Car report: 2015 Acura TLX replaces two Acura sedans in a neat and tidy package

WASHINGTON — Two of Acura’s best selling sedans are no more, and the all-new 2015 TLX is coming on to the scene to take their place.

It’s a little bigger than the old TSX and smaller than the even more popular TL.

The Acura TLX has some big shoes to fill in order to keep current customers, while at the same time trying to earn new customers.

The first thing you notice is that Acura has gone back to a slightly more conservative styling than the previous Acura’s slightly odd and overdone front-end styling.

The 2014 MDX SUV’s toned-down front end with cool Jewel Eye headlights carry over to the new TLX sedan. I liked them, but WTOP Anchor John Aaron wasn’t a big fan of the slender headlights when he noticed the new Acura. I do think the styling is more what buyers of smaller luxury sedans are looking for.

The Acura TLX comes with a choice of two engines, a 2.4 liter four-cylinder engine good for 206hp or an optional powerful 290hp V6 that can be equipped with all wheel drive and a 9-speed automatic. The four-cylinder models come equipped with an 8-speed dual transmission that gives a sportier feel and feels like a manual when shifting. Also, it comes with paddle shifters when you want to shift for yourself.

It’s one of the few cars that I chose to drive like a manual, especially when I selected the Sport+ driving mode. The Sport+ mode is one of the four different driving modes. It turned the car from quiet sedate sedan to louder, more-buttoned-down sports sedan with just a touch of a button. I can tell you I didn’t spend much time in the ECON mode, that’s for sure. One thing missing from the Acura TLX is a manual transmission which is a major bummer.

I was surprised that the new TLX was a good drive for a front wheel drive car. It handled well and came with a slick all-wheel steering which slightly turns the rear wheels in turns. You don’t notice it other than the car feels planted for front-wheel drive and stays in the lane. It’s a car that’s happy doing the mundane commute, but would be happier when you choose Sport+ mode and really hammer some back roads.

The 2.4 liter four- cylinder loves to rev and isn’t harsh sounding. It helps return some good gas mileage of 24mpg city, 35mpg highway and 28mpg combined of premium fuel. I averaged 26.6 over 150 miles and my car was brand new with just 54 miles.

Acura has upgraded the interior with heated and ventilated perforated leather seats that are comfortable yet slightly firm. Automatic dual-zone climate control works through the lower seven-inch touch screen. There is also a screen above the lower screen with knob and buttons controls.

The NAV is a little confusing when you first use it but does work very well and the voice recognition does an alright job of picking up your voice for address input.

The multi-view camera helps when backing out of spots. The wide-view mode helps see cross traffic when you can’t.

Prices for the new TLX start at around $32,000. My fully loaded 2.4L Tech stickered at $35,920. The V6 models start at $36,000.

Acura TLX is one car trying to take the place of two Acuras and they did a very good job. The 2015 TLX is a solid choice for the entry level luxury market, if you’re not looking for rear wheel drive like most of the competition offers. Acura has gone back to what made them popular years ago with a fun-to-drive luxury value.

Editor’s note: Mike Parris is a member of the Washington Automotive Press Association. The vehicles are provided by STI, FMI or Event Solutions for the purpose of this review.

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