Acura TLX in Snow & Winter Driving (Explained)

The TLX is a premium sport sedan that boasts a selection of powerful turbocharged engines.

It’s Acura’s flagship car that offers a combination of performance, luxury and reliability.

If you’re thinking of buying one, you might be wondering how well it does in the snow.

We’ll answer that in this article, read on to find out…

Here is the short answer to whether the Acura TLX is good for snow and winter driving:

The Acura TLX can perform well in the winter and in snow, especially when equipped with SH-AWD which helps maximize traction. It has a respectable ground clearance of 5.3″ and features such as Vehicle Stability Assist, ABS, Traction Control and AcuraWatch make the TLX a safe choice for snow-covered roads.

Is the Acura TLX Good in the Snow?

Front-wheel drive is standard on the TLX and although not the optimal winter drivetrain it can still provide good amounts of grip due to the weight of the engine pushing down on the driven wheels.

For peak performance in the snow and ice though, the All-Wheel Drive option is a must-have.

By distributing power among the front and rear wheels there is much more available traction.

If you’re going up a mountain pass or to a ski lodge you might run into issues due to clearance, however as long as the wheels can touch the ground, the SH-AWD system can get you pretty much anywhere.

At 5.3 inches ground clearance won’t be an issue for most daily driving duties in the winter. 

The advantage of having a lower ride height and roofline, compared to a crossover or SUV, is the improved handling and driving dynamics – it’s also less prone to rollover.

The TLX received the prestigious IIHS Top Safety Pick+ award having passed their crashworthiness and crash avoidance tests with flying colors.

Add to this the array of electronic safety aids such as Vehicle Stability Assist, Traction Control, ABS, and Torque Vectoring, along with Acura’s excellent reliability, and you’ve got yourself an extremely formidable winter vehicle.

What Features Will Improve Winter Driving?

In this section, we’ll check out some of the features that improve the TLX’s winter-driving capabilities.

Super Handling All-Wheel Drive

SH-AWD actively distributes power front to rear and side to side which makes driving on slippery surfaces easier.

  • This means you’ll find it much easier to get moving since AWD turns four wheels instead of two, therefore theres more available traction.
  • When grip is low you can accelerate better, with less or even no tire slippage, the vehicle feels stable and doesn’t slip or fishtail.

It can send as much as 70% of the engine’s power to the rear wheels whenever it detects that you need more grip.

What sets it apart from other AWD systems is the addition of rear-axle torque vectoring – that’s the Super Handling bit – to add a measure of performance to its vehicles, although this is designed to give a boost to dry-road handling.

Vehicle Stability Assist

Vehicle Stability Assist is a great safety feature in the winter when roads are slippery – should the system detect understeer or oversteer i.e. loss of control, it will respond by:

  • Sending power from the front to rear
  • Applying brakes to individual wheels
  • Limiting the flow of fuel to the engine

The aim is to stabilize the vehicle and correct its trajectory, the response is so quick that the instability may be corrected before you even know it’s occurring.

This system utilizes various sensors which assess:

  • Vehicle speed
  • Throttle position
  • Individual wheel speeds
  • Steering angle

Traction Control

Traction Control helps your wheels grip the road better by preventing wheelspin when driving on slippery surfaces.

When the system detects that the wheels are ‘over-spinning’, it will automatically apply the brakes and limit engine power.

It is most effective when:

  • Accelerating from a stationary or slowed position
  • When trying to accelerate up a slippery hill

If stuck in snow or mud the traction control can be disabled at the press of a button, you’ll also want to disable it if you install tire chains.

Integrated Dynamics System

The TLX has a Dynamic Mode selector that lets you choose between four different driving modes:

  • Normal – balanced setting for everyday use
  • Comfort – lighter steering and softer ride
  • Sport – provides increased throttle response, tighter steering, firmer suspension setup and more rear-wheel torque bias from the SH-AWD
  • Individual – personalized mode for engine, steering, suspension, idle stop and lighting

Each setting will alter various characteristics of the car, including: 

  • Throttle response
  • Transmission shift response
  • SH-AWD power distribution 
  • Suspension stiffness (if equipped with the Active Damper System)
  • Power steering assist
  • Idle stop settings
  • Lighting settings

The TLX Type S also features an additional Sport+ Mode that’s even more aggressive than the standard Sport mode.

