The Acura TLX replaced the TSX and TL when it was introduced in 2015. It has received a mid-cycle makeover for the 2018 model year, becoming the first car in the Acura line to get the Acura Precision Concept corporate design, first introduced on the company’s utility vehicles.

The best selling Acura sedan also gets some new features and the availability of an A-Spec package designed to emphasize the dynamic abilities.

The TLX is available in a myriad of trim levels including front and all-wheel-drive and four and six-cylinder motivation, spanning the $32,500-$48,500 price range.

The refreshed look starts up front with a new grill, hood and front fenders. New side sills, rear fascia, slim but bright and powerful LED headlights and new alloy wheels complete the transformation.

Canadian models get a pair of chrome exhaust outlets for the four-cylinder model, a look reserved for six-cylinder version sold in America, where the car is built.

Inside, the updates are primarily to the infotainment system and the standard feature list, which now includes the company’s Acura Watch system.

The TLX is the first Acura to receive a redesigned dual-screen system with more intuitive menus and a 30 per cent faster response time from the new 18-cm upper screen. The system now includes provision for both Android Auto and Apple CarPlay.

The centre console houses the push-button, pull-lever transmission controls. They are not exactly intuitive and I found a disconcerting delay when shifting from reverse to drive in a hurry after backing out of a spot.

The AcuraWatch suite of safety and driver-assistance features is now standard. It includes lane-keep assist and departure warning; forward-collision warning, automated emergency braking and adaptive cruise control.

The base TLX comes with front-drive, an eight-speed dual clutch automatic transmission and a 206-horsepower, 2.4-litre four-cylinder engine. I tested the top-trim model with a 290-horsepower, 3.5-litre V6, a nine-speed automatic and Acura’s SH-AWD (super handling all wheel drive) system. This is the way to go — get a V6 while you still can. The competition has dropped six-cylinder engines in favour of turbocharged fours.

I get the reason for the switch — the same or more power, less weight and better fuel consumption — but the silky smoothness, instant throttle response and sonorous output of the V6 put a smile on my face every time I used the throttle.

The SH-AWD system does more than merely apportion power front to rear, it does so from side-to-side at the rear. The control system monitors a number of factors including steering angle, engine output, wheel speed, what gear the transmission is in, lateral load and more.

Based on this information it sends up to 90 per cent of the power to the front wheels, up to 70 per cent to the rear and as much as 100 per cent of the power to the rear between them.

This sounds, and is, complicated, but the result is a more useful distribution of power in a turn and the ability to apply power earlier when exiting.

Further enhancement of the test vehicle’s dynamic prowess was provided by the A-Spec package. There are visual components like unique heavily bolstered and ventilated front seats with contrasting stitching, red ambient lighting, faux-suede headliner and a wireless charging pad.

On the outside there are A-Spec badges, unique grill and wheels, matte-black trim, smoked tail lights and different exhaust outlets.

But the key stuff for those who like to drive, include exclusive, wider, 19-inch alloy wheels with Shark Grey paint wrapped in 245/40-series tires and unique steering and suspension tuning.

The revised steering, stiffer springs, larger rear anti-sway bar and reworked bushings, result in sharper turn-in and reduced lean.

The 2018 Acura TLX, properly equipped, is a delightfully sporty car with no sacrifices in the comfort, reliability and the creature comforts expected from a luxury vehicle.

The specs

  • Model: 2018 Acura TLX SH-AWD Elite A-Spec
  • Engine: 3.5-litre, V6, 290 horsepower, 267 lb.-ft. of torque, premium fuel
  • Transmission: nine-speed automatic, all-wheel drive
  • NRCan rating (litres/100km city/highway): 12.0 / 8.2
  • Length: 4,844 mm
  • Width: 2,091 mm
  • Wheelbase: 2,775 mm
  • Weight: 1,729 kg
  • Price: $32,400 base, $48,490 as tested, plus freight
  • Competition: Audi A4, BMW3-series, Lexus IS, Mercedes C-series