2015 Acura TLX is all too familiar, despite its new tricks [w/videos]Wed, 16 Apr 2014 15:01:00 EST
I'm confident in saying that the 2015 Acura TLX, revealed today at the New York Auto Show, will be a perfectly nice car to drive. It'll be nice to sit in, with plenty of luxurious amenities. It'll be... fine. And for Acura, "fine" is apparently good enough.
I say that because while the TLX is an all-new offering (it replaces both the TL and TSX), it hardly shakes up the Acura formula we've come to accept over the past few years. It looks like everything else in the automaker's lineup, complete with the neat LED headlamps and signature beaked grille. Power comes from either a 2.4-liter naturally aspirated inline-four with 206 horsepower, or a 3.5-liter V6 with 290 hp – engines we've tested in countless other Honda/Acura products. The front-wheel-drive version uses the Precision All-Wheel Steer (P-AWS) from the RLX, and high-end V6 models use the Super-Handling All-Wheel Drive (SH-AWD) that we've enjoyed across the rest of the Acura range. Really, there's nothing to write home about here, except maybe, how that power is sent to the wheels.
Acura is finally – finally – moving beyond the world of the six-speed transmission, offering a new eight-speed, dual-clutch gearbox with the 2.4-liter engine, and a swanky new nine-speed automatic with the 3.5-liter V6. This is arguably the biggest news surrounding the TLX, though do note, fuel economy hasn't vastly been improved in the process. The TLX 2.4 musters up 24 miles per gallon in the city and 35 mpg highway, while the front-drive V6 is rated at 21/34 mpg. Optioning for the V6 SH-AWD reduces things to 21/31 mpg.
Inside, it's more of the same – the company's dual-screen center console and infotainment system is used here, and it all looks like the same setup as in RLX, MDX, etc. That's not a bad thing – I like Acura's interiors – but again, there are seemingly few big advancements.
So yeah, the new TLX is fine. For driving, sitting in and other daily needs, "fine" is the order of the day. But if you were hoping for a fresh-faced, bold new offering from Acura here, 'fraid you're plum out of luck. Read more in the press release below, and check out a pair of videos.
2015 Acura TLX Unveiled at the 2014 New York International Auto Show
- Two new, high-performance engines backed by new 8- and 9-speed transmissions
- Most advanced dynamic package ever offered by Acura
- Sophisticated design, premium refinement and extensive luxury appointments
Acura today unveiled the all-new 2015 TLX performance-luxury sedan at the 2014 New York International Auto Show (NYIAS). Developed under the theme of Red Carpet Athlete, the all-new TLX is designed to deliver a unique and compelling blend of sports-sedan athleticism and premium luxury refinement.
"Harnessing the exhilarating power of new engines, new highly-efficient transmissions and next-generation dynamics technology – blended perfectly with impeccable style and luxury – the TLX will deliver a thrill like no other," said Mike Accavitti, Senior Vice President and General Manager of Acura. "Both the considerable performance capabilities of the TLX and the serious energy and resources brought to the brand from the newly dedicated Acura team herald the start of a new era for Acura."
To achieve its dual mission of even sharper sports-sedan performance and increased luxury refinement, the TLX employs a host of new advanced powertrain and super-handling technologies. Powering the 2015 TLX are two Acura exclusive, high-output direct-injected i-VTEC® engines, a 2.4-liter 16-valve, 4-cylinder engine producing 206-horsepower1 mated to an all-new 8-speed dual-clutch transmission (8DCT) with torque converter; and a 3.5-liter 24-valve V-6 delivering 290-horsepower2 mated to a new 9-speed automatic transmission (9AT). For handling prowess, the TLX features the latest iterations of Acura super-handling technologies – Precision All-Wheel Steer (P-AWS), Super-Handling All-Wheel Drive (SH-AWD), and Agile Handling Assist (AHA). These new technologies, in combination with its all-new body and chassis design, make the TLX the most dynamically advanced Acura ever produced; quick and responsive in sporty driving, stable and sure-footed in emergency maneuvers, and calm and quiet during long-distance cruising.
