2015 Acura TLX V-6 Advance (CNET On Cars, Episode 54)
Cooley On Cars
The TLX, trying to sharpen up Acura's mission.
We'll demystify head-up displays because they're coming.
And the new thinking on distracted driving.
It's time to check the tech.
We see cars differently.
We love em on the road and under the hood, but also check the tech and.
And are known for telling it like it is.
Ugly is included at no extra cost.
The good, the bad, the bottom line.
This is cnet on cars.
Welcome to cnet on cars, the show all about high tech cars and modern driving.
I'm Brian Cooley.
If I were to do a top five of your most requested cars that we take a look at this year based on your email.
The Acura TLX would be pretty near the top.
At a time when Acura is trying to redefine where it sits in the world of automotive brands and what it really does uniquely, the TLX draws some pretty sharp lines.
Let's drive this all new model per your request and check the [text./g] This may look like a car.
It's actually a lot more than that.
This Gambit, from Acura, which as a brand.
Could use a little more definition to really help answer," What is an Acura?" And this is the TLX I think's gonna really do it.
All TLX's come standard with all-wheel steering, but optional is the all-wheel drive.
A v-six, like we have, starts at $36,100.
Then we load it up, cnet-style.
The text package is around $4 grand for navigation, ELS audio, forward collision warning, lane departure, blind spot, lane keep assist.
But if you want to get adaptive cruise with collision mitigation braking and technology to keep you from leaving the road, that's another $3,250.
Now inside we've got this Acura oddity of dual screens.
The one above responds to the controller.
The one below responds to your finger.
A little silly when you've got entertainment on both of them.
But it gets more interesting when you hit the nav button and now you've got full-screen nav above and a full touch entertainment rig below for example.
And it gets silly again if you want to type in an address and you get two.
Different keyboards, but in general I think most drivers are gonna appreciate the additional breathing room beyond that apps are limited to media apps, Pandora and aha which are well integrated with all the other audio that's smart, but if you're looking for other apps that are not about basically streaming you're not gonna find them here on an Acura yet.
You never lack for choice when it comes to media in recent Acura's.
And they back it up with the LS audio, which is one of the better performing amps and speakers I've listened to.
Siri eyes free is supported in your TLX, if you've got a modern iPhone.
The rear camera has three angles, all of which are sort of mushy in the day and sort of sensitive to light at night.
Now up here in the snout, we've got the 3.5 liter V6, as we mentioned earlier.
Let's leave that on.
267 pound feet of torque.
And we're coming out of an engine that, of course, has direct injection, variable valve timing, front wheel drive's the basic set up.
You can get all-wheel drive, and it's that super handling all-wheel drive that Acura does.
Which is a pretty.
Not only do you get super handling all wheel drive, you also get auto start stop on the engine to save fuel.
Interestingly without all wheel drive, you don't.
Therefore in our car we're looking at 21 city, 34 highway.
0 to 60 in a pretty sprightly 5.8 seconds.
Let's go for a ride and see how it feels.
So does this pause stuff work?
I think it really does [INAUDIBLE] Maybe it's the power of suggestion, just reading about it's got me thinking it.
But, as you come into a corner, the rear end gets real tighty, it kinda tucks itself in.
That to me feels like some rear wheel steering, not any kind of torque vectering because we don't have that.
This car doesn't have the all wheel drive.
Now we do have the [INAUDIBLE] of two engines of course.
The power is ample, but it's not overwhelming.
This isn't the kind of car that has an edge to its power.
Even if you get into four plus which really sharpens things up, it's a nice car, it's a sophisticated delivery of.
Power not brutal.
Find a car [UNKNOWN].
Yeah that rear end is doing something special that's me.
I'll tell ya I'm torn between this here box and the DCT that you get with the four which I imagine is sharper this one's just a little too behin- Behind the engine.
You've got great response from this motor and then the gear changes.
Take about a heartbeat too long going either direction.
Last impression I'll leave you with on this car is that it feels quite light.
Part of that is how the throttle's mapped, how the transmission shifts.
But also how the suspension is keeping things from plowing.
It's overall a very tidy experience
Juggling a phone while driving, not a good idea in anyone's book.
But as this habit has entered our driving culture, why are accident rates still going down?
