It’s always exciting when the new 2018 models arrive for our testing. It’s even better when a new sporty model is available to be driven before it arrives in showrooms. This new TLX is more dynamic, especially with the A-Spec trim we tested this week.
The A-Spec gets a sport-tuned suspension and its own unique styling elements.
The 2018 Acura TLX is updated with a face lift, mainly on the front end. Acura freshened the TLX’s styling to bring the sedan up to date with the company’s current design language. More advanced driver safety aids are now standard across all trims, the infotainment interface has been revised for quicker responses, and the transmissions have been retuned. The A-Spec trim level is new for 2018.
Features & Options
The 2018 Acura TLX 3.5L AWD A-Spec ($44,800) comes with standard features like keyless entry, leather upholstery, automatic wipers, a climate control system that compensates for sun direction, navigation, a 10-speaker premium audio system, blind-spot monitoring, and rear cross traffic alert. New for 2018 is the TLX 3.5L A-Spec, which comes with revised leather upholstery, a power-extending thigh support for the driver’s seat, sport-tuned suspension, 19-inch wheels, quicker steering, sport front seats, and some cosmetic tweaks.
The Technology package (included) adds parking sensors, remote engine start, ventilated front seats, heated outboard rear seats, a heated steering wheel, wireless charging, auto-dimming and power-folding side mirrors, a surround-view camera system, and a heated windshield.
For 2018, all TLXs are equipped as standard with a suite of driver assistance features collectively labeled AcuraWatch. This includes lane departure warning and intervention, forward collision warning and mitigation with automatic braking, road departure mitigation, adaptive cruise control, and automatic high-beam control. Total MSRP including destination: $45,750.
Stepping inside the cabin of the TLX, we could tell the sedan was well-built from quality materials and the leather upholstery is an upgrade from the standard model. The most noticeable feature is the space-saving push button gearshift lever that so many automakers are going to. It frees up storage space, and once we got used to it, it’s a snap to use. There’s plenty of room up front for taller drivers and visibility out the sides and back are TLX strengths.
We used the ventilated front seats every day as the temperatures in Denver soared into the 90s during the day. They kept us nice and cool as the mile-high sun was extra hot this week. There’s ample leg and headroom in the front and rear legroom is impressive. Rear headroom, however, might be a problem for passengers taller than 6 feet, but the TLX should be plenty comfortable for average-sized adults.
Overall, the TLX 3.5L AWD A-Spec offers an upgraded interior package that’s well-assembled and appealing.
Engine & Fuel Mileage Specs
The new TLX A-Spec trim is powered by a 3.5-liter V6, making 290 horsepower and 267 lb-ft. of torque. It comes mated to a 9-speed automatic transmission that sends power to the SH-AWD system. EPA estimates come in at 20/29 city/highway and 23 combined.
The top-trim Acura TLX 3.5L AWD A-Spec comes with the composure and speed you would expect from a true performance model. It’s easy to drive and easy to live with for commuting around town and for comfort on the freeway, but it has a wild nature when you need it. We shifted into Sport+ mode, pushed the pedal down, and we could feel the extra power and the throaty exhaust note. We used the steering wheel paddle shifters this week to manually run through the 9 gears and it performed like a true sports sedan.
We chucked the TLX AWD A-Spec around some tight mountain corners and the sedan responded with very little body lean; the steering was nice and tight. The TLX’s sport-tuned suspension and four-wheel steering generally enhance handling.
However, we would have liked to see the A-Spec come with performance tires instead of all-season radials. What we also didn’t like was the TLX’s variable cylinder management that saves fuel and kills the engine at a stop light.
Acura brings the new sporty A-Spec trim to the lineup for a good balance between comfort and sport. There’s better performance sedans out there, but the TLX AWD A-Spec is still a fun ride and will fulfill the needs of driving enthusiasts.
Denis Flierl has invested over 25 years in the automotive industry in a variety of roles. Follow his work on Twitter: @CarReviewGuy