By Asian Journal Auto Editor

2017 Acura TLX A-SPECFor 2018, Acura has refreshed its popular midsize TLX sports sedan to keep it in the running in this competitive sector. It is a mid-cycle redesign and offers exterior and interior changes, as well as the option of a four-cylinder and V6 engine and front or All Wheel drive. Major changes include Acura’s new “diamond pentagon” grille as seen on the new MDX, and a redesigned front hood and fenders. There are new standard LED lights, and twin exhaust tips on all models.

Acura’s sporty A-Spec trim line returns on the TLX and offers darkened chrome trim, gray 19-inch wheels, new fascias and side skirts, bigger exhaust tips, and a trunk mounted spoiler. The TLX A-Spec also offers: a meatier sport steering wheel; Alcantara trim on the seats and door panels, metal pedal covers; and a few other flash bits and pieces.

The base TLX starts at $35,990 and comes very well equipped, with such standard features as: 2.4-litre, 16-valve 4-cylinder engine with 206 hp, precision All-Wheel Steer™ system, 8-speed dual clutch-transmission with Sequential SportShift® paddle shifters, Jewel Eye™ LED headlights, Remote engine starter and AcuraWatch™ sensing and driver-assist features. The Tech model starts at $39,690 and offers Acura Navigation System with Voice Recognition™*, ELS Studio® Premium Audio System with AM/FM/SiriusXM™* tuner, MP3/Windows Media® Audio compatibility, in-dash CD player and 10 speakers including subwoofer, Blind Spot Information (BSI) system, Cross Traffic Monitor system, Heated steering wheel, Heated rear seats. Perforated Premium Milano leather-trimmed interior and AcuraLink™ connectivity system. The Tech A-spec at $42,190, and the Elite at $43,290 offers: Surround view camera system, Ventilated front seats, LED fog lights, Wireless smartphone charging. Driver’s power thigh extension, Front and rear parking sensors, Premium contrast stitch and seat piping and Trunk spoiler, body-coloured. The Elite A-Spec at $45,790 ups the ante with: standard Features Exclusive A-SPEC front and rear styling, Refinished front grille, Dark shadow accents, 19″ A-SPEC sport wheels, Sport-tuned steering and suspension, LED fog lights, A-SPEC sport steering wheel, Ebony Alcantara or Red Leather seating surfaces. A-Spec cars get more aggressively bolstered seats with contrast stitching, and red highlights around the interior.

All V-6 model TLXs are powered by a 3.5-liter naturally aspirated V-6 producing 290 hp and 267 lb-ft of torque, mated to a nine-speed automatic transmission. The V6 is available with Acura’s super-handling all-wheel drive. The A-Spec also offers bigger anti-roll bars, stiffer spring and damping rates, a quicker steering ratio and wider tires (245/40R19s versus 225/55R17 or 225/50R18). The engine is also louder, with a modified artificial sound enhancer system.

The Acura TLX provides an exemplary cabin, with efficient driver ergonomics and comfortable seating. It is all smartly executed with good taste and flair. New technology for the 2018 TLX include: wireless phone charging, a 360-degree camera system, heated steering wheel, heated rear seats, ambient light piping, and power-folding mirrors. Safety is also high on the TLX, with the AcuraWatch suit as standard on all models, and includes forward-collision warning, lane-keep assist, and adaptive cruise control, (Blind-spot warnings is an option on some models.). The TLX features a revised dual-screen infotainment system that Acura says has a more intuitive menu and command structure. It also has a 7.0-inch capacitive touchscreen that Acura says has a 30 percent faster response time. Rear seats accommodate full-size adults, and the trunk, at 405 litres is more than adequate.

On the road, the Acura A-Spec we tested was very impressive. The 3.5-litre V6 engine is a notably refined and smooth power plant. Its 290 horsepower comes on progressively and without the coarseness of some of its more powerful competitors. This makes the TLX a smoother, more comfortable car to drive. The responsive nine-speed automatic is also quick and offers seamless shifts. Acura’s Super Handling All-Wheel Drive (SH-AWD), is also a boon for Canada’s tough seasons, and uses a sophisticated rear differential system that uses torque vectoring to apply traction from wheel to wheel in different cornering situations. The result is better grip, less body movement and more stability in sporty driving. To sum up, the TLX is a very classy act in the sports sedan arena. Both technology and safety are high and with a choice of models from the base model four-cylinder to the six-cylinder A- Spec models, there is a choice for everyone. Equipment and options are high even as standard. Pay a little more for the A-Spec model and sporty drivers who demand more performance will not be disappointed. Highly recommended as a smart buy.

2018 Acura TLX priced from $35,990 to $45,790. A-Spec model as tested priced from: $42,190.