Seeking to move more upmarket and streamline its lineup, Acura replaced and combined two established models, the TL and TLX, into one model that is supposed to represent the best of both worlds. Designed using the theme of Red Carpet Athlete, the new TLX intends to deliver a blend of sports-sedan performance with premium refinement.

The TLX introduces two new engines, two new transmissions and comes standard with high-tech features like LED headlights. As a result, the TLX competes with premium stalwarts such as the Audi A4, Lexus IS and Infiniti Q50.

The 2015 TLX is all new, though there is obviously some sharing of internal components with both its predecessors as well as with other Acura's. Sharing the same wheelbase as the larger TL, the TLX is closer in length to the more compact TSX. The TLX is available in both front-wheel drive and all-wheel drive.

The all-new TLX retains the 2775 mm wheelbase as the outgoing TL. Length, however, is 94 mm shorter at 4832 mm overall. Yet, the TLX is able to offer the same interior volume and interesting enough, the car doesn't look shorter.

The styling of the TLX is modern and distinctive, but it's not overbearing. The most distinguishing feature is its chrome grille flanked by the LED headlights.

Short front and rear overhangs hint at the TLX's sporting potential. The profile lines give the cabin a teardrop appearance and reinforce both its athletic pretensions and its refinement.

Inside, the TLX is luxurious but not over-the-top. It is one of the most comfortable in this segment and is filled with latest high-tech features.

The TLX is available in three models, a four-cylinder with FWD, six-cylinder with FWD, and a six with AWD. Two packages, TECH and ELITE, are available to choose from.

The base engine is a 2.4-litre four-cylinder producing 206 hp and 182 lb-ft of torque, thanks to direct injection.

This engine is mated to an eight-speed dual-clutch transmission. This is the industry's first such gearbox with a torque converter and provides good performance and fuel economy while making smooth, quick shifts.

Four-cylinder models feel light and nimble. The four-wheel steering system, P-AWS, is standard on all front-wheel drive models and gives the TLX a spirited nature.

Moving up to the six-cylinder models brings a quieter, more refined feel all around. The 3.5-litre direct-injected V6 produces 290 hp and 267 lb-ft of torque.

All V6 models come matched to a nine-speed transmission with paddle shifters mounted to the steering wheel.

The top-of-the-line TLX models are equipped with Acura's Super Handling All-Wheel Drive.

This offers the safety of added traction in bad weather and improved performance with sharper turn-in at the limit.

The new V6 uses Variable Cylinder Management, which is capable of deactivating three cylinders. This, partnered with the start-stop function on the TLX SH-AWD, further improves its fuel economy.

Acura's Integrated Dynamics System is standard on all TLX models ? this feature allows drivers to customize their driving experience with four selectable modes ? ECON, Normal, Sport and Sport+. Depending on the setting, steering effort, throttle response, shift timing, HVAC, and logic for the P-AWS or SH-AWD systems can all be altered. Sport is aggressive, yet still usable for everyday driving, and the TLX is the first Acura with a Sport+ setting.

TLX models with the 3.5-litre V6 utilize Acura's advanced new Electric Gear Selector, which has a push-button array instead of a traditional lever. Incorporated in this setup is an electronic parking brake with Automatic Brake Hold. This retains brake pressure when the vehicle is stopped, making driving in heavy traffic or on steep hills easier. Although the new gear selector is futuristic looking in design, I found it to be a bit awkward even after getting use to it.

The steering feel ? in all models ? has a good communicative feedback but the steering is a tad light and artificial in feel.

The cabin of the TLX is modern and functional. Featuring soft-touch materials, wood and aluminum accents it also gives an upscale feel. Seating is comfortable in both the front and rear.

The dash has a symmetrical layout and is dominated by the stacked screens. The eight-inch info screen is positioned high for quick visibility, and the seven-inch touchscreen controls most features and is located lower for easy reach. Separate switches are for the climate control and a large knob controls the sound system and optional navigation.

The TLX offers many advanced tech features including AcuraLink, Acura's cloud-based connected car system. All models are equipped with Siri Eyes Free technology that pairs compatible iPhones to use familiar voice commands. The only challenge is that the dash is quite busy with many features and buttons, and therefore it's not easy to figure out at first glance how to manage all of the items.

The TLX's cargo carrying ability was improved through a new trunk design with a wider, deeper opening, a lower lift-over height, a fully flat cargo floor, and two optional under floor storage compartments. The rear seat backs fold 60/40 to accommodate long items.

Ranging in price from $34,990 to $47,490, the TLX is available with several trim packages.

Standard equipment includes heated seats, dual zone automatic climate control, keyless entry with push-button start, a moonroof, and a multi-angle rearview camera with dynamic guidelines.

Additional features, available as options or on higher trims, include a heated steering wheel, ventilated front seats, heated rear seats, remote start, navigation system with voice recognition, lane keeping assist system, blind spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, collision mitigation braking system, and adaptive cruise control with low-speed follow.

Fuel efficiency numbers (L/100km) for the 2.4-litre I4 are 9.6 city and 6.6 highway. The 3.5-litre V6 FWD returns 11.2 city and 6.9 highway, and the SH-AWD sees 11.2 city and 7.5 highway.

Thumbs Up
The technologically advanced TLX allows it to offer good performance and fuel economy. The dual-clutch eight-speed automatic, P-AWS and SH-AWD are standout features.

Thumbs Down
The TLX's best features are below the surface, but that surface isn't the most exciting. The overall steering feel is also numb and not communicative.

The Bottom Line
The 2015 Acura TLX defines smart luxury and provides a strong value quotient.