By Joe Bruzek on January 14, 2014
Looks like: A more curvaceous ILX with MDX front styling
Defining characteristics: Taut proportions and swooping rear fenders
Ridiculous features: Tailor-made side mirrors
Chance of being mass-produced: You'll see the TLX on sale this summer
Acura's "prototype" designation means the all-new TLX is coming to a dealership near you this summer as a full-blown production car; engine, transmission and drivelines were all divulged at the 2014 North American International Auto Show in Detroit today. The TLX replaces the TL as Acura's midsize sedan and also bumps out the oddly sized TSX sedan.
Because it's a prototype, Acura can show the outside and leave the interior a mystery, which is the case with the 2015 TLX Prototype. The outside is the star, so far, though, with a familiar look cleaned up and toned down compared to a generation of beak-like styling that's now subdued and more rounded.
Size-wise, Acura says the TLX's passenger space remains similar to the midsize proportions of the TL; it will continue to seat five occupants. The TLX will slot between the compact ILX and flagship RLX with a wheelbase of 109.3 inches, which is the same as the outgoing TL. The TLX has more taut dimensions with the svelte exterior size measuring 3.8 inches shorter in overall length compared to the TL. A shorter front and rear overhang add to the exterior's sportier appearance.
Behind the shorter nose is a four- or six-cylinder engine - the TL only had a V-6 - and two new transmissions. An eight-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission pairs with a direct-injected 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine, and a nine-speed automatic mates to the familiar 3.5-liter V-6, which is also direct injected. Acura promises class-leading fuel economy with features such as cylinder deactivation and the available all-wheel drive exclusively on V-6 models is 25 percent lighter than the outgoing system.
Acura says both four- and six-cylinder TLXs will use Acura's next-generation all-wheel-steering system for improved handling and more precise steering control and high-speed stability; Acura's all-wheel-steering system debuted on the flagship RLX sedan. All-wheel steering and all-wheel drive will feature adjustability from four selectable driving modes: Econ, Normal, Sport and Sport Plus, as well as adjusting power-steering effort and throttle response.
The TLX's performance credibility is said to improve with a more rigid body construction with a dual-purpose effort to reduce interior noise along with body sealing, sound insulation and an electronic noise control system. When the TLX goes on sale in summer 2014, it will also be available with a full suite of safety features, including collision warning, lane departure warning, lane keeping assist, adaptive cruise control with a low-speed follow feature and a blind spot warning system.
Road Test Editor Joe Bruzek covers Cars.com’s short-and long-term fleet of test cars and drives a 1998 Pontiac Firebird Trans Am. Email Joe