I'll preface this review by stating unequivocally that I am not a car enthusiast (yet!), nor am I an experienced mechanic. I'm just a "regular guy" who stumbled into buying this vehicle at somewhat of a whim and have been driving it daily for six months to date.
My candid assessment of the vehicle follows.
This is a fantastic entry-level luxury vehicle for the money, particularly if one can find a lightly-used model that is a couple-few years old and has been well-maintained. Every other car in its class is $5-10K+ more expensive, an even though there are certainly compromises to be made when owning this vehicle, I highly recommend it to drivers of every stripe, as the car is supremely fun to drive, and it's comfortable in nearly every respect.
Roar of the engine
The 290hp V6 engine in this car is throaty and sounds fantastic; it purrs quietly when idle and roars to life at the driver's command.
Dual display screens
I've heard others complain about the dual screens that are included in some (all?) Acura vehicles and many Honda vehicles (my 2016 Accord V6 EXL has the same setup) because it's "confusing". Personally, I love having two screens because, hey, it's twice the real-estate. I liken it to having two computer monitors. I've never heard someone complain that two monitors is somehow confusing or constitutes a worse configuration than one, and the same applies here.
The stock 18" Acura "V-Spoke" wheels are beautiful.
Fit and finish
The vehicle interior and exterior are machined to acceptable specifications and everything looks and feels well-built.
The interior leather is genuine and soft. As a point of comparison, it is noticeably softer and thicker than whatever "leather" is used in my 2016 Accord EXL.
At almost $2000 each, these headlights are one of the most expensive components on the vehicle. They provide brilliant white light that makes night-driving a true pleasure. And, hey, they look awesome. All five LED headlights are illuminated in a dimmed state during daytime driving, and three of them are illuminated, full-bore, in low light.
Like the headlights, the taillights on this vehicle are gorgeous. There's a tube-like shape that hugs the upper edge of the taillights, with tasteful and even lighting throughout the rest of the housing.
IDS (Integrated Dynamics System)
This is one of the best features of this transmission, despite its other quirks (which I detail elsewhere in the review). The following IDS modes are available:
Everything is "throttled-down" in this mode, including the HVAC system, the throttle is less sensitive, and shifting is minimally aggressive. Fuel consumption is intended to be minimized. 35MPG on the highway is not unreasonable in this mode.
The transmission shifts at higher RPM ranges for each gear, and is more aggressive overall. The paddle shifters can be used to switch gears at the driver's discretion. When shifting manually, the transmission will remain in the selected gear until the vehicle detects that its speed has remained constant for some period of time (about 7 seconds, as I recall), at which time it will choose an appropriate gear and resume automatic shifting.
The transmission is noticeably more aggressive in its shifting, and shifting occurs at 3-4K RPM in most cases (this engine really finds its stride at 4K+ RPMs).
Professional Reviews (e.g., Car and Driver) suggest that the transmission lingers too long before up-shifting in this mode, but I disagree (high RPMs are at the essence of Sport+ mode!).
One point of note is that the vehicle is an unbridled beast in lower gears as it down-shifts while coming to a stop. Basically, the vehicle gains power with each down-shift, which feels counter-intuitive as compared to other transmissions. This behavior can create the sensation that the vehicle is "getting away from you", but rest assured that the down-shifts are swift and you won't slam into the vehicle in front of you... as long as your head isn't buried in your mobile phone!
While more sluggish to respond than those in other entry-level luxury models (according to the professional reviews, anyway), the fact that they are included at all is a welcomed perk.
Sizable trunk for a compact sedan
I find the trunk to be surprisingly large for a mid-size sedan, and the lid arms are routed through the interior trunk liner, so there's no potential to stuff the trunk full of bags only to find that it won't shut. The Tech package includes an even larger trunk.
Excellent heating and cooling throughput in cabin
Not only does the A/C cool the car surprisingly quickly and effectively, but the "Auto" mode and dual zone temperature controls work very well (contrary to some end-user reviews that I've read, which state that the car doesn't maintain the desired temperature).
Driver's seat moves all the way back when door is opened, making it easier to get in and out of the vehicle
As simple as this seems, it is hugely useful.
Furthermore, the driver's seat position, programmed audio stations, and many other settings are stored in relation to the key (Driver 1 vs Driver 2) that is used to start the vehicle.
