2017 Car of the Year runner-up: The impressive Acura TLX A-Spec
- The Acura has a splendid V6 engine, a smooth-shifting transmission, dual infotainment screens that make sense with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, and a comfortable interior.
- The car is a great value versus the competition, with legendary Honda reliability.
- But the Acura is not a luxury status symbol. It also lacks rear-wheel-drive (although AWD is excellent), has a sub-300hp motor, and the styling is a bit controversial for Acura loyalists.
Sometimes, a really great car just kind of sneaks up on you. Several years ago, Acura (Honda's luxury division) rolled out a new version of its TLX sedan, a mid-size BMW 3-Series fighter.
That's no easy task; everyone selling a mid-size luxury sedan has been unsuccessfully fighting the 3-Series for decades. But the TLX was absolutely necessary to keep Acura competitive in the segment. That said, everyone also knew that the almighty BMW wasn't going to be dethroned anytime soon, if ever.
Enter the TLX A-Spec, which I borrowed to test out. I drove a well-optioned 2018 model that came with all-wheel-drive and stickered at $45,750. (Interestingly, I sampled the Acura in and around Fremont and San Jose, CA, when I was also checking out the launch of the Tesla Model 3, the all-electric mass-market car of the future, and we later enjoyed the vehicle in the New York-New Jersey area).
It would be a sad understatement to say that I liked this car. I've always been an Acura fan - even though Honda doesn't do rear-wheel-drive and therefore has a tough time competing against BMW, Mercedes, and Lexus, who do. The brand's cars and SUVs are exceptionally well-done, with reasonable performance, great reliability, and fantastic Honda engineering. My TLX had a brilliant 3.5-liter V6 under the hood (Honda makes superb V6's) and all the go-fast upgrades that earned it the A-Spec designation.
It was good. Real good: