What It Is: Acura’s next-generation mid-size sedan being tested while wearing a heavy layer of obstructive camouflage. The last time we checked in on Acura’s sedan lineup, the company told us it was planning to offer just three sedans in the future. With the introduction of the compact, Honda Civic–based ILX and the RL-replacing RLX large sedan, only the TSX or the TL—but not both—will soldier on. Based on the apparent size of the four-door in these spy photos, it seems Acura has decided to go with a new TL. We’ll give TSX fans a moment to collect themselves. In keeping with Acura’s latest three-letter, X-centric (Bazinga!) nomenclature, we expect the TL moniker to give way to a more brand-appropriate TLX designation.
Platform: Like the outgoing TL, we expect the new TLX will use some variation of what underpins Honda’s North American Accord. The TL shared its bones with the previous-generation Accord (the smaller TSX was based on the European Accord), which was updated heavily for 2013. Just as the latest Accord sedan essentially is the same underneath as the car it replaced, look for similar upgrades to the TLX’s structure, possibly along with some weight savings.
It’s difficult to make out any specific styling changes from these spy photos, but it’s clear that Acura largely will carry over the TL’s swoopy greenhouse and high beltline to the TLX, although the new sedan does look less chubby in profile. Somewhat amusingly, Acura’s camouflage folks decided to use a contrasting-color, pentagon-shaped mesh insert for the area covering the TLX prototype’s grille, and it fairly gives away the test car’s origins. Behind the camo, the brand’s signature beak-like grille barely can be made out. It looks as though RLX-style LED headlights will be available on the TLX, considering that they can be seen gleaming from behind the camouflage, as well.
Powertrains: Perhaps the TLX’s biggest potential changes relative to the TL have to do with its engine, transmission, and drive layout. The TL offers two engines, one for front-drive models and another for all-wheel-drive versions. A 280-hp, 3.5-liter V-6 powers front-drive TLs and a burlier, 305-hp 3.7-liter motivates TLs with the brand’s signature torque-vectoring Super-Handling All-Wheel Drive (SH-AWD). We’re betting that, like the larger RLX, the TLX will carry over its dual-powertrain strategy, but with a twist.
Thanks to: Car and Driver