Why the New 2015 Acura TLX Prototype Matters:
The all-new 2014 Acura RDX and MDX premium crossovers have provided a nifty sales spike for Honda's premium brand, but its next-gen sedans haven't delivered the same kind of impact. The brand-new 2015 Acura TLX—essentially the replacement for both the current Acura TL and TSX models—will seek to change that around with positioning as the brand's "Red Carpet Athlete." As such, the new car combines both sophisticated design and some notable performance enhancers. In fact, as a measure of how much emphasis Acura is putting on the athleticism of the TLX, the brand also introduced a racing version of the car that will contend for the 2014 Pirelli World Challenge in the GT class.
Both cars premiered recently at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit, with Mike Accavitti, vice president of Automobile Operations for American Honda, saying that: "The Acura TLX Prototype is a precursor of some amazing things we have in store for our Acura sedan customers. As you would expect from an Acura, this completely new model will offer innovative technologies that break down the barriers between the driver and the machine to deliver a more intuitive, connected and personal driving experience."
What's new with the 2015 Acura TLX:
- Advanced powertrain choices, highlighted by two engine alternatives, 8- and 9-speed transmissions, a sport-tuned multi-mode drive-control system, and Acura's signature all-wheel-handling technologies
- Extensive LED lighting, including Jewel Eye headlamps
- Electronic active noise control
- Acura's latest driver-assistance features, like collision-mitigation braking, forward collision warning, lane-departure and lane-keeping systems, adaptive cruise control, blind-spot warning
- Plenty of advanced infotainment and connectivity features
New 2015 Acura TLX: What's Under the Hood
Drivers will be able to pick from a pair of new engines for the 2015 Acura TLX, each featuring i-VTEC valve-timing systems and direct injection. The entry point is a 2.4-liter 4-cylinder unit, offered solely with an eight-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission, while the premium powerplant is a 3.5-liter V6, which gets a nine-speed automatic. The brand didn't provide specific outputs for those powertrains yet, but it's worth noting that, in other Acura vehicles, the TLX's standard engine makes 201 hp and 170 lb.-ft. of torque, and the more powerful V6 can develop 273 horses and 251 lb.-ft. of twist.
Also distinguishing the pair of powertrains are their handling technologies. The four-cylinder model, for example, is configured with front-wheel drive and the latest iteration of Acura's Precision All-Wheel Steer technology, with independent and automatic steering control of the rear wheels. V6 versions of the 2015 Acura TLX can be equipped with a next-gen upgrade to the brand's Super-Handling All Wheel Drive, now lighter than ever and complemented by new torque-vectoring functionality.
Efficiency-wise, the 2015 Acura TLX "will target EPA fuel economy ratings at the top of the midsize luxury sedan class" with both engines, according to the brand.
New 2015 Acura TLX: Styling and Design
Engineers designed the 2015 Acura TLX with the same wheelbase as the current Acura TL, but reduced the concept's overall length compared to the TL by some 3.8 inches. The new dimensions help to make the new car more nimble on the road—and easier on the eyes—yet its cabin also was created to achieve "the most spacious interior in the midsize luxury-sedan class."
Speaking of which, visibility, versatility and comfort will all be hallmarks of the car's interior, with that cockpit wrapped in a sophisticated new design that is much cleaner and organic than that of past Acura sedans. The change is especially noticeable when looking at the new TLX in profile, too, since that angle brings out the car's gently curving lines and sleek silhouette. Of course, there's a big change up front as well. Although today's TL has been bullied for its rather over-friendly face, the grille and front fascia of the 2015 Acura TLX will present a much more aggressive and serious demeanor, accentuated by those previously mentioned Jewel Eye LED headlamps.
Finally, leveraging a more robust version of Acura's Advanced Compatibility Engineering body structure, the 2015 Acura TLX is expected to earn both a 5-Star Overall Vehicle Score from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the new, more rigorous Top Safety Pick+ designation of the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.
New 2015 Acura TLX: Where It Will Race
Backed by Honda Performance Development (HPD), the Acura TLX GT racecar will campaign the 2014 Pirelli World Challenge series at the hands of RealTime Racing. That crew, led by owner/driver Peter Cunningham, has competed with Honda and Acura products since 1987 and has earned 14 championships—and 85 victories—since joining the World Challenge circuit in 1993.
Said Cunningham: "In our 27 years of racing Hondas and Acuras, we have developed a clear understanding of what it takes to win races and championships. In 2014, the Pirelli World Challenge GT class looks to be more competitive and diverse than at any time in the 25-year history of the series.
“RealTime has competed successfully in this category before, and we look forward to the challenges that lie ahead. With the onslaught of these world-class GT-3 competitors joining the fray, we will be working hard to develop the new TLX GT into a winning package. But that's what we love to do."
And while the racecar will benefit from plenty of motorsports modifications, its twin-turbo V6 and all-wheel-drive system both will be based directly on their production counterparts.
New 2015 Acura TLX: What Autobytel Thinks
Although the 2015 Acura TLX stands out as a major advance over the TL and TSX, it doesn't do much to advance the segment as a whole. On the other hand, given the sales status of the brand's current lineup, it could very well provide a significant advance in deliveries when it goes on sale later this year.
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