By Don Fuller, Contributing Editor
KBB Expert Rating: 8.8
Attractively stylish, impeccably and thoughtfully detailed, loaded with useful technology, beautifully finished, the exquisite 2016 Acura TLX will be wonderful for buyers but perhaps not so amusing for the competition. Available with either of two powertrains, with front- or all-wheel drive (FWD, AWD), the TLX is a formidable entrant among midsize premium-luxury sports sedans. With such competitors as the Audi A4, Lexus IS and Infiniti Q50, each superb in its own right, it’s a tough group, but the TLX more than holds its own in every way. It brings advanced technologies in the areas of fuel efficiency and safety, terrific driving dynamics, eager and smooth performance and wraps it in a textbook display of high-quality materials and flawless execution. Did we say we like it?
If you measure your automotive satisfaction not by the badge on the nose but by the return on investment in the driving experience, by the advanced technologies that make traveling easier, by the touch and sight and calming peace of impeccable execution, you should consider the exquisite Acura TLX.
What the 2016 Acura TLX does not offer is a storied European brand and accompanying image. If you absolutely must have the allegedly societally approved key fob to toss casually onto the conference room table, then that’s probably where you should go.
KBB Expert Ratings
As the Acura TLX was introduced as a completely new model in the middle of the 2015 model year, nothing has been changed for 2016.
The 2016 Acura TLX is available with three drivetrains. The 2.4-liter 4-cylinder has 206 horsepower, an 8-speed dual-clutch automatic and is available only with front-drive. The combination delivers quick performance...
... and, with its ingenious 4-wheel steering (called P-AWS, for Precision All-Wheel Steer), has a light, nimble handling feel with crisp turn-in to corners. The 3.5-liter V6 has 290 horsepower, a 9-speed automatic and is available with either front-drive or Acura’s Super-Handling All-Wheel Drive (SH-AWD). The V6 model is noticeably stronger and quieter and delivers a driving experience that feels somewhat more upscale. In all models there are four driving modes; Econ (which utilizes reduced climate-control system loads to reduce fuel consumption), Normal, Sport (which adds some weight to steering feel and shifts more aggressively), and Sport+ (which shifts even more aggressively and includes a pure manual mode for the paddle shifters). Any and all of the TLX models drive superbly.
DUAL-CLUTCH 8-SPEED AUTOMATIC
The industry’s first application of an 8-speed dual-clutch transmission with a torque converter gives 4-cylinder TLX models an edge in performance and fuel economy while delivering super-smooth, quick shifts.
SUPER HANDLING All-WHEEL DRIVE
A top-line Acura TLX V6 model equipped with SH-AWD is the best of both worlds: the safety of all-wheel-drive traction on slippery roads and tremendous handling, featuring sharp turn-in when pushed to the limits on dry pavement.
Historically, Acura interiors are precisely tailored, closely detailed and intuitively user-friendly, and the 2016 TLX maintains that appreciated tradition. In the center stack an 8-inch information screen is positioned where it’s easy to see; below that, a 7-inch touch screen is where it’s easy to operate. There are switches for the climate control and a big knob allows scrolling through the sound system or navigation. The 4-cylinder models have a conventional shift lever while the V6 versions shift with buttons. Seats are comfy and supportive both front and rear, and soft-touch materials and well-done wood and aluminum accents finish the detailing.
Acura’s 2016 TLX might not stand out in a crowd but it is an elegant and handsome piece of work. In front is the satin-finished proboscis that’s become the face of Acura, flanked by detailed LED headlights. Flowing lines along the sides wrap into a nice conjunction of taillights and decklid. Visual differentiations between the 4-cylinder and V6 models are the latter’s optional fog lights and a small badge on the rear of SH-AWD models. Not on the cutting edge of design, the TLX also won’t go out of style in the next 13 minutes, and we like it.
In addition to the first use of LED headlights as standard equipment across the board, the well-equipped 2016 Acura TLX has a high level of standard features including keyless entry and start, heated power front seats, rearview camera, dual-zone automatic climate control, power moonroof, leather-wrapped steering wheel, high-gloss Zebra wood accents, tilt/telescope steering column, 355-watt 7-speaker sound system, 60/40-split folding rear seats, one-touch power windows, Bluetooth connectivity, electronic cruise control and automatic headlights.
There are two major option packages for the 2016 TLX. The Technology Package (about $4,000) includes navigation with real-time traffic, an upgraded 490-watt 10-speaker Acura/ELS Studio sound system with hard-disk drive, forward-collision warning, lane-keeping assist, lane-departure warning, blind-spot information, rear cross-traffic monitor, leather-trimmed interior, rain-sensing wipers and a frameless rearview mirror. The Advance Package (a little over $3,000), available only on V6 models, includes collision-mitigation braking with head-up warning, adaptive cruise control with low-speed following, road-departure mitigation and heated/ventilated front seats. These packages are not inexpensive but we feel they deliver a lot of value for the money.
The 2016 Acura TLX is available with a choice of three distinct drivetrains: a 2.4-liter 4-cylinder front-drive with an 8-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission, and a 3.5-liter V6 with a 9-speed automatic and either front-drive or all-wheel drive. The 4-cylinder model feels light on its feet and has ample power for a car in this class. The V6 is even more muscular without a huge fuel-economy penalty and benefits from advanced gas-saving technologies such as cylinder deactivation and idle stop/start. The 4-cylinder offers plenty of performance and the V6 returns commendable fuel economy, so it’s a close call but, everything considered, unless you really need all-wheel drive to deal with bad weather, for most people we’d recommend the 4-cylinder version.
206 horsepower @ 6,800 rpm
182 lb-ft of torque @ 4,500 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 24/35 mpg
290 horsepower @ 6,200 rpm
267 lb-ft of torque @ 4,500 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 21/34 mpg (FWD), 21/31 mpg (AWD)
The 2016 Acura TLX has a Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) of a little under $33,000 for the base 4-cylinder model; the front-drive V6 is over $36,000 and fully loaded will be around $43,500; and the V6 SH-AWD is around $42,500 and will be over $45,500 with the Advance Package. In its class, TLX prices are comparable to the Lexus IS, which runs in the low-$40,000 range, and the Audi A4. To get a better idea of what people are paying for the 2016 Acura TLX in your area, check out the KBB.com Fair Purchase Price. Because the TLX is still new to the market its resale value might be a bit of a question, but it’s reasonable to assume the TLX would retain the same high level of values that have become typical for Acura vehicles.