May 152017

Acura recently unveiled a 2018 redesign of the Acura TLX at the New York International Auto Show, but the 2017 version still has life in it and Latino Traffic Report recently took the TLX 3.5L Advance for a ride.

The five-passenger TLX offers a sports-sedan blend delivering athleticism and premium refinement. Looking better than it has for a while, its signature Jewel Eye LED headlights, standard on all models, set it apart, while offering excellent illumination. LED lighting can also be found on the taillights, above the license plate and as accents on the side mirrors.

Powered by two high-output direct-injected i-VTEC engines, the test model came with the 3.5-liter V6 with Variable Cylinder Management. It was matched to a nine-speed automatic transmission, one of two available transmissions. It was also equipped with one the latest iterations of Acura precision-handling technologies—Precision All-Wheel Steer (P-AWS)—and paddle shifters for added sportiness. A 2.4-liter four cylinder engine, an eight-speed Dual Clutch transmission, and Super-Handling All-Wheel Drive are also available.

While the four-cylinder offers the best fuel economy, the TLX with the 3.5-liter V6 with P-AWS has an EPA fuel-economy rating of 21 miles per gallon (mpg) in the city and 34 mpg on the highway. I averaged 34.2 mpg overall, but on the highway, the average mpg reached 36. Like it’s siblings,

Electronic Gear Selector

the TLX lacks a shift knob and utilizes push buttons, or an electronic gear selector, in the center console instead, which can be a little unnerving, i.e. you don’t want to push the wrong button at the wrong time. The test model also included the Integrated Dynamic System with Econ, Normal, Sport, and Sport S drive modes. The Sport S mode really revved its performance with added power and tightened handling.

When you step up from a Honda to an Acura, you might expect a little more bells and whistles. You can get ’em, but at a price. TLX models with the 2.4-liter engine can be upgraded to the Technology package and models with the 3.5-liter engine can add Technology or the line-topping Advance Package. Both were included on the test model. The Technology package brought essential features like blind spot information, forward collision warning, and a rear cross traffic monitor, as well as convenience features like perforated leather seating, navigation with voice recognition, the AcuraLink communication system, and Acura ELS Studio premium audio.

The Advance package added Collision Mitigation, Adaptive Cruise Control, ventilated front seats, and front and rear parking sensors, among other features.

All TLX models come equipped with Siri Eyes Free technology that allows the driver to use the features of Siri using familiar voice commands, when paired with a compatible iPhone. Other standard features include the multi-view rear camera, cruise control, Multi-information Display, USB Audio Interface with iPod Integration, Bluetooth streaming audio, keyless access, heated leatherette front seats, and a 60/40 split fold-down rear seatback. Oddly, Bluetooth Hands-Free Wireless telephone is not standard.

Pricing for the 2017 TLX starts at $32,950. The as-tested price came to $43, 540.

: The 2017 TLX Advance offered a sporty ride with a big list of features.

No: Some of the available features should be standard, e.g. blind spot monitor, Bluetooth telephone.

Nov 012015

2015-08-11 AcuraMDX

With the launch of its platform mate, the all-new 2016 Honda Pilot, the Acura MDX also gets upgraded for 2016. While it may still look like the 2014 redesign, it contains more technology, luxury, and options than before.

2015-08-11 mdx.dashSharing a platform with the Pilot, there are several similarities, like push buttons for Park, Reverse, Drive, and Neutral rather than a shift knob. The seven-inch touchscreen in the center stack is similar to the Pilot’s except the MDX adds haptic touch—that buzzing sensation or thump you feel on your fingertips to help navigate the screen without looking at it.

All 2016 models are now equipped with a nine-speed automatic transmission to improve fuel economy. Paired with the 3.5-liter V6 and Variable Cylinder Management, it should achieve an EPA estimated 19 miles per gallon (mpg) in the city and 27 mpg on the highway. The test model I drove included idle stop technology that shuts the engine down at idle for saving even more gas, as well as Super Handling all-wheel drive. I averaged 21.2 mpg.2015-08-11 mdx.sensor

Additional luxury upgrades for 2016 include a frameless rearview mirror, Siri Eyes Free voice recognition, a tire pressure monitoring system with an audible alert to signal that the tire has been inflated to the correct pressure, and a Multi-View Angle Rear Camera with Dynamic Guidelines.

