Archive for the TLX Category

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

Posted in Road Trip, TLX, Utah, Vehicle Reviews on June 15, 2020 by tysonhugie

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!

May 2020 Updates: Car Projects, House Projects, New YouTube Vids, & Upcoming Travels

Posted in Detailing, Integra, Legend, RL, TLX, Vigor on May 11, 2020 by tysonhugie

Can we talk about how cool this little LED sign is?  Found this baby on some random Facebook sponsored vendor’s ad.  Imagine me getting ads for Acura related merchandise.  How dare they think they know my life!

I’m wrapping up about 8 weeks in quarantine as I type this, and if it weren’t for the occasional socially-distant excursion like a couple of weeks ago at my friend’s pool nearby, I might have lost my insanity altogether.  Say hello to Midge the pup there in the lower left.

Car updates have been on the checklist as usual, and I’m pretty satisfied to say that I’ve accomplished pretty darn near everything I wanted to do when I set out to make my isolation time as productive as it could possibly be.  The 1992 Integra got a fresh coat of VHT wrinkle black paint on the valve cover.  It’s something I’d been meaning to do on the engine bay for a very long time.  Check it out!

The RL got a new under-hood insulation pad to replace the one that was ripped before.

The Vigor got some suspension bushings and brake pads at Hon-Man.

The laundry room (aka showroom entry) got a new LED lamp like the one I installed in the garage itself.  Here’s the before & after.

Here’s a video of those updates.

The SLX is getting a brake master cylinder as we speak.  And then I think I’m seriously done for a bit.  Famous last words, right?  Okay so that gets the chore updates out of the way for the most part.

Take a peek at this cool article from a 2001 issue of a magazine called “Velocity.”  It was an Acura/Honda enthusiast mag, and it talked about a guy named Leszek who put 500k on his 1992 Legend sedan by using it as a taxi.

Fast forward a couple of decades.  Leszek got rid of his Legend at 530k and then went into an RL that got 450k.  Then he moved to Lexus, and now he’s with Mercedes.  I found his website – aptly named “Legendary Private Car” – and emailed him.  See his email response below.

In fitting timing, a friend needed airport transport last week so I decided to dress the part and pick him up in appropriate fashion, name tag and all.

This is what happens when you’ve been in quarantine 8 weeks and take things way too seriously.

Check out this cool little info blurb I got from a friend about the original concept for the 1987 Legend coupe.  They almost named it the Legend Climax.

YouTube is still a major source of entertainment for me as I’ve spent quite a bit of time creating videos.

Here are the latest two productions:  A tour of the garage, and then an intro to the assembly of a display rack where I’m showcasing my (100+) brochures in the garage now.

Garage Tour

Display Build

I won’t see much of you all for the next few weeks.  Work is still busy, but going through a state of change as the hospital system I’m with transitions through the different phases of the coronavirus pandemic.  I’ll be taking a mandatory two-week furlough the first two weeks of June.

But guess what – I’m about to make lemonade out of lemons.  I’ve just arranged to get a long-term loan in a 2020 Acura TLX PMC Edition starting May 29th.  I’ll be taking that car on a 6-state, 2,000+ mile adventure.  You’ll read about it here sometime in June.

Lastly, I’ll leave you with a little bit of Q&A.  A couple of weeks ago, I was corresponding with Patricia who bought my 1994 Legend coupe when it was new.  I had a few questions for her that I emailed in a Word document.

You might get a kick out of her answers – especially the last one.

1 – I understand you were the original owner of the (now nearly 600,000 mile) 1994 Legend. What did you drive before buying that car?

Honda Prelude

2 – What about the Legend coupe particularly caught your eye or interest when it was new?

Loved the styling and the feel of luxury – it was my first aspirational car purchase.  The color was not my first choice – I wanted the dark green but there were no more of that color in stock in California

3 – What was it like to be in the market for a Legend back then? Was the trim, color, and configuration that you wanted difficult to come by, or was the car already in inventory and readily available?

I answered this question above – the Legend was marketed by Acura as their sporty luxury brand

4 – One particularly cool aspect of your car history is that you seem to prefer a stick shift, since the BMW 530i that you replaced the Legend with was also a manual transmission. What do you drive today, and does it also let you row your own gears?

The last car I drove was an automatic Lexus 250 – I wanted to continue to drive a manual but was later convinced an automatic was better for resale.  I just read a recent article that most automotive companies are no longer offering manual transmissions.

5 – Your ownership of the Legend lasted about 9 years and 90,000 miles, which is longer than many people keep a car. What were some of the road trips or experiences that stand out as highlights during that time?

Difficult to remember but, living in Northern California provides anyone who loves to drive so many opportunities for open roads and beautiful vistas.

6 – When you sold the Legend, did you ever think you’d be interviewed for a questionnaire about it 18 years later?

No – I was surprised when I received your phone call, identifying yourself as the new owner, and wanting to connect.

7 – On a scale of 1 to 10, how crazy do think Tyson is?

