2015 Acura TLX: Trying to Like It
by Dan Frio, Automotive Editor on October 28, 2015
I want to like our 2015 Acura TLX, I really do. Some of the time, I do. There's a lot to like here, especially when the V6 is humming at highway speeds. But much of the time I'm in the driver seat, I can't get past grumbling about some feature or other that I probably wouldn't have noticed during a test drive, but which would later bother me for the length of ownership.
Prime example: the Auto Idle On/Off. The car defaults to engagement each time you start it. There is no option in the vehicle settings to turn it off permanently. So if it drives you nuts to press the Off button each time you get in the car, as it does me, you're out of luck.
Inevitably you will get caught out and forget to disable the stupid feature, then try to quickly leave a strip mall driveway. You'll come to a stop, see your break in traffic to get back on the roadway, and — wanh, wanh — the engine dies. You'll mash the pedal, the engine will cough and come back to life, and now you're lurching out into traffic like a possum with a hangover.
You're reduced to doing what some TLX owners have related in forum postings, and trying to track down and pull a fuse to override the feature.
But Auto Idle On/Off is not the most onerous feature here. It's really the transmission that kills any of this car's joy for me. We might obsess over transmissions here, but you know when you've got a good or a bad one. I won't say our TLX's nine-speed auto is bad. But it's not good.
Shifts are low-speed are erratic and lumpy, slow and indecisive. Shifts aren't smooth, and are inconsistent enough that you can't really out-think this transmission with thoughtful stabs at the pedal. If you didn't know better, you'd think you were driving a dual-clutch transmission with very bad software. As it is, it's just a box with too many cogs, clutches and, presumably sleepy software.
Our readers have weighed in on this. See the comments section of Brent's post (linked above). Reader socal_eric offers an elaborate mechanical explanation of this gearbox's behavior, while reader stew4hd details his own experience with this transmission, adding that "to say I have HUGE regrets in this car is an understatement." Ouch.
Can we give Acura a pass on this and shift (har, har) some of the blame to the transmission supplier? Apparently this same ZF transmission has been a problem in other applications. It might even be the same box we loathed so much in our 2014 Jeep Cherokee.
Maybe. But ultimately Acura bears the responsibility of sending this car out into the world with this kind of behavior, and owners like stew4hd aren't sending their grievances to the transmission supplier. Instead, they're sending them to the local Infiniti or BMW dealer when the lease comes due or an attractive trade-in offer comes in the mail.
Dan Frio, Automotive Editor