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2014 Acura TL vs. 2015 Acura TLX: What's the Difference?

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author photo by Doug DeMuro February 2015

The popular Acura TL is gone. Acura has launched the all-new TLX, which officially went on sale for the 2015 model year. What separates the 2015 Acura TLX from the outgoing 2014 Acura TL, and would you be better off buying a brand-new TLX or a certified pre-owned TL? To help you decide, we've created a close comparison between the TL and the TLX that shows all the key differences and similarities between both cars.

Exterior

Although the Acura TLX and the TL share some general styling similarities, such as a largely similar profile, you'll find some major differences if you look closely. For example, the TLX includes Acura's new Jewel Eye LED headlights, which weren't offered on the TL. The TL is visually larger than the TLX, especially in the rear half, which is no surprise given that the TL is indeed the bigger car, and the TL's rear end differs sharply from the TLX's, as the TLX uses more conventional styling with taillights that extend to the car's trunk lid.

Interior

The cars share more similarities on the inside. Interior quality is about the same in the TL and TLX, since both cars offer roughly the same upscale materials for the dashboard, switchgear and upholstery. Rear legroom is a little smaller in the TLX than the TL, though not so much that it's noticeable; instead, we find that the TLX's more restrictive headroom is actually a bigger problem. In front, the TLX uses two screens instead of the TL's single screen for infotainment and vehicle controls, a major upgrade that gives the TLX a more modern, futuristic feel. Of course, a certified pre-owned TL may also have a little more interior wear than a brand-new TLX, though that's to be expected for a used car.

Mechanicals

Although both the TL and the TLX tout two engine options, the powerplant choices are highly different. Both engines in the TL are V6s; base models come with a 280-horsepower 3.5-liter unit, and upscale SH-AWD (super-handling all-wheel-drive) models come with a 305-hp 3.7-liter V6. Both models use 6-speed automatic transmissions, though the SH-AWD model may be equipped with a 6-speed manual for drivers interested in a sportier experience.

The TLX also offers two engines: a 4-cylinder and a V6. The 4-cylinder is front-wheel-drive only, and it boasts just 206 hp. The V6, meanwhile, offers 290 hp and comes with front- or all-wheel drive. Transmissions are different, too: The 4-cylinder boasts an 8-speed automatic, while the V6 touts a smooth, fuel-sipping 9-speed.

If fuel economy is a priority, you'll find that the TLX dramatically outperforms its TL predecessor, largely due to the standard 4-cylinder. While the TL boasts up to 20 miles per gallon in the city and 29 mpg on the highway, the TLX offers as much as 24 mpg city/35 mpg hwy.

Features & Technology

If you get excited by gadgets, you probably won't be surprised to learn that the all-new TLX offers more than a certified pre-owned TL. Only the TLX boasts Siri Eyes Free functionality, for example, along with a dual-screen center stack, remote ignition and adaptive cruise control, and only the TLX offers the latest safety features, such as automatic braking and forward-collision mitigation.

The TL isn't exactly short on gadgets, however. There's a climate-control system linked to the navigation system, an available backup camera, a navigation system with voice commands and a blind spot monitoring system. In the end, though, there's just no way that the dated and outgoing TL can possibly compete with an all-new model like the TLX when the discussion turns to gadgets and equipment.

Driving Experience

Since the TLX replaced both the TL and Acura's smaller, more mainstream TSX, it has two roles to play: that of a sport sedan and that of an entry-level luxury car with wide-reaching popularity. Although we think it plays both roles well, we also think it loses some of the gusto of the TL, especially in 4-cylinder trim, where it's neither as quick nor as agile as its V6-powered predecessor.

With that said, the TLX driving experience is hardly terrible. It offers a smooth ride, predictable handling and a fairly impressive optional V6 that mates to a smooth, quick-shifting 9-speed automatic. Still, drivers interested in a true sport sedan will probably choose the TL over the TLX, though we suspect that such drivers might prefer BMW, Mercedes or Audi to Acura in the first place.

Safety

Although the TLX has not yet been rated in government crash tests, it performed admirably in tests carried out by the nonprofit Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, earning the firm's highest possible designation: Top Safety Pick+. That edges out the TL, which was named a Top Safety Pick; the plus indicates the TLX's impressive forward-collision alert and braking system.

Speaking of such a system, it's one of many important safety features that sets apart the TLX from the TL. Other unique TLX safety items include lane-departure warning, lane-keeping assist and automatic braking. Simply put, while both the TL and TLX offer impressive crashworthiness, only the all-new TLX is on the cutting edge of safety technology and equipment.

Conclusions

The 2015 Acura TLX and the 2014 Acura TL are two similar-looking cars that play surprisingly different roles. While the TL is a muscular sport sedan with a standard V6, the TLX comes standard with a fuel-efficient 4-cylinder and a more mainstream driving experience. If performance is a priority, you may want to consider a certified pre-owned TL, which is easy to find on AutoTrader for around $33,000, depending on options and trim. If fuel economy and the latest gadgets are more important, however, the TLX is the car you'll want. Pricing starts at a reasonable $32,500 with shipping or around $36,300 for a base-level TLX V6.

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This image is a stock photo and is not an exact representation of any vehicle offered for sale. Advertised vehicles of this model may have styling, trim levels, colors and optional equipment that differ from the stock photo.
2014 Acura TL vs. 2015 Acura TLX: What's the Difference? - Autotrader