Great Escape: 2020 Acura TLX PMC Edition 6-State, 3,000-Mile Road Trip

TLX Odometer Start 5/29/2020:  2,233

TLX Odometer End 6/12/2020:  5,369

Trip Mileage:  3,136

Acura gave me the key to a 2020 Acura TLX for two weeks, and I used it to deliver pizza & garlic bread.  Before that phrase prevents me from ever getting a demo car from them again, let me explain.

My grandpa’s favorite pizza place, Fredrico’s, is located 400 miles away from his home.  He’s nearly 90 years old and doesn’t get to travel as much as he used to, so his opportunities to taste Fredrico’s food are few and far between these days.  But I crafted an idea of a way I could make it happen as part of a summer road trip.  The strategy involved a to-go order, a cooler, and effective time management to get the meal delivered six hours away.  It worked out perfectly, and here’s the video of my arrival right on time at 5:00 p.m. for dinner in St. George, Utah.

The pizza run was just one of many rewarding aspects of my over-3,000-mile, 6-state, 12-day road trip in a new car that was allocated to me by Acura for press use.  And the experience was exactly the great escape I’d been needing after being cooped up in quarantine for a couple of months.

The year 2020 has taken each one of us for a pretty unpredictable ride.  What started out as an anticipated year of celebrations for me – car meet-ups, a high school reunion, and family festivities – started cascading like a row of dominoes as every event cancelled in sequence.  And two months into what became a worldwide health crisis, I learned that the future and stability of my own career was in jeopardy.  A mandatory unpaid furlough added to the drama, but I engineered a way to turn that downtime into some serious up-time.  Enter the Acura TLX.

I’ve followed the limited-production TLX “PMC Edition” since it was first introduced in a press release on April 11th, 2019.  In fact, I knew about it a day prior, because Andrew from Acura Public Relations clued me in privately via email a day in advance.  His email stated, “I think you’re going to like this one.”  Indeed, I did.

Even before that, I’d followed the evolution and launch of the first-generation TLX for a long time.  I was present in January 2014 when it debuted in concept form at the North American International Auto Show (NAIAS) in Detroit.  I met Jarad Hall, its lead designer.

The TLX production model was unveiled 3 months later in New York.  I first drove one that August, and in February of the following year I secured one for a thorough road test via some Arizona scenic byways.  It’s now been 5 years since I really had much of a chance to spend time with one.  Until now.

I flew from Phoenix, Arizona to southern California on Friday morning, May 29th with as many precautions as I could possibly put into place.  The entire travel experience was somehow new for me, despite being such a seasoned traveler:  Mask regulations, distancing practices, in-flight announcement changes, sanitization measures, new signage, and modified boarding procedures.  It was a unique opportunity.  Andrew picked me up in the PMC Edition #027/360 with 2,233 miles on the odometer, and the adventure started from there.  I had lunch with a fellow Acura enthusiast who brought out his 1988 Integra Special Edition.  Aren’t those white wheels so 1980s?

My first order of business was getting back home to Phoenix to load up the car with luggage since I’d flown to California with only a backpack.  While there, I tried the TLX on “for size” by introducing it to the heritage Acura vehicles in my garage.

The trip route was intentionally designed to minimize ever having to re-use the same stretch of road.  And aside from a few small areas, I succeeded in that.  For 3,136 miles, I made my way through California, Arizona, Utah, Idaho, Wyoming, and Nevada.  I reconnected (at a safe distance whenever possible) with family & friends, mapped out some roads I’d never seen before, and saw some of Mother Nature’s finest landscapes in the Rocky Mountains.

No interstate adventure would be complete without saying hi to some of my fellow Acura enthusiast brothers and sisters, so I made a special point to arrange a meet-up in Salt Lake City with friends including Sunny, Trevor, and Shaun who brought out their TSX, TL, and RDX respectively.

The trip’s capstone was a 3-day weekend in a small town nestled at the base of the Grand Teton mountain range called Jackson Hole.  As home to about 10,000 people, Jackson acts as a hub of recreation for that region.  In the wintertime, skiers swarm the town for the opportunity to hit the 3 ski areas, and in the summertime, there are dozens of hikes and activities to entertain people in the great outdoors.

My dad & stepmom joined for that leg of the trip.  We took an 8-mile early-morning hike at Bear Paw Lake in Grand Teton National Park, where we had the place nearly entirely to ourselves aside from a few mosquitoes and other forms of wildlife.  Bear sightings, for better or for worse, were zero that day.  We had some fun capturing ourselves on the Town Square live webcam stream from multiple angles, as shown in the trip recap video below.

Climbing out of Jackson on Highway 22 to the west, the ascent sharply climbs from about 6,000 feet to about 8,500 feet with 10% grades and avalanche slide paths via the Teton Pass.  I chose this route because it provided the most direct access to eastern Idaho where I stayed at my uncle Jeff’s cabin for a night.  With temperatures in the low 30s that day, there was a likelihood I’d run into snow and I was optimistic I’d get to put the TLX “Super Handling All-Wheel-Drive” to a test, but aside from wet roads and heavy fog, I had plenty of traction to get where I needed to go.