Off the charts 10+

Take care and stay safe, everyone!

Company from CA, SLX + NSX Pics, Legend Matching Odometers, & Other Car Updates

Posted in Arizona, Integra, Legend, NALM, RL, SLX, TLX, Vigor on October 28, 2019 by tysonhugie

Odometer (ILX):  219,230

How was everyone’s weekend?  It’s been busy around here as I’ve been getting back to my routine.  Just two days after returning from the mega Florida trip, I had company in town from San Diego and San Francisco for a few days.  My guest book is spilling over onto page 41 since I bought my house in September of 2016.  Let me know when you want to book your reservation (rental cars are available).

I’ll let the photos tell the story below because there’s really not much else to elaborate on.

Ryan and I took the ‘homeless’ white Legend that I’ve been storing for about a year to brunch.

He has his sights set on the Vigor.  At 6-foot-6, he barely fits in that thing.

We also took the 1992 Integras out for a spin.

I’d like to introduce my friend Michael’s new 1996 Prelude Si.  It’s beautiful!

Ben and Smiley arrived on their way back to the Bay Area from Florida on Saturday evening.

Ryan’s Accord 6-speed was looking extra juicy.

I took the Legend for its emissions test last Wednesday.  It passed the test without any challenges.

Here are the recordings for pollutants since I first registered the car in Arizona about 12 years ago.  In some cases the numbers are questionable or inconsistent.  Actually – the numbers this time were better than they were 2 years ago, for all 3 measures.  Go fig.

I needed to juggle some cars around so I parked the 2 ‘reds’ in the driveway for a few pictures on Sunday.  You’ll see more of the SLX in the coming months as it’s involved in a special project.

Similar gauge layout, vastly different driving experiences.

Do you prefer Formula Red or Radiant Red?

My buddy Chris from Maryland, who has the twin to my Legend GS sedan, knew that his recent trip to Florida would cause his car to surpass mine in mileage.  So we figured out a way to commemorate the milestone.  I took my car to Wendy’s and recorded the odometer after I parked it back in the garage.

The reading was 161,440 at the time.

So Chris, similarly, took his Legend to Wendy’s.

And he captured a picture at 161,440.  At this point, Chris’ car is likely to stay ahead of mine for the foreseeable future.

I took a scenic drive on Sunday in the RL out to Saguaro Lake in the Tonto National Forest.  I was scouting drive & lunch locations for a potential bid to host the 2020 NALM event here in Phoenix next fall.

More to come on that, but here’s a 3-minute preview video to the scenery & venues for consideration.

Have you been following any updates on the special Acura TLX PMC Edition?  It’s a TLX built at the NSX factory in Marysville, Ohio, and they’re only making 360 units.  The first one I saw in person was #026, on 7/26/2019 at Acura North Scottsdale.

And since that one was behind velvet ropes, the first one I actually sat in was #146 on 9/26/2019 at Acura of Tempe.

I’ve yet to get behind the wheel but it’s a pretty cool car because it blends Advance and A-Spec packages which historically have been mutually exclusive.  Have a good week!

“Car Week” 2019 in Monterey, CA: Type S Concept, Japanese Automotive Invitational

Posted in California, Legend, TLX on August 20, 2019 by tysonhugie

Odometer (ILX):  217,821

Every week for me is a “car week,” right?  As I motored along Highway 101 near San Jose, California last Thursday afternoon in my rental Dodge Caravan, I spotted this beauty:

It was meant to be.  That Alabaster Silver 2007-08 TL Type-S (and my formerly-owned blue one) was the last of its kind.  When the TL was redesigned for the 2009 model year (its “fourth generation”), the Type-S nameplate was retired.  Now a decade later in 2019, it’s about to make a comeback.  And the event I was headed to was specifically to celebrate the rebirth and to showcase what the Type-S of the future will look like.

The Carmel Valley Lodge just outside Monterey is an exquisite country club that hosted a private reception for Acura senior leaders, designers, and invited guests for the unveil of the “Type S Concept” – a highly talked about model that reflects the brand’s return to an emphasis on sportiness and performance.

Matt Sloustcher, Public Relations, and Jon Ikeda, Vice President, kicked off the commentary from the podium next to the concept car which had a sheet over it at the time.  At 7:00, the dramatic unveil was carried out and the crowd responded with a hearty applause.

Ikeda described this type of reveal being “Like having a designer’s pants pulled off; all of a sudden everyone sees everything and it causes anxiety about what kind of reaction they’ll have.”  I liked that analogy.  Ben Davidson, lead designer for the Type S, shared a few insights over the mic about what inspired him during the development process.  (Ben is pictured at far left below).

I was honored to be among the attendees to get a first in-person glimpse of the car which had been revealed in electronic media form just a day prior.  It had a nice presence – new signature “chicane” headlamp and taillamp design, a grille inspired from the Precision concept car, and of course the Type S badging on both front and rear.  I’ll be anxious to see when and how the Type S concept is transformed into a production car in the coming months and years.

