2015 Acura TLX: 600 Miles In a Day
by Mike Schmidt, Vehicle Testing Manager on March 15, 2016
I enjoy driving. So it didn't take much to convince myself it was a good idea to take our 2015 Acura TLX on a 10-hour, 600-mile road trip last Tuesday. My motivation was to break the single-tank fuel economy and range records before the Acura left our garage for good.
The only real question on my mind was which direction to travel. If I planned things right, an obscure roadside landmark would act as a turnaround point and supply me with some secondary sense of accomplishment.
I found the spot. It fit my stringent criteria of being near the road and of mild historical significance. And it was spelled the same as mine. I set my sights on the Von Schmidt marker located at the California-Nevada-Arizona border. Along the way I gathered plenty of long-range TLX driving impressions.
A quick history lesson first. In 1872, Congress authorized a survey of the shared border between California and Nevada. It hired astronomer and surveyor Alexey W. Von Schmidt to do the field work. His team plotted a course that is still accepted as the standard, despite conflicting with surveyors before him and satellite technology after him. Markers like the one pictured chart the physical border.
Now back to the TLX.
We've harped on the nine-speed automatic transmission for its mannerisms around town. It tends to be indecisive between first and second gears in stop-and-go situations, creating a generally awkward experience. On the highway, the TLX shifted through its higher gears without issue. And it was so smooth that oftentimes I couldn't even feel the gear changes.
When curves in the road asked for more, the Acura stepped up. So adept was the TLX and its SH-AWD at managing turns on the two-lane sections of Needles Highway that it left me wanting more winding road. That short stretch was the only fun I had on the yawner of a route I chose.
There was one con in regard to how the TLX drove. I used adaptive cruise control for a good part of the trip, mostly without fail. At one point along Interstate 40, with the system engaged at 65 mph, I changed lanes to pass an 18-wheeler. When I reached its shadow the Acura jammed on the brakes hard enough to spook me. I instantly cancelled cruise and took over the controls. That wasn't fun. But it only happened once.
If there is one thing I took away from this drive it was that the driver seat of the TLX is an excellent fit for my body. Seat adjustability paired with a tilt and telescoping steering wheel allowed me to find the perfect driving position.
I watched the clock. At six hours and fifteen minutes, my right glute succumbed to hours of sitting and fell asleep. I got out and walked around for 20 minutes and that did the trick. The remaining four hours passed with minimal seat-shifting.
Ride quality was rather good over most road surfaces. Even across the dilapidated lengths of River Road north of Needles, California, the TLX held its own. I straddled most of the potholes and washed-out chunks, but the Acura impressively absorbed the handful that I could not avoid. None felt as dramatic as I anticipated.
Wind was persistent during this drive. Some gusts moved the car noticeably, especially when passing big rigs. But none of this was out of the ordinary. What was unexpected, and pleasantly so, was the minimal amount of wind noise reaching the cabin. Wind wreaked havoc on the foliage outside, yet only a moderate amount found my eardrums. Road noise was a bit more evident by comparison, though still acceptably quiet.
I started this drive on a mission to crush fuel records. The benchmarks were 33.7 mpg and 470.7 miles on a single tank. Topped with fuel, the distance-to-empty (DTE) meter read 560 miles. I set cruise control to 70 mph and was prepared to drop that to 65 mph if the numbers weren't adding up. My confidence was high.
Then the world conspired against me.
As I noted in a prior blog, there were hiccups in my perfect plan. Road construction and a four-car accident slowed traffic to a crawl for miles. And just about three hours in, I realized I was sabotaging myself. Sport mode was on. This increased engine rpm, the enemy on an mpg run. The previous driver must've left it on and I completely overlooked it. I shut it off, but it was probably too late.
In my opinion, the Sport mode oversight cost me the game. I set a new range record at 486.1 miles with 18 miles haunting me on the DTE meter. I wanted 500. My average was 32.2 mpg, which was higher than the EPA's 31 mpg estimate, but short of our 33.7 mpg best. Dang.
More photos from the trip.
Mike Schmidt, Vehicle Testing Manager @ 19,445 miles