2015 Acura TLX: Turns On Its Road Trip Charm
by Scott Oldham, Editor in Chief on September 2, 2015
I've come around on our long-term 2015 Acura TLX. I've been cold, now I'm sold. This car gets better the more you drive it and the harder you push it.
What turned me around? A road trip.
Last week I drove the TLX from Los Angeles to Carmel Valley and back in three days.
As road trips go, the LA-to-Carmel run is nothing extreme, just a 350-mile dead shot north. But it's a solid test of the machine's comfort, spirit and performance. It's also just enough distance to know exactly how a car makes its driver feel. You walk away with a real bond with a machine or a rabid abhorrence.
This is an extremely comfortable car. Seating position, seat shape and ride are perfect for me. I'm 5'11", 180 pounds, and I would climb from the Acura feeling like I had just driven around the block instead of through an entire tank of fuel.
Better than that, it was fun. First of all, I always drive the TLX in Sport mode. In Sport mode, the Acura strikes an almost perfect balance between a hardened high-performance sports sedan and a mind-numbing, feel-nothing luxobarge. You know you're driving this car. It's responsive and provides real interaction between driver, machine and road. But it never feels harsh or forces the driver to sacrifice in the name of driving a "sport sedan."
And it goes. Acura powertrains are legendary and the 290-horsepower, 3.5-liter V6 is worthy. It's got gobs of low-end power and, of course, the kind of upper rpm snap that VTEC motors practically invented. It works well with the new nine-speed automatic, too. Drop the hammer at 70 mph to get around that slug and the TLX downshifts a stack of gears and you are gone. Holding the pedal down and enjoying the firm, right-on-redline upshifts is pure hedonism, as is the sedan's awesome stability above 100 mph.
That stability is partially due to our Acura's Super Handling All-Wheel Drive system, which works in complete secrecy but provides grip, balance and an athleticism that just wouldn't be there without it.
In normal driving situations, it's easy to forget the Acura's V6 powers all four wheels, but throw this four-door into a corner and you remember immediately. The SH-AWD system, which constantly monitors tire slip and moves power front to back and side to side, makes the TLX's small all-season tires feel far grippier than they really are. I'd like to drive this car with a real set of rubber; it would really be something in the bends.
The TLX averaged 25.8 mpg on this trip, which included about 100 miles of city driving in L.A. and around the Monterey Peninsula. That's a bit above the Acura's 25 mpg combined number, but well below its 31 mpg highway rating.
Scott Oldham, Editor in Chief @ 6,544 miles