Can you guess what the biggest challenge was in 2018 TLX development?
The 2018 Acura TLX is refreshed and ready for battle in a segment full of unique options, but how much do you really know about the updated Acura? After driving the 2018 TLX, we found the car to be a definite improvement functionally and stylistically. Don’t miss our 2018 TLX First Drive review, and check out seven cool facts about the 2018 TLX right here.
Acura’s Getting Red
The 2017 NSX offers a red and black interior, an option you expect on a hybrid supercar with a six-figure price tag. But on a sensibly styled luxury sedan? Not as much. Even so, it turns out the Full Red interior color option was a big struggle to get approved internally. TLX engineering development leader Dan Powderly says that exploring the option happened late in the planning and that getting it approved was personally rewarding. The color is one of two interior options on the new A-Spec model that’s offered on the TLX V-6 and actually does drive a bit sportier on the road.
How the TLX A-Spec is Different From the NSX
A $157,800 USD NSX two-door hybrid supercar and $43,750 USD TLX A-Spec don’t share much beyond an Acura badge, but both cars offer a wild red interior option. Powderly says the development team decided against a red-and-black option for the TLX (the NSX’s red interior option has black elements). Instead, the Full Red color is available only on the A-Spec front- and all-wheel-drive models, which are also offered with a black interior with Alcantara inserts.
Read our NSX vs. GT-R comparison right here.
The A-Spec Contribution
The 2018 TLX’s A-Spec model will serve as an image-building car for the TLX line as a whole—as Powderly explains it, offering one model that isn’t just elegant. Around 60 percent of 2018 TLX buyers are expected to go for the 290-hp V-6 variant over the 206-hp four-cylinder, and Acura tells us about 15 percent of buyers are projected to choose the A-Spec. The TLX A-Spec adds a mix of aesthetic and performance upgrades to improve looks, handling, and steering feel. The model is available with the V-6’s front- or all-wheel-drive option, and slots in price between the Technology and Advance packages for non-A-Spec models ($43,750 USD for a front-drive model and $2,000 USD more with all-wheel drive).
Beyond the U.S. Market
Getting the A-Spec variant approved as part of the 2018 TLX’s lineup was made possible in part by interest from other markets including Canada, Saudi Arabia, and Mexico. Would you consider an A-Spec variant on another Acura, such as the next-generation RDX crossover?
Shifting to the TLX
Sales of sedans including the TLX pale in comparison to Acura’s RDX and MDX SUVs, but it turns out the TLX plays a larger role for the brand than you might think. Jon Ikeda, Acura’s vice president and general manager, says that after consumers stop ogling the NSX on Acura’s website, the Acura vehicle they look at next more than any other is the TLX. Now that the 2018 TLX has more standard features and more engaging front styling, perhaps Acura will get the car on more shopping lists. In new ads for the TLX, Acura plays up the fact that the TLX is built by the same automaker that makes the NSX.
Why the TLX A-Spec Doesn’t Make More Power
Acura doesn’t have any current plans for a four-cylinder TLX A-Spec model, which means every TLX A-Spec is powered by a 290-hp 3.5-liter naturally aspirated V-6 with 267 lb-ft of torque—that’s the same powertrain as the regular V-6 models. Although we doubt anyone would honestly notice a 10-hp bump from behind the wheel, such a change might drive more consideration to the model if it had a 300-hp rating. Testing out such a change, Powderly explains, would have required more development time and recertification. On a car whose overall standout feature is value, adding that potential cost might not have been the best move.
When we tested a 2015 TLX with the V-6 and all-wheel drive, the car accelerated from 0 to 60 mph in 5.9 seconds.
The TLX Spider-Man Edition?
The coolest color on the 2018 Acura TLX is a wonderful and intense shade of blue called Still Night Blue Pearl (it reminds us of a similar color on Lexus F and F Sport models), and it is only offered on the A-Spec model with the red or black interior colors. During development, the blue car with the available red interior was internally known as the Spider-Man car. No matter the color you choose on a TLX A-Spec, the trunk will be topped by a gloss-black decklid spoiler above the more aggressive lower rear fascia.