This was our group from the NSXCA along with some of the Acura leadership team.

The Type S was on display the following day at the Quail.  I didn’t make it out for that, but it looked like an impressive display!

Another highlight of my weekend was getting to attend the second-annual “Japanese Automotive Invitational” in Pebble Beach.  The Infiniti and Lexus brands are turning 30 years old this year, and Motor Trend partnered with Infiniti to celebrate and recognize the milestone by bringing together a carefully curated field of vehicles for spectator enjoyment.  Last year my Integra GS-R was there.  One of the vehicles on display this year was my 1994 Legend GS sedan that I’ve had for 11 years now.  It looked good out there.

On the final day of my Monterey visit, I made my first visit to the WeatherTech Raceway at Laguna Seca.  I’d heard of Laguna Seca many times before, but this time – thanks to an “alumni” event sponsored by Bring a Trailer – I had a reason to pay a visit.  My minivan was definitely the lamest vehicle in the spectator parking lot, but that was okay.  I got to see & shake hands with some of my heroes from the BaT community including Zac Beatty who has been with the site since its early days.

All too soon, it was time to work my way to the San Jose airport but before boarding my flight, I made one more visit.  I stopped by the home of my friend Kevin who’s a die-hard 2G Integra fan.  Kevin currently has two of them.  He and his wife (and pets!) were extremely hospitable for my drop-in.

The “Car Week” festivities never seem to disappoint.  It was rewarding to get to reconnect with old friends, make a few new ones, and witness firsthand what the future holds for automotive design.  Thanks for coming along for the adventure!

Acura-themed bevvies!

Hanging with Andrew from Acura Public Relations, and his wife Katie

Type S looking mean and muscular

My coworker said the headlights reminded her of Knight Rider

With Marcus from HeelToe Automotive

Marcus, and Jon Ikeda

Visiting with friends who were about to send their 1979 Mercury Bobcat (named “Bob”) to auction

Infiniti display at Pebble Beach for the Japanese Automotive Invitational

My friend Greg’s Datsun

Coffee named “Q45”!

Classic Car Forum at the Inn at Spanish Bay, with remarks from leaders from Mazda, Acura, Lexus, and Infiniti

Night out in Monterey with Jay and Chris

Type-R sighting at Laguna Seca

NSX Visitors, TLX Video, & a Gas Station Called The Thumb

Posted in Arizona, Restaurants, TLX, Vehicle Reviews on October 24, 2018 by tysonhugie

Odometer (Integra Sedan):  72,211

You know when you’re at Chili’s and someone orders chicken fajitas that come out from the kitchen steaming sizzling and evoke interest from jealous onlookers at other tables?  That’s called the “fajita effect,” at least according to my friend John who was visiting from North Carolina this past week.  John was one of a few of my friends who joined for an evening at one of the American middle class’s favorite chain restaurants.  Since John was in his red 2000 NSX, my house that night looked a bit like an Acura dealership.  The other cars you see here are a loaner 2018 TLX, my friend Jack’s 2006 RSX, and my 2013 ILX.  Another friend commented, “All your exes (X’s) are home.”

John was in the middle of a monumental 8,000-mile road trip from coast to coast, and back.  He started out in NC around September 10 and made his way to San Francisco, California in time to participate in this year’s NSXPO.  From there, he spent additional time roaming around California, working his way south to spend time in Joshua Tree National Park before starting his eastbound return trip, which is what brought him through Phoenix.  He ended up staying 3 nights at my place and I was happy to have him around.

Joining the party was Trent Streeter from Tucson who you met in a recent AcuraConnected article, who drives a beautiful 1992 NSX in Berlina Black.  I made space in the garage for both to park indoors while they were at my house, and I must say I enjoyed having some nice looking eye candy in there!

We attended a Cars & Coffee event in Chandler, along with several other NSXs.

My NSX is running & driving in tip-top shape thanks to some extensive preventive maintenance performed at Acura of Tempe.  Here are the items that were addressed:  Replace timing belt, water pump, tensioners, cam sensor, outer belts, replace valve cover gaskets and cam seals, replace VTEC solenoid seals, replace coolant hoses, replace rear brake pads, resurface rear brake rotors.

While all of this was being done, I roamed around in a loaner 2018 Acura TLX V6 SH-AWD.  I enjoyed it a lot – especially its all-wheel-drive and confidence-inspiring handling during a couple of unusually rainy days here in Phoenix.  I put together a 10-minute video showing some of the highlights.  I took the car to a couple of important destinations.

One was a gas station & restaurant called The Thumb in Scottsdale which has been featured on TV (Diners, Drive-Ins, & Dives).  They have great BBQ – I went with the pork brisket breakfast tacos, which sound like an odd combination, but trust me – it works.  They also sell race gas (95 octane).  I did not fill up the TLX with that.

