2019 Acura TLX Review

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2019
The Car Connection
2019
The Car Connection

The Car Connection Expert Review

Aaron Cole Aaron Cole Managing Editor
December 3, 2018

The 2019 Acura TLX is a sharp luxury mid-size sedan, but lacks the performance pedigree and options that others may offer.

Reservation isn't just for dinner. The 2019 Acura TLX heaps on luxury features without the swagger of its rivals, but offers a lower price tag that may sway more buyers looking for understated luxury.

The 2019 TLX earns a 6.5 on our scale, with higher scores for its impressive standard features and comfortable ride. Styling leaves a bit to be desired. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

Overall, the TLX design is a carry-over from 2018, after that model year’s toning-down of controversial styling features. Acura’s grille “shield” was removed in favor of a more subdued design and reshaped headlights. Changes around back include visible exhaust tips for the first time on the car. Interior updates include new ambient light piping and new seat designs.

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A-Spec trim is available on 4-cylinder TLX models now, and it offers a host of exclusive design features that lend the package a sportier and more aggressive feel than other TLX models. A blacked-out grille, sportier body work, and LED fog lights give the A-Spec a sinister look. This “dark-mode” theme continues from there, where 19-inch wheels are finished in Shark Gray paint, LED taillight covers are tinted, and the rear decklid spoiler is gloss-black.

Both the 2.4-liter inline-4 and 3.5-liter V-6 return, now having powered the TLX across two generations. Base 4-cylinder models are front-wheel drive with all-wheel steering. V-6 models are available with all-wheel drive. An 8-speed automatic transmission is standard for inline-4 models, with a slick a torque converter and paddle-shifters. V-6-equipped TLX models get a 9-speed auto, also equipped with paddle shifters.

Elsewhere, the TLX comes standard with LED headlights, heated front seats, keyless ignition, and Apple CarPlay/Android Auto integration. Key options include a surround-view camera system, heated steering wheel, and upgraded Acura/ELS Studio Premium Audio.

Our money is on the TLX 4-cylinder with Tech Package, which offers navigation, upgraded audio, driver assistance features, and clever traffic rerouting features to the mix while keeping the base price well under $40,000.

5

2019 Acura TLX

Styling

Even with a cleaner look and refined interior, some may find the 2019 TLX a bit boring.

There isn’t anything particularly wrong with the TLX design, but there isn’t anything particularly exciting about it, either. As competitors’ sedans add flair with each new model, the TLX feels dated and anonymous by comparison.

We’ve rated the 2019 TLX a 5 out of 10 for its inoffensive and pedestrian style. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

Acura’s decision to remove the TLX’s controversial chrome shield-grille in 2018 was a welcome change that thankfully carried forward. Cleaning up the front-end look further, larger LED headlights and a redesigned lower bumper carry on the refined look.

The rear end features a more conservative look, with exposed dual-exhausts, diffuser-style bumper valance, and LED taillights. A-Spec models get a pair of eye-catching 4-inch exhaust tips and tinted taillights.

Inside, the TLX’s design is attractive and refined, with Acura’s dual-screen infotainment system centered in the dash and wide, supportive seats.Higher trim levels receive contrast stitching and piping on the leather seating with all four standard interior color themes, as well as with the all-black leather/Alcantara and Full Red upholstery options. Ambient lighting rounds out a cabin that feels modern but comfortable. A-Spec models add more heavily bolstered seating for a sportier, supportive feel.

Even after the redesign cleaned things up last year, the TLX still feels too tame compared to other Japanese premium-label sedans like Infiniti and Lexus. Buyers looking for a cutting-edge design will likely find the TLX’s styling to be a bit pale in comparison to other offerings.

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6

2019 Acura TLX

Performance

The 2019 A-Spec adds a sportier feel, but some extra body panels and seats aren’t turning the TLX into an NSX anytime soon.

The TLX’s 4- and 6-cylinder powertrains are not the most exciting in the class, but the A-Spec trim adds enough sporty touches to help the Acura compete with Lexus, BMW, and Mercedes.

We’ve rated the 2019 TLX a 6 for performance, awarding points for the strong V-6 engine, A-Spec trim, and Super-Handling All-Wheel Drive system. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

We haven’t driven a TLX equipped with the 206 hp inline-4, but our impressions of V-6-equipped models were positive. Off-the-line acceleration is strong and the all-wheel-drive system keeps handling and cornering well under control. With 297 horsepower and 267 pound-feet of torque, the TLX’s V-6 offers plenty of thrust for highway passing, but the 9-speed automatic transmission remains a hindrance.

The gearbox is a major detail for a sport sedan to nail, and the 9-speed in the TLX simply misses the mark. Compared to others in its class, the TLX falls short of the crispness and shift speeds that BMW, Audi, and Infiniti offer. Four-cylinder versions of the TLX carry over the 8-speed DCT we tested back in 2016, which we found to be a better match for the powertrain.

