If a 2019 Acura MDX were to follow a 2018 version around a corner it’s unlikely you’d notice the difference, that is unless the second model was updated to new A-Spec trim.
Acura has made some minor external changes to other trims, such as new wheel designs, but swapping out 95 percent of the chrome and bright metal with glossy black on the new A-Spec branded sport model, and then fitting a near equally darkened set of 20-inch 10-spoke Shark Grey alloy wheels on lower profile 265/45 rubber, makes this new addition stand out in a very positive way.
The MDX has long been the sportiest Japanese luxury utility, but new A-Spec trim now puts styling on par with performance. Specifically, the new MDX A-Spec gets gloss-black and dark-chrome detailing for the grille, headlamps, window surrounds, and rear tailgate spoiler, a more aggressively formed front fascia design, painted front and rear lower skid garnishes, body-coloured exterior door handles, body-colour lower side sills, and larger-diameter exhaust finishers, and those aforementioned wheels.
Climbing over exclusive A-Spec door step garnishes to get inside, Acura has positioned a special set of A-Spec gauges above metal sport pedals, while adding a thicker-rimmed A-Spec-badged steering wheel, unique carbon-look console trim, and sport seats upholstered in “rich red” or black leather with black suede-like Alcantara inserts plus high-contrast stitching.
This being more of a sport styling exercise than any true performance upgrade, the larger wheel and tire package aside, it won’t be causing owners of the 567 horsepower X5M and 577 horsepower Mercedes-AMG GLS 63 (or 362-hp GLS 450/449-hp GLS 550) to contemplate their next SUV in Japanese. Acura does make a more potent MDX Sport Hybrid that can give some of the lesser Germans a run for their money thanks to 377 horsepower and 341 lb-ft of torque, but so far the sportier A-Spec trim will only be applied to the conventionally powered MDX, which continues forward into 2019 with a much more modest 290 horsepower and 267 lb-ft of torque.
As with all MDX models in Canada, the new A-Spec comes standard with Acura’s torque vectoring Super Handling All-Wheel Drive (SH-AWD), and utilizes a nine-speed automatic with steering wheel paddles and multiple driving modes dubbed Integrated Dynamics System (IDS), which include the same Comfort, Normal and Sport settings found in all other MDX trims.
I’ll comment on how all of this kit meets the A-Spec model’s sporting pretensions in my upcoming road test review, not to mention my views on styling and interior design, fit, finish, materials quality, comfort, utility, and how this trim specifically measures up to some key competitors, so for the time being I’ll just cover what you can expect with respect to features.
For the most part the $60,490 A-Spec is built upon the MDX’ second-rung $57,890 Tech trim, yet despite only costing $2,600 more and featuring the previously noted styling upgrades, it incorporates a few features shared with the $66,990 Elite version that aren’t available with the two trims below, including LED fog lamps, auto-dimming power-folding side mirrors, perimeter/approach puddle lights, keyless access buttons on the rear doors, and ventilated/cooled front seats.
As for features pulled up from Tech trim, the list includes navigation with voice recognition, a sun position detection system for the climate control, a 10-speaker ELS Studio surround audio upgrade, hard disk drive (HDD) media storage, AcuraLink subscription services, front and rear parking sensors, and Blind Spot Information (BSI) with rear cross traffic monitoring.
If you’re wondering about all the other advanced driver assist systems that would complement those above, take heart that all Canadian-spec MDX trims come standard with AcuraWatch, which includes Collision Mitigation Braking System (CMBS), Lane Departure Warning (LDW), Forward Collision Warning (FCW), Lane Keeping Assist (LKAS), plus Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC) with low-speed follow and Road Departure Mitigation (RDM).
Additional standard features pulled up from the MDX’ $54,390 base model to A-Spec trim include unique Jewel Eye LED headlamps with auto high beams and washers, LED taillights, acoustic glass, a heated windshield, remote engine start, proximity-sensing keyless access, ambient front footwell, door handle and cabin lighting, pushbutton ignition, two-position memory for the driver’s seat, steering column, side mirrors and climate control, an electromechanical parking brake, a powered moonroof, a HomeLink universal garage door opener, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, heated power-adjustable side mirrors with driver recognition, reverse gear tilt-down and integrated turn indicators, a colour TFT meter display, a power tilt and telescopic steering column, a heated multi-function leather-wrapped steering wheel with paddle shifters, rain-sensing wipers, multi-angle rearview camera with active guidelines, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, Bluetooth phone and streaming audio, Siri Eyes Free, SMS text message and email reading capability, satellite radio, four USB charging ports, tri-zone front and rear synchronized automatic climate control with humidity control and air-filtration, Active Noise Control (ANC), Active Sound Control (ASC), heated 12-way power-adjustable front seats with four-way powered lumbar support, seven-seat capacity, a powered tailgate, hill start assist, tire pressure monitoring with location and pressure indicators, all the usual active and passive safety features including a driver’s knee airbag, trailer stability assist, a 1,588-kilo towing capacity (or 2,268 kg with the towing package), and more.
