Car Review: 2018 Acura TLX SH AWD A Spec

It’s not like Acura is the only upscale brand to have its best-selling automobile taking a back seat to an even better selling crossover. No, in the same boat one could add Audi, Cadillac, Infiniti, Jaguar, Lexus, Volvo and several others. Of course, manufacturers are to blame for this predicament; they’ve done too good a marketing/advertising job convincing consumers that only a crossover in their driveway will satisfy their needs, wants and desires.

This is messed up, and it’s not because I have any dislike of crossovers, upscale or otherwise. Some are actually a kick to drive. But there’s something particularly enjoyable about spending time in a well-engineered mid-sized sedan, especially ones that find the right balance of sport and luxury. And I thank Acura for this because it was time spent with its second-generation 3.2TL, produced from 1999 to 2003, when I first discovered this ideal balance — and it came with a significantly lower price point that caused a lot of hand wringing amongst its competition.

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For the 2015 model year, Acura replaced the TL and its slow-selling TSX with the TLX, a ballsy move in that not only did one car have to do the work of two, it had to revitalize to Acura brand while competing in one of the most competitive and scrutinized automobile segments. Ultimately, while it hasn’t set the world ablaze, it has done well for Acura, putting up solid numbers.

This brings us to the 2018 TLX, refreshed and reflecting what Acura says is its new design direction. More to the point, the tester is the new A-Spec variant, which “amps up the sporty character of TLX and features exclusive design elements inside and out, along with key enhancements to chassis tuning and wheel/tire specification.”

That’s painting with broad strokes, though, with more than a smattering of PR hyperbole thrown in. From an engine output point of view, the A-Spec is no different from the rest of the TLX lineup. That means a mild 206-horsepower, 2.4-litre four-cylinder for the front-wheel-drive model; but a far more potent 290-horsepower, 3.5L V6 and a nine-speed automatic transmission are standard with the SH-AWD all-wheel drivetrain. Given that the tester — its lengthy trim designation is V6 SH-AWD Tech A-Spec — weighs a fairly trim 1,742 kilograms — more ponies are superfluous. Acceleration is strong, particularly in the mid- and higher ranges, the normally aspirated V6 making its power easily.