The A-Spec adds a feather in the TLX’s performance cap, even with most of the sporty improvements being just aesthetic. New for this year, the 4-cylinder TLX gets an available A-Spec treatment and V-6 models get a quicker steering ratio and a stiffer spring rate, coupled with a rear stabilizer. A-Spec models offer a throatier intake note, more heavily bolstered seats, and exterior styling points that add to the sporty look.

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7

2019 Acura TLX

Comfort & Quality

The TLX offers a comfortable ride with clever driver-assist technologies, but would benefit from a roomier interior.

Acura has set the TLX up to walk a fine line between ride quality and driving dynamics, something the 2019 model does well.

The sedan’s comfortable interior, coupled with a smooth ride and solid technology offerings earn the TLX a 7 out of 10. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

Despite its sporty aspirations, the TLX remains a capable highway cruiser, offering a quiet and comfortable ride on a variety of road surfaces. Acura updated the TLX’s interior last year to address several criticisms on style and seat design, and those welcome updates carry over this year. Seats are wide, well-cushioned, and provide enough support when the roads get curvy. These updates make the TLX a road trip-worthy ride without question.

The TLX’s standard AcuraWatch features add a layer of safety and convenience features to the line while decreasing driver fatigue. Adaptive cruise control and active lane assist help keep the car centered and moving safely down the highway, but don’t move the Acura closer to a system like Cadillac’s SuperCruise.

Elsewhere, the TLX largely remains the same as it was last year, as interior space is unchanged at 93.3 cubic feet. We still find the cabin to be a bit cramped in comparison to the Acura’s German rivals, the BMW 3-Series and Mercedes Benz C-Class.

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8

2019 Acura TLX

Safety

Standard automatic emergency braking vaults the 2019 Acura TLX up our safety scale.

Federal testers gave the 2019 Acura TLX top marks for crashworthiness, including perfect scores in every subtest—a rare clean sweep.

Independent testers were largely just as complimentary, including a "Superior" rating for the TLX's standard automatic emergency braking. An "Acceptable" rating for small-overlap crash protection by the IIHS keeps it from climbing higher than an 8 on our safety scale, however. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

All 2019 TLX sedans are equipped with a comprehensive suite of safety features, including forward collision warnings with automatic emergency braking, active lane control, and a rearview camera. Base versions equipped with a 4- or 6-cylinder engine offer blind-spot monitors with cross traffic alerts, while A-Spec versions make that feature standard.

The TLX is equipped with standard front- and side-impact airbags, including a driver's knee airbag. Stability and traction control systems are standard.

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8

2019 Acura TLX

Features

For the right price, the 2019 Acura TLX is an all-out geekfest of technology and features.

The entire TLX line gets a host of standard features and advanced technology that driving more intuitive and comfortable.

We’ve rated the TLX a 8 out of 10 for features, giving points for a responsive infotainment system, standard AcuraLink capability, and available options that make the TLX feel like a luxury sedan. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

Acura heavily updated the TLX’s infotainment system in 2018 to include Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility, and changed the touchscreen to capacitive, which is the technology that smartphones use. The result is a system that, while using a dual-screen setup that we dislike, is fast and responsive to touch inputs. The combination of touch controls and physical buttons makes for an easy to use interface overall.

Base TLX models start at $33,995, including destination, and get AcuraWatch, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, power adjustable driver and passenger seats, automatic climate with air filtration, smart entry system with keyless access, synthetic leather seating, ambient lighting, satellite radio, Bluetooth connectivity, and app compatibility with Pandora music and others.

Topping off the TLX line is the Advance package, which combined with the V-6 SH-AWD system brings the TLX’s price to nearly $46,995. That price tag buys premium Milano leather-trimmed seating and interior, three-level heated and cooled seats, heated rear seats, HD radio, navigation, text and email message reading, and traffic assist with rerouting capabilities.

All models get Acura’s 4-year/50,000 mile limited vehicle warranty, a 6-year/70,000 mile powertrain warranty, rust and accessory coverage, and roadside assistance.

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5

2019 Acura TLX

Fuel Economy

Most versions of the TLX manage mid-20’s fuel-economy, making them competitive in-class.

The 2019 TLX is rated at 23 city, 33 highway, 27 combined when in base, 4-cylinder configuration and V-6 models are rated at 20/31/24 with front-sheel drive. Both numbers are slightly lower than last year’s TLX, but good enough to earn a 5 on our fuel economy scale. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

Adding all-wheel drive dents the mpg rating by 1 mpg on the highway only. Those are still class-competitive numbers even with a V-6, where many automakers have opted for a more fuel-efficient turbo-4 or hybrid.

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$33,000
MSRP based on FWD
 
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6.5
Overall
Expert Rating
Rating breakdown on a scale of 1 to 10?
Styling 5
Performance 6
Comfort & Quality 7
Safety 8
Features 8
Fuel Economy 5
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2019 Acura TLX Pricing Insights

  • 2019 Acura TLX is available
  • Unadvertised incentives remain
  • Lease: From $299/mo.
  • Finance: From 1.9% APR
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