The TLX's new chassis, powertrains and precision-handling technologies are wrapped in a lithe new exterior design with taut body surfaces, dynamically sculpted fender arches, and purposeful character lines. Its sporting character is further highlighted by its more compact sports-sedan proportions. Luxury exterior features include Acura's signature Jewel Eye™ LED headlights, standard on all models. The spacious five-passenger interior of the TLX provides a high degree of refinement, luxury and technological sophistication while supporting an exhilarating driving experience. High-end premium elements include a soft-touch, one-piece instrument panel upper cover, alloy and wood-grain design accents, and available Milano leather seating surfaces and trim.
The TLX will be available with Acura's most advanced safety and driver-assistive technologies including Collision Mitigation Braking System™ (CMBS™), Forward Collision Warning (FCW), Lane Departure Warning (LDW), Lane Keeping Assist System (LKAS), Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC) with Low-Speed Follow and Blind Spot Indicator (BSI).
The TLX was also designed to appeal to a broader cross-section of luxury sports-sedan customers with a wider range of powertrain and drivetrain options. There are three distinct TLX model offerings that carry a long list of standard luxury comfort, convenience and safety features. All TLX models can be upgraded to the Technology Package and the V-6 models are available with the line-topping Advance Package.
The 2015 Acura TLX is scheduled to go on sale at U.S. Acura dealers nationwide later this year. Pricing details will be announced closer to launch.
Design and Packaging
For sports-sedan dynamic capabilities the 2015 TLX is 3.8-inches shorter in overall length than the 2014 TL while maintaining the same wheelbase and tandem (front-to-rear) passenger-seating distance. The TLX's front and rear overhangs are also shorter by 3.8-inches in total compared to the outgoing TL. The TLX engineers worked diligently to make the TLX lighter, incorporating a wide range of high strength steel and lightweight materials in the design. As an example, the TLX two-wheel-drive with the 3.5-liter V-6 Technology Package model has a curb weight just under 3600 pounds, about 145 pounds lighter than the TL Technology Package model.
Acura's signature Jewel Eye™ LED headlights, standard on all models, lend the TLX an advanced and bright-eyed appearance while producing superior down-the-road illumination. It's LED lighting theme carries through to the LED-accented side mirrors, LED taillights and LED license plate illumination.
The TLX also features a new 60/40-split folding rear seatback for greater cargo-carrying flexibility and a new trunk design featuring a wider and deeper opening, a lower lift-over height, a fully flat cargo floor, and two new hidden underfloor storage compartments (Advance pkg.).
The TLX's spacious five-passenger interior is designed and engineered to underscore the "Red Carpet Athlete" development theme of the new TLX, providing a high degree of refinement, luxury comfort and technological sophistication while supporting an exhilarating driving experience. High-end premium elements include a soft-touch, one-piece instrument panel upper cover, alloy and wood-grain accents, and available Milano leather seating surfaces and interior trim.
An abundance of luxury features and technologies are available on the TLX, including heated and ventilated front seats, HomeLink®, Bluetooth® HandsFreeLink®, Smart Entry/Push Button Start keyless access system, Acura Navigation System with 3D view, and AcuraLink Real-Time Traffic™ with Traffic Rerouting. A 7-inch On Demand Multi-Use Display™ (ODMD) touch screen, located in the center console, controls these and other features, and, with its contextual menus, displays relevant items while minimizing instrument panel clutter.
Also featured on the TLX is the next-generation AcuraLink®, Acura's cloud-based connected car system, offering Acura owners a broad range of cloud-based and embedded convenience, connectivity and available security features. All TLX models also come equipped with Siri Eyes Free technology that, when paired with a compatible iPhone, allows the driver to control functions using familiar voice commands. Additional standard and available luxury features include one-touch turn signals and power windows, power driver and front passenger seats, GPS-linked automatic climate control, Color Multi-Information Display (MID) with turn-by-turn guidance, LED accent lighting, HD Radio®, Pandora® and Aha™ integration and USB connectivity.
In keeping with Acura's commitment to delivering a world-class audio experience, the TLX can be equipped with a 455-watt, 10-speaker Acura/ELS Studio® Premium Audio System, engineered specifically for the TLX by legendary recording engineer Elliot Scheiner.
