Public Relations Agencies

Ranked by 2016 PR net fee income

Locally Researched by: Gilberto Medina, South Florida Business JournalAug 11, 2017, 6:00am EDT Revised: Aug 11, 2017, 8:25am EDT
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2016 PR net fee income 1 (A-Z)
2016 PR net fee income 1 (Z-A)
2015 PR net fee income (A-Z)
2015 PR net fee income (Z-A)
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Monthly retainer fee range (A-Z)
Monthly retainer fee range (Z-A)
Rank 2016 PR Net Fee Income 1 2015 PR Net Fee Income S. Fla. Staff Monthly Retainer Fee Range
1 Newlink
1111 Brickell Ave.
Suite 1350
Miami, FL 33131
$14.2 million $14.1 million 90 NA
2 RBB Communications
355 Alhambra Circle
Suite 800
Coral Gables, FL 33134
$9.59 million $9.34 million 56 $7,500 – $50,000
3 Roar Media
55 Miracle Mile
Suite 330
Coral Gables, FL 33134
$4.38 million $3.66 million 26 $5,000 – $25,000
4 Kreps DeMaria
220 Alhambra Circle
Suite 310
Coral Gables, FL 33134
$3.19 million $3.44 million 18 $5,000 – $20,000
4 Starmark
210 S. Andrews Ave.
Fort Lauderdale, FL 33301
$3.08 million $2.78 million 49 $5,000 – $25,000


2018 Honda Odyssey Elite First Test: Good Enough to Convert Crossover Lovers?

Source: 2018 Honda Odyssey Elite First Test: Good Enough to Convert Crossover Lovers?



Testing the most spacious car Honda offers

The growing family to convince is my sister, brother-in-law, a ridiculously cute three-year-old girl, and a baby girl who will be here before the end of the year. Their family car is a three-row crossover that fills up when you’re trying to carry mom, dad, the kid in a car seat, and two adult friends to breakfast, or those same folks plus a dog. Minivans are a better bet than similarly sized and priced crossovers for their lower floor height, additional cargo space before folding down any seats, and space for second- and third-row passengers. What stops many (including my sister) from going Odyssey and Sienna instead of Pilot or Highlander is the image associated with minivan drivers.

Improved Acceleration from an Updated Engine and New Transmissions

With the 2018 Odyssey in mind, that image certainly has nothing to do with minivans being slow. All Odysseys get a power boost for 2018—the minivan’s 3.5-liter V-6 now makes 280 hp and 262 lb-ft of torque. A nine-speed automatic is standard on the LX, EX, and EX-L trims, and a new 10-speed automatic comes on the more expensive Touring and Elite trims. We hear the 2018 Odyssey’s nine-speed has been updated and improved since Honda and Acura first started using it on other products, and we look forward to testing that for ourselves, especially after a long-term 2016 Honda Pilot Elite needed to get its nine-speed transmission replaced under warranty. The well-tuned 10-speed automatic on our loaded 2018 Odyssey Elite tester shifted smoothly, though drivers can chirp the tires with an overeager initial application of the throttle from a stop. On the track, associate road test editor Erick Ayapana said the transmission seems well matched to the engine.

With the updated engine and 10-speed automatic, the 2018 Odyssey sped from 0 to 60 mph in just 6.9 seconds. That’s a full second quicker than a 2015 Odyssey Elite we tested, and just two-tenths of a second slower than a 2017 Chrysler Pacifica Touring we’ve tested, though two higher-trim and heavier Pacifica Limiteds reached 60 mph in 7.5 and 7.7 seconds. Multiple editors noticed a strong engine note from the Odyssey’s V-6, though the engine sound is only intrusive (or sporty, depending on your perspective) at wide-open throttle; otherwise the Odyssey feels quiet but not luxury-car quiet.

The 2018 Odyssey complements improved acceleration with slightly better EPA-rated fuel economy—not a bad combination. Moving from the 2017 model’s 19/27 mpg city/highway to 19/28 mpg on the 2018 Odyssey with either transmission is an insignificant improvement, but it’s about even with the Chrysler Pacifica (18-19/28 mpg) and front-drive Toyota Sienna (19/27 mpg), and well ahead of the Kia Sedona (from 17/22 mpg to 18/25 mpg depending on trim). Fuel economy might not be at the top of your list, but a more efficient minivan such as the more expensive Chrysler Pacifica plug-in hybrid means fewer stops at the gas station.

