Parks McCants's picture

2015 Acura TLX drivers mostly satisfied

Sticking our virtual driver’s shoe in mouth, Torque News invited Acura TLX drivers to write in and share with us their TLX story. It's mostly positive.

Last fall Acura unleashed what Torque News and much of the automotive press believed to be Acura’s “Next Big Thing.” Torque News-Acura took it a step further, and after driving 2015 TLX for the first time, jumped the gun on voting it 2015 “Car of The Year."

Granted, that didn't happen. However, TLX is not running short on positive automotive review and owner accolades. Good looking, reasonably quick and fun to drive, TLX has turned thousands of would-be Acura buyers into owners; mostly satisfied, many of them returning Acura aficionados.

A bit of tarnish on the Brass Cup

As with most if not all first-model year production runs,TLX has hit a bump or two on the road to ownership-excellence. The biggest gripe coming from new owners following an initial transmission related recall, is the manner in which the ZF outsourced 9 speed transmission shifts in TLX. According to this comment thread, some premium car buyers will find TLX SH-AWD 9 speed with drive mode selection to downshift a bit too aggressively; when coming to a stop or transitioning from “normal” to “sport” mode.

Yet, out of the thousands of readers that have visited our Acura TLX forum, all but a handful have either bothered to comment as to this misbehaving transmission, or… simply haven't experienced shifting problems while operating TLX. We can be counted in the second group.

Not perfect but almost

After driving 1500 miles or so between 2015 TLX SH-AWD 9 speed, 9 speed with P-AWS and the 8 speed TLX i-4, we still believe TLX to be a bargain as to high quality finish, built in standard features and exceptional mid-premium level sports-sedan power and road handling.

Our observation is in no way a dismissal of the heartfelt concerns of TLX owners presently plagued with a run-away transmissions, harsh or delayed-response paddle shifting. As fellow car owners and Acura fans,Torque News more than understands the frustration of a less than perfect automotive purchase and ownership experience. It suck!

However, most if not all of the complaints we’ve moderated on the Acura TLX Owner’s Forum are concerns of “personal perception and anticipation unfulfilled. in other words, TLX operates as designed, not necessarily as we anticipate a premium car should operate. Sad but true, most if not all of us want a perfect car. Unfortunately, the perfect car (for all drivers) has yet to be built, and TLX while precision performing and segment setting, falls a notch below perfect on the 1 to 10 scale; actually, it’s a very strong 9.

Speaking with Mike Accavitti, senior V.P. and general manager Acura Division, we’re informed that the majority of the original called back Acura TLX 9 speeds have been scope-tested, repaired or transmission replaced if necessary. Checking in with our local Acura dealership group, as with the 2nd year of any and all production runs, 2016 Acura TLX will come off the line with a couple of changes.

While we haven’t confirmed this news with Acura, we anticipate an easily disabled(button)auto start/stop, and a double-tap activated transitional drive to sport mode via the consul drive-button.

As to the mechanical characteristics of the ZF 9 speed, only time will tell. In our most recent test drive of the 2016 MDX, SUV we found the transmission and IDS to operate flawlessly. Let’s hope that Acura does the same thing for TLX, very soon.

