2017 Acura TLX Review
Edmunds expert review
Longer and wider than most of its competition in the compact-luxury segment, the 2017 Acura TLX offers near-midsize sedan accommodations at a price that undercuts most of the compact segment. The size difference stems from it sharing its underpinnings with the Honda Accord, though the TLX's more angular body has been shortened a couple inches and is slightly wider for more athletic proportions.
Acura gives you a choice of either a 2.4-liter inline-four or a 3.5-liter V6. Both engines are slightly uprated variants of what you will find in the Honda Accord. The smaller four-cylinder is good for 206 horsepower. That's enough for typical driving. But for aggressive highway and the like, you might prefer the more authoritative power of many turbocharged competitors. The larger, smooth-revving V6 is more performance-oriented and is a better match for the TLX's character. This is our pick. The V6 can be paired with Acura's high-tech Super Handling all-wheel-drive system that delivers dry-weather handling benefits in addition to the expected wet-weather stability.
If you're shopping the V6 Acura TLX, you're going to be within striking distance of popular German small luxury sedans such as the Audi A4, BMW 3 Series and Mercedes-Benz C-Class. All are highly rated by Edmunds. There are also some impressive sedans with more accessible pricing, including the powerful Infiniti Q50, the sharp-looking Lexus IS and the newly revitalized Lincoln MKZ. Overall, the Acura TLX isn't a dramatic standout among this group. But if you're mostly interested in a sensible and roomy sedan backed up by appealing value, a V6-equipped TLX is definitely worth considering.
Standard safety features on the 2017 Acura TLX include antilock disc brakes, stability and traction control, a multiview rear camera, front seat side airbags, side curtain airbags, and a driver knee airbag.
During testing of both a four- and six-cylinder TLX models, Edmunds recorded identical stopping distances from 60 mph of 129 feet. That's considerably longer than average for this segment and disappointing for a luxury sport sedan. A subsequent test of another all-wheel-drive V6 TLX stopped in a much more respectable 120 feet, despite wearing the same all-season tires as the previous car.
Optional safety equipment includes electronic pre-tensioning front seat belts, front and rear parking sensors, a blind-spot warning system, lane departure warning and intervention, forward collision alert, and a collision mitigation system with emergency automatic braking.
In government crash tests this year, the TLX received the top rating of five stars overall, including five stars for total frontal impact safety and five stars for total side impact safety. In its most recent testing, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety gave the TLX a top Good score for its performance in the moderate-overlap front-impact test as well as Good score for the side-impact, roof strength and head restraint (whiplash protection) tests. In the small-overlap front-impact test, however, the TLX earned the second-worst rating of Marginal. Testing of the Advance package's collision mitigation system resulted in a top Superior score.
What's new for 2017
Trim levels & features
The 2017 Acura TLX is a midsize luxury sedan offered in three main trim levels: base, Technology and Advance. Technology and Advance are essentially options packages that are available on both front- and all-wheel-drive TLX models, though Advance requires the V6 engine.
The base TLX comes standard with 17-inch alloy wheels, all-wheel steering, LED headlights and taillights, a sunroof, heated side mirrors, keyless ignition and entry, ambient interior lighting, dual-zone automatic climate control, simulated leather upholstery, heated front seats, an eight-way power driver seat (with power lumbar), driver memory settings, a four-way power front passenger seat (eight-way with the V6), 60/40-split folding rear seatbacks and an auto-dimming rearview mirror. Also standard are Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity, a rearview camera, two display screens (an upper 8-inch display and a lower 7-inch touchscreen) and a seven-speaker audio system with a CD player, satellite radio, smartphone app integration (Aha and Pandora), an auxiliary input jack and a USB interface.
Upgrade to the Technology package and you get a handful of electronic safety features (lane departure warning and intervention, a blind-spot monitoring system, rear cross-traffic alert and forward collision alert) plus automatic wipers, leather upholstery, a color trip computer, voice controls, a navigation system and an Acura/ELS 10-speaker audio system with HD radio.
The Advance package includes everything in the Technology package and adds front seat-belt electronic pre-tensioners, front and rear parking sensors, remote engine start, LED foglights, auto-dimming side mirrors, ventilated front seats, an eight-way power front passenger seat (four-cylinder model), adaptive cruise control, and a forward collision mitigation system with automatic braking.
The 2017 Acura TLX gives you a choice of two engines: a 2.4-liter four-cylinder or a 3.5-liter V6. The 2.4-liter engine generates 206 hp and 182 pound-feet of torque and is offered with an eight-speed automatic transmission that sends power to the front wheels. The transmission is a specialized gearbox that combines a quick-shifting dual-clutch automated manual with a more traditional torque converter found in standard automatic transmissions for a balance of smooth low-speed engagement with sporty gear changes.
In Edmunds track testing, a four-cylinder TLX accelerated from zero to 60 mph in 7.4 seconds, which is on the slow side for the segment. The EPA estimates fuel economy with the 2.4-liter engine to be 28 mpg combined (24 city/35 highway). It's an appealing estimate. However, on our mixed-driving evaluation loop where fuel economy typically matches or exceeds the EPA combined figure, we observed a disappointing 23.6 mpg.
The larger 3.5-liter V6 is rated at 290 hp and 267 lb-ft of torque and is paired with a more conventional nine-speed automatic that sends power to the front wheels. A torque-vectoring all-wheel-drive system is optional for the V6.
Edmunds tested two V6-powered TLX models with all-wheel drive. One completed the sprint to 60 mph in 6.1 seconds, while the other needed 6.4 seconds. Although these times can be considered brisk, they're well behind some segment competitors with their optional upgrade engines.
The EPA estimates fuel economy for the V6 at 25 mpg combined (21 city/34 highway) with front-wheel drive and 25 mpg combined (21 city/31 city). Our mixed-driving evaluation loop in an all-wheel-drive V6 TLX yielded a real-world average of 21.2 mpg, which is worse than what we expected.
The four-cylinder TLX may appeal if you're looking for a reliable and reasonably priced luxury sedan, but judged by its performance, it comes up short. Unlike the engines of most entry-level cars in this class, the TLX's 2.4-liter engine isn't turbocharged, which is the reason for it lagging behind. The transmission's Sport+ mode helps matters once you're underway, as downshifts come swiftly and lower gears are held longer, but acceleration remains below par by luxury sedan standards.
More suitable luxury sedan performance can be had with the V6. Passing power is ample once the tachometer needle swings past 4,000 rpm, and the engine emits a pleasing audible snarl at high rpm, too. During our long-term test of an all-wheel-drive TLX, we've noted that the nine-speed automatic transmission sometimes shifts abruptly, which is something to keep in mind on your test drive.
Around town and on the highway, you'll enjoy the 2017 TLX's comfortable and discernibly refined ride. Shoppers who might still associate Acura products with elevated road noise will find a counterpoint in this sedan, as there's little wind or tire roar to interfere with conversations or music. There's also respectable handling when you ask for it, whether you're in the front-wheel-drive models or the all-wheel-drive TLX V6, which can apportion torque to individual wheels to help the car quickly carve through and power out of turns. Acura doesn't offer summer tires as an option, so if you find yourself running up against the limits of the all-season tires, replacing them with summer rubber will further improve the TLX's sport sedan credentials.
The TLX cabin is similar in appearance to that of the larger flagship RLX sedan, featuring a sleek dashboard with swoopy lines that flow continuously into the door panels. The majority of materials are of good quality with the exception of a few trim pieces that aren't quite as substantial as what you'll find in an Audi A4 or Mercedes-Benz C-Class.
The front seats in the TLX have thick, supple padding and decent lateral support, creating a sporty yet cushy feel. The rear seat is quite plush, too, with a comfortable seatback angle and relatively generous legroom, though headroom might be lacking for tall passengers.
The TLX's standard dual-screen infotainment setup is a bit of an oddity in this segment. The lower touchscreen handles functions including radio and climate controls, while the upper screen displays the navigation map or other status screens on demand. The learning curve for this interface isn't that steep, but some touchscreen controls are tedious to use, and the control knob below the touchscreen can be challenging to reach and manipulate on the move. The graphics are also underwhelming compared to class standouts such as BMW's iDrive and Audi's MMI. We do like the impressively balanced sound of the upgrade ELS audio system, though. It's almost reason enough to go with the Technology package.
Trunk space, at 13.2 cubic feet, is about average for this class.
Edmunds expert review process
This review was written by a member of Edmunds' editorial team of expert car reviewers. Our team drives every car you can buy. We put the vehicles through rigorous testing, evaluating how they drive and comparing them in detail to their competitors.
We're also regular people like you, so we pay attention to all the different ways people use their cars every day. We want to know if there's enough room for our families and our weekend gear and whether or not our favorite drink fits in the cupholder. Our editors want to help you make the best decision on a car that fits your life.