One of these days, Acura will figure out how to build a characterful, attractive, fun-to-drive sedan. That day is not today, as the 2018 Acura TLX is just too short on character and not as fun to drive as its competitors. Still, it's a tech-laden, comfortable take on the small-ish luxury sport sedan, and that's good enough to at least warrant a test drive.

Best Value

Tempting as the V6-powered, all-wheel-drive-equipped Acura TLX is, the reality is that the base 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine is a better all-around choice. With just 206 horsepower – 84 fewer than the TLX's 3.5-liter V6 – the TLX's starter engine is lighter, more efficient, and works alongside an eight-speed dual-clutch automatic that's better, smarter, and more responsive than the nine-speed auto that accompanies the higher-end engine.

The bad news about passing on the V6 is that you're giving up on some likable features in the Advance Package – hopefully you're okay living without a surround-view camera, heated/vented front seats, a heated steering wheel, and remote start, among others. With the base TLX, you'll be on the hook for at least $33,950 (including a $950 destination charge), but you'll want to spend another $3,700 for the Technology Package. For that reasonable price, it adds Milano leather upholstery, navigation with real-time traffic, a 10-speaker ELS audio system, and blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert. All told, you'd be out the door for $37,650.

  • Model:2018 Acura TLX 2.4 Technology
  • Engine:2.4-liter four-cylinder
  • Output:206 hp/182 lb-ft
  • Transmission:Eight-speed dual-clutch transmission
  • MPG: 23 city/33 highway
  • Exterior color:Bellanova White Pearl
  • Interior color:Ebony
  • Options:Technology Package ($3,700, Milano leather upholstery, rain-sensing wipers, navigation with real-time traffic, AcuraLink telematics, 10-speaker ELS audio, HD radio, blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert).
  • Base Price:$33,950
  • As Tested:$37,650

Performance Pros

Acura ILX
  • Revvy, smooth four-cylinder base engine – this is Honda's engine building at its finest.
  • If you go for the V6, there's plenty of power and an ear-pleasing exhaust note.
  • Eight-speed DCT is quick and predictable.
  • The four-cylinder feels really balanced and poised under hard driving.
  • New A-Spec trim is only available with the V6, but adds a lot of visual excitement and some practical performance improvements.

Performance Cons

  • V6 is thirsty, returning 20 miles per gallon in the city.
  • The nine-speed just isn't as smart or responsive as the base transmission.
  • Super-Handling All-Wheel Drive adds capability, but it also adds weight.

Interior Pros

  • Cabin is still a clean, attractive place with high-quality materials.
  • Seats are super supportive and comfortable over long stretches.
  • Updated infotainment is a big improvement, with faster, more responsive performance.

Interior Cons

Acura ILX
  • Dual-screen center stack still isn't a very attractive.
  • Cabin looks kind of boring and conservative.

Our Favorite Thing

Acura's visual update for 2018 is a big help. The latest TLX and its prominent black grille still isn't classically beautiful, but it's a marked improvement on the brand's polarizing shield-nose grille.

Our Least Favorite Thing

The TLX is a very difficult car to get excited about. It's perfectly fine at everything it does, but it's too anonymous and lacking in character to really stand out in a segment so defined by personality.

Right For

People that want rock-solid reliability will dig the Honda-built Acura TLX. Properly maintained, the TLX will likely run until the end of time.

Wrong For

Acura ILX

Acura just doesn't have the brand cache of some of its rivals, and that's going to be a problem for people that put a lot of stock in the badge on their car's nose.

The Bottom Line

As an affordable, well-equipped alternative to mainstream luxury sedans, the TLX excels. But as a luxury sports sedan that will tantalize customers with its charm, it falls disappointingly short.