There’s lots of Acura Precision DNA to enjoy

The Acura TLX hit showrooms for the 2015 model year as a replacement for the TL and TSX sedans. After just a couple of years on the market, Acura commissioned a facelifted for 2018 that will keep the first generation alive until at least 2021. The big news here is that the TLX is getting a new pentagonal grille that not only replaces the beak found on most Acura vehicles but is also similar to the grille found on the Precision concept and the updated MDX crossover. That new grille will be accented by new headlight units and a new fascia. Inside, the 2018 TLX changes very little with this facelift but does have Acura’s updated dual-screen interface that’s said to be 30-percent faster and has more intuitive menus. Drivetrain options carry over unchanged, with the base model making use of a 206-horsepower four-cylinder and the TLX V6 getting the same 290-horsepower V-6 mill. Pricing for the updated TLX starts out at $33,000 and climbs to as much as $45,750 for the range-topping TLX 3.5 SH-AWD with the Advance Package.

So, as you can see, the term “facelift” is perfect for this model as the updates are focused primarily on the exterior design. And, while there isn’t any major improvement to the interior and absolutely zero improvements to the mechanical bits and pieces under the hood, it’s still a fitting update after just a few short years on the market. With competition like the Infiniti Q50, Cadillac ATS, BMW 3 Series, and the Mercedes C-Class, the Acura TLX has its work cut out. Will the new looks be enough to keep the TLX relevant? Let’s take a good look and find out.

Exterior

2018 Acura TLX Exterior High Resolution
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2015 - 2016 Acura TLX High Resolution Exterior
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2018 Acura TLX 2015 – 2017 Acura TLX
The 2018 TLX represents what the TLX should have looked like when it was introduced a few years ago.

As you can see from looking at the two pictures above, the 2018 TLX represents what the TLX should have looked like when it was introduced a few years ago. The updated model doesn’t bring any groundbreaking changes into the fold, but the changes are plentiful enough. The main centerpiece of this update and the TLX itself is the new Acura Precision grille up front. Compared to the old Acura beak, it’s visually pleasing to look at and, thanks to that unique mesh, it feels as if the Acura emblem is trying to pop out at you.

The grille takes on a pentagonal shape with bold, thick chrome trim on all sides. It’s a nice look that is built upon by the new headlights which now come to a point in the upper, inner corners. They are still jewel-eye units in nature, but the outer corners of the lens also got a redesign for good measure. Down below, the rest of the fascia changed very little, but the corner vents have been redesigned for a sharper look and include new mesh. The fog lights here are also rectangular units as opposed to the round units found on pre-2018 models. The corner vents are accented by a much thicker chrome strip that wraps around the outside edge while the lips on the lower corners of the fascia are now more dominant.

2018 Acura TLX Exterior High Resolution
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2015 - 2016 Acura TLX High Resolution Exterior
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2018 Acura TLX 2015 – 2017 Acura TLX
It’s a pretty good look vehicle, and the refresh was just what the doctor ordered.

The side profile of the TLX sees absolutely no change outside of a different matrix that’s visible in the portion of the external light units that wrap around the corners. Most models roll on 19-inch wheels while the A-Spec model gets 19-inch wheels. Around back, however, you’ll find that the taillights are much more attractive thanks to a new matrix layout while the lower portion of the rear fascia gets a nice makeover as well. Chrome strips that mimic those up front grace to corners while the rectangular exhaust outlets are surrounded by a mild diffuser-like element that adds a bit of style and class to this luxury sedan. All told, it’s a pretty good look vehicle, and the refresh was just what the doctor ordered, but how does it compare to the competition?

Competing Looks

For a basis of comparison, I want to mix things up a bit and take a look at the Cadillac ATS and the Infiniti Q50. While both models are considered compact luxury sedans, they actually fall right in the same price bracket which means they are, in fact, competitors. And, that’s exactly why the TLX has such an advantage as you’re literally getting more car and more room for the money.

Acura TLX Infiniti Q50 Cadillac ATS
Length 190.3 in 188.3 in 182.8 in
Height 57 in 56.8 in 55.9 in
Width 73 in 71.8 in 71.10 in
Wheelbase 109.3 in 112.2 in 109.3 in

As you can see, the TLX is superior in most exterior dimensions. It beats out the Q50 in length by two inches and the ATS by nearly eight inches. And it’s generally the same story across the board, with the exception of wheelbase in which the Q50 is actually the superior of the three at 112.2 inches. Oddly enough for a car being nearly eight inches shorter, the ATS has an identical wheelbase to that of the TLX. As far as looks go, it’s really a matter of opinion as to which looks better.