Incidentally, all trims, packages, and options are detailed out at CarCostCanada, where you can also find important rebate info as well as dealer invoice pricing that could save you thousands.
All MDX trims get the same 3.5-litre SOHC V6 with direct-injection, i-VTEC, and Variable Cylinder Management (VCM) that shuts one bank of cylinders down during light loads to save on fuel, which together with a standard engine idle stop-start system and the previously noted nine-speed automatic helps the MDX achieve a claimed 12.2 L/100km in the city, 9.0 on the highway and 10.8 combined in its regular trims, or 12.2 city, 9.5 highway and 11.0 combined in A-Spec guise, the difference coming down to the grippier tires, while it should also be noted that the more powerful two-motor hybrid version mentioned earlier is good for an even more agreeable 9.1, 9.0 and 9.0 respectively.
Once again, this thriftier yet more potent powertrain can’t be had with the A-Spec’s sportier styling and upgraded wheel and tire package, while that model’s active damper system is also unavailable below Elite trim that also makes them standard. As it is, the A-Spec makes do with the standard amplitude reactive dampers, which along with standard Agile Handling Assist and the SUV’s front strut and rear multi-link suspension design, has long provided strong performance through the corners.
Once again you’ll need to come back to find out how the MDX A-Spec’s lower profile rubber performs, and to see if the rest of this well-seasoned model’s features are still up to snuff amid a very competitive three-row mid-size crossover SUV segment. Until then, enjoy the photo gallery above…
Acura rolled a few eyes when introducing its somewhat wordy Super Handling All-Wheel Drive back in 2004, but as soon as the automotive press drove the brand’s then-new 2005 RL flagship luxury sedan…
Acura rolled a few eyes when introducing its somewhat wordy Super Handling All-Wheel Drive back in 2004, but as soon as the automotive press drove the brand’s then-new 2005 RL flagship luxury sedan all snickering stopped, it really was super.
A decade and a half later the Japanese luxury brand is now celebrating a significant milestone, the 15th anniversary of its industry-leading torque-vectoring SH-AWD technology. To mark the event, Acura has produced a video (see below) highlighting the advanced all-wheel drive system’s history and capability.
SH-AWD actively and continually distributes engine torque between the front and rear wheels, from 70 percent to the front and 30 percent to the rear, or 30 percent to the front and 70 percent to the rear, while additionally up to 100 percent of rear twist could be distributed to either the left or right wheel to reduce understeer and therefore aid high-speed cornering. Of course, SH-AWD has improved with each new generation, and now is either standard or available in five of Acura’s six models.
The latest version of Acura’s mechanical SH-AWD, now in its fourth generation, debuted on the new 2019 RDX last year, with 40 percent greater torque capacity at the rear axle, quicker front-to-rear torque transfer, plus 30 percent faster torque transfer between the left and right rear wheels.
Looking toward the future, the 2014 RLX Sport Hybrid, the second-generation 2017 NSX, and the 2017 MDX Sport Hybrid came equipped with the most advanced iteration of SH-AWD yet. The new Sport Hybrid SH-AWD system incorporates electric motor torque for a more immediate application of four-wheel performance as well as much greater efficiency.
The mid-engine NSX supercar utilizes a unique design with three electric motors, two of which form a Twin Motor Unit (TMU) that distributes torque to each front wheel individually, whereas the RLX and MDX reverse the process with the gas-electric hybrid engine up front and TMU in back, distributing torque between each rear wheel, just like with the mechanical SH-AWD system. Despite the different layouts, the supercar, sport sedan and three-row SUV that feature Acura’s electrified Sport Hybrid SH-AWD system apply identical technologies and use many of the same components.