TLX models featuring the new 3.5-liter V-6 engine utilize the advanced Electronic Gear Selector, using an intuitive push-button array in place of a traditional gear lever, freeing up center-console space while presenting a premium futuristic appearance. All TLX models incorporate the Electronic Parking Brake with Automatic Brake Hold, which retains brake pressure when the vehicle is stopped, simplifying stop-and-go driving in heavy traffic or on steep hills.
New TLX Powertrains
At the heart of the TLX's athletic sports-sedan performance capabilities are two new powertrains, utilizing direct-injection, V-TEC or i-VTEC valvetrains with Variable Timing Control (VTC) or Variable Cylinder Management (VCM) and low-friction technologies to deliver higher output, more linear and responsive power delivery and anticipated class-leading fuel-economy ratings.
The direct-injected 2.4-liter DOHC i-VTEC in-line 4 produces a peak 206 horsepower1 and 182 lb.-ft. of torque4. The engine is mated to an all-new 8-speed Dual Clutch Transmission (8DCT) with torque converter, the world's first DCT to be paired with a torque converter on a production vehicle. The DCT, with its closely spaced ratios, ultra-quick shifts and automatic rev-matching downshifts, gives the 2.4-liter TLX an aggressively sporting yet refined feel. The torque converter provides exceptionally smooth operation in stop-and-go situations, plus it offers off-the-line torque multiplication for substantially improved initial acceleration that a conventional DCT cannot match. The new transmission also features Sequential SportShift.
The direct-injected 3.5-liter SOHC i-VTEC V-6 incorporates Variable Cylinder Management (VCM), with the ability to deactivate three of the engine's six cylinders, for improved fuel efficiency. The aluminum-alloy 24-valve engine produces a peak 290 horsepower2 and 267 lb.-ft. of torque5, gains of 10 horsepower and 13 lb.-ft. versus the 2014 TL 3.5-liter engine. The engine is mated to a new 9-speed automatic transmission featuring Sequential SportShift. The new 9-speed unit is substantially lighter than the 6-speed automatic in the outgoing TL, with a wider overall ratio range and more closely spaced individual gear ratios to enhance both performance and fuel efficiency. No competitive vehicle in the segment offers as many transmission ratios.
The TLX SH-AWD also incorporates a model-exclusive idle-stop capability for improved fuel efficiency. And a new 28-volt Active Control engine mount significantly reduces engine vibration during restarts.
The TLX equipped with the 2.4-liter engine has an anticipated EPA fuel-economy rating of 24/35/283 mpg city/hwy/combined. The TLX two-wheel-drive with the 3.5-liter V-6 has an anticipated EPA fuel-economy rating of 21/34/253 mpg (+1 city/+5 highway versus the two-wheel-drive 2014 TL). The TLX SH-AWD has an anticipated EPA fuel-economy rating of 21/31/253 (+3 city/+5 highway versus the 2014 TL SH-AWD).
Acura Precision-Handling Technologies
Two-wheel-drive TLX models, with either the 2.4-liter or 3.5-liter engine, come equipped with the latest iteration of Acura Precision All-Wheel Steer (P-AWS). This new P-AWS system was integrated into the fundamental chassis design from the earliest stages of development, allowing engineers to take full advantage of its independent left and right rear-wheel toe angle control to enhance handling precision, maneuverability and stability.
The TLX SH-AWD features a new hydraulically controlled version of Acura's acclaimed torque vectoring Super Handling All-Wheel Drive™ (SH-AWD®). This next-generation SH-AWD system is 25 percent lighter and friction is reduced. The new rear-drive unit is constantly overdriven by 2.7-percent (compared to 1.7 percent on the previous system), with a greater torque-vectoring effect across a broader spectrum of driving situations, further enhancing cornering capability at lower speeds and in tighter-radius corners.
Near-limit and emergency maneuvering capabilities of both the P-AWS and SH-AWD models are further enhanced by the use of Agile Handling Assist (AHA), which utilizes the TLX's Vehicle Stability Assist (VSA) and premium 6-piston brake modulator to create a yaw moment (a vehicle turning force), helping the driver smoothly and easily trace the desired line with smaller steering-wheel inputs. AHA stabilizes the car earlier than conventional VSA, resulting in more agile and engaging dynamic performance in everyday driving conditions.
