- Quiet interior
- Good fuel economy ratings
- Sporty handling, particularly with all-wheel drive
- Plenty of features for the money
- Touchscreen has so-so graphics and a distracting interface
- Underwhelming acceleration
- Subpar braking performance
If the TLX name sounds vaguely familiar, that's because it is. Acura has removed the compact TSX and the midsize TL sedans from its lineup and combined them into one all-new vehicle, the 2015 Acura TLX. Size-wise, the TLX is longer than the TSX but shorter than the TL and, as such, is better suited to appeal to entry-level luxury sedan shoppers.
Thankfully, the TLX has inherited many of the attributes from its forebears. Acura gives you a choice of two updated engines -- either the TSX's four-cylinder or the TL's V6 -- and both offer enhanced fuel economy thanks in part to new eight- and nine-speed automatic transmissions. As was the case with the TL, all-wheel drive is available with the V6 and it's again utilized to provide both enhanced traction in inclement weather and sportier handling.
The TLX also gives you a nice mix of luxury and sport. The roomy and impressively quiet cabin is a comfortable place to spend your commuting hours, and it comes with plenty of high-tech equipment as standard. Away from the highway, the TLX is enjoyable to drive. It feels nimble around turns, and all TLXs come with shift paddles to give you direct control of those new transmissions.
Of course, combine two cars and there's bound to be a little collateral damage. The four-cylinder engine, while certainly capable enough, can't match the stronger punch provided by turbocharged four-cylinders found in many competing models. The TL also features Acura's latest dual-screen electronics interface, but we've found its functionality leaves a little to be desired. And while the TLX is impressively well rounded, it can come off as a little bland compared to the more lavish or customizable designs of some rivals.
This might be the case should you check out the all-stars of the segment, the 2015 BMW 3 Series and 2015 Mercedes-Benz C-Class. The 3 Series continues to offer an excellent mix of sporting performance and luxury, while the redesigned C-Class sets new levels for interior opulence. Other great picks to think about include the 2015 Audi A4, 2015 Lexus IS and 2015 Volvo S60. Yet if you do some research you'll no doubt discover that these cars often end up costing thousands more when comparably equipped to the TLX. So if you factor in that value along with its sporty driving demeanor and everyday comfort, the Edmunds.com "B" rated 2015 Acura TLX is definitely an entry-level luxury sedan you'll want to check out.
WHAT'S NEW FOR 2015
The 2015 Acura TLX is an all-new model.
TRIMS & EQUIPMENT
The 2015 Acura TLX is a midsize luxury sedan offered in three main trim levels: base, Technology and Advance. Technology and Advance are essentially options packages that are available on both front- and all-wheel-drive TLX models.
For standard equipment, the base TLX gets 17-inch alloy wheels, all-wheel steering, LED headlights and brake lights, a sunroof, heated side mirrors, keyless ignition and entry, dual-zone automatic climate control, vinyl (leatherette) upholstery, heated front seats, an eight-way power driver seat (with power lumbar), a four-way power front passenger seat (eight-way on V6), 60/40-split-folding rear seatbacks, a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel and an auto-dimming rearview mirror. Also standard are Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity, a rearview camera, Siri Eyes Free functionality, two display screens (an upper 8-inch display and a lower 7-inch touchscreen) and a seven-speaker sound system with a CD player, satellite radio, smartphone app integration (Aha and Pandora), an auxiliary audio input jack and an iPod/USB audio interface.
Upgrade to the Technology package and you get leather upholstery, driver memory settings, lane departure warning, a blind-spot monitoring system, rear cross-traffic alert, forward collision warning, voice commands, a navigation system and an Acura/ELS 10-speaker sound system. Available only with the V6 engine, the Advance package adds 18-inch wheels, front and rear parking sensors, remote ignition, LED foglights, auto-dimming side mirrors, ventilated front seats, adaptive cruise control, lane-keeping assist and automatic braking for forward collision mitigation.
INTERIOR & SAFETY
The TLX's interior is a step up compared to the TSX and TL. The front seats in the TLX have thick yet soft padding and decent lateral support to provide high levels of comfort. The rear seat is quite plush, too, with a comfortable seatback angle. Rear-seat headroom will be a bit tight for tall adults, though legroom is generous for this segment. Acura says it employed extensive noise-cancelling measures in the TLX. The latter seem to have worked, as very little wind and road noise makes its way into the cabin, which makes for easy conversation.
