Ignition

2018 ACURA TLX SH- AWD ELITE A- SPEC L

Story and Photograph­y by Lee Bailie

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ooking at the 2018 Acura TLX,

I can't help but think back to the 2016 Detroit Auto Show when Honda's luxury brand unveiled the Precision Concept, a stunningly gorgeous sedan concept that was the talk of the show.

If that's the concept car, I thought, then imagine what exciting production cars will spring forth from it!

Well, here we are almost two years later and all Acura has done with the Precision Concept is take its front end and liberally apply it to its roster of existing models.

The first model to get the Precision Concept `treatment' was the 2017 MDX SUV. The TLX and 2018 RLX full-size sedan are up next, with the forthcomin­g 2019 RDX SUV to follow. Diamond pentagon grilles for everyone!

Now, let me be clear – the front ends of these new Acura models look a lot better, in my view, than their predecesso­rs. The last decade has not been kind to Acura noses – remember the `power plenum' grille? – so the diamond pentagon is a step in the right direction.

Combined with a new aluminum hood and more powerful Jewel LED headlights, LED daytime running lights, front turn signals and fog lights, Acura designers have successful­ly breathed new life into a design that had gone somewhat stale.

Acura has also upped the ante on the content front. Acurawatch, the company's suite of safety and driver assistance tech (lane keeping assist, forward collision warning, adaptive cruise control, collision mitigating braking system, etc.) is standard across the entire 2018 model range.

Apple Carplay and Android Auto also come standard as does the On Demand Multi-use Display (ODMD 2.0), a 7-inch touchscree­n that governs most climate and entertainm­ent functions that Acura claims is 30 percent faster than the unit in the outgoing car. Thankfully, separate hard keys remain for functions such as front / rear defrost, temperatur­e and there's even a round volume knob for the stereo!

Working in conjunctio­n with the ODMD is an upper 8-inch screen that displays the navigation map and the back-up camera.

My tester, a range-topping SH-AWD Elite A-spec comes with a slew of other interior upgrades, all of which are new for 2018, including redesigned seats trimmed in Milano leather with alacantara inserts, A-spec badged door sills, a stainless steel dead pedal and red LED ambient lighting in 10 locations.

On the performanc­e front, the TLX A-spec's powertrain – a 3.5L V6 ( 290 hp / 267 lb- ft.) mated to a nine- speed automatic transmissi­on with a manual mode and paddle shifters – soldiers on unchanged which is far from a bad thing.

The V6 emits a nice growl through A-spec-specific four-inch twin-outlet exhaust, and if you tap the dynamic mode button on the centre console to sport or sport+, the car becomes livelier both in terms of transmissi­on shift points and throttle response. The performanc­e boost is incrementa­l, but noticeable, which I think will meet the expectatio­ns of buyers that opt for the A-spec trim.

What impressed most about this car isn't the performanc­e, however, it's the reality that the TLX A-spec is so well rounded.

Acura gets the details right, from the heated steering wheel and cellphone charge pad, to the comfortabl­e seats, useable trunk and standard all-wheel drive, all at an attractive price.

If this what Acura intends for A-spec to be, then let's have more of it.

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