Space and Interior Flexibility

We’d prefer the last-gen Odyssey’s HVAC knobs to the up/down toggles on the new model, but overall the new interior is a big step forward. Blue ambient lighting is included on the Elite model.

If you’re considering a minivan, interior space and ease of access are likely high on your priority list. As with every minivan, available second-row power-sliding doors are incredibly helpful, making life easier for kids and preventing big doors from slamming into the adjacent car in the mall parking lot. Where the Odyssey and other minivans destroy the other crossovers is in cargo space behind the second and third rows. The Odyssey still has a decent amount of space in a deep well at the back if all three rows are full of passengers. When they’re not, one long pull of a strap is all it takes to fold the third-row seats in that cavernous space when you need more cargo space.

Even the 2018 Odyssey’s third-row seats will seat adults of average height, thanks to third-row legroom that’s more generous than that of the Chrysler Pacifica, Toyota Sienna, or Kia Sedona. Honda also claims the third row has best-in-class visibility, plus rear side windows that reach lower (relative to the height of third-row passengers’ eyes) than other minivans. That’s a helpful advantage I experienced while I poked around the minivan, but it’s only meaningful if you plan on actually using the third row a lot. While shuttling adults and kids around town, editor-in-chief Ed Loh was impressed by the Odyssey’s space, noting that both rows offered enough room and that second-row comfort was rated very high. My sister had a similar experience recently when she rented a Chrysler Pacifica to drive around a mix of adults and kids. The Odyssey is one of the most spacious family vehicles available today, but some three-row crossover owners will be just as delighted by the spaciousness of the Chrysler Pacifica and Toyota Sienna, too.

Instead of offering second-row seats that fold into the floor like the Chrysler Pacifica (Stow ‘n Go), the 2018 Honda Odyssey includes Magic Slide second-row seats on all but the base LX trim. The Magic Slide seats move back and forth like you’d expect, but they also move from side to side. The feature is useful if you don’t mind the Odyssey becoming a seven- and not eight-passenger minivan, and you’ll need a place to store the second-row middle seat. That’s a real inconvenience, but taking out the seat is something you’ll probably only have to do once after you bring home the Odyssey from a dealership. Once that middle seat has been stuffed in a closet or a corner of the garage, you’re left with two captain’s chairs that each have armrests, and the ability to easily slide those seats from one side to the other up to 12.9 inches. This sounds like a lot of trouble just to achieve the seven-passenger layout of some other minivans, but the flexible seats can make it easier to get into the third row if one second-row seat has been moved toward the center of the car. With one second-row captain’s chair moved to the center and pushed forward, the driver can more easily reach a kid secured in a child seat. And if your situation ever changes such that you do need eight-passenger seating, the Odyssey (in EX and above) can accommodate.

Handling, Braking, and Safety

On the track, the 2018 Odyssey Elite minivan completed the figure-eight course in [irrelevant] seconds at [insignificant] g, and … OK, OK, it finished it in 29.1 seconds at 0.56 g, not a very good performance among minivans. Testing director Kim Reynolds said the Odyssey’s stability control was “very heavy handed, severely limiting power while cornering.” In the real world, that might not be a bad thing for a vehicle where safety is so important. Reynolds also noted the Odyssey was “very well behaved” and pointed out a behavior we noticed on the road, too—the car’s considerable but smooth body motions. When loaded with six people, Loh said the Odyssey felt “very stable yet surprisingly nimble.”

Our loaded 4,562-pound tester came to a stop from 60 mph in 124 feet, a respectable but not class-leading performance. We’ve tested 2017 Chrysler Pacificas coming to a stop in 122-131 feet, and our long-term 2016 Kia Sedona SX finished the test in 118 feet. The 2018 Odyssey hasn’t been safety-tested yet by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration or Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, but Honda expects top scores from both organizations. That’s good because the Pacifica, Sedona, and Sienna all have five-star overall safety ratings from the NHTSA. As for IIHS ratings, the Pacifica is a 2017 Top Safety Pick+, and the Sedona is a 2017 Top Safety Pick. On the 2018 Odyssey EX and above, the standard Honda Sensing active safety tech includes a system that can apply the brakes if it senses a collision ahead, another feature that can keep the car in its lane, and an adaptive cruise control system we wish had stop-and-go functionality (the Odyssey’s version of the tech disengages below 22 mph).

