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The 2015 Acura TLX Sedan: Did Honda Miss the Mark?

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Honda executive Mike Accavitti shows off the 2015 Acura TLX Prototype at the North American International Auto Show on Tuesday. Photo credit: Honda.

Honda's  (NYSE: HMC  ) luxury brand, Acura, has always done things a little differently, and its new TLX sedan looks to be no exception. 

First of all, the TLX that we saw in Detroit this week was a "prototype." Acura didn't show us the car's interior or release any details about pricing. But executives did say that the car is set to go on sale in about six months. (To say the least, it's unusual for an automaker to not have a new vehicle's interior finalized this close to production.) 

But the TLX itself is a bit unusual in the sense that Acura is positioning the car as a sports sedan -- but it's being offered with decidedly mainstream-sounding powertrains. Buyers will choose between a 2.4-liter four-cylinder and a 3.5-liter V6. Both are loaded with typical Honda high-tech touches that should make them eager to rev and easy on gas consumption, but neither is the kind of engine that gets the attention of serious car enthusiasts.

Still, the TLX has a few things going for it. There's a new eight-speed dual-clutch transmission that will be offered with the four-cylinder, and a nine-speed automatic with the V6. The V6-powered versions of the 2015 TLX will have all-wheel drive (the four-cylinder cars will have front-wheel drive, as you'd expect with a Honda-built sedan), and Acura promised "vault-like quietness in all driving conditions," along with a full array of high-tech safety features.

We -- the Motley Fool's John Rosevear and Rex Moore -- were at the Acura event in Detroit, and we spent some time getting up close (or as close as the Honda folks would let us get, which wasn't as close as we would have liked) with the TLX Prototype. It's better looking than some recent Acura entries, with sportier lines -- and it was painted in a photo-perfect shade of red, as you can see above.

But we wonder how well it will stand out in a crowded segment, and whether it will be eclipsed by luxury-sport-sedan offerings from other premium brands, some of which seem more complete to our eyes. Check out our video for the full scoop, and then scroll down to leave a comment to let us know what you think: Does Acura have a winner here?

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Read/Post Comments (4) | Recommend This Article (3)

Comments from our Foolish Readers

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  • Report this Comment On January 18, 2014, at 8:25 PM, puffalo wrote:

    Just a silly, misinformed "article". Yes, Acura has a winner here. The engines are all new and are going to be at least as powerful as those in competing luxury cars. It was announced that both engines will feature direct injection, offering significantly more power than their previous engines of that size. Why no mention of that here?

    The previous 3.5 liter V6 was already in the 280 HP range. The 2.4 liter 4 will be in the 215 HP range. Meanwhile, BMW and Audi have gone to smaller 2.0 4 cylinder engines for their 3 series and A4 cars, respectively.

    As for the design, look at Car & Driver, Road & Track as well as Autoblog. Nearly everyone has stated that they love the design of the TLX. (And these are the same publications who did NOT like the design of the RLX last year or the ILX the year before.

  • Report this Comment On January 19, 2014, at 12:36 PM, Maximizese wrote:

    I strongly disagree with puffalo's comment. Honda has been losing their edge in the United States over the last 14 years, has created a number of disappointments, failed to market their better products, and as a result lost market share to Mazda, Toyota, Hyundia-Kia, Nissan, Subaru, BMW, and VW/Audi.

    Honda engineers great motors that are both efficient and reliable. They typically design well-handling and braking vehicles, but they have recently been horrible on exterior design and segment categorization. They ruled from 1988-1998 with the Integra/Civic, Accord, Prelude, and from 2000-2007 with the S2000. The Element was a terrific car that outperformed its competitors and was beloved by their owners, yet it only filled a small niche which became over saturated (my neighbor owns 3 Elements, a Passport, and is replacing his F250 with a Ridgeline). What I think Honda should have done with S2000 and Element was to give the production a few years to rest in-between model changes. By creating scarcity, they would stimulate demand and the segments wouldn't be over saturated. (i.e., look at Nissan 350 and 370Z, VW Bettle, and MINI Cooper sales all on the decline).

    As for the TLX, it looks over styled with shades of Lincoln, Kia, BMW, Toyota, and Buick. The front overhang looks horrible and will limit the car's ability to go up incline/declines and will crunch on parking bumps. The radiator is probably 5 inches behind the bumper cover. Revise the fascia and rear of this monstrosity and Honda just might save their butts on this. Otherwise, this will be another ILX and RDX for them.

  • Report this Comment On January 24, 2014, at 3:06 PM, Khash wrote:

    I have always been a fan of Honda/Acura and still own a Civic, but I half agree with both sets of comments above. Honda has (had?) lost its edge. It's rested on its laurels and its name and lost the cutting edged-ness of what the brand was all about in the eighties and nineties. I went away from the TL with the last iteration of the marque. Atypical manual transmission in that it never worked well in third from an automaker whose manual trannies have been the envy of the auto industry, and having the size of a boat! I went back to Honda, but I have to say that I look forward the to the TLX. I wish it was smaller a little; I wish they had a direct-injected turbo four; and of course, I wish they had a Civic-like 6 or 7-speed fully manual transmission. Nonetheless, I'll be first in line for a test-drive when the car hits the showrooms.

  • Report this Comment On August 21, 2014, at 8:07 AM, acura wrote:

    I've seen and driven the new TLX. VERY quiet and smooth (9 speed). Will be taking more test drives. I own a 2008 TL and LOVE the style (best ever). Will keep it for a couple more years. I want to give the TLX time to get comfortable with itself and the market. But when the time comes...

    give me R E D and bright exhaust tips!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Come on Acura!! I want you to do well!!

    Mike Fariello

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John Rosevear

John Rosevear is the Fool's Senior Auto Specialist. John has been writing about the auto business and investing for over 20 years, and for The Motley Fool since 2007.

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