All TLX models also feature the latest development of Acura's Integrated Dynamics System (IDS), which allows drivers to customize their driving experience through four selectable modes – ECON, Normal, Sport and Sport+. Depending on the setting, IDS will adjust power-steering effort, throttle response, transmission shift logic, HVAC system operation, active sound control and the control logic for either the P-AWS or SH-AWD systems. The new Sport+ mode, a first for Acura, unlocks the full performance potential of the TLX with the most aggressive settings in all areas.
Safety and Driver-Assistive Technologies
The TLX also advances Acura's reputation for delivering cutting-edge safety and driver-assistive technologies. The TLX incorporates a new cooperative monocular camera and millimeter wave radar system that expands both the fidelity and scope of the vehicle's road-sensing capabilities. This fusion of camera and radar technology underpins the TLX's available Collision Mitigation Braking SystemTM, which can now provide enhanced car-to-car and car-to-pedestrian collision mitigation while also enhancing the capabilities of the Adaptive Cruise Control.
The TLX is the first Acura vehicle to deploy a new Road Departure Mitigation (RDM) system included with the Advance Package. RDM uses the monocular camera to recognize painted lane lines, Botts' Dots and Cat Eye markers to determine lane boundaries. When the vehicle's current travelling direction would cause it to stray from a detected lane, the system warns the driver and assists by applying corrective steering input, and if required, braking force to help the driver maintain their current lane.
Additional standard and available driver-assistive features include Blind Spot Information (BSI), Lane Departure Warning (LDW), Forward Collision Warning (FCW), Expanded View Driver's Side Mirror, Lane Keep Assist System (LKAS) and new Cross Traffic Monitor.
The TLX also employs Acura's next-generation Advanced Compatibility Engineering (ACE) body structure, along with advanced supplemental restraint systems – including front, side, side-curtain and driver's-knee airbags – to provide a high level of occupant protection in a wide spectrum of collision scenarios. The TLX is anticipated to earn a Five-star Overall Vehicle Score in the NHTSA's NCAP safety ratings, and a TOP SAFETY PICK+ rating from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.
All-New TLX Body and Chassis
The TLX is built on an all-new platform (body and chassis) that was designed from the ground up to support and enhance the vehicle's outstanding driving dynamics, luxury-sedan refinement, class-leading fuel efficiency and high-level collision safety.
The chassis features a newly designed four-wheel independent suspension system – McPherson Strut front and multi-link rear – with revised geometry and new Amplitude Reactive Dampers for improved ride comfort and handling performance. New Motion-Adaptive Electronic Power Steering delivers a high level of steering precision and responsiveness while aiding fuel efficiency. It also works cooperatively with the vehicle's VSA traction-control system to help the driver maintain vehicle control in slippery road conditions.
The TLX's unit body utilizes advanced lightweight materials, including ultra-high-strength steels, aluminum (hood, bumper beams and front subframe) and magnesium (steering hangar beam and engine mount), to minimize weight while providing for a high degree of rigidity that benefits both dynamic performance and occupant safety. Also incorporated into the body is the next generation Advanced Compatibility Engineering (ACE) frontal body structure, and a new one-piece, hot-stamped-steel door stiffener ring, similar to the design first applied on the 2014 Acura MDX. The new, sleeker body design is also optimized for class-leading aerodynamic efficiency and boasts a 15 percent improvement in Cd.A versus the outgoing TL.
In their effort to significantly reduce the intrusion of wind, road and engine noise into the cabin, Acura engineers paid special attention to body sealing, reducing open air paths by 50 percent compared to the outgoing TL. The TLX is also the first Acura to utilize acoustic spray foam, which is applied in 10 critical locations throughout the body. Additional noise-reduction features include triple door seals, the expanded application of body sealing and sound absorptive materials, an acoustic glass windshield, and electronic Active Noise Control (ANC).
By Steven J. Ewing
See also: Acura TLX GT racecar to make motorsports debut at Detroit Grand Prix, Honda marks 20 million vehicles made in the USA, 2015 Acura TLX confirmed for New York debut.