The other destination was a historically significant home on 2nd Street in Phoenix near my office.  It was the site of 2 murders in 1931 by a woman named Winnie Ruth Judd.  She gained national notoriety not just for the fact that she killed her two roommates over a love affair, but because she later dismembered their bodies and mailed them in luggage via train to Los Angeles with intent of dumping the bodies into the ocean.  She spent most of the rest of her life in & out of insane asylums and court rooms, but lived to the ripe old age of 93.  I saw a film about her at a cool spot called FilmBar.

This purple home is where Winnie’s crime was committed.  Today, 87 years later, it’s surrounded by high rise condominiums.  It’s the only original home left on the entire block.

Here’s FilmBar where I saw the flick.

Here’s the video I put together on the TLX.

Another interior shot of The Thumb; this one features the fish tank.

Delicious breakfast tacos + potato salad on the side.

Racing fuel sold here!

Trent’s custom NSX interior.

Tyson, Trent, John

John gave me a silver NSX to add to my collection of memorabilia.

I got the 1994 Legend GS out for a bit of fun in the sun.

Special shout-out to my friend Rick from Rick’s Audi Double YouTube channel for sharing some logo stickers with me.  If you’re into car detailing and have even the slightest obsessive-compulsive disorder, you’ll definitely want to subscribe.

The 1990 Honda Accord EX got some mechanical loving this week with a $1,200 timing belt & water pump service at Hon-Man in Tempe.  The car’s prior timing belt was 10 years old and due for replacement for a time-based interval.  It is running & driving perfectly.

For those who haven’t had enough YouTube yet, I have 2 more videos for you to check out.  The first was put together by my friend Dom when I let him drive my NSX back in September at NSXPO.

In this next one regarding Acura’s return to Precision Crafted Performance, I make an appearance at around 6:40 in.

RealTime Racing Driver Peter Cunningham

Posted in Blog, TLX on March 24, 2015 by tysonhugie

Odometer (Legend):  532,818

532818

Odometer (ILX):  116,671

116671

tlx

Let’s talk about some pedal-to-the-metal, high-revving adventures today.  With all the hundreds of thousands of miles I’ve traveled, I consider myself a seasoned driver, but certainly not when it comes to racing.  My younger brother Payton is the race driver for the H&S Motorsports team in Utah, but I don’t stand a chance at matching his skills.  (Here’s a short clip from about a year ago when his Ford Lightning got into the 8-second range in the quarter mile dragstrip).

My race experience, on the other hand, has been limited to just a few events, including the following which stand out in my mind:

  • Autocross race in the Legend at NALM 2009 in Springfield, Missouri (photo below where it looks like my car might roll over)
  • Bonneville 100 (100-mile, 105 mph) open-road race in rural Nevada in 2007 & 2008
  • Those handful of times I took my 1989 Prelude on the 1/4 mile strip at the old airport at age 17

merichard

autocross_2

Some people just seem to have a gift for high-speed driving.  One of those is seasoned race veteran Peter Cunningham, who over the course of his 28-year racing career has taken home nearly 100 professional race wins across 12 different North American road racing series.

cunningham

Peter’s race history goes back to when he founded a company called RealTime Racing in 1987.  RealTime is based in Saukville, Wisconsin, just north of Milwaukee.  Since those early days, American Honda and the Acura Division have partnered with RealTime for performance driving events.  Peter has raced in such cars as a 1992 Integra GS-R and even a Honda Civic 4WD Wagon.

realtime_integra

cunningham_1990

Today, Peter and his relatively new colleague driver Ryan Eversley, continue to pilot the RealTime team to wins year after year.  RealTime has amassed nearly 6,000 followers on Facebook and Peter’s Acura TLX “GT” has shown up at multiple Auto Shows, including its original debut (which I attended) in January 2014 at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit, Michigan.  I most recently checked the car out at the Japanese Classic Car Show (JCCS) last September in Long Beach, California.  Thumbs up!

tyson_with_peter

Last night, I met up with Peter as well as his Team Manager, Nathan Bonneau, who happened to be visiting the Phoenix area for a Bridgestone Tire event at Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park.  We grabbed a bite to eat at a restaurant called Roy’s in Chandler and visited for a couple of hours about the latest happenings with RealTime.

nathan_peter_tyson

Peter also showed me photos a few of his latest Honda & Acura acquisitions.  Just a few weeks ago, I helped him scope out a local mint-condition 1990 Acura Legend LS Coupe with only 36,000 miles on it.  That car has now made its way into Peter’s collection in Wisconsin.

90LS

RealTime’s full race schedule is posted here.  Later this week, he and his crew are off to St. Petersburg Florida for the Grand Prix event there.  Good luck to them and I’ll stay tuned for the results!  Peter gave me a couple of RealTime posters as well as a T-shirt that I’ll proudly be wearing in support.

scottsdale_to_dallas

Coming up next:  A 2,132-mile, 5-day road trip to Dallas, Texas that starts tomorrow.  I probably won’t be doing any blogging on-the-fly (or, on-the-drive, in this case).  But I’m planning on sharing a few highlights on my Instagram as the trip progresses.

See you soon.

