The Blemished Mirror

by Michael Harley on January 31, 2018

Current Odometer: 3,734 miles
Latest MPG: 23.25 mpg
Lifetime MPG: 22.37 mpg
Maintenance/Service Costs: $0.00
Days out of Service: 0

While washing the car this past weekend, I noticed a black streak on the passenger-side exterior mirror — telltale sign that moisture has tarnished the silver backing on the glass. The mirror is undamaged, so it appears to be a manufacturing defect. Since the tarnishing is limited to one side of the mirror, it still functions well (the mirror doesn’t auto-dim, so that’s a moot point). Assuming it doesn’t grow, we will wait to have the mirror replaced at its first service in another few months.



Jewel Eye LED Headlamps FTW

by Michael Harley on January 5, 2018

Current Odometer: 2,592 miles
Latest MPG: 23.04 mpg
Lifetime MPG: 21.76 mpg
Maintenance/Service Costs: $0.00
Days out of Service: 0

It’s hard not to miss Acura’s Jewel Eye headlamps on the nose of the TLX. Each headlight pod contains five different light-emitting diode (LED) lamps that emit a light that is brighter, and whiter, than traditional halogen or high-intensity discharge (HID) lamps. Acura has each headlight pod programmed so that the three outer lamps on each side are illuminated for low beam, and all five – ten lamps in total – when high beams are selected. The clusters also double as daytime running lamps, but at a lower output, during the day. While Acura isn’t the only automaker touting LED headlamps, its design casts a very wide and deep beam. The Jewel Eyes also illuminate reflectors (e.g., street signs and lane markers) hundreds of yards into the distance, which is exactly what drivers need when navigating dark roads at night.



Stellar Engine Mated to a Joyless Transmission

by Michael Harley on December 16, 2017

Current Odometer: 1,883 miles
Latest MPG: 19.34 mpg
Lifetime MPG: 21.87 mpg
Maintenance/Service Costs: $0
Days out of Service: 0

Acura has a history of offering spectacular engines (the 1.8-liter four with VTEC in my old ’94 Integra GS-R comes to mind). The story is no different with the 3.5-liter V6 under the hood of the TLX, which is rated at 290 horsepower and 262 lb-ft of torque (at 4,700 rpm). With direct injection, VTEC on intake and exhaust valves, and variable cylinder management, the “J35Y6” is strong, reliable, and smooth. Unfortunately, Acura has mated it to a 9-speed automatic that is determined to maximize fuel efficiency – transmission software keeps the engine at 1,500 rpm nearly continuously. This leaves the V6 spinning far below its torque curve, which means downshifts are required anytime power is requested even if the drive mode selector is in its Sport setting. It’s a real shame, as the engine feels and sounds great above 4,500 rpm.



By Michael Harley on November 2, 2017

Acura introduced its mid-size TLX sedan for the 2015 model year as a replacement for its discontinued TL and TSX sedans. The all-new four-door jumped into a fiercely contested segment, destined to battle heavy hitters such as the BMW 3 Series, Audi A4, and Infiniti Q50 — a formidable task. While sales of the well-received TLX peaked the first year at more than 47,000 units, they have fallen nearly 30 percent as the model ages over its lifecycle.

Breathing new vigor into the TLX, Acura updated it for the 2018 model year. In addition to the obligatory tweaked styling, which helps differentiate it from the 2017 model, the automaker added a slew of innovative technology (including Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, inductive charging pad) and made its AcuraWatch suite of safety options (Collision Mitigation Braking System with automatic emergency braking, Forward Collision Warning, Lane Keeping Assist, Adaptive Cruise Control with Low-Speed Follow, and Road Departure Mitigation) as standard equipment.

Standard TLX models arrive with a 2.4-liter 4-cylinder rated at 206 horsepower, but those seeking a bit more grunt will choose the optional 3.5-liter V6 with 290 horsepower – both engines are naturally aspirated. Front-wheel drive is standard, but Acura’s sophisticated Super Handling All-Wheel Drive (SH-AWD) with a torque-vectoring rear differential is offered on the options list.

A-Spec option rewards the boy racer

New for the 2018 model year is the A-Spec option that transforms the TLX from mild to (almost) wild. The enhancements include a new front fascia with round LED fog lamps, aggressive side sills, and rear fascia with large exhaust finishers on each side of a race-inspired rear diffuser. Sinister-appearing 19-inch wheels, wrapped in wider tires, complete the visual package. The cabin is fitted with more aggressively bolstered sport seats, brushed trim, and exclusive interior colors and upholsteries. Beneath the skin, the A-Spec boasts a sport-tuned suspension, retuned electric steering, and a rear stabilizer bar to enhance handling. The engine, transmission, and brakes are untouched.

Don’t consider the TLX with A-Spec a track-ready sport sedan like a BMW M3 or Audi S4, as that wasn’t the engineering objective. Instead, Acura wanted to offer its driving enthusiasts something a bit more engaging — visually, and in terms of driving dynamics – than the standard model.

Superman colors polarize our long-term A-Spec sedan

Base price on the 2018 TLX with a four-cylinder engine and front-wheel drive is $33,000 (plus $965 destination). We opted for the performance-oriented A-Spec package ($2,900) that requires the larger six-cylinder engine ($3,200) and Technology package ($3,700) — a combined $9,800 bump in price. Acura’s Super Handling All-Wheel Drive ($2,000) was a must-have upgrade with the 290-hp powerplant, which brought our as-delivered price to $45,750.

Choosing a color with character, we ordered our long-term test vehicle in Still Night Blue Pearl over Red leather (Superman, the famed DC Comics fictional superhero, would be proud as the vibrant color scheme matches his nearly perfectly). Note that the bright blue hue is only offered with the A-Spec package (those who don’t want the performance upgrades, but insist on blue, will have to accept a less lively Fathom Blue Pearl paint). There is no question that the color combination garners attention and opinions — you either like it, or you don’t.

Acura touts the TLX as a performance luxury sedan and says that the A-Spec package “amps up the sporty character.” The driving enthusiasts on our team are looking forward to putting “Superman,” our bold blue 3 Series fighter, to the test over the next 12 months.


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