2018 Acura TLX 2017 Infiniti Q50 2017 Cadillac ATS
2018 Acura TLX Exterior High Resolution
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2018 Infiniti Q50 High Resolution Exterior
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2015 Cadillac ATS Sedan High Resolution Exterior
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2018 Acura TLX Exterior High Resolution
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2018 Infiniti Q50 High Resolution Exterior
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2015 Cadillac ATS Sedan Exterior
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Personally, I prefer the look of the 2018 TLX as the headlights are sleek and the grille rides that fine line between just right and too gaudy. The Infiniti Q50 isn’t exactly a slouch in the looks department either, but the grille is rather undefined and kind of ugly looking, really, while the headlights look a little outdated. This is made up, at least in part, by the stylish lip and fake corner vents up front, but it could still use a little love from Infiniti’s design department. It’s side profile is fairly smooth but does feature a few sharp lines, and the rear haunches are pretty muscular for a car in this class.

Around back, the Q50 really shines thanks to its modern looking taillights with matching inner and outer lenses and dual exhaust outlets that are supported by a body-colored diffuser element with black surrounding trim. When it comes to the Cadillac ATS the story is exactly the opposite, however. Its design seems dated and focused more toward the senior population than your typical 30-something with a bit of extra cheddar. The grille is on the far side of gaudy while the air dam and corner vents are all linked together to give it the front end a grin. The headlights are about as ugly as they could get, taking a tall approach that is recessed just a bit into the nose. The side profile is graced with a downward swooping beltline and a few sharp lines. To the rear, you find a more simplistic design with tall taillights and a third brake light that runs the full width of the rear deck. There is a diffuser-like element down below, but the real news here are the exhaust outlets that are oriented toward the center.

Interior

2018 Acura TLX Interior High Resolution
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Acura actually did it right with the single-piece soft-touch dash to go with wood trim inserts on the face of the dash, the armrests of the door trim panels, and the center console.

One complaint I didn’t have about the TLX when it debuted a few years ago was the interior. Acura actually did it right with the single-piece soft-touch dash to go with wood trim inserts on the face of the dash, the armrests of the door trim panels, and the center console. To help contrast things a bit, there’s a silver insert on the center console, center stack, and armrest to match the accents on the steering wheel. Milano leather is available as an option, while things like triple door seals, acoustic glass windshield, and active noise control are all standard. There’s heated and ventilated front seats, LED accent lighting, USB phone connectivity, and two displays in the center stack – one to display navigation and other information and another to control the infotainment system.

Now, this two-screen system felt a little unorthodox at first, but for 2018, it has been updated with more intuitive menus and is also 30-percent quicker than before. This system also includes a new capacitive screen that replaces the previously used resistive-style display. Standard features include Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, Sirius XM, and a full-color TFT display in the instrument cluster.

2018 Acura TLX Interior High Resolution
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2018 Acura TLX Interior High Resolution
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2018 Acura TLX Interior High Resolution
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2018 Acura TLX Interior High Resolution
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It may not have taken too many updates with the facelift, but one could argue that meddling too much would have done more bad than good.

The base model now comes standard with the AcuraWatch suite of driver-assist technologies. The V-6 models with the technology package now get updated seat styling with high-contrast stitching and piping, while the A-Spec gets new styling and trim inside to go with increased front seat bolstering, ventilated front seats, and a wireless charging pad. The TLX Advance Package adds on goodies like heated outboard rear seats, heated steering wheel, and a heated windshield. A-Spec models get red LED ambient light piping while the TLX V-6 Advance gets white LED light piping. All told, it’s a pretty impressive and comfortable cabin. It may not have taken too many updates with the facelift, but one could argue that meddling too much would have done more bad than good.

Interior Dimensions

Headroom front/rear (Inches) 37.2/36.7
Legroom front/rear (Inches) 42.6/34.5
Shoulder Room front/rear (Inches) 57.5/55.4
Hip room front/rear (Inches) 55.3/54.9
EPA Passenger Volume (cu ft) 93.3
EPA Cargo Volume (cu ft) 14.3

Competing Interiors

Acura TLX Infiniti Q50 Cadillac ATS
2018 Acura TLX Interior High Resolution
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2018 Infiniti Q50 High Resolution Interior
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2015 Cadillac ATS Sedan
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Take a look inside the Acura TLX, Infiniti Q50, or the Cadillac ATS, and – surprisingly – you’ll find that they are all quite similar in design. Sure, they all have their own specific design cues, but they aren’t all that dissimilar from one another. Take the center stacks, for instance. All three models feature vertically oriented HVAC vents and infotainment displays that are recessed into the stack. One noticeable difference is the ATS, which happens to have one large display screen while the Q50 and TLX both have dual screens. All three vehicle feature tall-sitting center console, supportive seats, wooden garnishing on some trim levels, and sporty steering wheels. The Q50’s seats are actually a bit more supportive than the rest and also gets a quilted stitching pattern for the seat bolsters on upper trim levels.