I added a few hundred extra miles to my trip in Idaho because I wanted to reconnect with a couple of friends there.  After passing through small towns like Arco (“first city in the world lighted by atomic power”) and seeing what there was to explore at Craters of the Moon National Monument (basically, an abundance of lava caves), I dropped into the city of Twin Falls along the Snake River.

My friends Josh and Pete met up with me there for the best all-you-can-eat sushi in the state.  Josh also presented me with a custom, hand-built Hot Wheels display board that I’ll post photos & videos of in the coming weeks.  The Idaho hospitality was definitely very much appreciated!

My return to Phoenix included a few more stops to see people as well as the aforementioned Fredrico’s Pizza delivery run.  I made the most of each and every checkpoint along the drive home, even popping in to say hello to my friend Casey who works at the Shell gas station in small Mona, Utah off Interstate 15.  My entire handwritten fuel log – or at least the 13 fuel stops since starting out in Phoenix – was left in the glove compartment for posterity.

It’s hard to believe six years have passed since I first laid eyes on a TLX – the design is modern and the car drew compliments everywhere I took it.  I hadn’t even made it out of Orange County California without a fellow driver rolling down the window in his Mazda and waving to get my attention to ask, “How much is the A-Spec?”  And the coolest part of my drive experience was the fact that this particular TLX wasn’t just any A-Spec, it was one of only 360 total cars hand-assembled and hand-painted at Acura’s Performance Manufacturing Center in Marysville, Ohio.

I reluctantly gave the key back to my Valencia Red ride, but will forever enjoy the memories that were created on this trip.  The TLX PMC Edition was the perfect travel companion, delivering 28 miles per gallon thanks to an eco-minded 9-speed transmission that revs low at freeway speed.

I found the TLX’s 290 horsepower 3.5-liter V6 more than ample to crest the mountain passes (and overtake slower traffic) with ease, and I was spoiled by the car’s awesome stereo system and driver-assist technology.  Even the most vigilant driver can benefit from the occasional nudge of the steering wheel when beginning to veer from a travel lane, and even though I disliked that feature initially, I found it helpful as time went on.

And maybe I’m getting old (would you believe 40 is coming up next year?  Yikes!), but I fully enjoyed having an automatic transmission as a change of pace so I could more freely focus on other enjoyable attributes of the driving experience.

Now, who needs a pizza delivered and what toppings can I get you?

12 days in 12 minutes:

Flanked by 1994 Legends

Marble Canyon along Highway 89A, Northern Arizona

Entering Hildale, Utah

Mom representing with her Acura hat

…. And with her Crystal Black pearl 2016 RLX

Salt Lake City meet-up with my friend Eric and his 1989 L coupe

Another enthusiast meet up with Daniel of @redlabelspec (check out his awesome cars on Instagram)

Another state crossed off the list!

Bridge on Highway 89 in Logan Canyon, Northern Utah

Wyoming State Line

Teton Village, near Jackson Wyoming, with dad & stepmom

Throwback photo series – our family has a tradition of taking photos by this elk statue in Jackson.  Here we are in about 1992.

And in 1997.

In 2000.

In 2014, from my prior Jackson trip.

And finally in 2020.  The trees have changed, haven’t they?

Entering Grand Teton National Park

The highest peaks there are over 13,000 feet in elevation.

Visiting Uncle Jeff in Driggs, Idaho (check out that Chevy II Nova)

Arco, Idaho

Craters of the Moon National Monument, Idaho

More from Craters of the Moon

Josh’s RDX and the TLX PMC Edition

Some glamour shots my brother Payton got of the TLX

Thanks for coming along!

23 Responses to “Great Escape: 2020 Acura TLX PMC Edition 6-State, 3,000-Mile Road Trip”

  1. Such a cool post! Sounds like an epic road trip, and a great way to get a good feel of the TLX. One thing that jumped out to me was how massive it looks in your garage compared to the other cars. I’ve seen the TLX up close, and it doesn’t seem that big, but it certainly is in comparison to vehicles from the 90’s. Just goes to show how much cars have increased in size over the years.

    I’ll watch the videos a little later. The TLX is definitely on my short list of cars that I would test drive if I ever had to replace the Accord. It’s a shame you didn’t get to test the car in snow – living in the northeast, SH-AWD is an enormous benefit to buying one. Did you push the handling at all? I’m curious with the all-wheel drive how it responded to tight cornering at speed.

    Awesome pizza delivery, too!

    • I’m pretty excited to see what the next-gen TLX is like, because this one was already a really nice platform to start with. I didn’t get too aggressive with handling but I could definitely detect sure-footedness on wet roads during the rainy bits of the drive.

  2. I love pizza. Do you deliver to Miami, Florida? 😉

  3. Really Tyson! So much fun… you do know how to party during a pandemic! 😉

    Love the Fredrico’s pizza run I bet you made your grandpa’s day with that one…

    It’s funny when you mentioned Snake River the first thing that came to mind was Evel Knievel and the Snake River Canyon jump. Guess that’s something only older readers recall.

