There's Life In The Old Brand Yet: The 2015 Acura TLX 3.5 L SH-AWD ADV

Front 3/4 view of 2015 Acura TLX
The 2015 Acura TLX. 
Regular TireKicker readers know of my deep respect for the now-departed Acura TSX, which spent more than two years on our TireKicker's Best Cars list.  And you may be aware that not long ago, I wrote that the new Lexus IS250 had taken its place in my heart, if not on the list.

I may have spoken (okay, written) too soon.

Rear 3/4 view of 2015 Acura TLX
2015 Acura TLX. 
I say "may" because the new TLX, which replaces both the TSX and the TL, and is roughly the same size and weight as the TSX, comes in two flavors....and our first test in it (so far) was in the 3.5-liter six...which, equipped like ours, in SH-AWD form with the Advance package, carries a base price $14,000 higher than the TSX we loved so much back in 2012.

In this case, $44,700 gets you a ton of stuff, which is best reviewed here. The absolute basics? a 290-horsepower engine and a 9-speed automatic transmission that keeps the revs low and the mpg high (EPA estimate: 21 city/31 highway). And the SH-AWD?  Well, that's "Super Handling-All Wheel Drive".

Folsom to Ukiah, California via U.S. 50, CA 113, CA 128 and U.S. 101.
Best way to enjoy that is a winding road with great scenery.  And Navigator, the queen of such things, cooked up such a route for a run to the redwood town of Ukiah.  The twisty bits come on California State Route 128, which winds along the southern shore of Lake Berryessa before heading northwest through the upper Napa Valley towns of St. Helena and Calistoga.  Flick the adaptive suspension into "Sport", the TLX hunkers down and carves up the curves in exhilarating fashion, with the shoulder belts tightening and loosening as the car senses the speed and the curves. Everything at exactly the right moment.

Interior view of 2015 Acura TLX.
2015 Acura TLX interior.
The driver's seat is a great environment for such serious stuff. Acura is slowly weaning itself from the button fetish that has marred most of its cars the past decade and is getting back to the kind of clean design and high function that made parent Honda the ergonomics king of the 1980s and 90s.

Tragically, the only letdowns were both electronic in nature.  One expected (the audio and nav interfaces are still behind the state of the art) and one not (the cruise control refused to work at night unless it had been activated before the sun went down).  Again, Honda/Acura is a company that ought to be leading the way in tech.

Given that the Advance Package brings everything Acura's got, all that gets tacked onto the window sticker is $895 for destination and handling. So the bottom line is $45,595.  Reasonable for the content, borderline cheap for the performance delivered.  But to unseat the IS250 in the mid-30K range, the TLX 2.4 needs to be this great a driver.  We're awaiting our first drive in that model.