Also notable, later this year Acura will be celebrating another milestone, one million SH-AWD-equipped vehicles sold worldwide. Past models equipped with SH-AWD have included the RL (2005-2012) that utilized the first-generation system, the MDX (2007-2015), RDX (2007-2012), TL (2009-2014), and ZDX (2010-2013) that incorporated the second-generation system with Hill Logic, VSA and TCS, the TLX (2015-present) and MDX (2016-present) that feature the third-generation system with a 25-percent lighter rear differential and more, RDX (2019-present) that boasts the fourth-generation system with a more compact and quicker responding design, and lastly the RLX Sport Hybrid (2015-present), NSX (2017-present) and MDX Sport Hybrid (2017-present) that feature the electrified Sport Hybrid SH-AWD system.
Make sure to check out our photo gallery above to see images of all the aforementioned Acura models past and present, plus remember to watch the “What is Acura Super Handling All-Wheel Drive?” video below that details out the history and capability of Acura’s SH-AWD system:
What is Acura Super Handling All-Wheel Drive? (6:23):
Acura does well in almost every Canadian market segment it competes in. As calendar year 2018 ended the RDX sat within the top three of 15 compact luxury SUV competitors, while the MDX was fifth out of…
Acura does well in almost every Canadian market segment it competes in. As calendar year 2018 ended the RDX sat within the top three of 15 compact luxury SUV competitors, while the MDX was fifth out of 21 mid-size premium crossovers and number one amongst dedicated three-row rivals. What about cars? The ILX was mid-pack in its entry-level luxury segment, and surprisingly the top-line RLX Sport Hybrid mid-size four-door was just one of two cars to show positive sales growth in a sector that’s been getting hammered by the aforementioned SUVs, although its actual final sales tally placed it second to last out of 17 competitors. Truly, Acura’s best sales success in Canada’s car sector is summed up in the TLX.
A total of 17 models compete in the compact luxury car D-segment, led by such notable names as the Mercedes-Benz C-Class, Tesla Model 3 (if you can trust their sales numbers that seem very suspect), BMW 3 Series, and Audi A4, which makes the TLX’ eighth position quite credible, albeit not as good as its previous best-of-the-rest status. Despite a thorough facelift last year, some of the shine has come off this car in recent years, or at least the Lexus IS and Infiniti Q50 have now passed by on the sales charts. The latter Japanese sport-luxury sedan is one of a handful that grew sales last year, the other direct four-door competitor being the C-Class, which means other than the Jaguar XE that slid rearward by 27.8 percent, the TLX’s loss of 25.2 percent made for the worst backward move in its four-door compact luxury segment. Yikes!
If you remember, I started this review by claiming that Acura does well in almost every Canadian market segment it competes in, not all. And to be honest, I thought this was going to be a positive story that would look good on the car and brand, because in previous years the TLX always held a solid fourth place behind the C-Class or 3 Series (depending on which one came first) and the A4, but to see it slide to sixth amongst its four-door sedan rivals was a shocker. Rather than analyze possible reasons why, I’ll steer away from that rabbit hole and instead talk about my experience with the car at hand, at which point maybe you’ll understand why I’m perplexed at its shaky sales results.
The TLX has only been with us since 2014 when it arrived as a 2015 model. It came about by combining the smaller TSX with the larger TL, in spirit at least, resulting in a just-right-sized D-segment sedan. What I mean by that is it’s still a bit larger than most competitors, measuring 61 millimetres (2.4 inches) longer than its nearest challenger at 4,844 mm (190.7 in), albeit coming up 74 mm (2.9 in) short in wheelbase length when compared to that Q50, which was the longest next to the fractionally (0.1 mm) longer wheelbase of the C-Class. Its 1,854-mm (73.0-in) width (without mirrors) is widest in its class by 12 mm (0.5 in), while its 1,447 mm (57.0 in) height is tallest by a hair, or rather 4 mm (0.15 in). So if you want more luxury car for similar money, or more precisely quite a bit less money, the TLX should be high on your list.
The 2019 TLX starts at just $34,890 plus freight and fees, which is closer to the entry-level models of all brands just mentioned than anything sized and equipped like this Acura. Some quick comparisons have the segment’s next most affordable Cadillac ATS starting at $37,845, the Audi A4 at $39,800, the Lexus IS at $41,050, the Volvo S60 at $42,400, the Jaguar XE at $43,900, the Infiniti Q50 at $44,995, the Genesis G70 at $45,500, the Mercedes-Benz C-Class at $46,100, and the BMW 3 Series at $49,000, or in other words the TLX has every competitor beaten on price by a long shot.