Drive to Five Review: 2015 Acura TLX V6 SH-AWD

Posted in Arizona, TLX, Vehicle Reviews on February 25, 2015 by tysonhugie

Odometer (Legend):  532,599

532599

Odometer (ILX):  113,669

113669

Odometer (TLX):  3,177

3177

Trip Distance:  334 Miles

drive_route

tlx_driving

“It’s that kind of thrill.”  It was a pretty bold move on behalf of Acura’s marketing department to center the TLX launch campaign around the world “thrill.”

The car is, after all, just another midsize family sedan in a crowded market segment.  The majority of the 20,000 or so TLX models that have sold since the car went on sale last August are probably dutifully shuttling executives to work, hauling mom or dad to the grocery store, or basking in the sun at the mall parking lot.  But when called upon, can the TLX provide the driving excitement that Acura promised?

I’d been itching for a chance to do a full evaluation on the all-new Acura TLX since I saw the Prototype version debut in its glistening “Athletic Red” paint job at the Detroit Auto Show over a year ago.

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Since then, I’ve been behind the wheel twice – once for an initial test-drive from my local dealership, and once during last October’s Active Lifestyle Vehicle of the Year event.  Both of those cars – as well as the one that I’ve been tooling around in for the last few days – were V6 models.  The TLX is also offered in 4-cylinder configuration, powered by the same 2.4 liter that’s now standard on the smaller 2016+ ILX model.

Let’s talk tech later.  How is this thing to drive?  Well, I was working from home the day that it was delivered, and the first place I needed to go was to get lunch.  It took me a minute to tell myself silently, “No clutch.  Just a brake pedal and pushing buttons.”  I’ve been kicking at a clutch pedal since I was 17 so every time I get into an automatic, it’s culture shock.  In the 3 miles from my house to the nearest Panda Express, though, I was already sold.  Perhaps it’s because I’m used to a 113,000-mile ILX suspension, but I couldn’t get over how smoothly the TLX carried itself.

front

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Where To?

To really put this new TLX to the test, I decided I needed introduce it to one of my favorite Arizona scenic byways:  Highway 77 through the Salt River Canyon.  I’ve blogged about the route a few times, most recently on my Christmas Day trip, but the place is cool enough that it deserved another look.  Our 300+ mile route offered a combination of freeways, two-lane twisties, and some good inclines for power evaluation.  As with most of my drives, the participating vehicles were assorted.  In the mix this time, we had a 2015 Lexus RC-F, a 1998 BMW M3, and the 2015 Acura TLX V6 SH-AWD.  The Lexus was piloted by friend and colleague James who authors Six Speed Blog.

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It became quickly apparent that the TLX was definitely the preferred “cruiser” of the pack.  It plays in a different realm than the two door sports coupes, pampering its driver and passengers in creature comforts and a smooth ride.  A few spirited acceleration runs up the highway to redline with the paddles, though, taught us that the 3.5 liter V6 has a nice audible growl when pushed, and its 290 horses did a respectable job of keeping up with the Lexus’ 467.

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One place we got to hear those horses gallop was through the 1/4-mile-long Queen Creek Tunnel just east of Superior on US Highway 60.  There’s something about being inside a tunnel that makes every car fanatic want to roll down the windows, hammer down on the throttle, and listen to the symphony of intake & exhaust echoing off the walls.

I remember seeing an old Acura TV commercial awhile back that criticized some luxury automakers for making their cars too isolated.  The basic message was, “If you separate the driver too much from the road, a driving experience isn’t an experience at all.”  I feel like that’s where the TLX strikes a nice balance — it’s a car that you can drive cross-country without getting exhausted, but it doesn’t feel like a vault and there’s still a fun-factor when you want there to be.

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headlight

Exterior

On the outside, the TLX exhibits a conservative shift from the polarizing, angular design of the 4th generation TL.  Perhaps it’s even too conservative, some of the people in our group said.  My test car’s “Black Copper Pearl” paint gave off a nice brown sparkle in direct sunlight and looked pretty much black in every other lighting condition.

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I’m of course a fan of the “Jewel Eye” LED headlamps, now standard across the entire Acura lineup as of the 2016 model year.  My test car was equipped with the Advance package, which means I got LED foglights as well.  Those two lighting systems make this the best car I’ve ever driven with regard to nighttime illumination.  Speaking of lighting, the Advance package also gave me “puddle” lights underneath each sideview mirror that turned on when approaching the car at night.

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My demo TLX was outfitted with 18″ wheels, but the accessory 19’s really make the TLX pop:

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right_side

Interior

Inside the cabin, my test car’s “Espresso” leather interior got a lot of positive feedback.  Finishes have a premium feel to them, and a few people commented on the stainless steel looking dash trim.  Interior designers have obviously gone to great lengths to make the TLX interior a nice place to spend time in.  Heated & cooled seats keep things comfortable, but I wish they could be activated via button or dial rather than the touch-screen interface.  Throughout the course of the day, I test-drove (test-sat?) every seat including the back.  Head & leg room are great, and I liked the HVAC vents for the rear seats.

interior

The center console has a handy rubberized platform/tray for your iPhone or iPod, and the plug-in jack is easily accessed underneath.  The gauges, as in every Acura I’ve driven, are perfectly laid out for at-a-glance feedback.  Driver visibility is excellent all the way around – made possible in part by that “frameless” rearview mirror attached to the windshield.  I loved that the sideview mirrors on the TLX dim at night just like that center mirror does.  It really helps keep the glare down.

