Due for a refresh in model year 2018, the Acura TLX soldiers through 2017 as a stylish and more affordable alternative to premium rivals like the BMW 3-Series, Lexus IS, and Audi A4. While it's nimble with the four-cylinder and potent with the available V6, the TLX still can't elevate itself to the level of its rivals.

Pricing and Equipment

The Acura TLX is a midsize four-door premium sedan, offered in one grade with two package options. Front-wheel drive is standard, all-wheel drive is available and there are two engine choices to consider.

Prices start at $32,950 (including $950 for destination). Add $3,450 for the V6 engine and another $2,200 for all-wheel drive.

The Technology Package ($4,050) adds a premium leather-trimmed interior, navigation, a 10-speaker ELS Studio audio system, and driver assistance features such as forward collision warning and lane keeping assist.

An Advance Package ($3,200) requires upgrading to the V6 engine and also selecting the Technology Package. It adds LED fog lights and puddle lamps, heated and ventilated front seats, and multiple driver assistance features, including collision mitigation braking, adaptive cruise control, and front and rear parking sensors.

We think most customers will start with the base engine and add the technology package ($4,050). The package adds a premium leather-trimmed interior, navigation with 3D view, a 10-speaker ELS Studio audio system, and driver assistance features such as forward collision warning and lane keeping assist. Models equipped with this package offer:

  • Navigation
  • 10-speaker ELS audio system
  • Bluetooth connectivity
  • Forward collision warning
  • Lane keep assist
  • Blind spot information system
  • Rear cross traffic monitor
  • JewelEye LED headlights
  • Perforated leather seats

The 2017 Acura TLX is available with two engine choices:

A 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine is standard, producing 206 horsepower and 182 pound-feet of torque. Paired with an eight-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission with paddle shifters, this engine allows most TLXs to return 24 mpg in the city and 35 mpg on the highway in EPA testing.

A 3.5-liter V6 engine with 290 horsepower and 267 foot-pounds of torque. Paired with a nine-speed automatic transmission with paddles, this model makes an EPA-estimated 21 mpg in the city and 31 mpg on the highway.

Performance Pros

Acura TLX
  • For a base engine, the four-cylinder is surprisingly sharp and crisp. The eight-speed dual-clutch automatic is a great pairing, delivering clean upshifts and downshifts.
  • The TLX is a dancer, especially with the lighter four-cylinder engine. The steering is taut and accurate, and the ride remains composed when traversing bumps. At the same time, it stays flat in the corners and manages the body's weight well when accelerating out of the bends.
  • Highway fuel economy is very good with either engine. The four-cylinder delivers 35 mpg highway and the V6 is just one mpg lower.

Performance Cons

  • We found the nine-speed automatic indecisive with a long lag when switching from reverse to drive.
  • The nine-speed automatic transmission, standard on the V6, is indecisive and slow to respond.
  • The available Super-Handling All-Wheel Drive curbs wheelspin from the V6, but it also adds 300 pounds of fat.

Interior Pros

  • The best seats in the Acura are up front, exactly where you’d expect them. They are plush and supportive, although not particularly remarkable.
  • Cabin storage is one of this sedan’s strong suits, with door bins, a glove box and a large center console available.
  • Wind and road noise are virtually non existent, even up to speeds as high as 80 mph.

Interior Cons

Acura TLX
  • Though Siri Eyes Free is available, Apple CarPlay is not. Expect that to change as part of the TLX's 2018 refresh.
  • Although the driver has an attractive instrument panel and a dual-screen center stack at the ready, the front passenger has nothing but an expansive and empty black dashboard to consider.
  • The rear section of the cabin is plain, except in V6 models with leather trim.

The Most Pleasant Surprise

The base model is pleasantly peppy and fun to drive with a nimbler handling character. We know it's auto journalist cliche, but the smaller engine really is the better all-around option.

The Least Pleasant Surprise

You can’t get the Advance Package if you want the base engine. Instead, Acura requires buyers to shell out an extra $3,450 for the V6.

The Bottom Line

The Acura TLX costs less than European-badged models, but it doesn’t rise to the level of the BMW 3-Series or the Mercedes-Benz C-Class. Still, if your heart is set on the TLX, the base engine with the Technology Package is an ideal place to shop.