Cutting a dash. With sharp angles but less of the fussiness seen on previous Acura designs, the TLX sedan is attractive and aggressive in equal measure. From the front, it apes Volvo’s Thor’s-hammer daytime running lights, with a compact radiator flanked by three additional lower air intakes. A mixture of chunky or spindly wheels adds to an impressive side profile with its bulging haunches, while the Type S performance model has quad tailpipes plus a rear spoiler that divides opinion.

There are fewer sharp edges in the cabin, with soft curves dominating the central instrument binnacle. Compared to the minimalist touchscreen interfaces in other sedans, this is something of a throwback – you’d struggle to find a particular button in a hurry. Still, there’s plenty to admire – the contrasting materials, the way the glovebox swoops down to the transmission tunnel, and the chunky flat-bottomed steering wheel. Everything has a real air of quality, as you’d expect from Honda’s premium brand.

A light touch needed. The centrally-mounted infotainment system has a 10.2-inch screen and full smartphone integration. It works well in isolation, but controlling it is something of a challenge. While other manufacturers have gone for either touchscreen and/or rotary control knobs, Acura has settled on a touchpad and drive mode knob. Instead of a conventional laptop-style trackpad, you have to tap the area of the pad pertaining to the portion of the screen you want to access.

Repeated use makes this setup much more intuitive, and some Acura owners swear they wouldn’t go back to a touchscreen now. For the unconvinced, there’s voice control as well, and the plethora of physical dash buttons means not everything needs to be accessed through the touchpad.

Strong performance. In isolation, the two-liter turbocharged gas engine is an impressive performer, applying its power to the road through the front wheels. It generates 272 horsepower, hitting 60 from standstill in less than six seconds and seamlessly up-changing through a smooth ten-speed automatic transmission. That might sound like too many gears, but it does a good job of extracting optimal performance from that creamy powerplant without disrupting cabin tranquility. Quick and responsive steering improves driver enjoyment, while optional adaptive dampers and all-wheel drive (the latter a $2,000 upgrade) help to disguise this car’s hefty 4,200-lb weight.

You’d be happy to live with the standard engine, but the Type S model blows it into the weeds. Mated exclusively to all-wheel drive and producing 355 hp, this three-liter turbocharged V6 knocks on the door of BMW M-car performance. You wouldn’t take it to a racetrack in preference to the sublime M3 or M4, but it’s a fine performer nonetheless. Prodigious power is reined in with enhanced brakes and a sense of balance even midway through a cambered corner.

Prioritizing safety. Not to be outdone by the rapidly rising safety levels of rival sedans, the TLX has achieved a five-star NHTSA rating and an IIHS Top Safety Pick+ rating. Standard safety equipment includes automatic high beams and emergency braking, active lane control, and adaptive cruise. It’s also worth noting that the brakes in Type S models are extremely proficient, though lesser models are hardly slow to stop, either. Even passive safety aspects like outward vision are better than average, without compromising aesthetics from outside. Our only criticism is that features like blind-spot monitoring and parking sensors are optional rather than standard, while you’ll need to spend $45,000 on the Advance trim to benefit from a surround-view camera system.

Final thoughts. For buyers seeking a characterful and engaging sedan, the TLX has a great deal of merit. Every model is well equipped, the Type S offers blistering performance and excellent road-holding, and safety is strong across the board. Its distinctive outward appearance doesn’t compromise internal visibility, and it’s a few blind spot sensors away from offering superb standard safety.

We do have a few criticisms of this car. The infotainment controls are an acquired taste but can be mastered with practice, while the excellent performance from those creamy engines blunts fuel economy. It’s also a shame that navigation is bundled into a $4,000 Technology package alongside superfluous features like bigger wheels and leather seats – the synthetic leather on cheaper trims is perfectly fine – and much better for the planet.

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