By the way, all pricing was sourced at CarCostCanada, which not only provides all trims, packages and standalone options, but also lets you know about available rebates that might help you save money when it comes time to make a deal, plus even better, you can access dealer invoice pricing that could save you thousands.
Just in case you’re thinking that Acura’s most basic D-segment entry must shortchange its owner something awful for under $35k, the base TLX gets full LED headlamps with automatic high beams, remote engine start, proximity access, pushbutton ignition, an electromechanical parking brake, a colour TFT multi-info display, Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC) with Low Speed Follow, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, an excellent multi-angle rearview camera with dynamic guidelines, dual-zone automatic climate control, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, a 10-way power driver’s seat with two-way powered lumbar, remote-linked two-way memory for the driver’s seat, side mirrors and climate control, a four-way powered front passenger’s seat, heated front seats, an 8.0-inch On Demand Multi-use Display (ODMD) above a 7.0-inch capacitive touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone integration, seven-speaker audio, satellite radio, active noise cancellation, a Homelink universal garage door opener, a powered moonroof, and much more.
On top of that impressive list, all TLX trims boast standard AcuraWatch advanced driver assistance systems including Forward Collision Warning (FCW), Collision Mitigation Braking System (CMBS) with Heads Up Warning, Lane Departure Warning (LDW) with steering wheel haptic feedback, Lane Keeping Assist System (LKAS), Road Departure Mitigation (RDM), plus the segment’s usual array of active and passive safety features, including an airbag for the driver’s knees, while Blind Spot Information (BSI) with a Rear Cross Traffic Monitor come as part of my tester’s second-rung Tech trim.
That’s right. We were able to test a less equipped trim this time around, ideal because plenty of buyers choose this well equipped model that still manages to slip under the base price points of most competitors at $38,590. Along with the safety upgrades, Tech trim adds rain-sensing wipers, power-folding side mirrors, an accurate navigation system with detailed mapping, voice recognition, the AcuraLink connectivity system, great sounding 10-speaker ELS Studio audio, hard disk drive (HDD) media storage, an always welcome heatable steering wheel rim, heated rear outboard seats, and last but hardly least perforated Milano leather upholstery replacing the standard leatherette.
Features in mind, I was disappointed that TLX buyers are forced to step up to Elite trim, which is only available with a V6 and all-wheel drive, to access a number of fairly basic luxury items such as auto-dimming side mirrors, rear parking sensors (that come packaged with the front sensors included), and a wireless smartphone charger, while LED fog lamps only come standard with the Elite and sportier A-Spec models, the latter made available with the four-cylinder and front-wheel drive for 2019. Offering these optionally would be beneficial to those who prize fuel economy more than performance, and Acura could package in the Elite model’s excellent surround view camera and ventilated front seats too.
My tester’s interior was finished in classic Ebony black, needless to say a good match to its $500 coat of optional Platinum White Pearl exterior paint, making for an elegantly sporty four-door thanks to tastefully applied bright metal and glossy black detailing outside plus plenty of satin-silver accents and grey woodgrain inlays inside. Take note that Parchment tan interior could have been selected at no extra charge, so if a lighter interior is more to your liking Acura has got you covered.
Despite its entry-level luxury asking price the TLX Tech interior’s fit, finish and materials quality is fully up to par with its D-segment peers, thanks to a soft-touch dash top that wraps down around the instrument panel, even to the lowest edges of the centre stack. Likewise, front and rear door uppers are finished with the same premium padded material, while the long, curving door inserts are nice stitched leather, as are the armrests side and centre. Acura even finishes the glove box lid off with the same pliable surfacing, only coming up a bit short on the sides of the lower console and each lower door panel, all areas that many rivals also apply harder plastic. Of course, all pillars are fabric-wrapped, and the roofliner is nicely finished in a high-grade woven fabric.
The primary gauge cluster is a nice straightforward combination of metal-rimmed dials with a colour multi-info display at centre, the latter rather simple by today’s standards, but this more classic driving-focused cockpit is more than made up for in digital display acreage by Acura’s two-tiered infotainment system on the centre stack, the larger top monitor controlled by a big knurled metallic knob and row of surrounding buttons just below the smaller display, which is a touchscreen as noted earlier.