More advanced safety technology, however, will cost extra via the AcuraWatch, Advance or Technology packages. All the good stuff is here, e.g. Forward Collision Warning, the Lane Keeping Assist System (LKAS), a blind spot warning system, even a parking sensor. It would be nice if one or more of these features were standard, especially at this price point.

The blind spot warning is located on the A-pillar rather than in the side mirror.

The blind spot warning is located on the A-pillar rather than in the side mirror.

LKAS adds muscle with the new Road Departure Mitigation System that will keep you in your lane, including nudging the steering wheel or braking if necessary, so that it may feel like there’s a ghost in the machine.

The third generation MDX includes one of my favorite innovations, a push-button release on the side of the second row-seat and at the back of the headrest that moves the second row forward and to the side for easy access to the third row—no more broken nails at the hands of levers!

Second-row seat release button in headrest.

Second-row seat release button near the headrest.

2015-08-11 mdxrear.licStandard luxury features, like leather-trimmed seats, heated front seats, wood accents, a premium audio system, and tri-zone climate control combined with available technology should keep the popular SUV at the top of its segment, but ultimately, it’s all in the package.

Indeed, there’s a veritable alphabet soup of available features and packages, like the MDX AWD ADV ENT (MDX with all-wheel drive, Advance, and Entertainment packages) that I drove. Totaling 16 variations, it may make choosing what MDX you’d like a little challenging.

Pricing for the 2016 MDX starts at $43,785. The as-tested pricing came to $58,000.

Sí: Love the push button release on the second-row seats for access to the third row.

No: Too many safety features are available in optional packages rather than standard.

Jan 072015
2014 Acura RLX.

2014 Acura RLX.

To be honest, I wasn’t a fan of Acura’s front fascias. Something just didn’t look right. Well, whatever it was, it’s fixed, particularly on the all-new RLX sedan. Indeed, driving the RLX with Advance through Austin turned more than a few heads.

The cherry cola brown exterior paint (technically Crystal Black Pearl) initially caught my eye as well as the world’s first Jewel Eye LED headlights.

2014 Acura RLX.

2014 Acura RLX.

The flagship sedan brings new technology to the segment including the standard next-generation AcuraLink connected car system, and Multi-Angle Rearview Camera, while adopting others, like haptic controls.

Touted as Acura’s “most powerful, spacious, and technologically advanced sedan,” it’s powered by an all-new 310-horsepower direct-injected 3.5-liter V6 engine matched to a Sequential SportShift six-speed automatic with paddle shifters. The RLX has an EPA city/highway fuel economy rating of 20/31 mpg. I averaged 21.6 mpg.

Unique to Acura and standard on the RLX, the Precision All-Wheel Steer continuously monitors and calculates the correct amount of independent rear-wheel steering necessary for driving conditions. Double wishbone, double joint front suspension, and Agile Handling Assist also enhance performance

Longer and wider than its predecessor, the RLX boasts the longest rear-seat legroom (38.8 inches), and best front and rear shoulder room in the mid-luxury class. The expansive trunk offers 15.3 cubic feet of cargo room but because the test model also included the Krell Audio System, the cargo room came to 15.1 cubic feet.

2015 Acura RLXVery nicely equipped with creature comforts, the RLX comes with tri-zone climate control, hill start assist, a power moonroof, Bluetooth, push button ignition, and the Acura/ELS audio system with Pandora compatibility. While the black and white leather seating adds luxury, the wood accents are not real and at this price and in this segment, they should be.

Standard safety technology includes forward collision and lane departure warning, the Multi-Angle Rearview camera, vehicle stability assist with traction control, and Smart Entry with push button start among other features.2014 Acura RLX

New safety technology includes lane departure warning, Forward Collision Warning, illuminated door handles, and Vehicle Stability Assist with traction control.

Fully loaded with The Advance Package, the test model added Collision Mitigation, Lane Keeping Assist, parking sensors in the front and rear, and heated and ventilated front seats, and heated rear seats among other features.

Pricing for the 2014 RLX starts at $49,345. The as-tested price for the top-of-the-line RLX (next to the RLX hybrid) with the Advance Package came to $61,345.