2015 Acura TLX: Packed Full for a Vegas Trip
by Cameron Rogers, Associate Editor on September 27, 2015
Our summer trip to Las Vegas was just a few weeks away and the puzzle pieces had finally fallen into place. Our rooms were booked and the 2015 Kia Sedona had just arrived in our long-term fleet. I even brought it home one night to make sure the third row accommodated two six-footers who would ride along for the four-hour journey.
Headroom was tight, but the third row seats could recline and my passengers would only need to tilt the seats back to get comfortable. Everything was going according to plan.
Then a rogue water bottle ruined everything. The Sedona went into the body shop and missed its date with the Mojave. Time to exercise Plan B: Get a roomy four-seater and split up the party. Due to its own third-party mishap, the 2015 Acura TLX needed some road trip love and I was happy to oblige.
The TLX turned out to have enough trunk space to swallow three medium-size suitcases, two small duffel bags and my laptop case. As we all piled in, it became apparent the TLX was less accommodating of four full-size adults than the 2014 Kia Cadenza we used for the last Vegas run.
The TLX has less front and rear leg room than the Cadenza, the latter exacerbated by the thick front seatbacks. For the sake of my friend in the back, I crammed a little closer to the steering wheel and settled in.
On the drive north with a full load, the 290-horsepower V6 pulled strong up the Cajon Pass. The driver seat was wonderful and not once did I squirm in the throne to readjust my driving position. The TLX exhibited slight rebound after hitting pits in the road, but otherwise the ride was compliant and enjoyable.
After breakfast at Peggy Sue's, just north of Barstow, I was delighted to see that the abandoned Rock-A-Hoola water park was just a few miles away. I had always seen it on the southbound side of the freeway on the return trip but had never stopped for pictures. This time I took the 15-minute detour to snap a few.
Unfortunately, a fence cordons off the park from a pretty long distance, relegating the park to distant scenery in my TLX photos. The fences don't stop intrepid urban decay photographers from turning this place into a must-stop in the middle of the desert, but it did for me. We left dismayed, rejoining Interstate 15 on the road to Vegas. We arrived in Sin City a few hours later with fuel economy of 26.6 mpg
I parked the TLX for the next day and a half. Despite the 100-degree heat, we opted to hoof it up and down the Strip. We needed to walk off our buffet dinner (and Holstein's, of course). If we'd arrived a week earlier when a heat wave swept through town and sent temperatures north of 110, we would have sang a different tune.
Sunday came too soon, and we left relatively early to beat traffic out of the city. Despite our best efforts, we still got held up at Primm and the agricultural inspection area, and south through the Cajon Pass, which was still jammed due to construction.
Nevertheless, the TLX returned an astounding 32.9 mpg on its return trip, and that included a slog through early morning Los Angeles traffic the next day.
The trip revealed two things about the TLX that really irk me, however. I really don't like the way the touchscreen radio works. It takes too much concentration to set the radio presets, and tuning the radio while moving requires even more. It's best to figure out all radio presets before departing and not even think about straying from your chosen band.
The adaptive cruise control is another source of misery. Even at its most liberal proximity setting, if a car turns into your lane, the TLX slams on the brakes and then jams on the accelerator as it tries to overcorrect. What works so well on crowded city highways becomes a disaster on the open road.
While annoying, these negatives didn't spoil my overall enjoyment of this car. It's a great cruiser with plenty of trunk space and a gutsy engine that delivers unbelievable fuel economy. I can't wait to take it on another trip. Provided I don't have five passengers that want to go with me, of course.
Cameron Rogers, Associate Editor