Acura TLX Infiniti Q50 Cadillac ATS
Headroom F: 37.2 in R: 36.7 F: 40.2 in R: 37.5 F: 38.6 in R: 36.8
Shoulder Room TBA F: 56.7 in R: 56.1 F: 55.2 in R:53.9
Hip Room F: 55.3 in R: 54.9 F: 53.2 in R: 52.5 F: 53.0 in R: 52.3
Legroom F: 42.6 in R: 34.5 F: 44.5 in R: 35.1 F: 42.5 R: 33.5

As far as exterior dimensions go, the TLX reigns superior in most areas, but that is far from the case when it comes to interior room. For instance, the Q50 beats it out in headroom and legroom in the front and rear but does lose out by more than two inches in the hip room department. The ATS beats out the TLX in headroom but falls inferior in all other departments. In fairness, Acura hasn’t released shoulder room specifications as of the time of this writing, but with the Q50 getting 56.7 inches in the front and 56.1 inches in the rear, chances are it may beat out the TLX in this department as well. So, in theory, if space is ultimately that important to you, you may want to seriously consider the Q50 as it has a few extra inches where it really matters.

Drivetrain

2018 Acura TLX Drivetrain High Resolution
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The TLX will carry over with the same engine options as before.

We originally thought that Acura might see fit to provide at least some kind of minor upgrade in the powertrain department, but unfortunately, that isn’t the case. The TLX will carry over with the same engine options as before. The entry-level engine is a 2.4-liter four-cylinder that delivers 206 horsepower at 6,800 rpm and 182 pound-feet of torque at 4,500 rpm. For those who prefer the power of six pistons, higher trim levels come with the 3.6-liter V-6 unit that has 290 horsepower and 6,200 rpm and 267 pound-feet of torque at 4,500 rpm.

2018 Acura TLX Drivetrain High Resolution
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The V-6 gets variable cylinder management to assist with saving fuel.

Fuel economy ratings for the four-cylinder come in at 24 mpg in the city, 35 mpg on the highway, and 28 mpg combined while the V-6 gets 21, 34, and 25, respectively. V-6 models equipped with Acura’s SH-AWD system manage to pull 21 mpg in the city, 31 mpg on the highway, and 25 mpg combined. The V-6 gets variable cylinder management to assist with saving fuel. As far as shifting duties are concerned, four-cylinder models get an eight-speed dual-clutch transmission with paddle shifters while the V-6 models get a nine-speed automatic with paddle shifters. Both drivetrain setups get Acura’s Precision All-Wheel Steering. Most models roll on a 225/50-series, 18-inch tires while the TLX A-Spec rides on 245/40-series, 19-inch Michelin Primacy rubbers.

Drivetrain Specifications

TLX TLX V6 TLX V6 A-Spec
Engine Type Direct Injection 4-Cylinder Direct Injection V6 Direct Injection V6
Displacement (liters) 2.4 3.5 3.5
Horsepower 206 HP @ 6,800 RPM 290 HP @ 6,200 RPM 290 HP @ 6,200 RPM
Torque 182 LB-FT @ 4,500 RPM 267 LB-FT @ 4,500 RPM 267 LB-FT @ 4,500 RPM
Transmission 8-Speed DCT 9-Speed Automatic 9-Speed Automatic
Fuel economy (City/Highway/Combined) 23/33/27 20/32/24
SH-AWD: 21/30/24
20/30/23
SH-AWD: 20/29/23
Curb Weight (lbs) 3,505 3,616 3,680

Competing Performance

When it comes to performance, the TLX is available with just two engine options that give you either 206 ponies or 290. But, that isn’t the case when it comes to the Q50 or the Cadillac ATS. The Q50 is available with a 2.0-liter, a 3.0-liter with two different outputs, and a 3.5-liter hybrid setup as well. The 2.0-liter delivers 208 horsepower at 5,500 rpm and 258 pound-feet at 3,500 rpm. 3.0t models get a 3.0-liter V-6 with 300 ponies at 6,400 rpm and 295 pound-feet at 1,600 rpm.

