Burning Snow: 2018 Acura TLX A-Spec Chews up the Powder [Op/Ed]

Acura TLX A-Spec Winter Testing
2018 Acura TLX A-Spec. [Photo: Nathan Leach-Proffer]
Rocky Mountain Redline invited TFLcar to take the 2018 Acura TLX A-Spec on to a winter performance driving course, and it was a blast! One of the most enjoyable things to do with your car is taking it to a track day event. That way, you can see where its true limits lie. You can take it to another level if you have an all-wheel drive (AWD) vehicle. Participating in a cold-weather and/or ice-driving event is tantamount to driving bliss – if you’re in the right vehicle.

Does the 2018 Acura TLX A-Space Have the Right Stuff?

Surprisingly for me, the 2018 Acura TLX A-Spec was the right car.

A few months back, we put together a (dry) track review driving the very same 2018 Acura TLX A-Spec I drove in the snow. While it preformed admirably on asphalt, I didn’t see the extra expense of the A-Spec package as very compelling. I knew the (Super Handling) SH-AWD system was excellent. It uses sensors around the car to analyze individual wheel speed, steering angle, yaw-rate and G-forces. From all that information, it allocate the proper amount of power to the wheels for every type of maneuver. Unfortunately, I couldn’t test its limits on dry pavement.

The 2018 Acura TLX A-Spec’s 3.5-liter V6 makes 290 horsepower at 6,200 RPM and 267 lb-ft of torque at 4,500 RPM. That’s just enough power to make it exciting to drive. Better still, it also returns respectable efficiency, with an EPA fuel economy rating up to 20 MPG City/30 MPG Highway. I averaged well into the high 20s with a mix of snowy mountain roads and highway driving. The TLX has a 9-speed, “push-button” automatic transmission – with a torque converter –  and it is extremely smooth, whether upshifting or downshifting. I’m not a fan of the push-button gear-changer as it forced me to fumble around a bit, but that’s the only gripe I have regarding the running gear.

The 2018 Acura TLX A-Spec is well featured and has some snazzy upgrades for folks who want a little more pizazz in their ride. Derived from their Precision Concept and the NSX, Acura says the A-Spec package gives the V6 TLX a distinctive character. Aesthetic features of the package include a dark chrome version of their signature Diamond Pentagon grille, red leather interior and charcoal 19-inch wheels.

Burning Snow: 2018 Acura TLX A-Spec
[Photo: Nathan Leach-Proffer]

Throwing the Acura TLX A-Spec Around in the Snow

Everything came together for me when I was driving on mountain roads. There, I seized the chance to hang the tail out on a snow and ice-covered performance course. The SH-AWD system moved torque side to side, front to rear and, when called upon, sent power to the rear-wheels for some drifting fun. I mention that because the 2018 Acura TLX A-Spec is a front-wheel drive-biased vehicle. It’s uncommon for vehicles with all-wheel drive layouts to allow so much power to go to the rear.

Before I could really have fun, I shut off as many safety systems as I could. Once I did, it let me oversteer, drift and bound through the snow and ice like a madman. I never expected this type of unbridled, aggressive fun in an Acura sedan. I slammed the accelerator down and, after a split second of the SH-AWD system agreeing to let me loose, the TLX A-Spec growls while being tossed around cones. It allowing me the type of control I would expect out of an Audi.

The chassis is always well sorted with a reassuring solidity, even when bounding through and around snowy mounds. The electrically-assisted steering was well-weighted and accurate. It’s nearly as good as the Porsche Macan and Acura’s own NSX, which was also at the event. Once I got used to the sensation of drifting a big Acura, I felt that it would let me place the nose anywhere I wanted.

While it’s fun to hoon around on slippery surfaces, it’s also an excellent way to evaluate a vehicle’s traction systems. Add to that the knowledge that you have an informed idea as to how a vehicle will respond to low-traction emergency situations, and I’d say all snow-based drivers should attend an ice/snowy driving school. Seriously.

Second Impressions

The bottom line is this: For a vehicle that runs in the mid $40,000-range (with the A-Spec package), it felt more expensive. The TLX A-Spec was exciting to drive and much more fun on ice than I ever expected. I have a newfound respect for this vehicle. Well done Acura.

Check out the video below for my impressions of the 2018 Acura TLX A-Spec on a dry track. Subscribe to The Fast Lane Car and TFLnow on YouTube for more news, views, and powder-burning reviews.