NEW YORK -- Acura's midsize TL sedan gets a name change, bringing its moniker in line with the ILX, RLX, MDX, and RDX. (Acura really likes its Xs.) Aside from the name change, there doesn't seem to a whole lot that's strictly new, but changes under the surface and a whole lot of tweaks add up to big changes for the 2015 Acura TLX.
For starters, the TL's 3.5-liter V-6 has been revised to now output 290 horsepower and 267 pound-feet of torque (10 more ponies than before and 13 more pound-feet) in the TLX and is now mated with a nine-speed automatic transmission that is controlled via a unique push-button Electronic Gear Selector in place of a traditional lever shifter. The 3.5-liter is also now the top-tier engine available for the TLX, bumping the old 305 horsepower 3.7-liter off of the options list.
Joining the the V-6 is the 2.4-liter in-line four-cylinder engine that we've seen previously under the hood of the ILX, TLX, and Honda Civic Si. In this incarnation, the engine outputs 206 horsepower and 182 pound-feet of torque. The engine is mated with an eight-speed dual clutch automatic transmission.
The four-banger is available only in a front-wheel drive configuration that utilizes the automaker's precision all-wheel steering (P-AWS) system. P-AWS allows the TLX's computers to independent adjust left and right rear-wheel toe angle, effectively steering the rear end of the vehicle to boost maneuverability and stability as needed.
The V-6 is also available with P-AWS or with the latest generation of the automaker's Super Handling All-Wheel Drive (SH-AWD) system, but not both. This generation of SH-AWD is lighter than before, is now hydraulically controlled, and offers increased power to the rear and torque vectoring across the rear axle.
The suspension, braking, and an alphabet soup of stability and traction control systems have been upgraded as well to work with the the new transmissions, P-AWS, and SH-AWD systems. Driver selectable modes -- Econ, Normal, Sport, and Sport+ -- give the person behind the wheel a bit of control over how the various vehicle systems perform.
Surrounding that powertrain is a chassis and body that Acura says is all new. Despite being 3.8 inches shorter overall from nose to tail, the TLX retains the same wheelbase as the previous model. Most importantly, the new car is about 145 pounds lighter and about 15 percent more aerodynamic than the outgoing TL.
Engine improvements, a lighter chassis, and fuel-saving tech (including anti-idling, a stop-start system that uses active engine mounts for smooth restarts) should net the TLX improved fuel economy. Acura estimates between 24 city and 35 highway mpg for the 2.4-liter and 21 city and 31 highway mpg for the V-6 SH-AWD.
Up front, the TLX features the automaker's "Jewel Eye" full LED headlamps that wowed us on the MDX. Throughout, the sedan gets access to Acura's full suite of passive and active safety technologies. There's forward collision warning and collision mitigation automatic braking, lane-departure warning and lane-keeping assist, adaptive cruise control, and blind-spot monitoring. Looks like all of the bases are covered there.
Dashboard tech is built around Acura/Honda's dual-screen infotainment system, which splits control between a 7-inch color touch screen, a slightly smaller nontouch display, and a bank of physical controls. Navigation, app integration (including Pandora and Aha connectivity), and the AcuraLink suite of connected services are all accessible via this system. Premium audio comes in the form of an optional 455-watt, 10-speaker Acura/ELS Studio system. HD Radio tuning, Bluetooth connectivity, and Siri Eyes Free control all make an appearance in the spec list as standard features.