NEW YORK -- Acura is counting on the 2015 TLX mid-sized sedan to help revive sales of its moribund sedan lineup.
"We're not reinventing ourselves, we're taking a page out of our past success," said Acura Division General Manager Mike Accavitti.
Acura's front-wheel-drive sedans have struggled to find their way against rear-drive cars from Lexus, BMW and Mercedes-Benz.
"We're going to offer a wide variety of powertrains and handling technology so that we can not only capture performance enthusiasts but also those who respect that type of imagery," Accavitti said.
Acura is hoping the TLX will reverse a slide in the brand's sedan sales. Acura's U.S. sedan sales skidded 10 percent last year and have dropped 23 percent this year through March. On the flip side, Acura's crossovers are red hot, up 21 percent last year and up 38 percent through March.
"The RDX is cross-shopped against Audi Q5, Mercedes GLK and BMW," Accavitti said. "But with sedans we have some issues. We're taking those learnings from the SUV area over to the sedan part of our business."
The TLX, unveiled last week, will replace both the TL and TSX sedans in Acura's U.S. lineup. Its size is closer to that of the TSX to better distance it from the flagship RLX.
Acura is challenging critics who say the TLX is little more than a rebadged Accord by offering the TLX with powertrains that are distinctly different from those used in its Honda cousin.
The base engines in the TLX and Accord are both 2.4-liter four-bangers. But the TLX mill has higher compression ratios, a two-stage intake and a modified exhaust. Compared with the Accord's 189 hp, the TLX generates 206 hp. Mated to a dual-clutch eight-speed automatic, the TLX goes from 0 to 60 mph 1.5 seconds quicker than the outgoing TSX.
Meanwhile, the TLX's 290-hp, 3.5-liter V-6 engine is shared with the MDX and RLX and gets 5 mpg better highway fuel economy than the outgoing TL when paired to a nine-speed traditional automatic.
The four- and six-cylinder sedans will have standard four-wheel steering. The V-6 sedan will have optional all-wheel drive and active engine mounts so that the stop-start system is smoother on engine restart.
Inside, there are softer-touch materials than in the outgoing model and two large information screens in the center stack.