When it comes to value for money in buying a luxury sedan, it’s not exactly a monopoly limited to German cars. There are contenders coming out from the Pacific Rim, as 2015 sees the emergence of new versions for the Acura TLX and the Infiniti Q50. So if you’re going to pick one of the two, which one is the better buy?
Let’s start with the look of the cars. While they may say that you can’t judge a book by its cover, when it comes to luxury cars you want them to look good—after all, you’re paying a lot of money, and you want people to know it at a glance. But the two cars have different philosophies when it comes to styling.
The TLX aims to please as many people as possible. In fact, you can argue that its real aim is to offend as few people as possible. It looks upscale enough, and for the sake of personality it comes with a grille shaped like a shield ready for battle or for battering down castle gates. The multi-LED lights are also quite distinctive.
On the other hand, the Q50 offers the impression of muscles to go along with the ovoid grille. The design is quite fluid and curvy rather than sharply angled. It’s a rather different look than its Germanic counterparts as well.
However, for its best look you will need to put on bigger tires, such as the 19-inch wheels on the Sport Version. There’s a rumor going around that the car’s lead designer was overheard saying that the absolute minimum to put on here are 20-inch wheels. So if you stay with the 17-inchers, it’s going to look like a bodybuilder who’s skipping on leg day.
The Infiniti comes out on top, but be warned: these cars don’t really prioritize sports car performance all that much. For the Q50, you have a 3.7L V6 churning out 328 horses, and with the 7-speed automatic transmission and the all-wheel drive (with bias towards the rear wheel) the drive is fairly confident. If this is a priority you can opt for the Sport model, where the suspension is firmer and magnesium paddle shifters.
With the Q50, the power of the engine and transmission is muted by the rather comfort-driven aspects of the steering and the ride. It’s not exactly an exhilarating ride, but it’s not bad.
Now with the TLX, you’ll need to upgrade to the 290-hp 3.5L V6 to at least try to match up. The base version only gets a 2.4L four-cylinder engine. The 9-speed transmission is a bit clunky until it’s warmed up, though. And in most driving modes, it’s a bit placid as well. You only get a bit more zing when you set the mode to Sport+.
But when you consider the likely buyers of these vehicles, the performance characteristics of the TLX seem more suitable. It grips the road well even in wet conditions, and the “super-handling” all-wheel drive allows you blast through corners more easily. It’s quieter too.
So in short, the Q50 may be considered “sportier”, but that’s not always a plus. For most people, the comfortable ride in the TLX makes more sense.
When it comes to space considerations, it’s almost equal. The Infiniti Q50 offers more space for the head and legs for both front and rear passengers. But the Acura TLX is a bit wider. The TLX also offers a more space trunk with a bigger opening as well.
But what really sets these two apart is the style inside. The Infiniti Q50 seems a bit more adventurous, with more curves and lots of purple inside. The layout on the 3-spoke steering wheel isn’t really cluttered, although it manages to include all the normal buttons you’d expect.
Meanwhile, the overall effect of the TLX isn’t all bad either, and some details such as the push-button starter are quite nice.
All in when it comes to comfort they’re just about on par with each other, and most people have nothing bad to say about either one.
Now about the technology, the comparison is a bit unfair. The tech in the Acura is not exactly efficient in its control systems, with too many redundancies. Surround sound is standard, and options include rear view camera and driver side memory settings. There’s a Tech package with navigation and premium audio, as well as driver’s aids like blind-spot monitoring and lane-departure warning. But that’s going to be expensive.
The Infiniti isn’t all that much better either, as you get an all-wheel drive and for some reason you don’t get heated seating. Driver side memory settings are unavailable as well. But the rearview camera comes standard, as does the power-adjustable driver’s seat.
Both of these vehicles may offer better value for money than their Germanic counterparts, especially when you put in some of the better options. As is, the Acura TLX seems to offer better value with its reliability and subtle styling. With the Q50, it becomes so much better the more options you put on it.
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