This second-generation dual-screen system was updated last year and now processes inputs 30-percent faster while also including the aforementioned branded smartphone integration, but be aware that a couple of features that function best with a touchscreen’s tablet-like pinch and swipe gesture capability, notably the navigation system’s map interface as well as both CarPlay and Android Auto, are shown up high on the larger display and therefore controlled more clumsily by the rotating knob and buttons below, while features like the climate control system, heatable front seats, and audio functions are found within the lower hands-on unit.
Other than the navigation map, the upper display’s graphics are rather drab with a basic grey/blue font and not much else to look at, while the screen resolution isn’t quite as fine as some others in the class, but this made me glad that Acura chose the more colourful map as the default function. The touchscreen’s graphics are certainly more appealing and also benefit from a higher resolution display with richer colours and deeper contrast.
Of note, you can adjust some of the climate functions via the narrow row of buttons and rocker switches just below the screen, and these are some of the tightest fitting, best damped switchgear in the business. This pretty well sums up most of the controls in the TLX’ cabin, although the buttons for the power windows and locks on the door panels seem like afterthoughts and therefore aren’t quite up to the same standard.
Adjusting the power side mirror controller on the same panel provided good rearward visibility, which when joined by plenty of glass in every direction, plus the auto-dimming rearview mirror and aforementioned multi-angle rearview camera, results in a car that’s easy to drive through congested city traffic and tight parking lots.
The multi-adjustable driver’s seat is very comfortable too, although I would have preferred four-way lumbar support to press more accurately against the small of my back, plus extendable thigh supports for cupping under the knees would’ve been nice as well. Still, the tilt and telescopic steering column extended the steering wheel far enough rearward to provide a comfortable seat distance for my legs while leaving my elbows properly bent for maximum control when resting the hands at 9 and 3 o’clock, plus all controls were within easy reach.
The rear seating area offers plenty of space too, plus excellent lower back comfort in the outboard positions. A large folding armrest provides a nice place for inside elbows when only two are seated abreast, plus the usual twin cupholders and a tiny open bin for holding snacks or what-have-you. Acura adds a couple of vents to the backside of the front console to keep rear passengers aerated, while providing three temperatures for the rear seat heaters is better than the usual two.
The TLX’ trunk provides a decent amount of space as well, measuring 405 litres (14.3 cubic feet) thanks to the car’s extra length mentioned earlier. Pull tabs release the 60/40 split seatbacks if you want to lower one side or both for longer cargo, but unless you’ve got something strong enough to push them forward with, like a set of skis, you’ll be forced to walk around to the side doors to drop them down anyway. Another shortcoming is the 60/40 split itself, which doesn’t include a centre pass-through and therefore limits the use of the seat heaters when transporting said skis or snowboard equipment—cue one whining tweenager now.
Cranking up the aforementioned ELS stereo might be a good way to drown out rear seat complainants, mind you, but then again you might find the sound of the high-revving base 2.4-litre engine more to your liking. This engine is right out of the previous-generation Civic Si, so that sonorous song and rorty exhaust note ideally complements its ability to rev all the way to 6,800 rpm. I’m not sure whether I like this V-TEC-infused mill more than the aforementioned 3.5-litre V6, and if it weren’t for the larger engine’s advanced SH-AWD, the FWD version might even be the sportier choice.
Don’t get me wrong as the V6 spits out a naughty growl of its own when getting hard on the throttle, but my nod in the four-cylinder’s direction has more to do with the excellence of its quick-shifting paddle-shift actuated dual-clutch eight-speed automated transmission than its 206 horsepower and 182 lb-ft of torque. Certainly the extra 84 horsepower and 85 lb-ft of torque would be had to pass up, but that engine’s nine-speed automatic kills its fun-factor, taking far too long between shifts to feel remotely sporty.
Getting the most out of the TLX drivetrain is Acura’s four-position “Dynamic Mode” driver settings, featuring default Normal, thrifty Econ, Sport and Sport + modes. The latter two really make a difference when pushing the envelope, but I left it in Econ mode when dealing with city traffic, as it was best for eking the most from a tank of fuel. Acura claims 10.0 L/100km city, 7.1 highway and 8.7 combined with the four-cylinder model, while the V6, that gets an engine idle stop-start system, does pretty well at the pump as well with a rating of 11.4, 7.7 and 9.8 respectively.
