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Test Drive: 2015 Acura TLX

Following a continuing theme this year is yet another test drive of an all new vehicle, notably this week’s 2015 Acura TLX sedan. For those still unaware, Acura is the luxury name plate of parent Honda and competes directly with all other luxury vehicles worldwide.  TLX, meanwhile, replaces the former TSX and TL models and does a great job in doing so. Built in Marysville, Ohio, TLX offers entry into the luxury/sport luxury division and offers consumers an excellent springboard into opulence as the base model starts at just $31,445 and then escalates upward to its top all-wheel-drive (AWD) model at $44,700.

Our mid-size TLX tester came with the standard 2.4 liter four-cylinder engine and a most notable “TECH Package” designation that retails for $35,920 including $895 destination off a base price of $35,025. Overall, not a single option was found on the sticker price, as the TECH package took center stage. Included are voice recognition “3D view” navigation, wide angle multi-rear view camera, Acura-Link real time traffic and communication, superior ELS Stereo with 10 speakers, HD radio, perforated leather seating (very nice), blind spot information, forward collision warning, lane keep assist, rain sense wipers and rear cross traffic monitors.

This TLX TECH feature is responsible for Acura receiving some terrific safety rating awards, most recently a “safest cars on the road” honor from the Insurance Institute of Highway Safety (IIHS). Specifically, the TLX scored high grades in overall safety systems including forward collision avoidance and other IIHS enhanced safety procedure tests.  The reality of TLX being one of the IIHS “Safest Cars on the Road” will undoubtedly play into consumer buying decisions as the new model becomes more and more popular.  Other Acura models to make the IIHS “safest list” are Acura MDX in Luxury SUV and Acura RLX in Large Luxury Cars. Perhaps the best thing about Acura vehicles is its ability to attract all demographic age groups, from Millennial to Baby Boomer and everyone in between.

Power for the TLX comes from the aforementioned 2.4-liter, 206 horsepower four cylinder connected to an eight-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission. If you want more “go,” choose the 290-horse 3.5-liter V6 that connects to a nine-speed automatic.  Fuel mileage for both engines is outstanding, with the four coming in at 24 city and 35 highway while the six isn’t that far off, generating 21 city and 34 highway.

Further, our four-cylinder TLX performed well overall, but with only 206 horses under the hood we found that when four adults were in the car and luggage in the trunk it did labor a bit when asked for some extra pep.  To correct the concern, the 290-horse V6 sits ready and willing and comes standard if you order the AWD TLX, which starts at $41,575.


I’d take the six, but please drive both before deciding as under normal everyday use, the four-cylinder should be adequate. 

Not surprisingly, TLX’s ride is very good as both handling and comfortable receive high grades. The interior is very quiet, seating is firm yet comfy and the power driver seat offers lumbar and 10 specific settings to arrive at ultimate comfort. The front passenger seat is a four way power until and both are heated.  A standard power moonroof blends nicely with the overall cabin motif while rear seat legroom is adequate to very good for adults of all sizes. In addition to the safety mentioned in the TECH package, a complete “ACE body” structure features roll-bar like construction and then adds all the airbags (including knee), traction control, electronic ABS disc braking and much more. Your dealer will explain in depth the advantages of the new TLX when it comes to safety.

Although this review concentrates mostly on Acura’s safety enhancements and IIHS honors, I need to remind all consumers that parent Honda becomes the first manufacturer to include a rear-view back up camera as standard on every car it builds, from tiny Honda Fit to the acclaimed SUV Honda Highlander. Granted, backup cameras become government mandates in 2018, but this is 2015 and proves Honda and Acura are still a very proactive car company.

Important numbers include a wheelbase of 109.3 inches, 5.8-inch ground clearance, 3,492-pound curb weight, 13.2 cu. ft. of cargo space, and a 17.2 gallon fuel tank.

There’s much to like about the new Acura TLX and I bestow a Test Drive “recommendation “in the mid-size personal luxury car market.  Kudos to Honda/Acura for its safe build philosophy and a new TLX that will surely be a winner at your area Acura store.   <

By The Numbers:

2015 Acura TLX

Entry Price: $31,445

Price as tested: $35,920

Likes: TECH safety package, quiet and refined ride, handles well

Dislikes:  Touch screen controls, four-cylinder labors when loaded, where’s the turbo?


(Greg Zyla is a syndicated auto columnist)