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I own the a 4 cylinder tech - I would hope that when stepping on the gas to merge into traffic, having the engine rev to over 4,000 and the car barely move like it has slipped into neutral is not "operating as designed" Unless their goal is population reduction. I have torn down, rebuilt and restored cars and have been driving for almost 40 years - please don't insult my intelligence. There is a definite issue with this transmission.
Welcome Tim. Now we're talking about 2 totally different transmission designs. I'm assuming that you have the dual clutched 8 speed automated (mechanical) transmission with torque converter. Yes? No insult coming from us. Knowing the inner workings of your 8 speed and how it operates, again, what drive mode are you experiencing the problem in? What active tech features are "On" when you experience this delayed acceleration? Thank you Tim...
Hi Parks, I do have the 8 speed DCT. I drive pretty much exclusively in sport mode,the car is too unresponsive in normal and totally dead in economy mode. I'm averaging over 33 mpg and I do not thrash the car. The issue happens most predominantly in the colder temps when the car is not fully warmed up. I have experienced the bang into drive after shifting from reverse to drive after backing out of my driveway and that is while my foot is still on the brake.( I do not try to accelerate while the car takes its two to three seconds to go into drive) I have quite a few times experienced the feeling like you got rear-ended when coming to a stop. But by far the most disconcerting is the four or five times that I have attempted to pull into traffic and it feels like you are on ice, the engine revs and just feels disconnected, no wheel spin (dry conditions) and very little forward progress for a few scary seconds. Once I did notice the traction control light come on but there were no other signs of traction loss. The upshifts during the first few minutes of driving seem to be indecisive with higher shift points than normal. I drive with the traction control and VSA on and the lane departure warning off (too sensitive especially during pothole season when avoiding potholes is more important than being centered) Once the car is fully warmed up things improve quite a bit - not going to win any smoothness awards during stop & go driving but I am used to it. Everyone seems to searching for some miracle software fix but my guess is that it is more related to temperature - possibly the viscosity of the transmission fluid cold vs hot?? I am not the only one experiencing these exact issues - check out the 8 speed DCT thread on acurazine and tlxforums.
Just go to the NHSTA site and search for complaints for the 2015 Acura TLX and you will see a pile of customers who are having trouble with each of the transmissions. Acura had better get these fixed soon or they will lose many loyal return customers who buy Acura for the value. I have owned many Acuras and they are great, but the transmission issue and the very slow throttle response on the V6 is keeping me away. I guess if you don't have the problem then the car is great, but if you have this hit or miss problem then you are not getting any "thrill" out of this TLX
Welcome P Smithwick. Well stated! Thanks for dropping in. B.T.W Have you taken the time to test drive any variant of TLX? If so, how was your initial drive experience? Thank you.
I have test driven the i4 with the DCT and that drove well. I did not notice any problems with the transmission, but it was a short drive. I later drove the V6 not SH AWD and did not like the throttle response....when moving at 30 mph and then hitting the gas, there was a noticeable delay...like way too long before the car responded. Last week I took a V6 with SH AWD out and the throttle response was again very slow. I would hate to be trying to merge or pass or get up to speed on a busy road. I have been reading about many frustrated owners about the transmission (hopefully software) problems. Just hope that they can get all of this resolved soon. My 3G TL has almost 200,000 miles and I love it still, but at some point I will need a new car....just hoping that it is an Acura.
Thank you P.Smith. The only time I believe that there's should be any sort of throttle response delay is when TLX is driven in Economy(comfort) mode. Best of luck to you. I believe Acura will step up with a timely solution.
I own a TLX SH-AWD W/ Tech Package and have not any transmission issues (knock on wood.) The car drives and handles as I would expect it to. The car has a very comfortable ride with great tech features. This is not a vehicle you would take to the track on the weekend. It is however a very nice car with good acceleration and handling. I have owned the car for about 2 months and love it.
Welcome Ray. True enough, Acura does not promote TLX as a track-ready performer. However, we at Torque News have pushed the car to "white knuckle" performance levels. Wishing you trouble-free driving and years of enjoyment.