The instrument panel is outfitted with Acura’s signature dual-screen layout, to which I’ve already become accustomed in the RLX and MDX on my reviews previously.  The lower touch-screen controls the climate and audio functions, while the upper screen is for display-only.  I usually left it on map view.  It does take some time to become acquainted with the controls, but the menus are intuitive, screen resolution good, and response time immediate.

I do find it odd that a $46k car doesn’t have an electronic tilt/telescoping steering wheel.  It’s repositioned via old-fashioned lever underneath it.  Even my 1994 Legend coupe has power controls for the wheel.  That being said, the TLX interior was still praised many times throughout the day (and week) as an extremely comfortable place to be.

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Tech

From a tech perspective, the pieces are all there.  I played around with the ELS stereo system and pushed the bass and subwoofer all the way to the max.  It rocks nicely.  I recommend playing Metallica’s “Unforgiven II” at full volume to experience it like I did.

There are plenty of creature comforts like push-button start and auto-unlocking doors when you walk up to the car with the key in your pocket – these are much-appreciated standard fare on even the base TLX.

I’m not thrilled with the fact that the volume & track adjustment button are the same on the steering wheel (spinny up/down wheel for the volume, left/right toggle for the track).  My fat thumb accidentally changed the track a couple times when I was going for the volume.  Additionally, we were bummed to learn that the car doesn’t allow Bluetooth phone pairing while the vehicle is in motion.  I understand the logic, but even as a passenger that functionality is locked out.

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The TLX’s driver-assistance tech is extensive, starting with a standard back-up camera.  I liked the blind spot detection system which illuminates an indicator on the A-pillar when a vehicle is positioned in the blind spot.  The TLX also has sensors all the way around it – and they’re ultra sensitive too.  Even if someone is walking along next to the front of the TLX, it displays “approaching object” on the screen and gives an audible beep.

warning

Finally, the adaptive cruise control is a handy feature that tells the car to keep a pre-set distance between itself and the vehicle ahead.  If you inadvertently ever hit something with the TLX, you really aren’t paying attention.

peter_driving_tlx

Quote of the day goes to Ryan who excitedly ran up to me and said, “Acura hasn’t lost their soul!”  He’d just discovered that the TLX has a feature, just like his 2006 Acura TL does, that will roll up/down all the windows & moonroof by sticking the key in the door lock and holding it left or right.  That discovery pretty much made his day.

Driving Experience

The TLX’s direct-injected 3.5 liter V6 engine is the star of the show.  It delivers 290 horses’ worth of usable power throughout the rev range, but really starts to come alive after about 5,000 RPM.  I can only imagine how nice it would sound with a sport-tuned exhaust system of some sort – perhaps as an option on an A-Spec TLX if there ever were such a thing.  Acura, are you listening?

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I’m still waiting for the 9-speed automatic transmission to woo me since I’m first and foremost a “stick shift” guy, but I certainly realize what a minority that makes me.  Understandably, that number of gear selections does make for some pretty extensive gear-hunting while in motion.  When prompted via throttle input, there’s a pause of questioning before the TLX gives you forward momentum.  Using the wheel-mounted paddle shifters helps the situation, and “Sport” mode forces the car hold each gear a little longer.  That gives you an experience that’s about as close as you can get to a manual transmission without having a clutch pedal.

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There are obvious benefits to having so many gears from an MPG perspective:  From Payson to Scottsdale on Highway 87, we cruised at 80 mph in 9th gear while the engine barely breathed – sitting at fewer than 2,000 RPM.  That bodes well for fuel economy, with the TLX getting 21 city & 31 highway.  The auto start/stop feature helps with that too, when idling at a stoplight – though I wish the system wouldn’t always default to ON each time the car is started if I’ve manually deactivated it.

I described the handling feel to a friend as compared to having super glue on the tires.  Equipped with Super Handling All-Wheel-Drive (SH-AWD), the TLX is darn near impossible to break loose in any kind of cornering situation.  The car stays planted at speed.  Perhaps that “low center of gravity” was thanks in part to the fact that the car carried 4 occupants for most of our day, but it really did inspire a great deal of confidence on some of the technical parts of our drive.

fueling

Final Take

The TLX excels where its engineers wanted it to – it’s a competent cruiser that blends just the right amount of refinement with recreation.  Its few shortcomings are outweighed by its virtues, and it’s a car I would feel right at home putting 500,000 miles (or more) on.  It’s just too bad my fortune from Panda Express discouraged me from taking on another car payment.

fortune

Please enjoy the rest of the pics from our trip below!