Another bonus with the smaller engine is less weight over the front wheels, so it feels nimbler when pressed hard through corners and is less likely to understeer, or push out the front wheels and drive straight when the tires break traction in the middle of a turn. On this note it’s pretty hard to upset the TLX’ nicely sorted front strut and rear multi-link suspension setup, despite the car’s smallish standard 17-inch alloy wheels and 225/55 all-season tires, but this brings up another shortcoming with both base and Tech trims, Acura doesn’t offer any wheel and tire upgrades. These lesser tires are easier on the wallet when it comes time to replace, however, and they help the TLX deliver a nice compliant ride. High-speed stability on the freeway is good too, with the car tracking nicely and wind noise kept to a minimum.
Once again, four-cylinder fans who want more can now opt for the TLX Tech A-Spec, a car I hope to cover in an upcoming review because it combines what I think is this model’s sportiest drivetrain with a sweet looking set of 19-inch rims on stickier 45/40 rubber, plenty of aerodynamic styling upgrades, and other niceties inside.
As it is, the 2019 TLX Tech is an attractive car thanks to last year’s refresh, highlighted by the brand’s now trademark “diamond pentagon grille,” tidier lower fascia, and sharper looking rear apron. It already included some of the best-looking LED headlamps and an attractive set of LED taillights, the former nicely revised, while its overall profile is long and sleek. Still, those updates were added to a car that was already three years into its lifecycle and now that it’s heading into its fifth will soon require a complete overhaul in order to keep its loyal followers from looking elsewhere.
That thought in mind, one reason for the TLX’s recent sales decline could be the introduction of Acura’s all-new RDX, which has no doubt lured away more than a few would-be sport sedan buyers. It truly is better than most rivals and therefore worthy of its success, which bodes well for an upcoming redesign to this TLX. A new version should arrive sometime next year, so fingers crossed they build on all that’s good with this current version, mix in much of what makes the new RDX great, and end up with a new TLX that at the very least reclaims best-of-the-rest status.
Until then, you can do a lot worse than the 2019 TLX, especially when factoring in expected reliability and stronger than average resale values that come from such a competitive value proposition at time of purchase. The TLX Tech is a very good car for a superb price, and even when loaded up with maximum performance and features the TLX Elite SH-AWD A-Spec slips under the $50k affordability barrier and therefore undercuts most competitors by thousands, let alone tens of thousands. You should consider it seriously.
Anyone who believes the Acura ILX is merely a badge-engineered Honda Civic might want to rethink their point of view. First off, since the 10th-generation Civic arrived for 2017 the two don’t even…
Anyone who believes the Acura ILX is merely a badge-engineered Honda Civic might want to rethink their point of view.
First off, since the 10th-generation Civic arrived for 2017 the two don’t even share underpinnings, with even this latest 2019 upgrade riding on the previous ninth-gen Civic platform architecture, not that this really matters to those behind the wheel, who no doubt will continue to enjoy rewarding driving dynamics and extremely good efficiency.
Despite getting a dramatic refresh that brings it inline with the rest of the Acura lineup, the 2019 ILX continues forward with a wonderfully rev-happy 201-horsepower, 16-valve, DOHC, i-VTEC-infused 2.4-litre four-cylinder engine borrowed from the previous Civic Si albeit refined for this car’s more luxury-oriented gateway-to-premium role. As part of its repurposed application the potent engine joins up to an automated dual-clutch eight-speed transmission with paddle-shifters, providing both smooth ease of use and quick-shifting performance, while its front-wheel drivetrain aids fuel economy. If it seems familiar, this formidable powertrain is also used in the base TLX.
The most notable update is the Japanese luxury brand’s new trademark Diamond Pentagon grille up front and centre, complemented by a new front bumper and lower fascia. The latter is made more dramatic in new A-Spec trim, while the rest of the car gets minor updates from front to rear. Truly, only the seven-element Jewel Eye LED headlamps look unchanged, although Acura points out the 2019 ILX is entirely new from the A-pillars forward, with even the hood more sharply sculpted.
The shape of the LED taillights appear totally new, while the rear bumper and apron are revised as well, once again more significantly in A-Spec guise. No doubt if you like the look of the new TLX you’ll also appreciate the changes made to the ILX, and no one should argue that the updated 2019 version is wholly more upscale looking than the car it replaces. Of course, no mid-cycle update would be complete without new wheel designs, which means lower end models get fresh sets of 17-inch split-five-spoke alloys with trim-specific finishes, and the new A-Spec sports exclusive 18-inch rims.
