The real luxury is in what you get for the price: comfort, style and a fun car to drive.
It’s an age old question: What, really, is luxury? Craftsmanship? Price? Exclusivity?
If you’re not comfortable and happy, your purchase wasn’t a smart one. And if you don’t have a little something left over to make the world a better place or to treat yourself to more luxuries, then what good is that luxury purchase?
It’s this balance that is so important, and that’s what made us smile when we recently test drove the 2015 Acura TLX sedan.
The TLX is the much anticipated new version of the popular TL sedan, the five-passenger mid-sized, nicely appointed sedan from Acura, the luxury arm of Honda. There’s a lot to love in the TLX, and some innovations that might take getting used to. It was fun to drive, capable and commanding on our curvy Connecticut roads, and even while I was having fun driving, my passengers were comfortable and enjoyed the ride. Overall, it’s a smart, capable and luxurious sedan that will continue to win hearts of drivers.
This car has its fans, certainly. The week we had the TLX, other drivers stopped to ask about it: Is this it? The new model? Where did we get it? What do we like about it? What’s new on it? So many questions, and so many things to love. First off, it’s the way this car flatters the ego. In its own sublime, subtle way, this car makes you look good.
How does the TLX make you look good? Let me count the ways
Everyone looks beautiful in this car; its wide open cabin and a sunroof that lets the light stream are an ideal environment. Then, there’s the car itself: the model we test drove was a beautiful Bellanova White Pearl, which nicely showed the TLX’s sleek, Euro feel: its front fender lines are framed by LED lights and its trunk lid that is slightly nudged into a subtle upturn (for aerodynamics, you know). It just feels rich.
Inside, the seating and door panels envelop you in leather—even though the model we test drove had black leather rather than white or cream, which is my first choice— and the soft yet firm dashboard surfaces, accented with wood and steel trim, further create a luxury experience.
But the real secret to luxury in the TLX is in two things: Its appointments and its price.
Smart technology that thinks ahead
The TLX is a forward-thinking luxury car: Not only does it pamper its passengers with comfort and convenience, but its designers have thought about how to make the ownership experience all the better: First, they’ve created more interior space with an electric gear selector that frees up room in the center of the car. This unique push-button controller takes a minute to figure out—I had to show the valet attendant where the drive selection was. And Acura has added an engine stop/start function that saves fuel when the engine is idling or the car is cruising at high speed. Because, really, we don’t need to rev our engines fast and loud all the time, right?
There are options upon options that let you customize your experience, rear view camera settings, forward collision warning settings, lane keep assist settings and engine idle stop/start, which can be a little jarring when it kicks in, so it might be worthwhile to decide if you really want it engaged or not.
Then, there are loads of options to make your experience in the car optimal. Like keyless entry and push button start, heated and cooled seats and remote starter—all of which can be set for the ultimate luxury: Never getting into a car and shivering in the winter or sticking to the seat in summer; it’ll be at the perfect temperature when you get into the car. Yes, please. And lest you think this is a waste of fuel to warm up the engine, it isn’t; it actually helps your car to perform more efficiently to have it at optimal running temperature before you start driving.
Much of this technology can be accessed through the buttons on the steering wheel, which are unique: In addition to the typical talk and toggle buttons, Acura has a clever ‘wheel’ system that helps you to navigate the driver information features, including radio volume and station. With the rub of your thumb, the wheels roll up or down and toggle side to side. Keep an eye on the information screen between the speedometer and tachometer; that is where the information will be displayed.
A hidden luxury: flexible space
The TLX has lots of little compartments for stuff: under the center stack is a double-drawer shelf that allows you to push the bottom drawer back revealing a nice well to hold things, the middle drawer back to reveal a shallow shelf ideal to hold keys, or close it altogether; its wood grain top is quite pretty. If you put your phone in the bottom drawer, you can plug it into the USB port and access its features through the car’s system— so, hands free is easy.
Then, the TLX has something you might not expect to get with a luxury sedan: the capability to haul stuff. Lots of stuff. Acura has thought about this, too. The TLX has 60/40 folding rear seats, and we put them to the test. First with a goofy teen who climbed into the back seat through the trunk, and then with a mattress we needed to bring home from a local furniture store.
OK, the mattress didn’t fully fit, but it fit enough for us to bring it home with only a quarter of the mattress hanging out of the trunk; this let us buy it when we saw it and skip the wait and additional charges of having it delivered. Big YAY. We could have gotten lots of other things in there, though: skis, a paddle board, crown moulding, a rocking chair, a rug. Perhaps not a large piece of furniture, but I’d be willing to try.
Oh yeah, that other luxury: price
This is the one that always gets me: who wants to be car poor? After all, if you can’t afford to go anywhere in your beautiful luxury car, what’s the point of having it? And that’s a nice feature of the Acura TLX: its price. It starts at about $30,000 and the model we tested was about $45,000. For that, this car packs a lot of value.
What We Loved
Open feel of the cabin
Fun to drive
The price: starts at $30,000; price of the model we drove: about $45,000
Push button gear selector
Fold down rear seats
Dual screen information system: lets you see the rear view camera and music display at the same time
Keyless entry and remote start
Heated and cooled seats
Easy to sync Bluetooth
Flexible space for stuff under the center stack—perfect for keys, phone or lipstick
What You Need To Know
3 power outlets: one cigarette type under the center stack and one in the console; one USB port under the center stack (no power outlet in the rear seat)
Stop/start function is noticeable
6 year/70,000 mile power train warranty
4 year/50,000 mile bumper to bumper warranty
Uses premium fuel
Averages 21 MPG city/31 MPG highway; we got about 23 MPG
Acura provided the TLX for our test drive; opinions expressed here are all our own.