HUNTSVILLE, Ark. -- The Pig Trail Scenic Byway -- twisty Arkansas 23 wiggling through the pine-studded Ozark Mountains with steep grades and scary hairpin curls -- serves as a serpentine test track to sample the road-hugging agility and athletic manners of the refreshed and restyled 2018 Acura TLX luxury sports sedan in new A-Spec tightly-tuned special edition.
The TLX debuted in Acura's 2015 line, replacing both the compact TSX and mid-size TL models in a mid-size package with premium features and sporty handling traits.
The TLX of 2018 vintage receives an edgy yet sleek sheet metal redo with styling cues lifted from Acura's NSX supercar. Note the revised diamond pentagon grille and signature 5-lamp Jewel Eye LED headlights mounted over the aggressive lower front fascia with a broad center air opening flanking round LED foglamps.
There's a sharpened and strafed down-sloping forward hood and sculpted forward fenders with shapely flanks in monochromic treatment interrupted by exaggerated round wheel wells 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 luxury sports sedan seem more like a spicy 2-door coupe.
Further, the 2018 TLX series spawns a performance-geared TLX V6 A-Spec edition rigged with exclusive design elements and content, plus sporty chassis tuning and a high-performance wheel and tire package.
All 2018 TSX models employ a rigid 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 has 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 with electronic brake distribution and electronic brake assist. All issues of TLX also stock Acura's vehicle stability assist equipment operating in conjunction with a traction control system.
Acura adds the AcuraWatch suite of advanced safety and driver-assistive technologies as standard equipment on all grades of TSX '18. Other standard equipment encompasses the Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity devices.
The 2018 TLX is available in front-wheel-drive (FWD) and all-wheel-drive (AWD) formats. The FWD models come with the Acura Precision All-Wheel Steer (P-AWS) system designed to help give the TLX greater agility and handling balance with independent left and right rear-wheel toe angle control. The 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 the 2018 TLX models have 4-cylinder and 6-cylinder formats.
The base engine for TLX is a 2.4-liter in-line four 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 with a torque of 182 lb-ft and links to an 8-speed dual-clutch transmission.
TLX also offers a high-tech 3.5-liter V6 with single-cam i-VTEC valvetrain system. The V6 develops tall muscle numbers -- 290 hp plus 267 lb-ft of torque -- and operates through a 9-speed automatic transmission featuring Sequential SportShift paddle shifters.
All TLX issues offer an optional Technology Package, as V6 models may be outfitted with the line-capping Advance Package of fancy luxe gear.
The new TLX 3.5 A-Spec rolls on 19-inch split 5-spoke alloy wheels wrapped by Michelin Primacy 245/40R19 tires. The performance edition has a retuned electric power steering system and revised damper settings. The A-Spec SH-AWD also gains a quicker steering ratio and stiffer spring rates plus a rear stabilizer bar for improved body control.
Acura adds flavor to the TLX 3.5 A-Spec with five exterior paint shades including the exclusive Still Night Blue Pearl, plus two unique interior color schemes -- Black with Alcantara seat and door inserts or Full Red with red leather everywhere. A-Spec models have the same features as the TLX 3.5 with Technology Package plus ventilated front seats, a wireless charging pad and LED ambient light piping.
Acura's MSRP figures for the 2018 TLX series extend from $33,000 to $45,750. The TLX 3.5 A-Spec/FWD/P-AWS lists for $42,800, as TLX 3.5 A-Spec/SH-AWD goes for $44,800.