Poised to compete with segment heavy hitters, the Acura TLX doesn't have what it takes to play in the big leagues. While it is a good overall performer, the TLX lacks the engaging performance and panache found in other upscale sedans.
Measured against its European and Japanese rivals, the TLX's handling falls short and its ride isn't as comfortable. While the cabin is quieter than any Acura sedan to date, it is not as hushed, well finished, or luxurious as other models in this aspirational category. Some common features, like a power-adjustable steering wheel, aren't even available. And Acura's clunky dash setup is distracting and annoying, with two screens and an awkward mix of hard and virtual controls.
Like most competitors, the TLX is available with either a four- or six-cylinder engine. All-wheel drive is offered with the V6. Four-cylinder models get an eight-speed automatic transmission that delivers quick, direct shifts and helps accomplish very good fuel economy at 27 mpg overall. The six-cylinder engine is a gem, with plenty of refined power, but its nine-speed automatic transmission shifts with a bump, spoiling the otherwise calm power train. Opting for the V6 also brings with it an unintuitive pushbutton shifter; at least Acura incorporated comprehensive safeguards against the car rolling away if you fail to put it into Park. An A-spec version offers styling, suspension and a larger tire size for a more 'sporty' experience.
Where the TLX can compete is with price, stickering for several thousands of dollars less than comparable alternatives. Even base models are pretty nicely equipped, without the long and expensive option list BMW or Mercedes-Benz buyers take for granted. On the other hand, for about the same money as our tested four-cylinder TLX, you can get a loaded Ford Fusion or Buick Regal. Either one offers a more comfortable ride, sportier handling, and quieter interior.