The new thinking on distraction, in a moment.
As cellphones have taken off, so has handheld calling behind the wheel, doubling from around 3% to about 6% of drivers observed between 2000 and 2005.
But since then, it seems to have leveled off.
At around 5 or 6%.
Observed texting behind the wheel has increased from 0.2%, 2005 to about 1.5% observed in 2012.
[NOISE] And at the same time, auto accident fatalities and reported crashed keep falling.
Part of that is due to separate innovations [UNKNOWN] and safety technology but two other things seem to be going on here.
The insurance institute for highway safety and Virginia tech transportation institute found that while juggling a phone is inarguably risky, it also reduces other distracting driver behaviors.
Talking to passengers declines from twelve and a half percent to a little over five.
fiddling with climate or radio controls drops from 3.6% to 1.3.
Eating behind the wheel goes from 3% to less than one.
Even talking, singing and dancing drops dramatically from over 5% to just over two.
Secondly they found that drivers on the phone tend to slow down.
An average of five to six miles per hour.
Which may infuriate you behind them.
That does buy them some reaction time.
Nobody says handheld phone use behind the wheel is a good idea but distraction has been here before the phone and it is the enemy not just the phone.
So it pays to double check that as you put the phone down you aren't just busying your hands, eyes and mind with something else.
Welcome back to CNet on Cars.
Coming to you from our home at the Mount Cam Motor Club, just north of the Golden Gate bridge.
Well, until recently, head-up displays in cars were, a, kinda futuristic, or b, found only in really expensive cars.
And even at that, they looked pretty awful, like something ripped out of an old Atari machine.
Now things have changed.
Head up displays are looking great, portraying very useful information, and showing up in a lot of cars at different price point.
Makes for a timely and important car tech 101.
Most of us know them courtesy of the Pentagon.
The head of display.
But in the car they're actually after the same thing providing situational awareness.
It really is projecting a transparent image but that image is also focused out in the distance.
So then when you view information the road stays in focus at the same time.
So everything is within your field of view
The automotive HUD actually dates back to the late 80s.
The Olds Cutlass Supreme had a very simple one, a very crude one.
By the late 90s, we saw a color HUD on a Corvette.
And in the late 2000s, they started came into their own.
We started seeing some really nicely rendered one on BMWs, in particular.
With all kinds of interesting info graphics and really sharp colors.
Today's HUDs give you glanceable access to a fairly common set of information points.
First off is speed, they almost all do that.
Navigation prompts are very common, certainly when destination is entered.
RPM shows up on some cars that have an advanced sport profile.
A few will show g forces, again.
This is a performance car thing.
Now generally eschewed in HUD design is information that is not mission critical to the job of driving.
So don't look for media information.
Meta tags about your music and such.
You don't need that in front of the road.
Climate settings, ditto.
And fuel, temperature, or other gauge indicators other than speed and RPM.
So far, still live on the instrument panel.
One of the biggest changes in HUDs is not the HUD itself but in the way they're being adopted.
This is a big deal.
This year 2014, some 38 models of cars are available in the US that have a HUD, either standard or optional.
That's nearly three times the number of cars available with a HUD five years ago, according to Edmunds.
It's a bellwether number, if not entirely watershed.
And there's an aftermarket.
In a country where 16 million or so new cars are sold each year, but 230 million cars are on the road, this is important.
Not long ago, Garmin had a unit you'd sit right up here where a factory HUD would go.
And it would give you a very text oriented readout largely around navigation, of course.
Startup Nabi is bringing a much richer version of that idea to market soon.
Theirs is going to deal with media, communications as well as nav, of course, and do it with gesture recognition as well as voice commands.
You use hand gestures and your voice to control it.
Read new text.
There's a major problem with many of us being addicted to our phone.
And you know, not wanting to stop using our phone while, while we're driving a car.
So, we really wanted to make using your phone in the car dramatically better and more intuitive.
But also far more safer.
And we think, you know, the head up display technology is a key part of the answer to that problem.
The barriers that HUD technology is conquering in the dash are largely three.
First there's size.
The space behind your gauges, where the projector needs to live, is tiny.
Hot, and under high demand by a lot of other stuff.
But the tech is getting smaller, or lives on top of the dash.