Moving up to the Red Sport 400 gets you the same engine, but it’s tuned to deliver 400 horsepower at 6,400 rpm and 350 pound-feet at 1,600 rpm. Finally, the hybrid model gets that 3.5-liter with 302 horsepower and 258 pound-feet. It is, however, supplemented by an electric motor that delivers 67 horsepower and 214 pound-feet at as low as 1,650 rpm. All engine options mate to a seven-speed automatic transmission.

Leaning your decision toward the Cadillac ATS will have you choosing between three different drivetrains: a 2.5-liter, natural aspirated, four-cylinder, a 2.0-liter, turbocharged, four-cylinder, and a 3.6-liter V-6. The 2.5-liter delivers just 202 horsepower at 6,300 rpm and 191 pound-feet at 4,400 rpm. That turbocharged 2.0-liter offers a bit more with 272 horsepower at 5,500 rpm and 295 pound-feet at 3,000 rpm. Finally, the range-topping model gets the 3.6-liter V-6 with 321 horsepower at 6,800 rpm and 275 pound-feet at 4,800 rpm. Of particular mention here, is the fact that models equipped with that 2.0-liter mill require premium gas while the other engine options will run on regular unleaded fuel.

Pricing

2018 Acura TLX High Resolution Exterior
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2018 Acura TLX High Resolution Exterior
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The 2018 TLX sees a marginal pricing increase across the board, with the entry-level model increasing by as much as $1000 and the range-topping 3.5L SH-AWD with Advance Package increasing by as much as $550. With that in mind, expect to see a sticker price of $33,000 even on the entry-level TLX 2.4 (FWD only) if you want the technology package with the four-banger model, you’ll have to shell out $36,700. Moving up to the TLX V6 will have you paying out at least $36,200. Adding the technology package will up your buy-in to $39,900. If you want the A-Spec model, you’ll need to beg your wife for $42,800 or $44,800 if you want SH-AWD. Prices continue to increase from there with SH-AWD V-6 models climbing to $38,200. Add on the technology package, and you’ll pay $41,900. Going with the SH-AWD with the Advance Package will cost you $45,750.

Model Trim Name Trans EPA Ratings (city, highway, combined) MSRP
TLX TLX 2.4L 8DCT3 23 / 33 / 27 $33,000
TLX 2.4L with Technology Package 8DCT 23 / 33 / 27 $36,700
TLX V6 TLX 3.5L 9AT 20 / 32 / 24 $36,200
TLX 3.5L with Technology Package 9AT 20 / 32 / 24 $39,900
TLX 3.5L A-Spec 9AT 20 / 30 / 23 $42,800
TLX 3.5L with Advance Package 9AT 20 / 32 / 24 $43,750
TLX 3.5L SH-AWD 9AT 21 / 30 / 24 $38,200
TLX 3.5L SH-AWD with Technology Package 9AT 21 / 30 / 24 $41,900
TLX 3.5L SH-AWD A-Spec 9AT 20 / 29 / 23 $44,800
TLX 3.5L SH-AWD with Advance Package 9AT 21 / 30 / 24 $45,750

Competitive Pricing

2018 Infiniti Q50 High Resolution Exterior
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2015 Cadillac ATS Sedan
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When it comes to the Infiniti Q50, there are literally 16 different variants to choose from. Pricing for the 2.0t starts out at $33,950 or $35,950 with AWD. Opting for the Premium model will set you back $38,400 or $40,400 with AWD. Finally, the 2.0t Sport and Sport AWD will set you back $42,300 or $44,300, respectively. Going with the 3.0t trim gets you a starting price of $40,650 or $42,650 with AWD. The 3.0t Signature starts out at $38,700 or $40,700 with AWD. The 3.0t Sport commands $44,650 or $46,650 with AWD. Then there’s the Red Sport 400 model that you’ll shell out $48,700 for in two-wheel drive or $50,700 in AWD form. Lastly, there are two versions of the hybrid. The two-wheel-drive model starts out at $47,800 while AWD will set you back $49,800.

On the Cadillac front, there are only four models to choose from. The entry-level 2.0-liter Turbo Sedan will set you back #34,595 while the Turbo Luxury comes in at $38,395. Moving up to the 3.6-liter Premium comes in at $43,995 while the range-topping Premium Performance trim commands $46,995. All models are available with AWD, but you’ll have to add $2,000 to the entry-level pricing to have four driven wheels.