During the winter or while driving around in traffic, you can switch to Normal or Comfort Mode because you won’t really need the extra performance settings. 

The increased throttle response of the Sport Mode will cause more wheelspin when you’re driving on snow and ice, which will make the vehicle more difficult to drive.

Anti-Lock Braking System

During hard braking or on slippery surfaces, a driver may apply a braking force that is greater than the tires capacity to grip.

If this happens the wheels can ‘lock up’, causing the vehicle to skid out of control.

By preventing this lock-up the vehicle stops sooner and remains under the driver’s control.

The ABS system on the TLX provides this assistance by releasing and then reapplying or ‘pumping’ the brakes, 100’s of times a second.

Sensors on each wheel are used to detect ‘locking’.

Electronic Brake Force Distribution

EBD ensures the right amount of brake force is applied to each wheel, this helps significantly reduce the risk of:

  • Wheels slipping
  • Fishtailing
  • Oversteering
  • Understeering

Since braking is more effective on vehicles with EBD, you will also notice a reduction in stopping distance.

Brake Assist System

Brake Assist is designed to help drivers apply the vehicle’s full braking force in a panic-stop situation.

It does this by detecting extreme force on the brake pedal and then ensures the vehicle comes to a stop in the shortest possible distance.

Heated Seats, Steering Wheel and Side Mirrors

Heated front seats and side mirrors are fitted as standard on all trim levels of the TLX.

The Advance package adds heated rear seats and a heated steering wheel.

The heated sport steering wheel can also be added as an option to any trim level.

These creature comforts may seem unnecessary but once you’ve tried them on a freezing day it’s hard to go back.

Remote Engine Start

Remote Engine Start is only available as an option and can be installed at your Acura dealership. 

This lets you start the engine and turn on the heater from up to 328 feet away using the key fob or through the AcuraLink app on your smartphone. 

With the remote start option, you won’t have to wait for the cabin to warm up when you get in.

It can also help thaw out doors that have been frozen shut when the car’s been left outside in the freezing cold. 

AcuraWatch

The TLX is equipped with a suite of innovative safety and driver-assistive technologies that help enhance driver awareness, avoid collisions, and mitigate the severity of an impact.

During the winter when driving conditions are sub-optimal, these can certainly help add a layer of safety – however there is no substitute for diligent driving.

Standard on all packages:

  • Collision Mitigation Braking System (CMBS)
  • Road Departure Mitigation (RDM)
  • Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC) with Low-Speed Follow
  • Lane Keeping Assist System (LKAS)
  • Pedestrian Detection
  • Traffic Sign Recognition
  • Traffic Jam Assist

You may also be interested in our article: Infiniti Q50 in Snow & Winter Driving

Collision Mitigation Braking System

The Collision Mitigation Braking System (CMBS) is part of the AcuraWatch suite of electronic safety aids.

It uses a front radar transceiver and forward-facing camera to determine the distance and closing speed of objects directly ahead 

The system has three alert stages:

Stage 1: Visual and audible alerts

Stage 2: Visual and audible alerts; light braking is automatically applied

Stage 3: Visual and audible alerts; heavy braking is automatically applied

The system can skip the first two stages and initiate the 3rd stage automatically in emergencies.

Does the Acura TLX Have Snow Mode?

The Acura TLX does not have a Snow Mode.

Snow Mode is more common in SUVs such as the Acura RDX and MDX.

In most vehicles, Snow Mode reduces the throttle response and makes the transmission start off in a higher gear to help minimize wheelspin. 

Can You Install Additional Snow Gear on an Acura TLX?

The Acura TLX can be fitted with special snow gear and winter accessories such as:

  • Winter tires
  • Tire chains
  • Rubber floor mats
  • Snow socks
  • Studded tires
  • Engine block heater
  • Roof racks
  • Ski and Snowboard racks

Acura recommends installing tire cables on the front wheels because mounting them to the rear wheels can damage the wheel wells and brake lines. 

