Written by Alan Gell

Acura built much of its reputation on elegant styling and luxury. The TSX Coupe delivered on that and the TL sedan delivered it also. Acura took the best of both of these and combined them into the 'new' TLX. This all-new Acura TLX is slightly smaller than the TL sedan, but is slightly larger than the TSX coupe. The TSX's 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine is carried over, but so is the TL's 3.5-liter V-6 engine. The technology is focused. The elegant styling is still present, but there is somewhat of a race car DNA lurking under the hood.

Acura furnished one of their 2015 TLX models for a week-long test drive. It had the 3.5-liter V-6 engine, had an exterior color called Crystal Black, and interior styling called Ebony. It was beautiful to simply look at, but more importantly, this vehicle was a joy to drive.

The TLX is offered in several different trim levels. The base model uses the 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine at a base price of about $31k. Adding the Technology Package bumps that up to past $35k. Next up the ladder is the TLX 3.5-liter at a base of just over $35k and with the Technology Package it is only slightly under $40k. The 'flagship' model TLX uses the 3.5-liter, and adds the SH-AWD system, with either the Technology Package or the Advance Package. These hit over $41k or slightly under $45k, depending on the package. The test-drive model was the top-of-the-line with the SH-AWD system and the Advance Package.

I liked the layout of the driving array. The nine-speed automatic transmission uses push-buttons on the center console instead of a gearshift lever. At first, it was not intuitive, but in short order, my memory flooded back to one of my early-owned vehicles, a 1956 push-button Plymouth. After that, the operation became easy. There are formula-style paddle shifters on the steering wheel for those drivers thinking themselves to be on a track. These do allow the selection of gears manually so as to achieve a more race-styled performance. The performance, whether using the push-button gears or the paddle shifters, is very peppy and the vehicle hugs the road well.

A special feature which appealed to me was the automatic stop/start feature. When the car is stopped at a traffic signal, the ignition simply cuts off, saving on gas mileage. The first time this happened, I was not quite prepared, but after the first couple of times, it became easy to accept, much like a hybrid engine. There is Variable Cylinder Management on the V-6 that is designed to cut fuel input to only three of the six cylinders when the engine load is low.

The new Acura TLX has a complete suite of driver-assist systems, safety features, infotainment interface, and connectivity options. The dashboard area utilizes the familiar dual-screen setup that is already in use in some other Honda and Acura vehicles. There is an 8-inch screen at the top and a smaller touch screen in the middle area. Operation is by a variety of buttons and/or a rotary controller. The trunk area is fairly large and very adequate for normal usage. The rear seats are the Fold-Flat style so that larger items can be carried.

The test-drive model had an MSRP of $44,700. With the Advance Package and transportation delivery added on, the bottom sticker price showed $45,595. The Acura TLX was EPA rated at 21-mpg city, 31-mpg highway, and 25-mpg average. By watching the gauges and careful attention to the Variable Cylinder Management, I achieved an overall average of 29.5 for the week-long driving test. That included a lot of not-so-well-maintained roads, so I was impressed with the mileage.

The 2015 Acura TLX has certainly stepped up to the plate and is a contender in the Entry-Level Luxury category. The TLX offers advanced safety features, technology, comfort, and driving pleasure while giving all of that in a luxury sedan that has good gas mileage. Check it out yourself at a Honda-Acura dealership.