The interior's overall look is clean and similar to Acura's flagship RLX sedan and MDX crossover. The gauges are easy to read and the stacked display screen combo is used to show and control most of the car's functions. The learning curve for this interface is pretty painless but some of the touchscreen controls are tedious to use and the overall graphic resolution is underwhelming. And while overall interior quality is certainly nice, a few of the trim pieces aren't quite as rich-looking or -feeling as what you'll find in an A4 or C-Class, for instance.
Trunk space, at 13.2 cubic feet, is average for this class.
Standard safety features on the 2015 Acura TLX include antilock disc brakes, stability control and traction control, a rearview camera, front seat side airbags, side curtain airbags, a driver knee airbag and active front head restraints.
During testing of both a TLX 2.4 and TLX 3.5, we recorded identical stopping distances from 60 mph of 129 feet, which is about 7 feet longer than average for this segment.
Optional safety equipment includes front and rear parking sensors, a blind-spot warning system, lane-departure warning, lane-keeping assist, forward collision warning and automatic braking for frontal collision mitigation.
During Insurance Institute for Highway Safety crash tests, the 2015 Acura TLX was given the highest possible rating of "Good" for moderate-overlap frontal-offset collisions, side impacts, roof strength and seatbelt and head restraint design for whiplash protection in rear impacts. In the small-overlap frontal-offset collision test, the TLX received the second highest rating of "Acceptable" from the IIHS.
PERFORMANCE & HANDLING
The 2015 Acura TLX gives you a choice of two engines: a 2.4-liter four-cylinder and a 3.5-liter V6. The 2.4-liter engine generates 206 horsepower and 182 pound-feet of torque. It's offered only with front-wheel drive and is paired with a specialized eight-speed automated manual transmission. (It's an automated dual-clutch manual, much like's VW's DSG or Porsche's PDK, but Acura has also fitted a conventional automatic's torque converter to it for claimed smoother operation at slow speeds.)
During Edmunds testing, a TLX 2.4 accelerated from zero to 60 mph in 7.4 seconds, which is on the slow side for this segment. EPA estimated fuel economy with the 2.4-liter engine is 28 mpg combined (24 city/35 highway), which is very good for this class of car. On our mixed-driving evaluation route, however, we observed 23.6 mpg, which is lower than what we've obtained from some turbocharged competitors.
As for the 3.5-liter V6, it's rated at 290 hp and 267 lb-ft of torque with a nine-speed automatic transmission. The V6 is offered with either front-wheel or all-wheel drive.
At the test track, a TLX 3.5 with all-wheel drive sprinted to 60 mph in 6.4 seconds. That's generally fairly brisk, if still nearly a second off the segment speedsters. Fuel economy is an EPA estimated 25 mpg combined (21/34) with front-wheel drive. Interestingly, going with all-wheel drive still gets you 25 mpg combined (21/31). Our observed fuel economy was again disappointing, though, checking in at 21.2 on our evaluation route.
For the 2015 Acura TLX, one of your first decisions will be which powertrain configuration to get. The four-cylinder delivers excellent fuel economy, and its power is certainly adequate for everyday use. Selecting the transmission's "Sport +" mode notably perks up performance, as downshifts come swiftly and lower gears are held longer, thus keeping the engine in the sweet spot of its power band. Still, almost all other rival base engines in this class are turbocharged, making the TLX's performance seem a little underwhelming if you drive them back to back. If you've got the need for speed, the V6 is certainly the way to go.
The TLX is lighter than the TL it replaces and you can feel that weight difference in the way it drives. There's an enjoyable combination of everyday comfort and sporty back-roads prowess here that should meet your desires for a luxury sport sedan. The steering doesn't have a lot of feel, but the TLX still goes around turns with an unexpected level of nimbleness. This is true of both the front-drive models (thanks to their rear-wheel steering feature) and all-wheel-drive TLXs that can apply engine torque to individual wheels to help the car quickly power out of turns.
However, regardless of which TLX you drive, the chassis' athletic abilities are let down during more spirited driving by their tires' relatively meager levels of outright grip. In terms of ride quality, over rutted city streets the TLX's suspension can seem a little stiff (though far from objectionable), but on the highway it's controlled and smooth-riding.
The 2015 Acura TLX faces the unenviable task of replacing not one, but two, of Acura's most popular sedans. But with a more appealing middle-ground size and upticks in performance and luxury, the TLX is now a closer match to its competition.