I'm a "senior citizen," and owner of the 6 Cylinder TLX with the Advance Package. It may be the closest thing to a self-driving car on the market today. There is a critical need for seniors to maintain their mobility independence, and self-driving cars may be the future solution to this problem. According to AAA, "seniors are outliving their ability to drive safely by an average of 7 to 10 years." Anyone who has had to face taking the keys away from a parent or spouse knows how awful that experience can be for all concerned. The TLX Advance Package is a big step in the right direction. The Advance equipped 2015 Acura TLX was singled out by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety as actually avoiding an accident in their 25 mph Safety Test for High-speed Autobrake. It contains (among other things): Road Departure Mitigation System, Adaptive Cruise Control, Collision Mitigation Braking System, Forward Collision Warning System, Lane Departure Warning and Lane Keeping Assist, Blind Spot Info System, Rear Back Up Camera with Cross Traffic Alert, and an Automatic Brake Hold Feature. We seniors with our aches and pains don't care about 0-60 acceleration times, paddle shifters, manual transmissions, and power spurts away from a stoplight. No, what we care about is comfort, safety and driver assist technology, things the TLX has in abundance. For example, my right leg cramps up when I have to keep my foot on the brake pedal for long periods to prevent the car from creeping forward. Like in heavy traffic. The TLX Automatic Brake Hold Feature eliminates this problem. My hand begins to ache when forced to grasp the steering wheel for hours on a long trip, but when the TLX Lane Keeping Assist steers the car it allows for a very loose grip (and for brief periods of no grip). And when this feature is combined with the Adaptive Cruise Control system, I can go for many miles without ever touching the accelerator pedal, only occasionally steering myself, and relaxing while the TLX self-steers, self-brakes and self-accelerates whenever a vehicle pulls in front of me. In effect, at such times, the car is indeed actually driving itself. As for luxury, I traded a Mercedes E320 for this Acura. I loved the Mercedes and I love the TLX, which I find to be the equal of the Benz in most things and superior in many ways, including ride quality, handling, noise mitigation, fuel consumption, and much, much, more. For those of us with the physical issues associated with aging bodies, the Acura TLX is as sweet as they come.
Welcome Robert. A well written, thought provoking commentary. Most have experienced the often painful experience of confiscating the keys from an elderly loved one. While I'm not personally a fan of Autonomous driving, auto industry projections place the feature and "self driving" capability in most if not all cars within the next 10 years. Your comment has put a very positive spin on this rather new technology, and further underlines the core intent of Acura to produce a relatively affordable, fine driving car featuring state of the art active safety and comfort features. The sport-side of TLX is simply the icing on the cake. Sending you best wishes and good health. looking for your next book!
Hi, Parks. I've written before after your RLX test. I've had the RLX for about a year now and still really like it. I've driven the 4 cyl TLX and really like that, too, but did notice that the 8 sp DCT seemed to "lurch" sometimes when starting out; especially when going from reverse to drive. It seems that almost all negative comments about the car concern the transmissions, both 8 and 9-speed. Interestingly, when Acura came out with the 2016 RLX, they gave it even more hi-tech features, like the surround camera and also added things like the cross-traffic monitor which didn't come along until after my RLX was made, and also tweaked the suspension. What's curious to me is that, although the 2016 version of the MDX now comes with the 9-sp transmission, the 2016 RLX kept the 6-speed. I wonder why they did that.
Welcome back Dan. Yes, I too enjoy enjoy RLX. As to your transmission question: Acura RLX is the last remaining Acura sedan built in and imported from Japan. The 6 speed transmission featured in RLX is also designed and manufactured in Japan expressly for RLX. Due to RLX increased horsepower and torque output, the closer ratio 9 speed is not required in maintaining the torque-band at lower RPM. The ZF transmission installed in MDX is manufactured in the U.S., and transfers torque to the road through a close ratio 9 speed interval. In sport mode, the RPMs are increased while the shifting pattern is reduced to 6 speeds, thus preserving a higher torque-band,, and greater throttle response throughout the shift-range.Note: MDX horsepower is -25 when compared to RLX. Take care.
I almost leased the TLX, but I heard complaints about the transmission. Do you have any info on the 2016 TLX-S? I'm hearing that it may arrive in the fall. I'm hoping they correct this transmission issue then.
Welcome Pete. Based on what we've learned from Acura and Acura TLX owners: The transmission issue was corrected after the initial 90 day production run. No, we don't have any information on the 2016 as of this posting. We've driven the identical transmission in the 2016 MDX and find it be flawless. We'll keep you up to speed with TLX development as that news is released to us buy Acura. Take care.