Very good sound system
Despite complaints that the "subwoofer isn't loud enough", I find it to be plenty loud for my listening needs, provided the Bass and Sub controls are both cranked-up to 6. The cabin in this vehicle is extremely quiet, and it's become my favorite place to listen to high-quality audio files on a USB stick.
There's a speaker (which I believe to be a mid-range) in the center of the dashboard, which is awesome, and tweeters in the corners of the windshield, as well as a subwoofer behind the rear head-rests.
Infotainment system is a bit dated and touch-screen is slow to respond, especially when ambient temperature is low (i.e., near freezing)
Navigating audio files on a USB stick is fairly painful, for example, as the selector knob is kludgy and slow to respond.
Heated seats do not remain in previous state after powering-off the vehicle
For me, this is one of the most annoying aspects of the vehicle. That said, my understanding is that when a remote starter is installed, the heated seats do retain their previous setting when the vehicle is started remotely.
The vehicle cannot be locked from the outside while running
This is a particularly annoying feature because, unless the vehicle includes a remote starter, there's no means by which to start the car and lock it to the extent that a passerby cannot easily steal it. To be clear, possessing the key is not necessary to drive away with the unlocked car (the key is necessary only to start the vehicle).
Volume knob not sensitive enough (too loud on lowest setting, difficult to achieve fine-grained control)
Push button shifter knob; it's hard to find without looking at, such as when reversing, especially with gloves on!
I hate the push-button shifter knob, which has also made its way into Honda Accord vehicles (2018 and newer, I believe). Just about every review I've read hates this aspect, too.
Delay when shifting from reverse to drive or vice versa
The transmission is very slow to shift from drive to reverse and vice versa, which makes pulling in and out of fast-moving traffic frustrating and sometimes dangerous.
Inability to cycle IDS mode in both directions, e.g., using dial on steering wheel
Unless I'm missing something, the IDS mode can be cycled in one direction only, which means that going from Sport+ back to Sport mode, for example, requires cycling through Economy and Normal modes on the way. Granted, the transition is pretty smooth, but the driver can definitely feel the little hiccups as he or she cycles through the intermediary modes.
Rough shifting into 2nd and 3rd gear, especially in Sport and Sport+ modes
This is the only annoying aspect of the ZF-9 transmission, in my opinion. Letting off the accelerator pedal ever so slightly when the vehicle is about to shift alleviates the jerkiness more or less entirely, and has become second nature for me when driving in Sport or Sport+ mode.
Screen resolution is fairly low
Backup camera resolution is fairly low
Tricks & Tips
- Hitting Drive button will "reset" the manual gear selection when in Sport+ mode back to auto-selection.
- Double-clicking-and-holding the unlock button on the key-fob will roll-down all windows and open the sun roof for fast cooling in warm weather. This is an "undocumented feature", which I discovered "the hard way" with my Accord (I fell asleep with my keys in my pocket during a snow storm and awoke to find my car full of snow in the morning).
- Seats are set low and have more of a cockpit or bucket feel as compared to, say, Honda Accord sedan
- Certain Bluetooth devices emit a very faint but audible hum when no audio is playing (almost sounds like a crackle in the sound system); I thought it was a flaw with the engine or something until I realized it was my mobile phone's Bluetooth when no music was playing!
- The transmission chimes when shifting from Park to Drive or vice versa but only sometimes and I can't figure out why sometimes but not others. The lack of a chime is particularly annoying because it requires glancing purposefully at the gear indicator behind the steering wheel or on the gear-shifter to ensure that the vehicle has in fact shifted to the desired gear. It would be most unfortunate to think mistakenly that the vehicle is in Park and then attempt to exit! Although, it seems Acura thought of that, and I'm quite certain that the vehicle shifts into Park as soon as the driver's side door is opened!
- Read the Owner's Manual to learn how to use a rolling car-wash (the type for which it's necessary to leave the car in Neutral gear while the machine rolls the car forward)! Leaving this car in neutral for more than a short period of time requires taking special steps!
- Placing sunglasses in the overhead sunglass holder will cause a maddening rattle that you will mistake for a problem with the car! Be sure to wrap glasses in a cloth if you store them overhead.