CabinTalk and the Odyssey’s Interior

Inside, the 2018 Odyssey’s interior takes a step forward with a modern instrument cluster that features a 7.0-inch screen at its center. An 8.0-inch screen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto functionality is standard on the 2018 Odyssey EX and above. Our Elite tester had a $47,410 as-tested price, which means it included everything Honda offers on the Odyssey. That includes heated and ventilated front seats, navigation, LED headlights, leather seats, an entertainment system with a 10.2-inch screen and a How Much Farther function, attractive 19-inch wheels, a full suite of active safety tech, front and rear parking sensors, the helpful HondaVAC vacuum (in a 2017 Odyssey, I used the feature to vacuum spilled french fries from the front seat footwell), as well as two new-to-Honda features named CabinWatch and CabinTalk.

CabinWatch (included on Touring and Elite) uses a camera placed near the entertainment system to look back to the second and third rows, and it even has night vision. CabinTalk (included on EX-L with nav and the entertainment system, Touring, and Elite) sends the driver and front passenger’s voice through the rear speakers (and entertainment-system headphones) to get everyone’s attention. Once everyone is listening, they can send destination suggestions to the driver—such as where to stop for lunch—via the CabinControl app that’s available on the EX trim and above. On the app, users can suggest navigation destinations to the driver (who can accept or reject them), control the entertainment system if your Odyssey has one, change rear climate control settings, or add songs to a social playlist. The system worked fine for us and could be cool to have on road trips, though we could see the CabinTalk feature being most useful on a regular basis.

Even with all these features, technology, and top-of-the-class interior space, the 2018 Odyssey is no luxury minivan. For that type of minivan experience, if you don’t mind low fuel economy, check out the Kia Sedona SXL. A former Big Test comparison winner, the Sedona SXL has Nappa leather seats in a couple two-tone color combinations including one with dark burgundy, second-row seats with retractable footrests, 19-inch chrome wheels, a very useful multi-camera parking aid, and a dual-panel moonroof.


After checking out the 2018 Odyssey in person and learning about all the features and standard equipment, my sister was surprised that the loaded Elite model was only $47,610. There really is a lot of value in the Odyssey’s lineup, especially when compared to SUVs that won’t have the same flexible and spacious interior. If you’re looking for the sweet spot in the Odyssey’s lineup, avoid the base LX model if you can afford upgrading. The 2018 Odyssey LX is still just as spacious as the other models, but it lacks power-sliding doors (like base models of the Kia, Chrysler, and Toyota) and the Honda Sensing active safety tech. In addition to the bigger central screen on the dash you get with the EX, the EX-L adds a power liftgate, an acoustic windshield that might make the interior a tad quieter, and a few other upgrades. As we mentioned above, we hope the nine-speed automatic in every trim but the 10-speed-equipped Touring and Elite has been improved since Honda and Acura started using it in other models.

One of those other models is the Pilot, a crossover that might appeal more to my sister and brother-in-law, as well as to the increasing number of buyers eschewing cars for crossovers of all shapes and sizes. Because even after seeing all the Odyssey had to offer and experiencing the ease of access and spaciousness of a minivan, my sister—for now—is solidly in the large group of buyers avoiding minivans. For those who want or don’t mind a minivan, the Odyssey is one of the most spacious around, with a highly functional interior that shines best if you can find a place in the garage for that middle second-row seat. Once you do, you’ll be driving one of the most well-rounded players in the shrinking minivan segment.

2018 Honda Odyssey Elite
BASE PRICE $47,610
VEHICLE LAYOUT Front-engine, FWD, 8-pass, 4-door van
ENGINE 3.5L/280-hp/262-lb-ft SOHC 24-valve V-6
TRANSMISSION 10-speed automatic
CURB WEIGHT (F/R DIST) 4,562 lb (55/45%)
WHEELBASE 118.1 in
LENGTH x WIDTH x HEIGHT 203.2 x 78.5 x 69.6 in
0-60 MPH 6.9 sec
QUARTER MILE 15.4 sec @ 91.8 mph
BRAKING, 60-0 MPH 124 ft
MT FIGURE EIGHT 29.1 sec @ 0.56 g (avg)
ENERGY CONS, CITY/HWY 177/120 kW-hrs/100 miles
CO2 EMISSIONS, COMB 0.87 lb/mile

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8 networking tips to strengthen reporter relationships

8 networking tips to strengthen reporter relationships

By Andy Crestodina | Posted: July 17, 2017

Media coverage offers a prime opportunity to grow relationships and expand your circle of influence, but you have to strike—thoughtfully and strategically—while the iron’s hot.

