyota Camry and Kia Optima; nothing to scoff at. The 2015 Acura TLX is seriously efficient, and there’s no nonsense there.
When taking a road trip, the car’s road manners and efficiency are usually the biggest factors, but they usually come second to luggage capacity. Unfortunately, the way my family travels, there’s no real chance to test this. We don’t check in any luggage, and there were only three of us on-board. Anything from a Civic Coupe to a Yukon Denali would have suited us nicely, and swallowed up all of our luggage effortlessly. The TLX though; it did the job perfectly. There was just enough front legroom and enough room in the rear for passengers even behind my 6’+ self. The sunroof doesn’t impede on headroom in any noticeable way, so there’s no issue there either, and the trunk gladly ate up our carry-on luggage as well as a considerable amount of shopping from the trip.
In Canada, this particular TLX, with the 4-cylinder engine and the Technology Package, would sticker just under $36,000. However, this was a test conducted in the United States on a US-spec vehicle, a 2015 Acura TLX with the aforementioned Technology Package. The sticker on this car in US dollars was $35,500, and includes things like an Acura navigation system, the ELS Studio premium sound system, AcuraLink, perforated Milano leather (heated), SIRI Eyes-Free, and a few other things. Also noteworthy is stuff like Lane Keep Assist, forward collision warning, blind spot monitoring, and lane departure warning.I’ve made it no sercret that I’m not really a fan of all of these driver aids, even though they work reasonably well. On the Acura though, the systems are just intrusive and overly sensitive, and I felt like it was beeping at me way more than it should have been.
There wasn’t much not to like with the infotainment system. Being in an unfamiliar part of the world, I found myself using the GPS navigation to route me to my destinations pretty often, and I wish the system’s user interface was a bit faster. The new MID system makes inputting addresses a lot easier, but it could be a lot better, as evidenced by BMW’s latest iteration of iDrive and Audi’s MMI systems. Sound quality from the ELS audio is fantastic; lows and highs all sound great even at higher volumes.
As a road-tripper, the 2015 TLX is simply sensational. The seats are comfortable enough and contoured brilliantly in order to minimize fatigue. Interior amenities are great, with soft-touch materials nearly everywhere that are pleasing to the eye. This is a car that eats up the miles effortlessly without asking anything of you, and it’s something that’s truly special. Would I opt for the all-wheel-drive? Well, in a climate similar to Toronto’s, it couldn’t hurt, but probably not at the expense of having to sacrifice the dual-clutch transmission. The 9-speed automatic in the V6 is still a new unit as well and still has its kinks. Plus, the efficiency in the 4-cylinder model I experienced here is a true no-brainer. There isn’t much that’s stopping me from saying that the Acura TLX is the perfect long-distance car with very few compromises; it really did blow me away and exceed all of my expectations.
Road Trip: 2015 Acura TLX P-AWS Gallery