The Acura TLX SH-AWD Elite A-Spec is a fantastic looking car.

Looks can be deceiving.
Beauty is only skin deep.
The beard doesn’t make the philosopher.

My secondary school English teacher would be disappointed that I’ve forgotten the literary term for phrases like these. However, I do remember the meaning of foreshadowing.

The Acura TLX SD-AWD Elite A-Spec has a body line that is long and smooth. It begins where the quarter panels pinch the headlight lenses, runs the full length of the car and ends in much the same way it began, squeezing the outboard rear lights before fading beneath the sill of the trunk. Not to be outdone by the Acura’s sleek flanks, the hood is visually pleasing as well.

When viewed from above, it is sculpted in a way that lends it the V-shape of the guy at the gym who quietly pulls 425 lbs from the floor umpteen times before setting it down gently and unobtrusively loading a few more plates on the bar. The twin exhausts at the rear of the car are set outboard and almost align with the low profile rubber on the back wheels, visually lending the car a wider and lower stance.

Perhaps the only blemish on the exterior of the car is the wisp of a spoiler on the lip of the trunk. Cheesy for sure, but certainly not enough to detract a great deal from what is a lovely piece of eye candy.

Moving inside, all four seats are primarily covered in Alcantara, bolstered in traditional leather and trimmed with sporty grey piping. The front seats are both broad, deep and very comfortable. With multi-way adjustability, drivers of pretty much any size will find themselves a great view from a cabin that might be a little bit austere, but is spacious nonetheless. The back seats are comfortable for folks broad in the shoulder and up to at least an inch over six feet tall.

So far so good.

This Acura’s nine-speed automatic transmission has been hooked up to a 3.5-litre V6 engine that delivers 290 horsepower and 267 lb-ft of torque to the asphalt through Acura’s Super Handling All-Wheel Drive (SH-AWD) system. This all sounds much more impressive than it actually is.

Tromping on the accelerator from a stop is not impressive. In fact, whilst attempting to make even a moderately quick left turn against approaching traffic it can be downright disappointing. The transmission takes significantly more than a nominal amount of time to engage – so much so that I’ve had to adjust my driving style to accommodate the car’s lackadaisical approach to off-the-line acceleration.

Once underway, liberal application of throttle results in engine noise and pronounced lack of thrust that are simply unbefitting a parent manufacturer with an esteemed racing pedigree. Other marques are able to produce engines of similar displacement that generate more power and sound much better doing it. What a shame.

I’m not able to tell you how the TLX handles when driven in an aggressive manner. The electronic committee that manages the relationship between engine and transmission response to spirited user input has tried my patience too many times to even try. Rather, I’ve simply been plonking about in the relative quiet of the cabin and enjoying what amounts to be a supple and sedate ride.

The infotainment system in the TLX is well past the point where it needs a refresh. Suffice to say that two separate screens and an unintuitive user interface complicate the provision of vehicle diagnostic, navigation (the layout and format of which appears archaic) and entertainment information.

It would be fair to say I’m torn insofar as my feelings about the TLX. This is most definitely a car that looks every bit the part of a fantastic sport sedan.

But…c’mon Acura, you can (and have) done better.

All show, no go.
All hat, no cattle.

I think these are called idiomatic phrases. Somewhat metaphorical maybe? Doesn’t really matter. The TLX should be better and Acura knows how to do it.

2019 Acura TLX SH-AWD Elite A-Spec
Base Price: $51,190
As Tested: $53,396
Drivetrain: 3.5-litre 6-cylinder, 290 horsepower, 9-speed transmission.
Performance: 10.1 litres per 100 km in mixed city and highway driving.
VVUZZ Recommended: If you prefer sizzle over steak.


Images courtesy of the author.

Published on Jan 10, 2020