Here are eight networking tips to stretch your reach, create new allies and maximize your coverage:

1. Send a handwritten thank-you note to the blogger, editor or journalist who wrote about you

Putting a handwritten thank-you message in a writer’s mailbox immediately separates you from 99 percent of other communicators. Just get out a pen, write something thoughtful and add a stamp.

Thank-you notes are a networker’s secret weapon.

2. Ask your community to thank the blogger, editor or journalist

Having a few friends send a quick note to the writer is always an unexpected, pleasant surprise.

It shows you have connections who are paying attention. It’s also a good way to connect people who may become valuable contacts in the future.

[RELATED: How to land blockbuster coverage during and after a PR event.]

3. Connect with the writer on LinkedIn

A LinkedIn connection request can be another form of thank-you message.

It’s also an easy way to create a more enduring connection so you can stay in touch and gin up goodwill.

4. Add the writer to your list

Another way to keep track of writers in social media is to add them to your Twitter lists and Facebook groups.


5. Invite the writer to your next event

Do you have an event of your own scheduled? Invite the writer to attend. This will build a better connection and might lead to a bit of press for your event.

Are you going to an upcoming event? Invite the writer to join you. Maybe you can meet up for coffee beforehand or a beer after.

Inviting others to meet you at an event is a great way to create more personal connections and solidify your reputation as a reliable source.

6. Send the article to other journalists, outlets and bloggers

Don’t be afraid to reach beyond the original writer. Seek out other bloggers and members of the press who write about the topics covered in your piece. They may be interested in writing something similar for their audience or consider you as a source for another topic.

Once you have press, getting more of it is easier. The goal is to create a snowball effect. Here are a few places to find more members of the press:

When you share links with reporters, mention how well the story performed—including the number of shares.

7. Send the article to bloggers who write roundups

Bloggers who write roundups are always looking for relevant content. If the article fits their beat, send a quick message suggesting they include it.

8. Email the link to top sales prospects

Here’s how to use media coverage to lift sales:

  • If you already have leads in your pipeline, you may be looking for reasons to reach out to them. A press mention is a perfect tool for that.
  • If there are organizations out there you’d like to connect with, a press mention is a good way to reach out. Just find the relevant person on LinkedIn or ask a mutual connection for an introduction.

A short, simple email with a link to the article is a smart way to get on someone’s radar and build your credibility. If you want to know whether an email recipient clicked the link you sent, use a URL shortener like This lets you track the link. If clicks = 0, the recipient didn’t read it. If clicks = 1, he or she did.

Thoughtful, gracious networking that builds personal relationships and establishes genuine connections pays big dividends in the present, and it also lays the groundwork for more coverage down the road.

Andy Crestodina is Orbit Media’s chief strategy officer. A version of this post first ran on Orbit’s blog.

10 digital tools recommended by social media pros

10 digital tools recommended by social media pros

By Hana Bieliauskas
A while back, I attended a Ragan Communications Social Media Roundtable in Chicago. It was perfect timing, because I’ve felt lately as if my relationships with my steady collection of digital tools and resources has hit a rut. After getting more than a few ideas for spicing things up through picking the brains of some of the best in the business, I’m feeling much more optimistic about the future.

So, for anyone who’s also feeling in a bit of a relationship slump, let the following 10 tools help you break free too.

1. Feedly. I was one of those people who clung to Google Reader, holding out hope until it smacked me with a breakup notification. I was forced to play the field. I reluctantly gave Feedly a chance, and now I realize what I had before: nothing. Feedly enables me to embrace my passion for organization. I can create folders for various topics and then add content to them, so everything is easily accessible. My inner journalism major digs the clean “magazine” view, which displays large images with articles.

2. Offerpop. I’ve planned dozens of social media promotions for clients, so I’ve tried out quite a few different apps. Offerpop offers a wide range of products across social platforms—Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, even Tumblr and Vine—and it’s not lacking in options for promotions, from Pinterest contests to Facebook and Twitter sweepstakes. Maybe most important: It’s easy to get along with. We can draft customized content for each promotion, and the text instructions and image dimensions are out there for everyone to see. So, our graphic designer can easily come up with visuals and drop them in, no coding needed.