I was leasing a 2013 TL V6 with tech and manual transmission. This was a wonderful car in the sense that is almost a throw back to the old "muscle cars". When you revved to 4,000 rpm and beyond you got a great surge of power... lots of fun to drive with manual transmission. When I first got the new tlx with tech and 9 speed transmission, I really wondered if I would miss the old car. Well, this is a very different car and there is a noticeable small jerk between 2nd and 3rd gears, up or down. However, I have learned that you can drive the car 3 ways. 1) Light foot on the gas, the car accelerates faster than you would expect and is quite smooth. 2) Medium foot on the gas through low gear changes, and this is how you get the jerky shifts in 2nd and 3rd gears. 3) Heavy foot on the gas up to 2500 or 3000 rpm and you accelerate quickly and with no jerks, essentially skipping over those gears. So in "normal mode" my right foot mode 1 or 3 works quite well. It also works well in Sport Mode. In Sport + mode there really is no problem whether you use the shifters or not, as the car will hold the gear you arrive in. These ways of driving the car have solved any reservations I had about the 9 speed transmission. Furthermore, this new TLX has far more smooth power at low rpms, and much better gas mileage than my old TL. When you combine that with a smoother ride, much quieter car, and general good handling, plus new safety features, this is a much better overall car. Acura has tried to make a car for everybody here, from Eco to Sport +, which is actually much harder to do than having a one dimensional car.
I am intrigued in the findings about transmission on the TLX. I have clocked 4K miles so far. Going from Normal, Sport, to Sport+ driving. I have felt the transmission skip/an or push forward only once. I drive the I-4 TLX. I chose the TLX for many reasons. Test drove numerous cars around the price range including caddy, MB, Audi, and lexus. TLX is a bargain and a happy medium of all things I want. I still love it and would recommend it. It is kind of nice not being the same as everyone else on the block of BMW, Audi, and Volvos.
Good morning Ray. The transmission recall was targeted at the initial production run of 2015 TLX and most likely does not include your vin#. Please go to the Acura recall site and check you # against the list. Take care. And yes, I too enjoy the TLX.
Just a follow up to my previous posts. Just had TSB 15-021 applied to my transmission (clutch re-learn procedure) and so far it has made a world of improvement, feels like a totally different & much better transmission. The cold next winter will be the real test, but I'm hoping.
That's great news Tim. Thank you for sharing!
I am seeking help! I own 2 2015 TLX V6 models both have Transmission problems that have gone unsolved and as a customer it takes weeks between trying to help. I traded in a car so I have had to pay for train ticket and to use a third party qualified Transmission shop to verify my issues. Local dealership says if it was up to them they would put in new Transmission because they make money but it is control by Acura Corporate. I had another issue while driving I 75 near Atlanta and car cut off and back on leaving all warning lights active. Took it to the nearest dealership which claimed it was a glitch that can happen again but nothing to fix it. 1 car has ~2k miles of which the dealership has put on 500 of those miles. The other has about %11k miles.
We recently purchased a Canadian TLX "Tech" version, with the V6, 9 speed, SH/AWD. The car is very nice, powerful, smooth and quiet, however the transmission is clearly not up to an expected standard for this type of car. There are 3 issues: * When parking and shifting from Drive to Park and shutting off the engine, after releasing the brake the car rolls forward or back about a foot, depending on the grade - my wife hates this. * When shifting from Reverse to drive, there is far too much hesitation before the gear engages. * When passing or accelerating from a lower speed, nothing happens for at least 2 or 3 seconds - I have never experienced a car with this kind of lag.
Welcome John. That is not the "normal" operation standard for your car. I'm driving one today: Please put the transmission in the "Park" position prior to setting the electronic parking brake. There should be no forward roll after setting the parking brake. [Put the transmission in drive or sport mode prior to releasing the parking brake, if the system will allow it.] The delay in your transmission engagement and downshift is a mapping problem. There is a software upgrade in place, free of charge to the consumer. Please contact you local Acura dealer and force them into compliance. Take care.
I own a TLX V6 SH AWD Advanced with 4,500 miles and I have the shifting problem, It has a very hard shift between 2nd and 3rd and to a lesser degree between 1st and 2nd. I have taken the car in twice and had program changes made but they haven't had any noticeable effect on the problem. Because some people don't seem to have any shifting problems, I have to assume that I got one of the defective transmissions. Ruins the whole new car experience.
That's disapointing Dan. If you have a defective transmission, it is covered under your warrenty. Push Acura to replace it! Keep us posted.
Unfortunately Acura doesn't consider it a defect because they don't have the right solution yet. There is always the lemon law if it isn't soon resolved.
I had a problem where the trunk would sometimes mysteriously be opened after I got into the car. I discovered that as I was moving to sit down my right knee was hitting the trunk button (and sometimes the fuel button). I mounted a small stripe of hard plastic that keeps my knee from opening the trunk. Problem solved!
Welcome Dan. Thanks for the tip. I've encountered the open trunk syndrome myself. Happy driving!