$25,917 - $35,327

2018 Acura TLX Performance Review

Scorecard

Performance: 7.6

The 2018 Acura TLX has an underwhelming base engine. While it produces adequate power for everyday driving, you'll want to upgrade to the available V6 for stronger acceleration. The TLX has comfortable handling. The new A-Spec trim adds sportiness, but you shouldn't expect it to handle like a sports car.

  • Still, the A-Spec is otherwise well-equipped and from an enthusiast perspective at least is the most compelling member of the TLX stable. … Yes, it's a sharper version of the TLX, which makes it a better upgrade option for upwardly mobile, enthusiastic V-6 Accord owners, but doesn't necessarily make it any more likely to peel sales away from, say, the Germans." -- Automobile Magazine
  • "Although some of the TLX's rivals truly distinguish themselves on the road due to sharp handling or especially impressive acceleration, we can't say the same thing about the TLX." -- Autotrader (2017)

Acceleration and Power

The TLX comes standard with a 206-horsepower 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine and an eight-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission. A 290-horsepower 3.5-liter V6 engine and a nine-speed automatic transmission are available. The base engine will do just fine around town, but the available V6 produces stronger acceleration off the line and more power for highway passing.

The 2018 Acura TLX delivers 23 mpg in the city and 33 mpg on the highway. While that’s slightly above average for the class, most rivals have more base engine power.

  • A quick-shifting 8-speed dual-clutch automatic is issued with the base TLX's 4-cylinder, while V6-powered models are paired exclusively with a buttery 9-speed torque-converter automatic. With nine widely spaced ratios to access, you'd think the 9-speed would busily shift ratios like a riverboat saloon card dealer, but it doesn't need to sample all nine gears each time you accelerate and decelerate. Instead, the car's powertrain module selects the gears necessary to meet your driving needs. Or you can shift for yourself using the steering wheel paddles." -- New York Daily News
  • The optional 3.5-liter V-6 makes heartier numbers (290 hp, 267 pounds-feet of torque), but neither drivetrain replicates the immediate thrust of the turbo four-cylinders in the BMW 330i or Audi A4. The V-6 makes up for it on the back end with a silky crescendo of power that builds as the tachometer swings clockwise; Acura officials told us it's enough to hit 60 mph in the high 5-second range. That's on par with manufacturer-estimated times for the German rivals, and the TLX does it with swift accelerator response – an underrated benefit given the maddening pedal lag in too many luxury cars." -- Cars.com
  • Acura is quick to point out the V6 produces considerably more horsepower than … turbo four rivals, which are pricier when similarly equipped. Fair point, but their torque figures are comparable, and like any rev-loving Honda, much of that power doesn't show up to the party until the tach is spinning well past the five-grand mark. It doesn't feel quicker. It feels like it has the capable, ultra-smooth but not especially lust-worthy engine of a Honda Accord. That's perfect for refined luxury duty, but is it for something described as a 'performance car,' precision-crafted or otherwise?" -- Autoblog

Handling and Braking

The TLX isn't the most athletic car. You'll ride over pavement with little disturbance, but there is little steering feedback. However, the new-for-2018 A-Spec model has sportier handling, superior steering, and a firmer ride – yet it's still comfortable to drive around every day. Front-wheel drive is standard and Acura's Super Handling all-wheel-drive system is available.

  • Minimal body roll and strong brakes keep with other sports sedans, but the TLX's steering exhibits unwelcome numbness when centered." -- Cars.com
  • "Now, power aside, the A-Spec is indeed a better car to drive than the regular TLX V6. There is a crisper feel to its steering in particular – especially on center – and you do feel a closer connection to a car that's otherwise a bit distant. The Super-Handling All-Wheel Drive lives up to its name by mitigating understeer around corners, and although the suspension has been firmed up a bit, the ride quality remained nothing but buttery smooth over a diverse selection of crummy Kentucky pavement. The A-Spec does feel a bit sportier, but regardless of trim, you should expect a car that isn't especially memorable to drive but certainly very nice." -- Autoblog
  • On the road, you really can tell a difference between a 2018 TLX A-Spec and a non-A-Spec V-6 car. It's subtle, but the TLX A-Spec's suspension is firmer (but still everyday-livable), and the steering feels tighter, with slightly greater effort." -- Motor Trend

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