Changes inside are less noticeable at first glance, with many of the same high-quality finishings remaining for 2019, albeit Acura talks of “more luxurious and sporty cabin appointments” too, which we’ll report on in an upcoming road test. Acura also highlights new silver-finish dash trim featuring a new chrome insert, plus a machine-finished ignition button. Even more consequential to real-world comfort, the reworked ILX receives “more intricately styled and reshaped sport seats, front and rear, with available high-contrast piping and stitching.” Driver’s seat power-adjustable lumbar support is standard across the line as well, making comfort priority one.
Additionally, the dual-screen On Demand Multi-Use Display (ODMD 2.0) infotainment system gets a much-needed update with fresh graphics, new software, a faster responding operating system (by up to 30 percent), more intuitive menus and command structures, and standard Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone integration. Acura says the 7.0-inch touchscreen portion of its dual-screen setup features a capacitive display that’s “more responsive to touch and is positioned within easy reach of the driver and front passenger,” so we look forward to testing this out in an upcoming review.
The new 2019 ILX gets five new exterior colours as well, including Platinum White Pearl, Majestic Black Pearl, Performance Red Pearl, Canyon Bronze Metallic and A-Spec-exclusive Apex Blue Pearl, while Lunar Silver Metallic and Modern Steel Metallic carryover. Likewise, Ebony and Graystone colourways continue forward inside, although take note new Espresso provides some upscale colour to the ILX cabin, while the sportier A-Spec model gets exclusive Ebony on Red or Red on Ebony combinations, mixed with soft, grippy Ultrasuede seat inserts.
Speaking of the A-Spec upgrade, along with the exterior enhancements mentioned earlier, which also include distinctive styling with more aggressive aero components, plus dark chrome grille and lower fascia trim, darker headlights and taillights, LED fog lamps, a gloss-black rear deck lid spoiler, and unique new 18-inch alloys in a Shark Gray finish, the A-Spec gets a special graphite-silver dash accent with chrome insert, an A-Spec badged steering wheel with contrast stitching, and aluminum sport pedals. The aforementioned sport seats feature high contrast stitching as well.
Additionally, the 2019 ILX joins every other model in the brand’s lineup in providing the AcuraWatch suite of active safety and driver-assistive technologies as standard equipment, including Collision Mitigation Braking System (CMBS) with Forward Collision Warning (FCW), Lane Keeping Assist (LKAS), Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC), and Road Departure Mitigation (RDM) with Lane Departure Warning (LDW).
Acura is the only premium brand to provide such standard advanced safety features to all of its models, and this focus has pushed it up the U.S. Insurance Institute of Highway Safety’s (IIHS) rankings, resulting in three of its recently updated models receiving Top Safety Pick and Top Safety Pick + scores. The 2019 ILX should benefit from the AcuraWatch upgrade too, as the 2018 model already earns 5 safety stars from the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), plus zero complaints, zero investigations and zero recalls.
The current ILX’ high NHTSA score results from Acura’s Advance Compatibility Engineering (ACE) body structure as well as other standard safety and driver assistive features, such as Vehicle Stability Assist (VSA) with traction control, an Expanded View Driver’s Mirror, advanced front airbags, driver and front passenger side airbags, side curtain airbags, a Tire Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS), not to mention pedestrian injury-mitigation exterior design elements, while the new 2019 ILX will also be available with blind spot information (BSI) and rear cross traffic monitoring.
Also notable, the outgoing 2018 ILX earned a top Initial Quality Study (IQS) ranking for its segment this year. In more detail, it received a Power Circle Rating of 5 out of 5 and a quality award in the Small Premium Car segment. The ILX also earned the top position in the entry-luxury car category of Kelley Blue Book’s 5-Year Cost to Own Luxury Brand Awards, while Acura was the top ranked brand for the third consecutive year.
Will the redesigned 2019 ILX continue to attract more millennial buyers than any of its compact luxury competitors? It’s been the class leader amongst young millennials every year since 2013, so only time will tell if the refreshed model continues this trend. Still, the new ILX’ more distinctive styling, continued strong performance, and high quality, comfortable interior should help it maintain a steady influx of new and repeat customers.
The new 2019 Acura ILX will go on sale later this month.