3. PromoJam. Though it doesn’t have quite the number of promotion options as Offerpop, PromoJam is significantly more affordable (about $30 each month for a basic account), so it works well for one-off Facebook promotions and for clients with limited budgets. The interface is user-friendly and requires no coding, so customizable promotions can be set up quickly. I’ll also give them kudos for customer service. I had an issue a couple of weeks ago setting up a promotion on a client’s Facebook page, and they were enthusiastic about helping to fix it.

4. GroupHigh. I was not a fan of GroupHigh a couple of years ago, but since its makeover it is growing on me again. I work closely with food bloggers on behalf of clients almost every day, so a database of bloggers sounds like it’d be a stellar fit for me. It is, to a point. GroupHigh is a useful tool for identifying topic-specific bloggers in various locations. It is also very helpful for quickly finding bloggers’ social media stats and information, which I often include in proposals and in reports for clients. What it isn’t is a substitute for creating genuine, strong relationships with bloggers and for really getting to know them. A food blogger does not want to know that you found them through a search on GroupHigh. They want you to read their blog, connect on social media, and get to know them before shooting off a blind invitation to get together.

5. Followerwonk. Just who are your Twitter followers? Scrolling through to find information about followers—and search for new users to follow— quickly becomes exhausting. Followerwonk enables you to see where Twitter followers are located, analyze Twitter profiles, and search for keywords in Twitter bios. It also has a simple display that organizes data into basic graphs and charts that are easy to understand and use. One other function I find useful for clients: Comparing the social graph of one Twitter account to as many as two others, such as those of competitors, friends, or industry leaders.

6. Sprout Social. People at the roundtable were raving about Sprout Social. I like that it focuses on a team approach, as there are usually multiple people managing social media within an agency. Also, all the functions to manage and monitor engagement across platforms are quite attractive.

7. Canva. Looks really do matter. Visual social media content has been on the rise since 2012, when Pinterest and Instagram saw a huge surge in popularity. Some predicted 2014 would be the year visual content truly takes over in social media, and that seems accurate. Think of Canva as an affordable personal stylist to help you stand out at the overcrowded social media party. This free app enables users to create basic design pieces in a snap, such as graphics for blogs and social media. It clearly makes the distinction between itself and pro tools such as Photoshop or InDesign. Instead, Canva simply helps with content layout, and it may be helpful to those who don’t always have access to a graphic designer and just need to create simple, attractive graphic content.

8. Pulse. This app aims to simplify our news experience by delivering news direct from influencers (identified through LinkedIn) that interests us most, all in one place. Basically, it’s a personalized newsfeed.

9. Camtasia. Shorter is better when it comes to video these days, and this tool makes it a snap to edit or combine short videos. I’d like to try this out for projects that don’t require—or don’t have the budget for—professional video but still have to look somewhat polished.

10. LinkedIn tags. Did you know you could tag your LinkedIn contacts? Similar to Twitter lists (another one of my go-to tools), you can assign tags to your LinkedIn connections, such as “Clients” or “Social Media Roundtable Participants,” for easy access.

I’d love to know about some of your favorite tools and resources, too, so please share them in the comments section.

Hana Bieliauskas is an account manager in the Columbus, Ohio, office of CMA, a national public relations agency based in Kansas City, Mo. Follow her on Twitter @hanab08. A version of this story originally appeared on the author’s blog, Follow My Footnotes.

A Great Teacher

A Great Teacher


Water is a great teacher that shows us how to move through the world with grace, ease, determination, and humility.


The journey of water as it flows upon the earth can be a mirror of our own paths through life. Water begins its residence on earth as it falls from the sky or melts from ice and streams down a mountain into a tributary or stream. In the same way, we come into the world and begin our lives on earth. Like a river that flows within the confines of its banks, we are born with certain defining characteristics that govern our identity. We are born in a specific time and place, within a specific family, and with certain gifts and challenges. Within these parameters, we move through life, encountering many twists, turns, and obstacles along the way just as a river flows.

