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2015 Acura TLX i-4: Shades of Integra Type-R

Entry level 2015 Acura TLX retains the fun driving aspect of the outgoing 4 cylinder TSX while capturing the interior dimensions and polish of the TL. We believe that the 4 cylinder TLX will be the best selling midsize luxury sport sedan in Acura’s lineup.

Last week in Virginia we drove an upsized TLX i-4 that stirred memories of Acura’s iconic Integra Type R. Rev happy and road sticky, the entry level TLX generated smiles for miles.

Chuck Schifsky of Honda public relations asked, ‘if we were to give you a 2015 TLX, what car would you take?’ After doing a double take, I found myself scrambling for an answer as 300 miles of road testing clicked through the back roads of my mind. Not an easy question to answer, the entry level TLX brought back memories of Acura's Integra Type-R, we liked the car.

Surprisingly enough, after driving the fully loaded 3.5 V6 SH-AWD TLX with tech package, I found myself gravitating toward the simplicity and measurable sportiness of the normally aspirated 2.4 liter 1-VTEC DOHC 4 cylinder FWD. Coupled to Honda engineering development's(Japan) newly crafted dual clutched 8 speed, this car gave BMW a run for the money; I like BMW.

The thing is, Acura TLX smoked BMW 328i in cabin comfort, quiet, overall handling and ride performance. Yeh, I know, BMW is BMW. To double check my possible preconceived affection for the all new TLX, I took the wheel of a 2014 328I x-Drive Sedan.

While the 328i's turbocharged 2.0L 4 cylinder was impressive(V8 impressive,) I couldn't shake the TLX experience, me and co-driver Bean were hooked on the total package. Acura refers to this as the “3 P’s,” Proportion, Prestige and Performance. And, while all TLX variants hit the nail on the head, the 4 cylinder TLX returns Acura fans to the rev-happy days of the Acura Integra and Honda Type R. While Acura TLX was shy a few ponies of the BMW turbo 4, I soon came to learn that it didn't need it.

The engine, transmission and quality drive experience afforded through Acura P-AWS, state of the art front wheel drive, engineering changes to frame rigidity, suspension tuning and noise reduction places TLX in the upper echelon of premium entry level sport sedans.

Economy mandated attainable performance

In an era of the “downsized supersize,” Acura has created a very attainable yet measurably rewarding ownership and driving experience. with a beginning MSRP of $30,995, TLX arrives in its barest variant, a well equipped driving machine.

Fit and finish

While we've all read Acura haters downplay the styling aspects of the TLX, the car in person is stunning. This year Acura has come up with several new colors, complimenting and contrasting interior combinations.

On first visual the TLX design incorporates TL flavor and body line while pulling the car closer to the ground. Acura claims class leading aerodynamics. This car is slippery, yet cautiously cutting edge. pure Acura. Acura has retained the historic grin as well as the diminutive trunk fin while flawlessly integrating head and tail lighting into the body line. Just enough chrome has been integrated into the greenhouse to catch one’s eye.

Take a close look at the the side profile of the TLX, you'll see the work of a state of the art pannel bender developed specifically for the TLX. While I didn’t have a micrometer in hand, I will state with conviction that the panel fitment on this car is very near hand-built perfect.

Engine Specifications

TLX employs Honda’s venerable and mechanically bulletproof 2.4 L DOHC(dual overhead cam) i-VTEC( variable timed) high compression 4 cylinder for engine duty. Acura’s kicked the horsepower and torque up a notch on the TLX. 206 hp/182 lb-ft torque. Acura has has incorporated staged induction and direct injection to an already stellar performer, increasing pedal power( feels like a downshift) while reducing fuel consumption.

This is where TLX takes on Type R performance traits.( Are you smiling yet?) The weight of the FWD TLX(3492 lb with Tech) remains the same as the outgoing,smaller TSX. And yet Acura has increased the interior volume of the new ride while improving the comfort of the seats(nice) and rear seat legroom.

* Worlds first DCT with torque converter.