    BTW I started watching your vid and was surprised to see that relatively pristine SLX with the Utah plates and yet no comment about it.

    Lastly, the TLX does look very sharp with the PMC exclusive paint color though I must admit lately I’ve seen a few Mazdas in this same (or similar) color and they all look very spectacular. Would be nice to see this same paint process offered in the future to other colors too.

    From what I understand they apply multiple base coats. Then, two clear coats for a deeper gloss. A final paint inspection after the five-day-long paint and curing process. And since the normal paint process takes a day guess it makes sense why they charge extra for these. As we discussed before I just can’t imagine anyone buying one without spending another $4K-$5K and have the car fully wrapped in clear film.

    Happy you had such a good trip and made it back safely…

    • Thanks! I know, this was a nice way to have fun in an otherwise bad (no-work) situation. The SLX was a total shocker when I came across it in Hurricane, Utah. It was sitting at a repair shop (go figure) but it was in really nice shape when I did a walkaround. The TLX PMC Edition paint is really too vivid to accurately capture in photos / videos. But I agree with you, a clear film would be a necessity to preserve it long-term.

  4. I loved seeing that Valencia Red Pearl TLX in person. Makes my Milano Red look so boring in comparison :). Thanks for meeting up!

    • Haha, Milano is anything but boring! Makes me wish I’d had more time to hang out with you and get some side-by-side pics but hopefully I can make it back up to that area again soon. Thanks for coming out to say hi.

  5. So much goodness here, where do I start? I’d love to try out some Fredrico’s next time I’m in the area. I wish we could see more press cars taken on journeys like this. Seeing how this PMC fits in with traveling, family, and friends will make for a much longer lasting impression than a few paragraphs in a magazine. Well done! I’m sure your efforts on leaving that envelope in the glove box will be much appreciated by future drivers. Were you able to convince Josh C. he NEEDS one in his driveway? Hope to see something in AZDriver soon. Cheers!

    • I know, it’s rare a press car is allowed upwards of 1,000 miles by any journalist, let alone 3x that. I sort of doubt that TLX will see a trip of this kind again for a very long time, if ever. I think Josh and I each need a 2021 TLX Type-S. Hehe.

  6. Well there you go. Literally! That was a whirlwind trip, and I just feel blessed to catch you heading to and coming fro. The highlight here, at least for me, is the pizza delivery. Dripping bag and all, that pizza heated up good as new, and home-toasted garlic bread tastes like it’s right off the toaster at Fredrico’s. Ham and cheese salad with extra beets is tough to top, and tastes even better after a 400-mile drive. Can you tell I’m hungry? Other delights are seeing the Tetons, Jeff’s race cars, the antler arch at Jackson Hole, and all your people along the way. That red paint color, though! Smiley face with heart-shaped eyes here.

    Hats off to you for another thought-out, well-planned trip, all while spreading joy along the way! Now let’s focus on making NALM happen!

    • Yeah! More to come on NALM – our team planning meeting is Thursday, June 25 and we’ll figure out where to go from there. I could go for some Fredrico’s tonight, but I’m still working on the tortilla chips I brought home from Lamb’s currently.

  7. Looks like a really great trip! I’m most envious of course. Glad you were able to enjoy that TLX beauty, even if it was for just a precious few thousand miles. Any idea what will happen to that car now? Sold to a Honda/Acura employee maybe? If so, wonder how much $$$.

    • It’s still in the press fleet, cycling around to other journalists in Arizona for now. At some point it will be sold but the next owner (and the pricetag) are not yet known. I asked to be kept in the loop and given the opportunity to purchase.

  8. Wesley Adams Says:

    Just decided to swing by, it’s been awhile.

    I’m loving the new A-Spec PMC. That Valencia Red is gorgeous!

    It was funny to see the trees getting bigger by the Elk Statue every few years.

    Haven’t seen much of Josh lately. Good to see you guys got to see each other again. Hard to believe it’s been almost four years since his TSX hit the big 500!

    Take care, Tyson!

    • I know! Seriously. Time flies. I was glad to reconnect with Josh. Thanks for coming back to check in from time to time. I hope you are doing well.

      • Wesley Adams Says:

        No problem man, I’m always following on YouTube! I’ve been doing fine, got back into a nice 2006 Accord V6 a few months ago! Looking forward to many new adventures with this car.

  9. what you think of the 2021 TLX?

  10. also if you don’t mind I like to start more replies – I like the 2017 acura short review… (as I am not able to find/much luck with any older 91-01 nsx or the price has almost become the same as a used 2017 acura nsx) what do you think of that? would it be better idea to save $120k for used 2017 nsx than spend hours and many back and fro with buyers have the 1st gen nsx who wants lots of $ for theirs.

    • They are quite different cars. Honestly I am probably more partial to the first gen NSX instead of the 2017+, but that’s just because I like manual transmissions and a more “raw” driving feel.

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