SWIFTWATER, Pa. -- Twisty state route 611, a blacktop course slithering through the Pocono Mountains of Pennsylvania, works like a Formula One race course to challenge both driver and car in tests we devised to sample the aggressive character of the new Acura TLX sports sedan equipped with Acura's SH-AWD (Super-Handling All-Wheel-Drive) sticky-tire hardware.
The TLX, replacing both the compact TSX and mid-size TL models in Acura's line for 2015, combines sporty handling traits and premium features in a mid-size sedan package.
Everything about the configuration of TLX is new -- platform and structure, engines and transmissions, suspension and steering mechanisms, body styling and cabin content, on-board electronics and safety equipment.
Apply a tape measure to TLX and the numbers reveal a package size fitting in the mid-size class with a wheelbase of 109.3 inches and wheel track width of 62.8 inches front and 63.1 inches rear, the car body stretching to 190.3 inches long, a body width of 73 inches and the roofline rising to 57 inches.
The 5-seat passenger compartment contains 93.3 cubic feet of space with 13.2 cubic feet of trunk volume.
The new exterior styling reflects subtle lines and subdued paint colors in the manner of a sophisticated -- and expensive -- vehicle. TLX features a streamlined body with sculpted down-sloping forward hood, a raked windshield and arching roofline. Shapely flanks in monochromic treatment break for exaggerated round wheelwells as side doors blend into the panels due to black roof pillars on each side which disguise the 4-door format and make Acura's newest sedan seem more like a sporty 2-door coupe.
Wheels are positioned near corners of a rectangular body for a sporty posture, and the low hood line enhances forward visibility for the driver. A front fascia houses integrated foglamps and on front corners Acura's signature Jewel Eye headlights utilize an array of high-intensity LED lamps to deliver outstanding down-the-road visibility.
All 2015 TSX models get an all-new unibody platform with a double wishbone front and multi-link rear suspension system to deliver excellent ride, handling and control.
The electric power steering (EPS) system scores a quick-ratio rack and pinion setup with speed-sensing variable assistance.
And a brake disc posts at each wheel and links to a 4-channel anti-lock brake system (ABS) with electronic brake distribution (EBD) and electronic brake assist (EBA). All issues of TLX also stock Acura's vehicle stability assist (VSA) equipment operating in conjunction with a traction control system (TCS).
The TLX is available in front-wheel-drive (FWD) and all-wheel-drive (AWD) layouts. FWD models come with the Acura Precision All-Wheel Steer (PAWS) system designed to help give the TLX greater agility and handling balance. AWD models bring Acura's computer-managed SH-AWD equipment which can disburse the powertrain's torque not only to wheels fore and aft but the left or right ones too. It's always engaged and enables the vehicle to maneuver on wet or dry pavement with the uncanny agility of a wily sports car.
Powertrains for 2015 TLX models have 4-cylinder and 6-cylinder formats.
TLX's base engine is a 2.4-liter in-line-4 plant with direct injection and Honda's twin-cam i-VTEC (intelligent variable value timing and lift electronic control) valvetrain system. It generates 206 hp at 6800 rpm with torque of 182 lb-ft at 4500 rpm and links to a new 8-speed dual-clutch transmission (8DCT).
TLX also offers a high-tech 3.5-liter V6 engine with single-cam i-VTEC valvetrain system. The V6 develops tall muscle numbers -- 290 hp at 6200 rpm plus 267 lb-ft of torque at 4500 rpm -- and operates through a new 9-speed automatic transmission featuring Sequential SportShift.
All TLX issues list upgrades to a Technology Package, while V6 models may be outfitted with the line-capping Advance Package of fancy luxury. Technology Package gear includes the Acura Navigation System with Voice Recognition and rearview camera, AcuraLink real-time traffic and weather radar mapping, a 490-watt Acura/ELS Studio audio system with hard-disk drive, Forward Collision Warning (FCW) system, Lane Keeping Assist System (LKAS) and Blind Spot Information (BSI) system.
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