The Acura TL and TSX were long in the tooth, very outdated and were in desperate need of replacement. Acura recognized this need and answered it with the 2015 TLX, which is a sort-of replacement for both now-discontinued models. Slightly larger than the TSX and a little smaller than the unimpressive TL, the TLX finds itself in a crowded segment that includes perennial stalwarts like the BMW 3 Series, Lexus IS and the Audi A4.

Acura has been working hard to upgrade its lineup in recent years. First came the introduction of the ILX, which I tested a few weeks ago, and now we have the TLX. I fell in love with the ILX, but I felt that it was screaming for a dual-clutch transmission. Fortunately, my TLX came with the same 2.4-liter engine as the ILX and had a dual-clutch transmission, so logic would say that it had to check nearly every box on my list.

Read on to find out if my logic holds true or if the TLX failed to meet my expectations like the TL it replaces.

Click past the jump to read my full review on the 2015 Acura TLX 2.4 with the Technology PAckage.

  • 2015 Acura TLX - Driven
  • Year:
    2015
  • Make:
  • Model:
  • Engine:
    inline-4
  • Transmission:
    Eight-Speed DCT
  • Horsepower @ RPM:
    206 @ 6800
  • MPG(Cty):
    24
  • MPG(Hwy):
    35
  • Torque @ RPM:
    182 @ 4500
  • Displacement:
    2.4 L
  • 0-60 time:
    7 sec. (Est.)
  • Top Speed:
    135 mph (Est.)
  • Price:
    35020
  • car segment:
  • body style:

TopSpeed Garage

Exterior

2015 Acura TLX - Driven High Resolution Exterior
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2015 Acura TLX - Driven High Resolution Emblems and Logo Exterior
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2015 Acura TLX - Driven High Resolution Exterior
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If the intake doesn't do the job, those Jewel Eye LED headlights do a great job of distracting you.

I said before that the ILX was the best-looking Acura in the lineup, but that was before I saw the TLX in person. The TLX still holds onto Acura’s trademark styling cues, like the god-awful beak-style grille and the classic sedan roofline, but its body lines and angles make them look better than ever before. Similar to how the right color can make a decent living room look amazing. Acura really did its homework on this one.

From the front you still have the beak that Acura slaps on every model it sells, but the body-width air intake helps turn your attention away from it, allowing it to blend more fluidly with the rest of the car. If the intake doesn’t do the job, those Jewel Eye LED headlights do a great job of distracting you.

From the side, the TLX still has a pretty standard and uninspired sedan silhouette, but the rising ridge that spans from the rear part of the front door, over the wheel arches and to the furthest-forward point of the wraparound taillights is something new and classy. Acura went one step further and added a shoulder line that stretches from the front fender back to the trunk lid, which gives the TLX a fast-just-sitting-there look, plus it is a design that adds character but will also age well.

Around back, things revert back to good old Acura, as there are few styling details of note, except the LED taillights and angular reflectors just above each exhaust exit.

Interior

2015 Acura TLX - Driven Interior
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2015 Acura TLX - Driven Interior
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2015 Acura TLX - Driven High Resolution Interior
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The front seats are very pleasant, they are well bolstered on the thighs, midsection and shoulder, and support is fantastic.

Acura has long been the recipient of mediocre reviews from me in terms of interior quality. Sure, they will stand the test of time like a Honda, but they all seemed to lack enough luxury to compete with the German giants and felt too warmed-over-Honda to me. While the TLX still dives into Honda’s parts bins for its cabin goodies, the ILX does a much better job at disguising it.

The front seats are very pleasant, they are well bolstered on the thighs, midsection and shoulder, and support is fantastic. In what must be an act of black magic, Acura managed to wrap these seats in a leather that does not get too hot and sticky in warmer weather.

2015 Acura TLX - Driven Interior
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Speaking of that dash pad, it's a bit of an issue only because it is so massive and is made from some plastic-covered, rubbery substance.

The dashboard is nice to look at with its swoopy lines that run up from the center console and mushroom out to form the black upper dash pad. Speaking of that dash pad, it’s a bit of an issue only because it is so massive and is made from some plastic-covered, rubbery substance. I understand the need to do this in order to save some money, but a few small patches of cow hide would have been nice to see. However, there are some nice wood — I believe it is fake — accents that underline the dash and silver accents throughout that help offset the cheap-looking soft stuff.

The center stack is very well laid out once you get to know it, but the first few days may result in frustratingly mashing buttons until the system does what you expect it to do. However, once you learn the setup it is smooth sailing.

The steering wheel feels nice in my hands and finding the perfect seating position is easy, thanks to its 10-way power adjustments.

2015 Acura TLX - Driven Interior
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The back seats are equally comfy with plenty of legroom and headroom, plus they have A/C vents all their own.

Connectivity and tech features are plentiful, thanks to the optional Tech Package included with my tester. Standard gadgetry includes a SiriusXM radio, a multi-use touchscreen, dual-zone climate control, a USB port, Bluetooth, and text-to-voice (if your phone permits it). The Tech package throws in a 10-speaker ELS audio system that sounds awesome, AcuraLink Communication, Acura Navigation with voice recognition, perforated leather seats, Multi-View rear-view camera, blind-spot information, lane-keeping assist, rear cross-traffic monitor, and rain-sensing wipers. So yeah, I had tons of stuff to tinker around with over the weeklong test drive.

Luggage capacity sits at 13.2 cubes, so there’s plenty of space for a week’s worth of luggage. The rear seats do fold down to accept longer items, but there is an odd half-oval cutout with the seats lowered instead of a rectangular opening. This makes sliding tall, rectangular boxes into the trunk a little hairy.