Other Options

BMW 3 Series

2019 BMW 3 Series High Resolution Exterior Spyshots
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2019 BMW 3 Series High Resolution Exterior Spyshots
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The 3 Series is BMW’s resident sedan in this niche. It features a semi-aggressive exterior with a highly luxurious exterior. It can be had in five different forms that include the entry-level 320i, the 328d, 330i, 330e, and the 340i. A 2.0-liter engine is offered in the 320, 328d, and 330i. In the 320i and 328d it delivers 180 horsepower and delivers a 60-mph sprint in 7.1- and 7.4-seconds, respectively. The 330i, on the other hand, is tuned to deliver 248 horsepower and can deliver the same sprint in 5.5 seconds. The 330e uses that same 2.0-liter as the lesser models pair with an electric motor to deliver 248 horsepower and a 5.9-second sprint to 60. For those that want more go juice, there’s the 340i with a 3.0-liter V-6 that delivers 320 horsepower and a 4.6-second sprint to 60 mph. Pricing for the 3 Series starts out at $33,450 or $35,450 for the xDrive 320i and climbs to as much as $49,900 for the 340i xDrive.

Learn more about the BMW 3 Series here.

Mercedes C-Class

2018 Mercedes-Benz C-Class Exterior Spyshots
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2018 Mercedes-Benz C-Class Exterior Spyshots
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The Mercedes C-Class is another stout option in the niche, but it also comes in a bit more expensive than the rest of the pack. There are only two models that don’t wear an AMG badge, the C300, and C350e. Both make use of a 2.0-liter four-cylinder with 241 horsepower and 273 pound-feet of torque. The C350e, however, has an electric motor that raises total system output to 275 ponies and 443 pound-feet. The C300 is available with AWD as well for a $2,000 premium and can hit 60 mph in six seconds. The C350e makes the same sprint in 5.8 seconds. The lesser versions of the C-Class are definitely filed under the “executive sedan” area of this market and shouldn’t be considered a sports sedan, really. It does have an attractive exterior, however, and the interior is a very nice place to spend time. Pricing starts out at a whopping $39,500 and climbs to as much as $46,050 for the hybrid. If you want the 4MATIC AWD system, you’ll have to add on $2,000 to the starting price, but it’s not available on the C350E.

Find out more about the Mercedes C-Class here.

Conclusion

2018 Acura TLX Exterior High Resolution
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Normally, I’m pretty harsh on brands to don’t bring much in terms of updates with mid-cycle facelifts. But, when it comes to the TLX, I think it got exactly what it needed. The car looks much sportier now that the Acura beak is no more, while new headlights, wheels, and taillights will keep the rest of the exterior looking fresh. Inside, Acura gave the TLX exactly what it needed – an updated and modern infotainment system. It might look the same, but the last system was a bit slower than I would have liked and this new system should solve that problem. Plus, those weird menus have hopefully been dealt with. On the outside it’s a bit larger than most of the competition and usually comes in just a bit cheaper as well – you generally do get more car for the money, so it’s a win-win all the way around.

What do you think of the refreshed TLX? Is it worth the money, or would you rather wait until the next-gen model makes its debut a few years down the road? Let us know in the comments section below.

  • Leave it
    • * Pricing increase
    • * Will likely go on unchanged until at least 2021
    • * Strong competition

Press Release

Acura will unveil the refreshed and significantly enhanced 2018 TLX performance sedan in New York on April 11. The 2018 TLX will boast a more aggressive, sporty and alluring look inspired by the Acura Precision Concept that debuted at the North American International Auto Show in 2016, a design direction that already has successfully influenced the styling of the 2017 Acura MDX. The TLX refresh also includes new premium features and technology enhancements that place the TLX among the most technologically advanced and well-equipped cars in its segment. Watch the 2018 Acura TLX reveal live on April 11 at 4:45 p.m. ET at acura.us/2018TLXDebut.

2018 Acura TLX Exterior High Resolution
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"The 2018 TLX will receive new styling elements that ratchet up its emotion and reflect Acura’s focus on Precision Crafted Performance,"said Jon Ikeda, Acura vice president and general manager. "Acura customers embraced the MDX when we raised its game with bold, new styling, and we’re pumped to show how we’re elevating the TLX experience."

2018 Acura TLX Exterior High Resolution
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The 2018 TLX five-passenger performance sedan was designed by the Acura Design Studio in Torrance, Calif. and will continue to be produced at the company’s Marysville Auto Plant in Ohio with domestic and globally sourced parts.

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