You should always check your state laws before using tire chains or studded tires.

How Much Snow Can an Acura TLX Handle?

The Acura TLX’s ground clearance of 5.2 inches is fairly standard for a sporty sedan, it will be sufficient for most winter scenarios however it will limit you to less extreme terrain.

It can safely drive over 4 to 5 inches of snow, although at 5 inches you’re going to start hitting the underside of the body.

It can certainly handle a bit more, especially with its excellent AWD system, as long as your wheels touch the ground it can go almost anywhere.

We don’t advise driving through deep snow that goes past the underside of the vehicle because you’re more likely to get stuck and damage components.

How Does the Acura TLX Handle Low Winter Temperatures?

Hondas and Acuras have a strong reputation for reliability so you won’t really have to worry about major breakdowns caused by freezing temperatures.

The turbocharged 4-cylinder and V6 engines used in the TLX are based on engines that have been on the market for at least two decades. They’re both extremely reliable and have gone through lots of development. 

To ensure that your TLX is better prepared for freezing temperatures, here are a few things you can do:

  • Switch to cold-weather rated engine oil
  • Make sure the cooling system is using antifreeze and not water
  • Use windshield washer fluid that won’t freeze
  • Make sure your battery is in good condition
  • Use a battery tender when parked in the garage
  • Clean out any corrosion that forms on the battery terminals
  • Switch to proper winter tires
  • Install an engine block heater
  • Install the remote start option

You may also be interested in our article: How Long Do Acura TLX Last?

Can an Acura TLX Drive on Ice?

The Acura TLX can drive on ice reasonably well thanks to its advanced AWD and traction control systems. Studded tires will provide the best traction on hard-packed snow and ice.

When driving on ice you should be extra cautious – avoid harsh braking, acceleration and aggressive steering movements. Allow plenty of stopping distance and use a smooth, controlled braking motion.

Stopping distances can be ten times longer when driving on ice.

What About Older TLX Models And Winter Driving?

The TLX is a fairly new model and only started hitting the market in 2014. 

Any older TLX you’ll find in the market will likely be a first-generation model since the second generation only started production in late 2020. 

The first generation TLX will have similar winter-driving capabilities as the current model since both share many of the same driver and safety aids such as SH-AWD, Torque Vectoring, VSA, and ABS, among many others.

The older TLXs are actually slightly smaller and lighter than the latest models, which might make them a bit more controllable on slippery roads — although the new model has much better suspension components. 

Either way, you can’t go wrong with the TLX, whether new or used, when it comes to winter driving.

They’re all fantastic vehicles that will give you a lot of bang for your buck.

Do Acura TLXs Need Snow Tires?

If you only have to deal with a handful of light snow days in the winter, you can keep using the stock all-season tires.

For harsher winters though, you’ll definitely need to equip your TLX with a good set of winter tires.

Winter tires are proven to significantly improve handling and stopping distances in winter driving conditions.

  • The compound is made to grip the road better in lower temperatures as it remains soft and flexible in cold weather.
  • The tread pattern is designed to push the snow out from underneath the tire.
  • They have a deep tread for added reliability

Can You Mount A Snow Plow on an Acura TLX?

Mounting a snow plow on a TLX is not recommended.

Attaching a snow plow will put a lot of strain on the chassis and drivetrain and doing so will likely invalidate the warranty.

Winter Checklist

  • Shovel
  • De-icer
  • Heavy-duty jumper cables
  • Flashlight (with spare batteries)
  • First aid kit
  • Windshield scraper
  • High-energy food and drink
  • Safety triangles
  • Matches
  • Tow rope
  • Blanket

Resources

https://www.acura.com/tlx/features

https://www.iihs.org/ratings/vehicle/acura/tlx-4-door-sedan/2021

https://www.acura.com/tlx/modals/collision-mitigation-braking-system

https://enginepatrol.com/acura-rdx-snow-winter-driving/