Taking an engineering trick or two from Honda Racing and Motorsports development, Honda engineering(Japan) has followed the lead of Ferrari, Lamborghini Porsche, Mercedes in race applications and placed a DCT in the chassis of a $30,000 Acura. Actually, Acura has improved the DCT by developing the world’s first 8 speed DCT with a torque converter. By doing so, TLX provides a 33% faster shift than a 5 speed automatic transmission, it’s impressive.

I can’t say enough about the performance aspects of Acura’s dual clutch 8- speed. In sport mode you’d be be hard pressed to outshift this computerized marvel. To say that this car’s performance is intuitive is a Grand Canyon sized understatement.

Crisp and exacting upshifts and downshifts with the 8 speed TLX is effortless. When placed in Sport +, the 4 mode IDS( Integrated Dynamics System) gives the driver split second control of this high revving( 6700 rpm Rev Limiter) twincam 4. When left in Sport , the TLX will resume from a stop in 1rst gear. The driver must utilize the steering wheel mounted paddle shifter to up or downshift. In Sport+ the 8 speed becomes a close ratio 6 speed. Switching back and forth between modes is seamless.

Left in regular or sport mode, the computer takes the 8 speed through its paces flawlessly. The torque converter insures drive smoothness rivaling the best automatic transmissions on the market today. On a downhill the TLX shifts down into bank turns and upshifts through acceleration, it holds a hill as well as a manual transmission. In Econ mode TLX takes on the personality of a well dressed Accord LX. Acura claims 35 mpg on the highway, we found no reason on the test drive to discredit this claim.You may read full specifications here.

Exiting the 290 hp Acura SH-AWD only minutes earlier, we found no disparity in power and handling characteristics experienced while driving the entry level TLX i-4.

Brakes and suspension

Acura has raised the bar on standard factory equipped brakes and suspension components. For 2015, TLX comes standard with race quality 12.6 inch ventilated disc brakes,(front) 12.5 rear, front and rear reactive suspension dampers, 25% greater body mount rigidity and greater torsional stiffness than the outgoing TL. This car handles extremely well while maintaining”flatitude.” We drove the TLX to the breaking point and noted zero brake fade.

Interior noise level

While the TLX V6 SH-AWD may be measurable quieter in the interior of the car, the sport exhaust note of the high revving 4 cylinder made this issue a mute one. Note: In normal drive mode while highway cruising, the interior noise level of the TLX i-4 is comparable to the V6 variant. By increasing frame rigidity, filling hollow frame cavities with sound foam while reducing deadweight and changing tire rubber compounds, Acura has achieved world-class quiet throughout the TLX line up. We did note a bit more trailing rear axle tire bounce in the FWD 4 cylinder, it was negligible.


The entry level TLX i-4 comes standard with state of the art all wheel steering, pretty cool stuff. When in a slow turn the rear wheels of TLX turn in the opposite direction of the front, thus slightly reducing the length of the cars track. At higher speeds the rear wheel turn in unison with the front of the car reducing frictional scuffing. The result is a quicker sweep, or when needed, a help with braking in a downhill sweep. love it.

Do you notice or hear the systems working in the TLX?

We've been asked by readers of Torque News about the finer workings of the TLX, We state the following: Acura has eliminated the drive-by wire- acceleration lag experienced in earlier generation Acura and Honda vehicles. We noted zero acceleration lag, brake fading, transmission glitch, torque steer or excessive engine vibration in TLX. The systems work seamlessly. I personally prefer a console mounted stick to the button drive modes found in the TLX V6 P-AWS and SH-AWD. The TLX-i-4 has a stick, I like it.


Yes, the entry level TLX features current generation personal connectivity as well as state of the art accident accident avoidance. You can read about it here.

In closing: I believe that TLX 1-4 brings Acura back to the heyday of the Acura Integra Type R. While that may be a bold statement, we suggest that before you test drive TLX, take the competition for a spin, look at the the $ bottom line and head over to Acura, arguable the best overall value in an economy driven sport sedan.