Overall, the TLX’s cabin felt like a luxury car, and it is the first Acura I have tested that actually trumped the fully loaded Honda Accord Touring that I tested.

Drivetrain

2015 Acura TLX - Driven Drivetrain
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The 2.4-liter engine under the TLX's hood puts down a healthy 206 horsepower and 182 pound-feet of torque.

What drove the TLX is what I was really excited for. For those of you who read my ILX review, you’ll remember that I mentioned that the 2.4-liter i-VTEC engine was screaming for a dual-clutch transmission. Well, low and behold, Acura mated an eight-speed dual-clutch transmission to the TLX’s standard, 2.4-liter, i-VTEC engine.

The 2.4-liter engine under the TLX’s hood puts down a healthy 206 horsepower and 182 pound-feet of torque. That’s not quite enough power to compete with all the more premium brands in its class, but its 24 mpg city, 35 mpg highway and 28 mpg combined ratings is on par with the BMW 320i and beats out the C300 in highway fuel consumption. These ratings are even more astounding when you compare them to the 22 mpg city, 31 mpg highway and 25 mpg combined ratings of the ILX with the same 2.4-liter engine. This huge jump in efficiency is thanks to that perfectly tuned dual-clutch tranny.

If four cylinders just aren’t enough for you, you can opt for Honda’s ubiquitous 3.5-liter V-6 that produces 290 horses and 267 pound-feet of twist. The V-6 also gets Honda’s new nine-speed auto transmission and has available all-wheel drive.

Pricing

2015 Acura TLX - Driven High Resolution Exterior
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Pricing for the TLX isn’t bad at all, thanks to a starting MSRP of $30,995. My tester has the Technology Package included, so that jumps the MSRP to $35,025.

Driving Impressions

2015 Acura TLX - Driven High Resolution Exterior
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Driving the TLX 2.4L is like having two cars in one. With it in ECO mode, the TLX is a thrifty sedan that shifts smoothly and seems to gallop along effortlessly. However, click the "Integrated Dynamics System" button until it is in Sport+, and it turns into quite the little sports sedan with a dual-clutch transmission that is ready to rip through all eight cogs as you sprint to 60 mph in about seven seconds. Is it on the same stage as the 3 Series? Absolutely not; its front-wheel-drive layout and suspension system simply don’t allow it, but it is damn close.

In the corners the TLX is plenty happy, thanks to the Precision All-Wheel Steering (P-AWS) system that allows the rear toe angles to automatically adjust independently to help avoid understeer and push the TLX through the turn at higher speeds. On the other side of the equation, the P-AWS system also adjusts the toe to help reduce its turning-circle diameter when pulling into a parking space and slow speeds. There are tons of other benefits of the P-AWS system, but I will let the above video do the explaining.

Inside the cabin, the TLX is whisper-quiet at all speeds; a nice place to sit and enjoy a drive. Just a fine job by Acura with this one.

Competition

BMW 3 Series

2012 - 2014 BMW 3 Series Sedan High Resolution Exterior Wallpaper quality
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Is the Acura TLX really on the same playing field in terms of being a sports sedan? Absolutely not. The 3 Series is the benchmark of the segment and it has power going to the proper axle. Sure, the TLX is more than competent, but comparing a front-wheel-drive sports sedan’s handling to that of the rear-driven 3 Series isn’t fair.

However, in terms of luxury and straight-line performance, the TLX has a fighting chance. The base BMW 320i isn’t as well-equipped as the TLX tester I had and it’s just shy of $33k. Additionally, the 320i’s 2.0-liter, TwinPower Turbo engine can only muster up 180 horses and 200 pound-feet of torque. This gives the 320i a 0-to-60-mph time of 7.1 seconds, which is about on par with the TLX despite it’s plentiful forced-induciton torque.. Once you jump into the $37,500 328i and the $43,750 335i, my TLX tester couldn’t hold a candle in terms of performance, but you’re also dishing out a lot more cash.

Lexus IS

2014 - 2016 Lexus IS Exterior
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The Lexus IS 250 is the most direct competitor to the TLX 2.4L tester that I had. With a 2.5-liter V-6 that produces 204 horsepower and 185 pound-feet of torque, the IS 250 doesn’t deliver the power expected of a V-6, but it is about even with the Acura’s 2.4-liter, i-VTEC engine. The IS sees 60 mph come in an agonizing-for-the-class 7.7 seconds and only manages an EPA rating of 30 mpg highway, but it does deliver power to the rear wheels, giving it better driving dynamics than the TLX.

In terms of luxury, the IS 250 is about on par with the TLX thanks to its standard leather trim, 10-way power seats, 17-inch wheels, HID headlights, eight-speaker sound system with 293 watts, HomeLink and more. The issue is that the IS 250 starts at $36,100, putting it slightly over my fully loaded TLX.

Conclusion

2015 Acura TLX - Driven High Resolution Exterior
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To sum up the Acura TLX, I will say it is likely the best model to come from the brand in the last decade. It is stylish, peppy, nimble, luxurious and fun, which are all qualities that Acura has had trouble putting together into a single model for a long time. Issues like the lack of any leather on the dash and the half-oval-shaped opening when the seats are folded need addressed, but it is certainly a good starting point for Acura to rebuild its brand image.

  • Leave it
    • Not the performer of the mid-range offerings from BMW and Lexus
    • Stylish, but still relatively bland Acura styling
    • Lacks brand prestige
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