21 year gap in automotive advancement:

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Getting ready to head out on our drive

pre_departure

Pit stop just east of the Queen Creek Tunnel on US 60

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Gotta love that “Dakar Yellow” E36!

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RC-F following TLX

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Pit stop in the Salt River Canyon, with Jack and Peter

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Salt River as seen looking east from the base of the canyon

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James, Chris, Tyson, Ryan

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Taking a breather and enjoying the scenery

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Back to the cars we go

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Welcome to Show Low, Arizona

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Lunch spot:  Licano’s Mexican food & steakhouse

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Eight hungry roadtrippers

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And a 9-story iPhone tower

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“Can you hear me now?”

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Thanks for joining on the drive!

Arizona Driver Magazine Feature, Sep/Oct 2014 Issue

Posted in Arizona, ILX, TLX on September 24, 2014 by tysonhugie

Odometer (Legend):  531,546

531546

Odometer (ILX):  96,818

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Today, I received a very “official” looking piece of mail.  It was the kind of envelope with the edges you have to fold over and tear off, like a check or invoice.  TIME SENSITIVE MATERIAL – ACURA ILX it said in bold letters on the outside.  I wondered if maybe I’d received a speed camera violation or something.  Nope, it was an offer for an extended warranty.  Dang junk mailers get more creative every day.

warranty

So, am I interested in an extended warranty to 100,000 miles?  Umm, considering the fact that I’m only 3,182 miles away:  No thanks.

On an unrelated note, I got to meet up with a proud Acura TLX owner today.  My friend Matt, former owner of a TSX and a TL, has recently upgraded to this new ride.  Hey, look, I’m in the pic too.  My shadow is, anyway.

tlx_ilx_matt

The editors at Arizona Driver Magazine saw fit to include one of my recent road trip stories in their publication, and I’m thrilled.

Many of you already read my write-up on the Old West town of Tombstone, Arizona, but I put together a special version for the feature story in the September/October 2014 issue of Arizona Driver.  This unique magazine is “The Enthusiast’s Guide to Life Behind the Wheel.”

Arizona has a strong ‘car enthusiast’ population due to its year-round weather friendliness.  Summer tires can be worn in most parts of the state whether it’s January or July, and aside from giving great road trip ideas, the magazine shares insightful reviews on new vehicles & industry news.  Feel free to click through these pages if you’d like to read through the article.

Coming up this weekend:  You’ll join me on a drive to Long Beach, California for the 10th annual Japanese Classic Car Show (JCCS).

Don’t touch that dial.

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Spy Pics: 2016 Acura ILX Mid-Model Refresh

Posted in Arizona, ILX, Spy Shots, TLX on September 20, 2014 by tysonhugie

Odometer (Legend):  531,537

531537

Odometer (ILX):  96,510

96510

I took delivery of my 2013 ILX on June 12, 2012 with 16 miles on its odometer.  The 2015 model year ILX is now already out, and aside from some packaging changes and the deletion of the Hybrid powertrain offering, the ‘newest’ car is pretty much identical.  That’s all about to change.

Did everyone catch the spy pics of the 2016 Acura ILX that were released on Thursday?  Edmunds posted them for the world to see, and I like where the design direction has evolved.  Notice the “shield” grille (or otherwise known as the ‘beak’) has been tweaked.  I also see Jewel Eye headlights, much like the RLX, TLX, and MDX already have.  Finally, the front & rear bumpers are much more aggressive looking.

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Awesome tape job!  They should leave those as racing stripes.

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I’m liking that lip spoiler out back.

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No word yet on when Acura will show us the production version of this refreshed ILX, but maybe it’ll happen at the Los Angeles International Auto Show in November.  I’ll be there watching, just in case.

My ILX got an “A12” service at Acura of Tempe yesterday.  For $380.74 (ouch), it’s now sporting a pair of new rear brake pads, a new cabin air filter, and some fresh 0W20 motor oil.  It had been 8,271 miles since my last oil change.  My service advisor recommended having the serpentine belt changed on my next visit, but I’m sure that’ll be after I’m well into 100,000 mile range.  Also – SHOCKER – for the first time in history, I allowed the dealership to wash my car.  I’ve been so busy that I just haven’t had time to do it on my own, so it was nice to let someone else do my chores for a change.

ilx_clean

It’s been a wet & wild couple of weeks in the Phoenix area.  On Monday, September 8th, the area experienced its wettest day in recorded history.  By noon we’d already received 3 inches – roughly a third of our annual average.  For me, it was a wet commute to the office.

commute

For others, it was even wetter.  This is what Interstate 10 looked like at 43rd Avenue.

flooding

Typical for indecisive desert weather, though, by the time I left the office that same afternoon, it was back to blue skies & sunshine.

blue

It was a few days before the warning signs were removed from roadways around my neighborhood.

flooding_sign

Even the Legend, which probably hadn’t seen rain for a year or more, got stuck in a downpour.

coupe_in_rain

Finally, it’s always a cool feeling to see a “first” of any new model on the road in a real-world setting.  I was sitting at a light on westbound McDowell Road in Scottsdale, and caught a glimpse of some LED headlights in my sideview mirror.  This was a TLX.

