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Acura TLX returns to its performance roots for 2018


Acura significantly refreshes its mid-size TLX performance luxury sedan for 2018, offering more standard features and a sporty new A-Spec choice for V-6 models. The TLX remains a solid choice in this highly competitive segment.

Thankfully, the entire front end of the TLX is new. All remaining features of the old Acura grille are gone, replaced by a dynamite new diamond-pentagon grille that creates a strong, athletic look. Get close enough, and you’ll notice a really cool spider-web pattern. This new look — based on the 2015 Precision concept — is fantastic.

The new look is all part of Acura’s goal of returning to its precision performance roots, Acura officials told journalists gathered in Kentucky for the launch of the new TLX, Acura’s top-selling car and one of the company’s most important vehicles.

The new A-Spec trim, aimed at significantly upping the TLX sport ante, features a matte black grille with a chrome surround, exclusive badging, a rear diffuser and 19-inch gray wheels.

Also new for 2018: every TLX model gets standard AcuraWatch, the company’s suite of sophisticated safety technology that includes autonomous emergency braking, forward collision warning, adaptive cruise control, lane-keep assist and road departure mitigation. Now, 70 percent of all Acura vehicles sold will have AcuraWatch.

TLX engine choices remain the same for 2018: a 2.4-liter inline four-cylinder and a 3.5-liter V-6. The smaller engine develops 206 horsepower and 182 pound-feet of torque, while the V-6 kicks out 290 horses and 267 pound-feet of torque. The four-cylinder is paired with an eight-speed dual-clutch transmission with paddle shifters, and the V-6 gets a nine-speed automatic with paddles. Acura’s SH-AWD system is available, and I recommend it.

On hilly, twisting roads outside of Louisville, I found the 2018 TLX was confident and sure-footed in aggressive driving. Crossing into Indiana, a rather beat-up 2013 Mustang was poking along in front of me at about 50 mph, so I decided to punch the throttle to test the passing power of the TLX. The vehicle powered around the pony car easily — perhaps too easily.

Turns out, the Mustang was being driven by an Indiana state trooper, who pulled me over. He let me go with a warning.

The interior of the TLX is very nice and retains its popular dual-screen layout. You can see the navigation map and pretty much whatever else you want without having to toggle back and forth across various screens. The infotainment systems are completely new, now featuring Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.

Inside the TLX, the lines are clean, and the detailing is high-end. Head room in front is 37.2 inches, and in the rear it’s 36.7 inches. Rear-seat leg room is 34.5 inches.

When it comes to safety, the new TLX should score well when testing is complete. The TLX offers more standard safety and driver-assistance features than any previous version.

The 2018 TLX V-6 models start at $36,200. The TLX 2.4-liter starts at an even $33,000.