2015 Acura TLX: Impressive Safety, Steering and Fuel Economy on Long Highway Run
July 24, 2015
Few of us got a chance to drive our 2015 Acura TLX before it got clobbered by some idiot bent on making a right turn from the left lane. I'd driven it home once, but it was a particularly bad traffic day and I didn't learn much.
That looked set to change early last week. I had business in San Jose and driving seemed like my best option. The TLX had just returned to the fleet and needed miles to make up for its long stint on the disabled list. My route wasn't going to be much more than a freeway cruise, but at least I'd get a better sense of the machine.
At first glance it was hard to tell this car had ever been in an accident, let alone one that would lead to having pretty much the entire driver's side sheetmetal replaced. Same goes for the second glance and the third. The repainted panels blend in perfectly, and the doors shut with the same satisfying solidity they had when new.
Others say they think the doors might be misaligned, but I'm not on that team. If pressed, I could go as far as saying the top edge of the little chrome trim strip at the base of the side glass doesn't match up exactly from one door to the next, but I'm used to seeing a whiff of that on new cars. It all seems within the bounds of build tolerance to me.
More importantly, there's nary a leak, whistle or hoot from the door seals when cruising at speed with the radio off. It's as solid as Sears.
Once in a while I thought I felt a tire imbalance or shudder from the rear. But this was a rare and indistinct event. Most of the miles drifted smoothly past. These are new tires with a fresh balance, so I chalked it up to a quirk of the road surface. There are oodles of road construction zones and temporary lane realignments on Interstate 5 this summer, and I wandered through most of them.
Having said all that, the tires were replaced on account of a technician's observation of "unusual wear," which to me suggests it's possible that something was going on before the accident. We'll have to keep an eye on this.
I had plenty of time to play around with the Lane Keeping Assist feature, which turned out to be more adept at keeping the car centered between the lines than the new Mercedes Benz S-class.
Like the Benz, it's not meant to enable hands-off driving, and if you try to use it that way you'll get the same warning after 15 seconds. Still, if the freeway bends during that 15 seconds, it will follow the curve if the bend is gentle enough compared to your speed.
But this only applies in regular lanes with high-contrast lane markings. It isn't good for anything when the lanes shift around in construction zones. None of this should be disappointing because it's a safety system meant to have your back during a moment's inattention. It's not there to steer the car for you. We're a long ways from that day.
Besides, the TLX's steering feels good. There's a reassuring bit of heft to it, but it doesn't rise to the level of heavy or tiring. And even with LKA switched off, it has a keen sense of straight ahead.
This was a mostly-highway route and I made few side trips. Still, I inherited the first tank with 150 unknowable miles on the trip meter, so I had to fill up in a place called Firebaugh on the way north. Exactly 14.343 gallons went in after 404.1 miles, which worked out to 28.2 mpg.
From there I was able to finish off the last 111 miles to my destination, conclude my business, and drive all the way home on that same tank. When it was all over, the trip odometer read 470.7 miles at my home filling station, and I only had to pump in 13.970 gallons to fill it up.
That boils down to 33.7 mpg, which is well clear of the TLX SH-AWD's highway rating of 31 mpg. And I wasn't poking along, either. The speed limit is 70 mph on I-5 and I wasn't the slowest one on the highway.
In the end, the route wasn't particularly interesting, so I still don't know a lot more than "it goes down the road real nice." But it sure goes down the road real nice. You could do a lot worse for an 800-mile business trip.
Dan Edmunds, Director of Vehicle Testing @ 4,163 miles