Then there's cost, it's coming down as makers of the core technology are gambling on mass manufacturing, given the efficiencies we've seen before.
And the aftermarket tech is arriving in the few hundred dollar range.
And there's comprehension.
Consumers are becoming aware of what a HUD can do, and are developing a visual information appetite that it needs to satisfy.
You can thank a lot of this to the smart phone and tablet revolution of the last decade.
Now the end game on HUDs is to make them a primary display, not a secondary or in many cases non-existent display today.
And then that logically leads to getting rid of other displays.
The cell CD in the center console.
This dashboard in front of you.
the instrument panel.
Maybe those don't need to be there at all.
It frees up designers to do perhaps more interesting things, or more contextual things with the information in our cars.
Later in the show we're gonna close the loop on this HUD topic with my top five reasons that the average car really should have one.
Someone once said to me that one of life's true great experiences is riding with the roof down in a bright red Ferrari.
I love the sound of the musical V8 to right behind my head.
The [UNKNOWN] 8 Spider gives that experiencing the noise.
Because the noise in the cabin I would say is very
Buy more from the Xcar team of CNET UK.
Welcome back to CNET on cars.
I'm Brian Cooley, time for some of your email.
This time it comes in from Eli S. in Los Angeles, who writes.
Dear Brian, what are the five coolest pieces of technology available in cars today?
How do they work and what cares do they come in?
Well that's a bit of a big question isn't it [LAUGH] but thank you for asking you've raised the bar rather high its a big area to look at right now Eli cars have become motivated and marketing by their technology as much as any other aspect of the vehicle take a look at some of their really glossy big dollar marketing and notice how the tech these days is often played ahead of performance above styling even above safety aspects.
Now also make sure you catch our December 5th episode of CNET on Cars.
When I'm gonna do a top five car technologies to look for in the year ahead, through 2015.
That's gonna interest you a lot.
Well speaking of top fives, we've got one coming up now that ties back to our discussion of head up display technology earlier in the show.
Now regardless of whether it's hands on the wheel, eyes on the road, mind on the task, we've gone through all these avenues trying to manage distraction.
The bottom line is, there's more information in the cockpit.
So the thinking goes, get it up in front of the driver.
So it and the road are in the same plane of focus.
Here for the doubters are the top five reasons why head up displays do that so well and are imminent
Number five, eliminate the center console screen.
You heard me.
Get rid of that center display.
I put this low because yes, even in the car business, this is considered heretical talk.
But it is talk.
You see that big, flat immovable LCD right in the middle of your car.
It's kind of a big, flat necessary evil for car designers.
If they can get rid of that thing and have more creative flexibility in the middle of the dash, they'll do it.
I hope it just doesn't mean more cup holders, though.
Number four, gesture control in the car.
One of the keys to powering future gesture control of our dashboard gear is to have a tightly integrated interface.
Otherwise, you're flailing your arms all over, not sure what the car was expecting from you, or getting confirmation of what it thinks you just flailed for.
A head up display can be that easy channel.
Information in context.
Think about it.
All the information your car presents to you is basically in the wrong place.
Speed isn't shown laid on the side of the road.
Navigation's not shown laid out on the lane.
Even your engine temperature is not displayed on the hood.
Nothing else is such a digital Picasso in your life.
But HUD could make things live where they should be.
Every time you glance at a gauge or a screen you have to dramatically change your eye's focal plane and your center of focus.
And then do it again when you look back out the windshield and keep doing over and over, and by the way it doesn't get faster as drivers get older.
A HUD let's your eyes stay in largely the same plane of focus and the same scope of view seeing everything.
Number one is of course the holy grail, eyes on the road because you can't react to what you didn't see.
HUD technology for the first time will let drivers see everything it wants integrating the information of driving with the optics of driving while you carry out the physical actions of driving in many ways the fact that cars were born before HUD technology is kind of a sad accident of history.
Thanks for watching, I really appreciate you being here.
And don't forget, wherever you like to watch video, we're probably there.
Go to YouTube, you can subscribe to our CNET On Cars channel.
Head over to your Roku box for example, and search CNET On Cars, to find it on any of the channels there.
And don't forget to go to cnet.com/apps to find all of our content, including On Cars, on our mobile platform.
I'll see ya next time we check the deck.
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