Ken Frazier (not verified)    August 10, 2014 - 10:56AM

We test drove a V6 TLX yesterday in Denver. It was very quite and rode smoothly. The brakes were responsive and the display was a marvel to look at and use. I did notice that the 9 speed trans was slow to respond to downshifts when you pressed the gas pedal. I didn't drive it long enough to use the paddle shifters. We are going to test drive the I-4 in a few weeks when they start coming in. We love our 2004 TL that has a 6 speed and Brembo brakes and would buy another 6 speed tomorrow. But Acura decided to eliminate that fun driving experience. We can only hope they will sell a manual next year. As far as fit and function, Acura has done it right. We do wish they would build more color choices and interior colors than their chart has to offer. A light metallic blue or green with a saddle interior would look great but nope. Many dark paint colors with interiors of a nearly white gray, light tan and an expresso color that only comes with black and white paint. I wish they would offer more combinations. The TLX looks like the best sports sedan for 2015. We've looked at all the others and they can't compare.

Parks McCants    August 11, 2014 - 1:39PM

In reply to by Ken Frazier (not verified)

Welome Ken. I believe you'll enjoy the TLX i-4, 8 speed with paddle shifters. Thanks for the detailed responce. Interesting view on color choices. Your 2004 TL sounds like a blast... Yes, moss green with a tan interior would be stunning.

Best of luck in your search.

Dude (not verified)    August 11, 2014 - 7:38PM

"While Acura TLX was shy a few ponies of the BMW turbo 4, I soon came to learn that it didn't need it. - "

Um...the 328i produces 240 horses, whereas the TLX 204.....hmmm....that is a shy a few ponies?....hmmm....and did not need where, in straight line acceleration?

Parks McCants    August 11, 2014 - 11:23PM

In reply to by Dude (not verified)

Hey Dude.. Once again, I'll say it, I love the 328i turbo 4.. Great engine. Where the TLX shines is in interior ergonomic, power asisted all wheel drive steering and the 8 speed automated manual transmission with paddle shifters, all work together very well. And then there's that price thing. Want more h.p.? The TLX V6 is rated @ 290 .. That should do it. Yeh.. for drag racing? probably the 328i.. For everything else I recommend the TLX.. Test drive one.

Carol (not verified)    August 11, 2014 - 10:33PM

Your reviews of the new TLX models are quite enthusiastic! We are planning on test driving the different versions as soon as the 4 cylinder arrives. You mention that the sh-awd version is measurably quieter than the 4 cylinder version but about the same when highway driving. Are you saying that it isn't quiet while driving in local traffic? Or does it vary with the different driving modes ? Our local dealer suggested I would not be happy with a 4cylinder since I am used to the 6 cylinder on my 2007 Acura ( which I love and is still a great looking car). Have you found any issue getting on the highway or passing cars with the 4 cylinder? Would the paddle shifters be wasted on an automatic driver? (I'm sure I could learn..). Thanks.

Parks McCants    August 11, 2014 - 11:33PM

In reply to by Carol (not verified)

Welcome Carol. My comment as to "quieter" is in relationship to the 4 cylinder engine when being driven agressively. As with all TLX models, the 4 cylinder comes with a drive-mode selector. In econo or regular driving mode, the interior noise level is comparable to that of the V6. It is quiet in city driving. Today's engine technology negates the noticable difference between V6 and 4 cylinder torque and power bands. It's a subtle difference worth a test drive. The TLX i-4 has no problems entering the freeway or passing cars. It's very quick. As to the paddle shifters. The car in regular drive mode is fully automated, and in-fact shifts quicker than you or I could. The paddle shifter is fun but not required to shift the car. Thanks for dropping in.

Carol (not verified)    August 19, 2014 - 7:27AM

In reply to by Parks McCants

Thanks for the reply. I have another question. Did you drive the 4 cylinder with the standard 17 inch wheels. Upgrading to larger wheels with the appropriate tires is expensive but I would consider it if it adds value to the car. I know the larger wheels look nicer, but how does the 18 inch wheels, or 19 inch for that matter affect the drivability of the car? Is there a difference in smoothness of the ride, increased traction, gas mileage, etc.? I could ask this of the dealer, but I suspect that $ may affect a salesman's ability to give an unbiased answer.

