Can Honda's New 2015 Acura TLX Really Compete With BMW?

Honda will unveil its new luxury contender this week. Does it have a chance?

Apr 10, 2014 at 7:40PM


Honda showed a prototype version of the 2015 Acura TLX in Detroit in January. It will unveil the production version this week in New York. Source: Honda

Honda's (NYSE:HMC) Acura brand has always had decent sales, but it has never quite managed to build the cred of the German luxury marquees that Honda so often wants us to see as its rivals.

Honda's latest entry in the luxury sedan wars is the all-new 2015 Acura TLX, set to be unveiled this week in New York. Does it break new ground?

Well, not really. As with most every Acura since the brand's beginning, it draws heavily on Honda's corporate parts bin. The results have usually been nice cars, but more like deluxe Hondas than genuine luxury contenders.

But as Fool contributor John Rosevear explains in this video, that hasn't stopped Honda from talking up the TLX's "exhilarating performance" and "luxury refinement." John will be at Honda's event in New York this week, and in this video, he explains what he expects to see when Honda's premium brand pulls the wraps off its latest contender.

A transcript of the video is below.

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John Rosevear: Hey, Fools, it's John Rosevear, senior auto analyst for The New York International Auto Show starts next week, media days are next Wednesday and Thursday, and we're expecting the automakers to unveil several interesting new models. I'll be there with my Foolish colleague Rex Moore. We'll bring you a video report of the show's highlights at the end of each day, and we'll have a bunch of more in-depth reports for you over the next week or so after that.

One thing we'll be sure to check out is the all-new 2015 Acura TLX. Now, we saw this, or a prototype of it anyway, at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit in January, where Acura unveiled it as a concept. Rex and I brought you a video report on it, and the photos you see here are photos of that car from Detroit. Or maybe I should say mockup, or prototype version, because they wouldn't let us look at that car's interior and I'm not sure it actually had one.

But Honda has assured us that we'll be seeing the actual final production version of the TLX in New York. So here's what we know. This is a sedan that Acura, which is Honda's premium brand, that Acura is aiming it at the midsize luxury sports sedan neighborhood.

Now, when we think of that neighborhood, we think of some heavyweight contenders, the BMW (NASDAQOTH:BAMXF) 5 Series, Audi A6, the new Cadillac CTS sedan which just won the Motor Trend "Car of the Year" award, the new Mercedes E Class, all of which are expensive, impressive cars.

I expect the TLX to be somewhat less expensive and maybe somewhat less impressive, though Honda is certainly talking up what they describe as the TLX's "exhilarating performance" and "sports-sedan athleticism" as well as its "higher levels of luxury refinement".

I'll tell you it doesn't break any new grounds with the engines, though the transmission choices are interesting. They'll offer it with choice of a 2.4 liter four cylinder, that's the VTEC engine they already use in the Civic Si, or the 3.5-liter V6 that is optional in the current Honda Accord. The four cylinder will come with an 8 speed dual clutch automatic and the V6 will have a nine-speed conventional automatic transmission, and both engines are available in front wheel drive or all wheel drive versions.

Honda says that the TLX was designed to be very quiet inside and it comes with a host of high-tech safety features, all of the latest stuff we've seen from other automakers as everybody starts to work on driverless cars, the fruits of those research programs are things like collision warning and lane departure warning systems and adaptive cruise controls, the TLX will have all of that.

So what do you think? Is this thing going to be a contender? If you're watching this on, leave a comment and let me know what you think. Thanks for watching.

John Rosevear has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool recommends BMW. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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