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I felt like a bit of a paparazzi for taking such pictures, but it was kind of exciting to see an on-the-road version of the very vehicle that I saw unveiled as a prototype at the Detroit Auto Show this past January.

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Hope everyone is enjoying the weekend!

Test Drive: 2015 Acura TLX V6

Posted in TLX, Vehicle Reviews on August 12, 2014 by tysonhugie

Odometer (Legend):  531,389

531389

Odometer (ILX):  91,150

91150

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Rain, in Phoenix?  I never thought the first feature I’d be experiencing on Acura’s most advanced vehicle ever would be its rain-sensing windshield wipers, but it was.  I’ve been watching for this car to hit the streets since I saw the cover pulled off the prototype in January at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit.

My local dealership, Acura of Tempe, currently has 3 TLX demo cars in stock.  All are V6, front-wheel-drive models with the Advance (top-line) trim package.  My friend Daniel, who you’ve already met and who drives a sweet Acura TL, met up with me for this rainy-day test drive of Acura’s all-new midsize sedan.  Most of my readers will already know that this car debuted as a replacement for the now-discontinued TL and TSX models, and it’s sized in between the two.

The TLX that I drove was powered by a 290-horsepower, 3.5 liter V6 engine and Acura’s signature “Precision All-Wheel Steering” (P-AWS)..  A few dealer add-ons (window tint, wheel locks, and side moldings) drove the price to just above $44,000.  The Crystal Black Pearl exterior was nicely complimented by an “Espresso” (fancy speak for “Brown”) interior.  I liked the combination, and as crazy as it would be to own a black car in Arizona, I think that’d be my top pic from the color palette. 

tlx_msrp

So how about that driving experience, eh?  Well, I wasn’t even in the car for more than 3 seconds when my right hand went down to reach for a shift a lever that wasn’t there.  That’s because the car I had was equipped with a push-button transmission.  A pull-back on the “R” button sent me into Reverse, but not before I cranked my ventilated seat to “high” setting via the touch-screen climate control.  In all, my drive route was no more than 5 or 6 miles, but it was enough to experience the driving dynamics in both surface street & freeway settings. 

I found the TLX eager to accelerate and ultra smooth in doing so.  Of the transmission’s 9 speeds, I think I only got it up to 5th.  Tire spin from a dead stop comes easily with the torquey V6, especially on wet pavement.  Fit and finish exceeds expectations, with tasteful woodgrain accents on the door panels and soft-touch materials throughout the cabin.  Daniel commented that the level of refinement exceeded that of his 2012 TL by quite a bit.  Wind & road noises were heavily muted in the cabin. Accelerating onto the Interstate 10 onramp, I dipped deeply into the throttle and loved the sound of the engine at 5,000 RPM, awakening from its refined state.

It’s tough to find fault with the TLX.  Adam, the sales representative who accompanied us, reported that it’s entirely possible for even the V6 engine to achieve MPG in the 40’s in “Economy” mode.  That kind of efficiency, coupled with the amenities that Acura is great at providing, make for a compelling package deal.  Adam encouraged Daniel to engage “Sport Plus” mode during his test drive, and even from the back seat I could readily feel the difference in engine performance, shift points, and suspension as the car transformed into a more raw driving experience:  higher revs, tighter handling, and more pronounced gear transitions.

If Acura were to offer a 6-speed manual transmission in the TLX I’d be pondering an upgrade from the ILX, but as for right now I’m content to row my own gears.  I’m looking forward to checking out the 2.4 liter 4 cylinder TLX as soon as it’s available, as well as the Super Handling All-Wheel-Drive version, but for now I stand impressed at what the TLX offers.  I’ll post a more detailed review as soon as I get access to the vehicle for more than just short test drive.

Huge thanks to Sales Consultant Adam Ferguson for taking the time to introduce us to the TLX.  He mentioned during my test drive, “It’s nice to be on a test drive with people who already know about the car!” 

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Here we have the TLX in Crystal Black Pearl.

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Rear perspective.

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These gauges are familiar as the layout is similar to what I’m already used to in my ILX.

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“Espresso” interior.  Nice color!

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Passenger side interior.

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Just getting back from our test drive.

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Parked with the 2012 TL & 2013 ILX.

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Three Acuras in a row.

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Great looking car from this angle.

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Side by side:  2012 TL, 2015 TLX

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Daniel at the wheel for a test drive.

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Man, those Jewel Eye headlights on the TLX sure make my ILX projector HID bulbs look dim!

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For those local to the Phoenix, Arizona area, drop Adam an email at adam.ferguson@acuraoftempe.com and he’ll show you around the TLX.

Here’s a video review on the TLX posted today by Sofyan at 2theRedline.