(Image Credits: Acura)

The 2018 Acura TLX has bowed, proving the company’s committed to the sharp jaw and pentagonal grille we saw on the Precision Concept and new MDX. But the sedan’s A-Spec mild performance package is back, so it’s got that going for it, which is nice.

The 2018 TLX is a refresh, not a revolutionary change for the car. But that new face is definitely distinctive from last year’s model which had that baby-beak relaxed version of the aggressively pointy 2009 design.

From a performance standpoint, Acura’s press release states that, like last year, a 2.4-liter four-cylinder and a 3.5-liter V6 will be the engine options but doesn’t specify if the claimed output has changed. Since that probably means it hasn’t, expect modest ratings of 206 horsepower and 290, respectively, again.

The car will still be available as a front or all-wheel drive, too. Acura’s torque-vectoring SH-AWD system, which actively manages power allocation between wheels to maximize traction, is now available on all V6 cars as opposed to just the top trims like last year.

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But the one you want is the A-Spec, which gets “more aggressive damper settings,” a “sharper, more precise” tune on the electric steering system, stiffer springs and a rear stabilizer bar on SH-AWD models.

Theoretically, that should keep the car more planted when you whip it through a few turns or slice-and-dice your way through highway traffic.

Outside, the A-Spec gets a subtle aggressive body kit, round LED fog lights, round exhaust tips, a little spoiler and dark 19-inch rims on wide tires. Inside, you can have red seats (which still mean speed in a Honda or Acura, I guess) brushed aluminum bits, red ambient lighting and some red flecks on the gauges.

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My own 2005 Acura TL has the A-Spec body kit of its own era, but an entire package was also available back then which included a suspension tune and special steering wheel. It was a ramp-up up to the Type-S, a slightly more earnest “enthusiast-spec” version of the TL that would come out a few years later.

The third-generation Acura TL “A-Spec” body kit (Image Credit: Andrew Collins)

The “A-Spec” designation was brought back for a similar treatment on the Civic-sized Acura ILX sedan, but I don’t believe we’ve seen it in the larger TL/TLX family since my car was current.

I’m excited to see Acura edge toward performance in this segment again, even if the manual transmission is gone for good. As for the aesthetics, I think like the grille but haven’t quite worked out how I feel about the headlights it’s paired with. Maybe a drive will sway my interpretation.