News that Acura would be making a sporty A-Spec version of its four-cylinder powered, front-wheel drive TLX should be well accepted now that it’s available, as the new variant costs thousands less than…
News that Acura would be making a sporty A-Spec version of its four-cylinder powered, front-wheel drive TLX should be well accepted now that it’s available, as the new variant costs thousands less than the V6-powered model and reduces ongoing costs by achieving better fuel economy.
The new four-cylinder TLX A-Spec looks identical to the V6 version, including its matte-black grille, sportier front fascia design with larger air intakes, dark chrome internal headlights, fog lamps, extended side sills, gloss black rear trunk lid spoiler, dark tinted taillights, special glossy black 19-inch alloy wheels on 245/40 R19 all-season tires, A-Spec branded door sill garnish, red LED ambient interior lighting, thicker-rimmed leather-wrapped A-Spec sport steering wheel, red-accented primary instruments, metallic driver’s foot rest pedal, brushed aluminum inlays, unique heavily bolstered A-Spec leather sport seats, and black roofliner. The four-cylinder-powered TLX A-Spec starts at $39,400 plus freight and fees, which is a $4,365 savings compared to the V6-powered TLX A-Spec.
To be clear, the 2.4-litre inline-four may be the base engine, but it’s still a sporty alternative to the 3.5-litre V6 thanks to 206 horsepower and 182 lb-ft of torque, an ultra-quick shifting eight-speed dual-clutch automated transmission with standard steering wheel-mounted paddle shifters, rear-wheel steering, and a reduction of 123 kilograms in curb weight.
According to Acura, strong customer demand prompted the addition of four-cylinder A-Spec model, which incidentally is otherwise outfitted in well-equipped Tech trim. Therefore, along with the aforementioned styling modifications, the front-wheel drive model gets rain-sensing wipers, power-folding side mirrors, a heatable steering wheel, heated rear outboard seats, powered front thigh extensions, perforated leather upholstery, navigation, AcuraLink connectivity, a 10-speaker ELS audio system with AM/FM/CD/ MP3/WMA/satellite radio, hard disk drive (HDD) media storage, Blind Spot Information System with Rear Cross Traffic Monitor System, and more.
Additionally, highlights pulled up from the $36,190 base TLX include LED headlights with automatic high beams, passive keyless entry with pushbutton ignition, adaptive cruise control, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, dual-zone automatic climate control, a large infotainment display with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone integration, a multi-angle backup camera, a powered glass sunroof, a 10-way power-adjustable driver’s seat, a four-way powered front passenger seat, heated front seats, and the list goes on.
Also standard, the TLX features a bevy of AcuraWatch advanced driver assistance systems including Forward Collision Warning (FCW) with autonomous Collision Mitigation Braking System (CMBS), Lane Departure Warning (LDW) with steering wheel haptic feedback, Lane Keeping Assist System (LKAS), Road Departure Mitigation (RDM), and more.
Of course, another bonus that comes with ownership of the four-cylinder powered 2019 TLX A-Spec that shouldn’t be overlooked when comparing it to the 3.5-litre version is fuel-efficiency, the new model rated at 10.2 L/100km in the city, 7.4 on the highway and 8.9 combined, which is only 0.2 L/100km more city/highway combined fuel consumption than the base TLX due to its larger wheels and tires, yet it’s also 1.4 L/100km combined city/highway more efficient than the V6-powered car.
That V6 makes a substantive 290 horsepower and 267 lb-ft of torque, and couples that performance to a sophisticated nine-speed automatic transmission and Acura’s renowned torque-vectoring Super-Handling All-Wheel Drive (SH-AWD). While the nine-speed autobox doesn’t shift as quickly as the four-cylinder model’s eight-speed unit, the former includes faster reacting quick-ratio steering, stiffer springs, and an upgraded rear anti-roll bar, enhancing high-speed handling.
With the recent announcement of the redesigned 2019 ILX sedan, and the all-new 2019 RDX A-Spec and updated 2019 MDX A-Spec, all of which come with A-Spec variants, the only models left in the lineup to receive the sporty trim level are RLX flagship sedan, which may not receive it, and the NSX mid-engine sport car, which surely doesn’t need it.
The 2019 Acura TLX A-Spec is available now, along with mostly carryover versions of the TLX Tech, TLX Elite, and top-of-the-line TLX SH-AWD A-Spec Elite.
For complete pricing information on all 2019 Acura TLX trims, plus important dealer invoice pricing and model rebate program information that could save you thousands off your next car purchase, make sure to check out CarCostCanada.com.