Saturday, 25 October 2014

Review of the 2015 Acura TLX

The Good, the Bad and the Push Button.

I recently took my 09 TL into Acura for an oil change and they gave me a brand spankin' new TLX as a loaner. Since I live out of town and they were checking out a couple other things on my car, I got to hang onto it for a few days.

This gave me a bit of time to see what I thought of it. There was some good, there was some bad and there was some I'm not really sure. Overall the car was nice. It had enough power for this class and for their target market. It had the luxury one would expect and more bells and whistles than a Roger Whittaker Holiday album.

I never know if I should start with the good or the bad, so lets start with the push button gear selection. Weird. Well designed as far as useability is concerned, but I can't say I was feelin' it. Neither was my wife.

First, the cup holders can't be covered which is a bit cheep. and I can just imagine how many people will be coming in with gear selector issues due to spilled lattes. It is strange that the only model of TLX you can get an actual gear selector in is the base model.

The second button issue is with the second touch screen instead of actual buttons. Most of what you use it for takes your concentration off the road way too long. For example, to turn on or off the heated seats, you have to use the touch screen to select either driver or passenger heated seat control, which pops up a screen where you have to hit either +/- or touch one of the three level indicators to set your desired temp. Then you have to hit a little X in a small circle to close the screen... In most cars you just reach down and toggle a manual switch to low or high or hit a single button to cycle through high/med/low/off.

The Audio isn't intuitive either, you can't actually do everything associated with your music on the screen that displays your songs etc. The touch screen shows you what song is playing and gives you access to the source of the audio and lets you skip forward or backward. But in order to change playlists, you have to hit a physical button for music which pops up the playlist functionality on the navi screen higher up on the dash, then you have to use the knob for your functionality... It was really disjointed from an interface standpoint.

I'm not a big fan of buttons that don't have feedback.

Now, the doors... If you have a last generation TL, you will find the door arm rests and controls in this car really sad. They are not as sporty, comfortable or luxurious as the TL. They feel cheep.

The plastic wood is really plastic and the leather is not nearly as soft or luxurious as the TL was. For a replacement model of car you would think they would up the game. No one drives with both hands on the wheel all the time, especially on long drives, and this car gives you nowhere to comfortably rest your hand. I kept reaching for a gear shift knob with my right hand but kept hitting buttons which freaked me out... and more than once put me in neutral on the highway. You just can't get your right arm comfortable on the armrest without a gear shift in this car as the armrest is too far back and your forearm dangles off it in an uncomfortable way. The door armrest is no better. I kept feeling like I had to work to keep my arm on it. it kept slipping down towards me. And since there isn't a handle to fondle or wrap you fingers around, the play value on a long trip wasn't there. I love the slightly rubbery inner section of handle on my TL as much as I like the way the underpad on the leather right near it is trimmed and the leather goes from soft to hard. Little things like that give you something to fondle when you are just cruising on a long trip.

One of the other things I didn't like was the back seat headrests. They didn't fold flat into the back seats and stuck up blocking the view out the rear view mirror.

Acura will have to get the shift points sorted on this new 8 odd speed gearbox because if you are trying to maintain a speed between 50 and 60  kph the car wants to be in a way too tall gear and you get bad vibration. This also happens around 80 kph too. I'm sure they will just do a software patch for that. The car has umph. Perhaps the same as the TL given it's lower HP rating but lighter weight. Except, when you launch it doesn't stay in the power band. It takes you right up to redline but torque drops off 2k rpm before that then it pops into the next gear and nearly squawks the tires throwing you into the headrest but very quickly loses torque again... Rinse and repeat. The acceleration is nowhere as smooth as the TL even if it may be faster, the TL feels way nicer and faster because you are constantly in a state of acceleration until you are going way too fast.

What I did like...

The lane assist... Damn near drives the car for you on the highway. You barely notice it doing it's thing to the point where you can enjoy the scenery a bit and not drive off the road. The day was well overcast and the roads I drove had varying quality of lines from nearly new to not so hot. The car handles all of it nicely. There was a couple gentle S curves on the highway where I basically just let the car drive it'self... and it did. Kept us right between the lines around the  curves.

The system has the same feeling as driving in tire ruts on the road. when you start to ride up one side to the lame edge you are gently slid back into the lane. There is no perceptible steering wheel movement when you are just travelling straight and being kept between the lines. When it takes you around a corner, you can feel the steering wheel move.

After 30 min of this, I was convinced that I would be having a self driving car by the time I was old enough to need it.

The verdict as far as I am concerned... I wouldn't upgrade... I would consider it a downgrade and not worth it. But that is me and perhaps my wife and I are not their perfect target market.

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