2018 Acura TLX First Drive: The Outlier Choice Gets Better

– Louisville, Kentucky

Ever since Acura merged the TSX and TL into one vehicle, the result – the TLX – has had a challenging mission. It has to fill the void left by both the sporty TSX and the luxurious TL, a Venn diagram of attributes that the TLX has so far managed to meld. But it hasn’t necessarily excelled at either sportiness or luxuriousness. Newly refreshed for 2018, does the TLX manage to straddle that line better than before?

Certainly from the way it looks, the answer is yes. Everything ahead of the A-pillar is new, meaning the hood, standard LED lights, and front fascia all have been updated. The controversial (read: ugly) grille is gone in favor of what Acura calls a “diamond pentagon” shape inspired by the Acura Precision Concept and also seen on the MDX. The TLX was already a smart design, but now it appears far more purposeful and, yes, less dorky from head-on.

Moving up the trim levels results in different styling cues. “We wanted to create a lot of differentiation in our models,” explains Jonathon Rivers, Acura TLX lead product planner. So models with the 3.5-liter V6 engine instead of the base four-cylinder have two different 18-inch wheel options, more chrome, LED fog lights, and exposed exhaust tips.

2018 Acura TLX: First Drive
2018 Acura TLX: First Drive
2018 Acura TLX: First Drive
2018 Acura TLX: First Drive

The biggest nod to enthusiasts who lament the death of the TSX is the new A-Spec trim. Building on the existing V6 Technology trim level, it is definitely the best-looking TLX variant, with darkened chrome trim, gray 19-inch wheels, new fascias and si...