2015 Acura TLX SH-AWD Advance moves the brand forward
If only there were more back roads in central Florida. They would have been just the ticket for that wonderful Crystal black on ebony 2015 Acura TLX SH-AWD Advance four-door sedan we drove from Orlando to Melbourne to Gainesville and back to Orlando. At least our friend Steve found some wavy tarmac to drive so our car could stretch its legs, something it definitely wanted to do.
Acura’s mid-size TLX sedan was recently refurbished and the latest iteration could be the visually most attractive Acura sedan to come down the pike since the legendary Legend sedan. Gone are the gaping chromed mouth and severe body lines, replaced by salacious curves and a definitive strake marking each side of the car, complemented by an upper sill concave area. I especially like the upswept rear that, no doubt, is good for fighting air at high speeds.
This particular 2015 TLX is the top of the model range with its SH-AWD (super handling, all-wheel-drive) attributes and the Advance package that includes just about anything you might want on a luxury sedan. With a full technology package of navigation with voice recognition, a multi-view rear camera, real-time traffic, studio premium audio system with 10 speakers and HD plus satellite radio to the “nannies” of forward collision warning (red light and brake heads-up display), blind spot info in the A pillar and lane-keeping assist, this is a technocrat’s living room. There were no options on this car, which has a list price of $45,595, including destination fees.
Fortunately it’s a wonderful car to drive with élan, thanks to the 290 horsepower (at 6200 rpm) direct injection, 3.5-liter V-6 engine with its 267 lb-ft of torque at 4500 rpm and the amazing nine-speed shiftable automatic transmission. There are four power settings: econ (sucks any engine power), normal, sport and sport plus for track days. This car stayed in sport setting throughout our drive time. There is the addition of auto-stop which turns the car off at traffic stops and engages once one’s foot leaves the brake pedal. It’s a nice touch to add fuel mileage.
Still, with all of its standard equipment and with its 3774-pound curb weight, the 2015 Acura TLX SH-AWD sedan does take a slight hit in the fuel economy department, with ratings of 21/31/25 EPA from its 17.2-gallon tank; premium fuel is preferred. That number is accurate, particularly in mixed driving. It’s easy to get 500 miles on a single tank and close to 600 miles can be achieved if you’re prudent. I’m not.
This Acura’s 4-wheel independent MacPherson strut suspension mates well with electro power-assisted rack and pinion steering and precise all-wheel-steer to give this sedan a sporting feel over the road. With Goodyear 225/50R gumball rubber mounted on 10-spoke 18-inch wheels, there’s less unsprung weight to hold back the forward motion of this vehicle.
Space inside the TLX is all well apportioned for five passengers who share 93.3 cubic feet of interior volume. Yes, the TLX is a bit nose-heavy with 60 percent of its weight riding on the front wheels, but a good dab of accelerator pedal readily transfer power to the rear for gobs of acceleration. And with the most comfortably firm seats around in a luxury sedan, this Acura can take its passengers on hours-long trips without having to perform yoga stretches once exiting the car.
Rear seat TLX passengers have air flow to keep them sated but no ability to change those settings; they’ve also got the obligatory pull-down armrest to hold beverages as there are no cup holders in the rear doors. The beautifully appointed trunk allows side packing for small items (like wine bottles!) and holds 14.3 cubic feet of cargo. There is a 60/40 fold for the back seat to enlarge cargo capacity. There is no spare tire.
The driver has full gauges directly in front, including temp and fuel, tachometer (6750 redline), 160-mph speedometer and a variety of ancillary buttons and gauges. The release for the fuel tank (no fuel filler cap) and trunk lie at the lower left of the dash. There are two memories for the driver and full power for the passenger’s sport seat, just like that for the driver of this car. The grippy leather steering wheel has an excellent cruise control system on the right and audio/phone on the left side.
The floor-mount pushbutton transmission takes some time to get used to – I kept shifting my water bottle instinctually but finally got accustomed to it. A small, open center tunnel storage offers an auxiliary and 12-volt plug and a similar covered central console storage has 12-volt, USB and an upper tray for the phone or other technological tools and toys. With the one-touch sunroof open it’s not terribly noisy inside.
Acura adds courtesy lights both inside and out of the 2015 TLX SH-AWD sedan and the driver’s seat goes slightly rearward for entry and exit. Phone pairing was a one-minute exercise (not always the case) and phone operation using hands-free is simple. The navigation system is easy to work with and very informative, handy on roads we never use. One issue for me – rear visibility is a bit lacking, making it very important to set side mirrors well.
Our near-week with the 2015 Acura TLX SH-AWD was absolutely delightful, and unexpectedly so. Recent Acura memories haven’t been as great as this encounter and if this experience means Acura has regained its market footing and its reliance on power, performance and exceptional handling, its future in the crowded mid-size luxury segment is assured
Words and Photos By Anne Proffit