DETROIT -- Acura unveiled a prototype of its 2015 TLX mid-sized sedan, a car that will replace both the TL and TSX sedans in its lineup this summer.
Acura's front-wheel-drive sedans have struggled to find their way against rear-wheel-drive cars from Lexus, BMW and Mercedes-Benz.
Plus, customers were confused by Acura's overlap in vehicle size and pricing among the outgoing TL and TSX and the previous-generation RL. The TL was based on the U.S. Honda Accord platform, while the TSX came from the slightly smaller European Accord. The RL had its own platform, but it was scarcely larger than the TL. With the Accord now on a global platform, some of the overlap has been eliminated.
The TL, once Acura's top-selling vehicle in its lineup, has fallen to a distant third as consumer sentiment for crossovers has risen.
American Honda Motor Co. executives are confident the TLX will return the TL to its former glory.
"The TLX will do on the car side what the RDX and MDX have done on the truck side," said John Mendel, American Honda's executive vice president of sales. "I don't know if it's a make-or-break car for Acura, but it's certainly very important."
With the TLX launch, Acura will offer a 2.4-liter four-banger and a 3.5-liter V-6. The engines make 185 hp and 278 hp in other American Honda models.
The four-cylinder engine will be teamed with an eight-speed dual-clutch transmission; the V-6 will get a traditional nine-speed automatic. Both the four- and six-cylinder cars will have standard fwd with four-wheel steering; the V-6 has optional all-wheel drive.
The TLX prototype has the same dimensions as the upcoming production model -- losing nearly 4 inches of overall length to 190.2 inches, compared with the TL, while retaining its 109.3-inch wheelbase.
The vehicle dynamics can be changed among Comfort, Normal, Sport and Sport-Plus modes -- adjusting power steering, throttle response, shift mapping, noise control, awd and steering control logic, and climate control routing as a result.