Water is a great teacher that shows us how to move through the world with grace, ease, determination, and humility. When a river breaks at a waterfall, it gains energy and moves on, as we encounter our own waterfalls, we may fall hard but we always keep moving on. Water can inspire us to not become rigid with fear or cling to what’s familiar. Water is brave and does not waste time clinging to its past, but flows onward without looking back. At the same time, when there is a hole to be filled, water does not run away from it in fear of the dark; instead, water humbly and bravely fills the empty space. In the same way, we can face the dark moments of our life rather than run away from them.

Eventually, a river will empty into the sea. Water does not hold back from joining with a larger body, nor does it fear a loss of identity or control. It gracefully and humbly tumbles into the vastness by contributing its energy and merging without resistance. Each time we move beyond our individual egos to become part of something bigger, we can try our best to follow the lead of the river.






Refreshed TLX offers some intriguing options and lots of value

Luxury isn’t logical. Every Toyota Corolla includes LED headlights and active safety tech, yet the cheap, slow compact would never be considered by someone seeking a name-brand compact luxury sedan. But luxury isn’t just about features—sometimes you pay more for a less spacious car with fewer standard features because of how it drives and because you want to be associated with the brand. The refreshed 2018 Acura TLXattempts to strike a balance between luxury and logic, with updates that strengthen the value Acuras have often had while adding an emotional pull some recent models have lacked. We drove the 2018 TLX to determine where the Acura fits in an overwhelming segment with more than 10 choices.

Every 2018 Acura TLX, from the base model four-cylinder to the six-cylinder A-Spec and Advance-package cars, comes with an impressive amount of standard equipment for a luxury sport sedan. The car starts at $33,950 and includes LED headlights, Android Auto and Apple CarPlay compatibility, a proximity key, heated front seats, an electric parking brake with auto brake hold, and adaptive safety tech. If your smartphone will work with Android Auto or Apple CarPlay, you effectively have an in-car navigation system anywhere your phone has reception, too. Active safety tech isn’t for everyone, but like the HID headlights on my personal first-generation Acura TSX, it’s the kind of thing you might appreciate after driving with it for a while, from the 2018 TLX’s collision mitigation braking system to the lane keeping assist system that can help you stay in your lane on a highway or two-lane road.

Learn seven cool facts about the 2018 TLX here.

The 2018 TLX hasn’t yet been safety tested by the NHTSA or IIHS, but Acura says it is targeting a Top Safety Pick rating with the latter organization.


Beyond the addition of a few new features, the 2018 TLX’s major changes are bolder styling details, the sportier A-Spec model, and colorful brand-boosting ads that remind viewers the front-drive sedan is made by the same company that brought us the advanced NSX hybrid supercar. The TLX’s interesting diamond pentagon grille is an improvement over the more chrome-filled 2015-2017 model’s look, yet besides the front and rear fascia changes, the car is still on the more conservative side. That’s mostly good—it means that, except for maybe the A-Spec model, you’ll probably feel the same way you do about the 2018 TLX’s styling today as you will 10 years from now.

Although the 2018 TLX has lots of new features and updated styling, the engines and transmissions remain the same. The base car remains front-drive only, with a naturally aspirated 2.4-liter I-4 producing 206 hp and 182 lb-ft of torque, mated to an eight-speed dual-clutch automatic. Like the front-drive V-6 models, all-wheel-drive TLXs are powered by a 3.5-liter naturally aspirated V-6 good for 290 hp and 267 lb-ft of torque, mated to a nine-speed automatic. Sixty percent of TLX customers are expected to go with a V-6 model over the I-4, and that makes sense if you’re comparing the TLX to a BMW 330i and Audi A4 2.0T instead of a BMW 320i, Audi A4 Ultra, or even a loaded Honda Accord V-6. The 2018 TLX’s V-6 engine won’t produce its peak power and torque as low in the rev range as turbocharged four-cylinder competitors, but it will sound better as you make your way across that highway on-ramp.

Even with the new 2018 TLX A-Spec model, whose Active Sound Cancellation system is tuned to pump up the engine sound above 4,000 rpm, the V-6 never shouts and always sounds refined. The A-Spec model represents a more involved effort from Acura than the ILX A-Spec, which mostly enhances that car’s already good looks. The TLX A-Spec is offered on front- and all-wheel-drive V-6 models, and rides on slightly fatter 245/40 R19 tires with dark-painted 19-inch wheels (compared to the regular V-6’s 225/50 R18 tires and 18-inch wheels). The steering and suspension systems are also retuned, and exterior and interior badges accompany the more aggressive styling touches and larger exhaust outlets.

