The Acura TLX has been kind of an automotive Jimmy Durante. All you could do is stare at its proboscis. Its looks were hurt by its parrot beak grille. Even though TLX was a good premium brand mid-size sedan, it was hard to love. The 2018 Acura TLX gets a much needed mid-cycle facelift that transforms its presence. (Acura began replacing its parrot nose grille texture in 2016 with the launch of the freshened 2017 Acura MDX).
Designer and now Acura Vice President and General Manager, Jon Ikeda, says that you can tell when a design team is having a good time they do great work. Fun and inspiration have brought out the best in TLX looks.
Under the skin, the 2018 Acura TLX is basically carryover with tweaks made the engineers thought were necessary. Base engine is a 2.4L 4-cylinder making 208 horsepower. The upgrade engine is a 3.5L V6 with 290 horsepower. But the story is not about the mechanicals. The story is about the style.
Appearance Changes More Extensive Than for a Typical Mid-Cycle Freshening
This freshening is a classic front and rear six. This means that the front and rear ends have been restyled, but roof, doors, glass are carryover. Thankfully, the parrot's beak grille texture is replaced by a pentagon grille with a mesh grille texture. This relatively conservative approach yields a very attractive front end. In addition to the new grille, the front fascia has large air inlets at the vehicle corners providing a distinctive and aggressive face. Bright accents highlight the air inlets which also include driving lights. The hood is all new and more curvaceous than previously. LED headlamps are standard.
Depending on trim level, a tasteful chrome side sill garnish provides finesse fir the body side.
The rear appearance is upgraded with new tail lamps, bright exhaust tips and a rear diffuser. Chrome accents are added balancing the accents in the front fascia.
2018 Acura TLX Gets the Latest Driver Assistance Safety Features
The interior is updated with new seat trim. The instrument panel has been tweaked and all of the latest safety features are available AcuraWatch is standard. AcuraWatch includes adaptive cruise control, forward collision warning, autonomous emergency braking, lane keeping assist and road departure mitigation. Unfortunately blind spot monitoring is not standard but included in a $3,700 Tech Package. AutoPacific research finds blind spot is a feature wanted by over 75% of drivers and greatly helps in avoiding lane changing accidents.
Also standard are Apple CarPlay and Android Auto which allow integration of many of your smartphone apps to the dual center screens of the TLX.
2018 Acura TLX A-Spec Trim
Acura is particularly proud of its TLX A-Spec package that should appeal to younger, more enthusiastic drivers than will choose the more chrome-laden standard, Tech or Advanced packages. The A-Spec an appearance package with a sport tuned suspension. Believing that the target buyer wants differences defined as "sporty", A-Spec includes a dark surround for the grille, exclusive front and rear fascias that lose the bright highlights, round bright exhaust tips, red accent piping for the seats, LED fog lights, front and rear parking sensors, wireless charging, and ventilated front seats. The A-Spec does have a color combination available that should be striking - bright blue exterior with a red leather interior. This is a bold combination that few carmakers allow these days. Kudos to Acura for making this selection available.
Attitude Change at Acura
An aside on the story of Acura. 31 years ago Acura was launched as the first Japanese premium brand. At first, Acura was very successful with the Legend mid-size near luxury car and Integra sporty hatchback - names that still resonate among American car buyers. VP Ikeda says Acura is returning to its performance oriented roots - Precision Crafted Performance. He hopes to instill the fun and passion in Acura's design and engineering that was evident 31 years ago. Maybe, they will bring names back - at least Legend and Integra.
Read more on Forbes.com.