Parks McCants    August 19, 2014 - 11:25PM

In reply to by Carol (not verified)

Hi Carol. Acura has gone to great lengths to engineer the TLX in all trim levels to reach or exceed optimal performance. The car looks great in person. Example: Acura reformulated the tires to reduce road friction, and... removed 11 lbs of dead-weight from the disc brake assembly.( reduces wheel bounce and vibration sound transfer.) By changing the rim size, you generally off-set the increase in rim diameter by decreasing the height of the tire side-wall. This looks great, but generally stiffens the cars ride and increases road vibration transference to the interior of the car. Proceed with caution. Take the car out for an hour test drive, I think you'll like it, please let us know how it goes. Thanks...

Carol (not verified)    September 2, 2014 - 9:08PM

In reply to by Parks McCants

Finally got to test drive the V6 fwd and the i4 and we are seriously considering the i4-- we are waiting for the V6 sh-awd to arrive so we can test drive that one also. Unfortunately the dealer we went to has a very specific test drive route ( a 50mph highway and a back road that is fairly straight with small hills) so it was a little difficult to ascertain what it will really be like to enter a parkway or if it strains going uphill. I have to agree that both cars are very quiet and the i4 accelerates so smoothly, I get the sense that you wouldn't have to floor it to get up to speed on the parkway or to take on hills--I hope that is true. It seems to be very light on its feet so to speak. The car is as comfortable as can be and is much better looking than in photos. Re technology, I don't mind the two screens, and while the system isn't particularly intuitive, it has tons of features and the sound system is flat out awesome! The graphics may not be as nice as some other systems, but this one just sounds better than others I've heard. I will probably not have a problem making a decision as to which model I prefer (either way, the tech package is a must have), but choosing the color will be a different story! (Probably the blue if it looks good in the daylight). Thanks for all of your input, it has been helpful.

Geek (not verified)    August 28, 2014 - 11:21PM

I concur with your review. I was surprised by the results of your comparison and your conclusion that the TLX was better (my words) , but my wife and I concluded the same and we are not cost/ price constrained. You covered every aspect of the car of interest, and we validated that with 2 separate test drives, both the 4 and 6. Without hesitation we ordered a TLX and look forward to delivery. I am confident that we will be pleased and not at all concerned with how it will handle snow. My sole concern, not exclusive to the TLX, is the future reliability of the integration of electronic and mechanical systems. Regardless, a solid review

Ken Frazier (not verified)    August 29, 2014 - 5:51PM

In reply to by Geek (not verified)

Geek, you didn't say if you ordered the I-4 or the V-6. We've had a V-6 2004 TL six speed that we have loved since day one and are going to drive the I-4 tomorrow. The V-6 seemed okay but we like sporty and wish a 6 speed manual was still offered. So we will test flog both of them and see which wins. I will also test out the econ/normal/sport/sport+ modes to see how they work and feel. We also don't know if we need the Advance package either. The tech pkg may be fine. Enjoy your TLX.

Geek (not verified)    August 30, 2014 - 9:34AM

In reply to by Ken Frazier (not verified)

We ordered the I-4 with the technology package with zero regrets. I saw no compelling reason to buy the V6 since the I-4 delivered the power and performance we required. The tech package upgraded the interior with leather and came with a variety of features like side sensors that I know would be useful and all at a reasonable price. Although not mentioned, the I-4 comes with a classic gear shift in the center stack instead of console mounted push buttons. Gear shift in the Acura TLX is more straight forward than in many new cars e.g. BMW and Mercedes and somehow I think that moving from park to drive should be a no brainer process.

Acura seems to be confused or unclear how to market the TLX or who they want to appeal to. The TLX , BMW 3, Mercedes C class, Audi A (3/4) or Infiniti Q are not performance cars. They are upper scale vehicles that are well appointed, drive and handle well and have the comfort features most luxury and premium customers desire.

I did more research and visits to dealers than a sane person should but I did not want buyers regret.

If I read one more review that compares the TLX to the Acura's of old I am going to scream. The older Acura's were not selling well and the other car companies offered more compelling cars. If Acura thinks Sid Vicious is going to attract customers like me to the dealer they are nuts. The advertising and marketing is foolish, fortunately the car speaks volumes.

Bottom line is I could not come up with any rationale to select the V6 over the I-4, the I-4 delieved.