On the road, you really can tell a difference between a 2018 TLX A-Spec and a non-A-Spec V-6 car. It’s subtle, but the TLX A-Spec’s suspension is firmer (but still everyday-livable), and the steering feels tighter, with slightly greater effort. No, the A-Spec car doesn’t make any more power than the other V-6 models, but we tested a 2015 TLX with all-wheel drive and the same engine/transmission combination hitting 60 mph in a respectable 5.9 seconds. As for the four-cylinder model, we’ve tested a 2015 TLX 2.4 reaching 60 mph in 7.2 seconds. On a winding road in a 2017 TLX recently, I found the 206-hp engine plenty powerful for driving on winding roads, and I appreciated its surprising snarl in Sport+ mode. We look forward to track testing 2018 TLX variants, including the A-Spec variant, to see how their performance has changed.

The Acura TLX’s auto brake hold can hold the brakes at long red lights, and it works smoothly as long as the V-6 model’s engine stop/start feature is turned off.


Having previously driven a 2017 TLX V-6 with all-wheel drive, I noticed the nine-speed auto in the 2018 TLX V-6 was better behaved during a day I spent with the updated cars. Hopefully this reflects the multiple minor improvements Acura tells us it has made since the V-6/nine-speed combination first appeared on the 2015 TLX, though it will take another few years to see any potential improvements in quality and reliability surveys. What remained consistent on the 2017 and 2018 TLXs I drove was the brake feel—there was a bit too much travel in the pedal before any actual slowing down happens.

With Acura carrying over the TLX’s engines and transmissions, EPA-rated fuel economy is expected to remain about the same. We don’t yet have the 2018 TLX’s official ratings, but the 2017 TLX came in at 24/35 mpg city/highway with the four-cylinder version, 21/34 mpg with the 2017 TLX V-6 FWD, and 21/31 mpg on the 2017 TLX V-6 AWD. Those are average numbers if you’re comparing the TLX to turbo-four-powered compact luxury sport sedans. The 2017 Audi A4 2.0T scoots from 0 to 60 mph in just 5.0 seconds, yet is EPA-rated at 24/31, three mpg better than the equivalent 2017 TLX in the city. The front-drive 2017 A4 2.0T is rated 25/33 and the 2017 Mercedes-Benz C300, which we tested in rear-drive form reaching 60 mph in 6.0 seconds, is rated 24/34 mpg (or 24/31 with all-wheel drive).


Neither of those German competitors have the Acura’s polarizing infotainment solution of two stacked screens. This is a layout we’ve seen on the prerefresh TLX, but it’s better executed now, with a lower screen that’s 30 percent quicker (and feels that way) as well as an Apple CarPlay integration that includes the ability to use the steering wheel’s voice-command button. On that lower screen, the controls for the HVAC system as well as the heated and available ventilated front seats are always visible, so making a change is easy. If you don’t understand why you’d want two screens, consider that the top screen can display a map, Apple CarPlay/Android Auto info, or fuel economy stats while the bottom one shows audio and HVAC system details. Another screen is sandwiched between the two instrument cluster gauges that are functional but not particularly modern or upscale. 

From the front or rear seats, you might appreciate the new contrasting seat piping that’s offered on most six-cylinder TLX sedans and standard on the TLX A-Spec. The detail is included on a new comfortable seat design and, overall, Acura offers the luxury of choice with a six interior colors. The most upscale is a new saddle-brown-like color called Espresso that’s only offered on non-A-Spec V-6 models. The A-Spec gets a choice between black leather with Alcantara inserts and white piping and an option the development team worked hard to get approved: red leather. Like many cars in this class, rear-seat space is adequate for two passengers in the outboard rear seats, which can now be optioned with heating controls.

Value remains the best reason to buy a TLX, but with the 2018 model going on sale in June, it’s far from the only one. The A-Spec variant is more fun to drive and showy than other TLXs have ever been before, yet each model would make a good commuter. Fuel efficiency and brand status aren’t the car’s strong suits, but the 2018 TLX is more worthy of consideration than it’s been before. And with standard active safety tech, you’ll experience features that might have been out of reach on nonloaded first-tier luxury brand alternatives.

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