Acura TL: Out of the shadows

Obscured in the shadows cast by showier models, Acura’s midsize TL doesn’t get the attention it deserves.
Call it a very good outlier in the near-luxury sport-sedan segment, where BMW’s 3 Series rules. 
Two things set the TL apart from its rivals — its front-wheel-drive architecture (AWD is available, and more about that in a moment) and Acura’s commitment to six-cylinder engines.
Enthusiasts prefer the rear-drive for its superior driving dynamics. Here in the North, though, front-wheel-drive have obvious advantages. Regarding the cylinder count, Acura’s been right all along; the V-8 is disappearing before our eyes.
As it happens, the TL is in the final year of its current life span. You can tell because there’s a new, 2013 Special Edition (SE) trim.
Automakers often use special editions to shine one last light on a car before moving on to next year’s model. Special editions juice last-year sales by bundling desirable options into value-priced packages.
The TL’s SE package comprises a modest collection of convenience and cosmetic add-ons — keyless access and pushbutton start; a color-matched deck lid spoiler; 10-spoke, 18-inch alloy wheels; the requisite trunk-mounted badging.
It amounts to $3,000 worth of premiums for a $1,500 bump, says Acura.
It’s worth noting that the base TL ($36,030, including destination) comes standard with power everything, a brilliant audio system, Bluetooth connectivity and — perhaps my favorite feature — world-class xenon high-intensity discharge headlights.
They light up my driveway like the deck of an aircraft carrier. 
Also standard in the TL quiver is a handsome, well-appointed cabin suitable for four full-size adults, a sport-tuned suspension and one of the most accurate and communicative electrically assisted steering systems in the business.
The TL is, as they say, a “driver’s car.” The suspension is tuned to reduce body roll in the corners, but is compliant enough to smooth out potholes. Sport seats cradle passengers’ backsides, holding them tight when the going gets rambunctious.
The SE package is only available on FWD TLs. If you want AWD, you’ll need to fork over another $3,550 for the TL SH/AWD. 
Acura’s Super-handling All-Wheel-Drive (SH/AWD) system popularized torque vectoring in the States. Without getting into the weeds, I’ll just say it’s the most surefooted system I’ve driven this side of a Porsche Carrera 4.
A 280-horsepower V-6 powers FWD TLs. It’s mated with a 6-speed automatic transmission, which can be optioned with steering-wheel paddle shifters. AWD trims get a 305-hp 3.7-liter V-6 that can be had with the automatic or a no-cost optional 6-speed manual.
Eight cylinders be damned. The engines are quiet, smooth and strong enough to satisfy any sensible person. The transmissions work with the usual Acura efficiency.   
All TLs are eligible for two options packages. TheTechnology package adds handsfree keyless entry, perforated leather, navigation with real-time traffic and weather, rearview camera and 10-speaker surround sound audio. The Advance package adds heated and ventilated front seats and a blind spot monitoring system.
With or without AWD, Acura’s TL is a legitimate near-luxury, sport-sedan contender. It deserves all the attention it gets. 
Don Adair is a Spokane-based freelance writer. Contact him at don@dadair.com.
2013 Acura TL SE
Vehicle base price: $35,905
Trim level base price: $37,405
As tested: $38,300
Optional equipment: The TL SE is a self-contained package; the test vehicle included no optional equipment.
EPA ratings: 20 city/29 highway
Regular unleaded fuel specified

Acura NSX, Dodge Dart revival @ Detroit Auto Show


Automakers are looking to the past for brand names we’ve come to love, respect, or just heard of before. Two more industry heavyweights are being called out of retirement for debut at The Detroit Auto Show in January. The names are the same but both cars are drastically different in ways that are sure to grab the attention of their fans. 


It’s been seven long years since Honda ceased production of the legendary NSX. Introduced in 1990, the mid-engine rear wheel drive coupe established itself as a 290hp machine worthy of supercar status that could double as a daily driver. 

Honda is hoping to fill the halo car position in their lineup once occupied by the NSX. When development of the NSX’s successor – the HSV-010 was halted due to financial shortcomings, news soon followed that a new NSX would debut at the Detroit Auto Show in January. 

Jalopnik reports major changes to the car are rumored to include all-wheel-drive and a hybrid powertrain to compliment Honda’s push to be viewed as a “green” car company.

While adding AWD to the NSX’s already renowned balance shouldn’t be a hard pill to swallow, adding a hybrid system to a car that spent 15 years impressing sports car fans with good ‘ol fashion gasoline could be a much harder sell. 

To drum up excitement before the NSX hits showrooms in 24 months, movie goers will be able to catch a rare glimpse of a one-off version of the car in this summer’s Avenger’s movie. Driven by Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.), the car is said to look very much like the soon to be third generation NSX. (1) 


Remember the Dart? Well its back from 1976… Sort of.

Chrysler is reanimating the Dart and aiming it at the youth market as the new compact car slated to replace the mundane Dodge Caliber. MOPAR fans should read on before drooling with muscle-car excitement:

The new Dart is based on the Alfa Romeo Giulietta, a small car popular in Europe for its style and enjoyable drivability. The Dart’s three engine options will include 2.0-liter and 2.4-liter four-liter four cylinders and a 1.4-liter turbocharged four that’s good for 170hp and 41mpg in the Giuletta. 

If you’re wondering how a Detroit brand name is appearing on a car derived from Alfa Romeo, Chrysler Group is now owned by Fiat, which also owns Alfa Romeo. Per the bailout deal with the U.S. government the Dart will be assembled in the United States - Building a 40mpg car in the U.S. meets a requirement under the deal to secure Fiat’s final 5 percent of Chrysler stock from the U.S. government. 

To help reach the 40mpg mark Dodge will offer a nine-speed automatic transmission in addition to a Fiat six-speed dual clutch transmission. (2)(3)

Chances are their won’t be any burbling V8’s crammed into the new Dart, but rather features designed to impress young buyers interested in the likes of the new Ford Fiesta. As the first Alfa-Romeo-based Chrysler production car released in the States there’s plenty of rich history for the Dart to live up to. 

The Dart will officially debut at the Detroit Auto Show in January before going on sale in the first half of 2013. 

(1) http://jalopnik.com/5864253/new-acura-nsx-will-be-hybrid-look-like-tony-starks-car-from-avengers
(2) http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-505145_162-57338373/chrysler-to-revive-dodge-dart-name-for-compact/
(3) http://www.autoblog.com/2011/12/07/marchionne-2013-dodge-dart-will-have-optional-9-speed-auto-hit/

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