TLX is just a name, not some meaningful set of initials, but could easily stand for Tender Loving Variables because there are a lot of details to love in it. Especially if you’re a city dweller who still wants some excitement in their commute. It’s the sum of its parts; baubles aren’t thrown in as a distraction, they just add to the fun. Critics deride it as a dressed up Honda Accord. What’s wrong with that? They’re both great cars.
The SH-AWD upgrade stands for super handling all-wheel drive. It’s not an overpromise. This tester easily slipped through traffic while gripping the road with confidence, shamelessly showing itself off on grippy 19” alloy wheels. (Mind, the week that I drove it was during a brief, welcome drought in town after the wettest summer in decades. So picture a hungry boa constrictor on spider a monkey.)
Part of that upgrade includes the chesty 3.5-liter direct injection V6 engine which puts out 290hp @ 6,200rpm and gut-pleasing 267lb-ft of torque @4500rpm. The truly devoted can enjoy better control, paddle-shifting the upgraded 9-speed automatic transmission.
This trim’s curb weight is 1742kg — a heavier engine, bigger wheels (base is 17”) and all-wheel-drive system add weight like chocolate. But who doesn’t chocolate? Of course, there’s still the corollary of such a rich diet. The government-approved estimated fuel efficiency numbers 10.0 liters per 100km in the city, 7.1 highway and 8.7 combined. If you drive like a chocolate lover you won’t probably won’t achieve them.
I was lucky to drive the TLX after two weeks in SUVs. It’s just 1,447mm tall and fully loaded, this tester had just 112mm of ground clearance. Back down here, close to the ground, you enjoy a stupendous sense of speed. Mind, we were also usually going really fast.
Which makes this as good a place as any to talk about other particulars of its size. The TLX is a good Goldilocks option for the city driver: not too big to fit where and when you need it, but your passengers aren’t swallowing their knees. The number 2642 liters of passenger space may not mean much without context, but it’s roomy enough for the average human to not complain during long drives. 405 liters of space in the trunk is possibly as meaningless, but that uber urban vehicle, the smart car, which loves pushing its own surprising trunkiness, provides 350L. It’ll cart luggage, groceries and golf clubs.
One ugly and under-discussed fact of city driving is how little there is versus simply waiting. The TLX provides a cossetting atmosphere to wait in. Active Noise Cancellation and Active Sound Control provide an oasis amid the rumble and rabble of city life. It’s enhanced by a 7-speaker sound system that included satellite radio with speed-sensitive volume control, to postpone the inevitable deafness all city dwellers face. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility mean no huge learning curve to hear your daily podcasts. All this on firm well-fitting leatheresque trimmed seats. But mostly it’s a good ride.
MSRP base: $35,990
As Drive: $42,190