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

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author photo by Doug DeMuro April 2015

If you're interested in an entry-level luxury sedan, we suspect your car search will eventually lead you to Acura, which has historically been home to some of the most popular entry-level luxury sedans on the market. But alert shoppers might note that Acura's sedan lineup has been pruned from four models down to three. How come? The automaker is replacing the outgoing TSX and TL with an all-new model, dubbed the 2015 Acura TLX. The new TLX offers a wide range of updates over both of its predecessors, which we've explored to see just what's changed between the Acura TSX and the all-new TLX.

Exterior

You'd be right to think of the TLX's styling as a modernized, updated version of the TSX's look. In other words, expect sharper lines, new design touches, new headlights and taillights as well as new wheel styles. But don't expect major stylistic differences separating the two models. Both cars clearly come from the same family, and they share more than just the T and the X on the trunk lid. With that said, we do find the TLX's look to be a bit more focused and purposeful than the TSX's design, which offers a more traditional luxury car appearance.

Interior

Changes to the interior of the TLX go a lot further than changes to the sedan's exterior styling. While the outgoing TSX features a large gray plastic center control stack, the new model brings more style and flair into the interior, along with a second touchscreen that eliminates many of the TSX's traditional buttons. There's also a more modern look inside the TLX, with vertical air vents and more of a futuristic-looking dashboard. And there's more interior room, too, especially for rear passengers. But there are still a few similarities, including some switchgear, the steering wheel design and the cabin's overall layout.

Mechanicals

The TSX and TLX offer roughly the same powertrains, though there are a few other updates worth noting. Let's start with those engines: Base-level versions of each model use a 2.4-liter 4-cylinder, which makes 201 horsepower in the TSX or 206 hp in the TLX. Drivers who want more power can upgrade to a 3.5-liter V6, which makes 280 hp in the TSX or 290 hp in the TLX.

As for notable changes to the powertrain, there are two. For one, the TLX offers two new transmissions: an 8-speed automatic with the 4-cylinder or a 9-speed automatic with the V6. The result is improved fuel economy that beats out the TSX's numbers by up to 6 miles per gallon in some categories. The other major update is that the TLX offers optional all-wheel drive, while the TSX is only available with front-wheel drive.

Features & Technology

Although the TSX offers lots of modern conveniences and comfort features, the TLX takes things a step further. For example, the TLX comes standard with two different display screens, compared to the TSX's single screen. The TLX also offers Siri Eyes Free for iPhone users and smartphone app integration, neither of which made it into the TSX. And there's a host of new safety features, including forward collision warning, a blind spot monitor and rear cross-traffic alert, none of which you can get in the TSX.

Another major upgrade is one we've already mentioned: Only the TLX offers all-wheel drive, while the TSX is only available with front-wheel drive. And then there's the new transmission technology, which manages to combine increased smoothness with better fuel economy and improved acceleration. In short, the TLX is head and shoulders above its TSX predecessor when it comes to equipment and gadgets.

Driving Experience

On the road, we find that the TSX and TLX offer a lot of similarities, though there are also a few key differences. For example, even though 4-cylinder engines are separated by just 5 hp, we think that the base-level TLX feels a lot more spirited than its predecessor. That's probably due to the new 8-speed dual-clutch automatic, which replaces last year's standard 5-speed automatic. V6 models feel about the same in terms of acceleration, which is to say rather peppy.

As for handling, the TLX has a leg up here, too, though both the TLX and the TSX go for "secure and safe" over "sporty and exciting." Ultimately, these are front-wheel-drive cars (or all-wheel-drive cars that spend most of their time in front-wheel drive), and that means you can't expect the kind of handling prowess you'll get from rear-drive rivals such as the BMW 3 Series or Infiniti Q50. In both the TSX and TLX, ride comfort is composed and luxurious, and the seating position is good for short and long drives alike.

Safety

When it comes to crash safety, the TLX earned a perfect 5-star score from the federal government's National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). The TSX was not tested, however. In crash tests carried out by the nonprofit Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), the TSX scored roughly average ratings, while the TLX earned the firm's coveted Top Safety Pick+ score.

As for safety equipment, both the TLX and the TSX have just about everything you need, but the TLX offers a wide range of additional features designed for extra peace of mind. Those items include forward collision warning with automatic braking, lane departure warning, lane-keeping assist and a blind spot monitor, none of which are offered in the TSX. Due to the additional features and the improved crash-test ratings, we think that the TLX offers some serious advantages over its predecessor in this category.

Conclusions

The 2015 Acura TLX offers a lot of major benefits over the 2014 Acura TSX, including improved powertrains, new transmissions, new safety features, a slightly better driving experience and more high-tech gadgets. It also boasts a sharper design and a more modern interior. But is a new TLX worth the premium over a certified pre-owned (CPO) TSX?

Given that a new TLX starts at just over $32,000 with shipping, compared to an average CPO price of around $27,100 for a 2014 TSX on Autotrader, we'd say that the new TLX is definitely worth the extra money. It's not that you'll be unhappy with a TSX; it's that the TLX improves on its predecessor in just about every crucial area.

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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 TSX vs. 2015 Acura TLX: What's the Difference? - Autotrader