Ken Frazier (not verified)    September 2, 2014 - 11:15AM

In reply to by Geek (not verified)

I've only seen one TV ad for the TLX and it was pretty silly. Test driving and reading all the specs of the new features did it for us, not the ad. We liked the lighter feel of the I-4 but we were swayed by the added torque of the V-6. We live in Denver and know what it's like to load up a car and try to go over the pass of 12,000 ft. You need some torque. The 9 speed does it's job in any of the 4 modes. We finally bought one that just came in the day we were test driving. Color choices are limited but we loved the Espresso leather interior and got one with White pearl exterior. We are still doing all the set up of XM, driver 1 and 2 settings and enjoying the many cool features. Our favorites being the back up camera and blind spot detectors. Awesome car and we will keep it for at least a decade. Sorry Infinity, Lexus, Audi and BMW you are not worth the higher prices.

geek (not verified)    September 2, 2014 - 7:16PM

In reply to by Ken Frazier (not verified)

Great response. We truly were not overly price sensitive in our selection and focused on the car that we thought drove the best and suited our needs. We are also lucky that we could wait the dealers out not rushed to buy a TLX that was not exactly what we wanted.

I thought the V6 was very good, just more than what we needed. Believe it or not I liked having a conventional floor shift (in the I4) not that I found the push buttons objectionable. We also ordered the pearl white with the tan interior. Believe it or not we are still going back and forth on our trade in but worse case I know I can sell it privately and quickly.

Good luck and enjoy!

Carol (not verified)    September 2, 2014 - 10:31PM

In reply to by geek (not verified)

Interesting comment regarding your trade-in. Our dealer low balled us on a trade in a couple of years ago and my husband ended up buying a different brand ( that he was already considering anyway) . He mentioned that to the manager when we looked at the TLX the other day and said that he would do his best to make us happy-- but we aren't at that point yet so I don't know what the result will be. We also may end up selling privately--we already have a couple of people who may be willing to buy (2007 tl). Dealer trade in will likely be the easiest route, private sale might net more $ but no guarantee. We go back and forth on this matter too. BTW, your posts have been helpful too.

Geek (not verified)    September 3, 2014 - 3:10PM

In reply to by Carol (not verified)

Thank you. My wife claims and she is right, that I suffer from OCD with every major purchase. I believe it is up to the dealer to close the deal and sine they are selling the TLX at MSRP they can offer a reasonable price on a trade as detailed in KBB and other benchmarks. They do have the risk of allowing buyers to revisit their decision while you dispose of your car. I believe they count on buyers lusting for the new car and the ease of trading with a dealer and maximizing their return at our expense.

If you are buying the reduction in the sales price of your car will reduce the sales tax you will pay and that should be considered. Our car is likely worth $1,500+ more than the dealer offered so unless he closes that gap, we will deal with the sale of our car separately. Time is our friend so we can afford to conduct the transaction judiciously.

Good luck.

Whifi (not verified)    January 7, 2015 - 1:34PM

My money for the best sport sedan is going toward 15 WRX and STI. Acura is getting boring. If I was to be that boring, I would have bought IS350 instead. Still handles like a cake and stronger more reliable engine all the way. Acura used to excite me....not anymore.

Chris (not verified)    December 11, 2017 - 10:32PM

@Whifi - we own late models in both Acura TLX and Subaru Impreza - the quality/fit & finish of the Acura is far ahead of the Subaru. When you tested the Acura, I hope you remembered to change the Dynamic (IDS) mode to "Sport+"?'

@Parks McCants - I'm confused when you say the drive by wire throttle lag has been eliminated because that's my only beef with my new 2018 Acura TLX. (I own the 3.5L V6 FWD "Tech" model). In fact, it bothers me enough that I'm considering purchasing a Sprint Booster to reduce throttle lag.

Parks McCants    December 12, 2017 - 12:51AM

In reply to by Chris (not verified)

Welcome Chris. This article is ancient. However, in my latest drive review of the 2018 TLX A-Spec. I stand by the statement. Note: Your brain response is superior to the throttle response time of any car. Best of luck with the re-mapping, it should improve throttle response by a millisecond or two.