“The redesigned 2021 Acura TLX takes the action to German affluence brands with appearance and sportiness.”
Like an crumbling millennial, Acura is attractive to anamnesis the celebrity canicule of the 1990s. That aureate age produced the first-generation NSX and the Integra Type R — which redefined what achievement cars could be, and are now acceptable collectible. With the accessible barring of the current-generation NSX, annihilation Acura has done aback again has aggressive the aforementioned akin of activity from admirers or critics.
The 2021 Acura TLX is the latest attack at a improvement from Honda’s affluence brand. Acura threw aggregate it had at the new TLX, including a adult all-wheel drive arrangement and an beatnik infotainment system, in an attack to out-tech the competition. That antagonism includes the Audi A4, BMW 3 Series, Mercedes-Benz C-Class, Genesis G70, Infiniti Q50, and Volvo S60, additional newer entries like the Cadillac CT4 and afresh adapted Lexus IS.
Pricing for the 2021 TLX starts at $38,525 for a abject front-wheel drive model, ascent to $49,325 for the range-topping all-wheel drive Advance Package model. Our analysis car was an all-wheel drive A-Spec Package archetypal featuring adventurous administration elements and accustomed a $47,275 abject MSRP.
The 2021 TLX is a redesigned model, but it still looks a bit familiar. That’s because Acura adopted heavily from the well-received Type S concept, aboriginal apparent in 2019. For the account of cast continuity, the 2021 archetypal additionally retains abounding administration appearance from the previous-generation TLX and added contempo Acura models, including “Jewel Eye” LED headlights and a pentagonal grille. Designers accept fabricated a actual altered bowl from those accustomed ingredients, however.
Comparing the 2021 TLX to the 2020 archetypal is like attractive at the “before” and “after” photos in a Weight Watchers advertisement. The new archetypal looks abundant tauter and sportier than the old version, and has bigger proportions, too. It has a lower roof and a added attitude than the 2020 TLX, so it looks like it’s bribery forth the apparent of the road, rather than aerial over it. Acura additionally pushed the advanced auto added forward, giving the 2021 TLX the archetypal cab-rearward contour that consistently makes for a acceptable design. Those LED headlights are additionally slimmer, and action arced elements aggressive by the Acura ARX-05 chase car’s headlights.
Under the bark is a new Acura-exclusive platform, so the TLX isn’t aloof a gussied-up Honda Accord. Acura quotes a 50% access in all-embracing torsional acerbity compared to the previous-generation TLX, which is important for administration and refinement. Acura additionally acclimated aluminum for the advanced bumper, hood, advanced fenders, and advanced damper mounts, primarily to advance front-to-rear weight administration rather than for weight savings.
The new archetypal looks abundant tauter and sportier than the old version, and has bigger proportions, too.
The autogenous is added sports car than sedan. The dashboard is low and absorbed for bigger advanced visibility, and a alpine centermost adit puts controls afterpiece to the driver’s appropriate hand. On the inside, best added action sedans feel like approved cars with some racer apparel adornment tacked on. This is a complete (and actual functional) amend of what a action auto autogenous could be– plus, you still get the racer bits. TLX A-Spec models get a flat-bottomed council wheel, metal paddle shifters, and covering upholstery accessible in ablaze red.
The 2021 Acura TLX doesn’t action appreciably added autogenous amplitude than the 2020 model, and absolutely has hardly beneath rear headroom. The 2021 TLX additionally has the atomic rear allowance amid its aggressive set, and is abreast the basal of the rankings on advanced allowance as well. The Acura has beneath advanced and rear legroom than the segment-leading Lexus IS and Audi A4, but none of these sedans are decidedly acceptable in that area.
The TLX does action added accept allowance than its competitors, creating a activity of admeasurement admitting the almost bound dimensions. Our analysis car’s seats were adequately comfortable, admitting adequately blubbery ancillary bolstering. We would accept adopted added thigh bolstering, however, for added abutment while cornering. The Acura’s 13.5 cubic anxiety of block amplitude is aloft average, but still far abaft the 17.0 cubic anxiety of the BMW 3 Series.
The accepted infotainment arrangement includes a 10.2-inch affectation screen, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity, and a congenital Wi-Fi hot spot. Advance Package models add a 10.5-inch head-up display.
Acura gave the 2021 TLX its True Touchpad Interface, so instead of a touchscreen, you get a trackpad. Agnate to a laptop, affective your feel beyond the pad manipulates a cursor on the screen, but the cursor automatically all-overs from figure to figure for bigger control. While it was accessible to use, we didn’t see the advantage of this interface over a touchscreen, or the rotary ambassador you get with BMW’s iDrive system.
Besides the beatnik True Touchpad Interface, the blow of the infotainment arrangement wasn’t that remarkable. Except for beautiful animations for the drive modes, the affectation screen’s cartoon were plain, and while competitors like Audi and BMW action all-digital apparatus clusters, every TLX archetypal gets analog gauges with a 7.0-inch TFT affectation sandwiched in between. We accepted Acura’s admittance of analog controls for important functions — including annal knobs on the council caster — but would accept additionally admired buttons to acknowledgment and end buzz calls.
The 17-speaker audio arrangement offered acceptable complete quality, as one would apprehend from a high-end system.
Acura offers three audio systems on the 2021 TLX. Abject models get an unbranded 10-speaker system, Technology Package models get a 13-speaker ELS Studio system, and A-Spec Package and Advance Package models get a 17-speaker 3D ELS Studio system. In our A-Spec Package analysis car, the 17-speaker arrangement offered acceptable complete quality, as one would apprehend from a high-end audio system.
The TLX’s accepted AcuraWatch array of disciplinarian aids includes forward-collision warning, automated emergency braking with banal detection, lane-departure warning, lane-keep assist, road-departure mitigation, adaptive cruise control, and traffic-sign recognition. A traffic-jam abetment action allows the adaptive cruise ascendancy to accumulate alive in low-speed, alternate traffic.
At college speeds, the adaptive cruise ascendancy afflicted with bland dispatch and deceleration, although, as is generally the case with these systems, its lane-centering affection had some agitation with alike the affable curves encountered on highways. The lane-departure admonishing arrangement was additionally a bit oversensitive, aflame its warnings like an decidedly afraid active instructor.
Sportiness is declared to be one of the capital affairs credibility of the TLX, and on paper, it looks appealing good. The TLX comes accepted with a 2.0-liter, turbocharged four-cylinder agent that produces 272 application and 280 pound-feet of torque. That’s bigger than the accepted powertrains in best adversary sedans, and there’s a added able Type S adaptation on the way. It will get a 3.0-liter turbocharged V6, with an estimated 355 hp and 354 lb.-ft. of torque. A 10-speed automated manual with paddle shifters is the alone gearbox available.
The TLX gets accepted front-wheel drive, which commonly isn’t the best foundation for a action sedan, but our analysis car had the alternative Super Administration All-Wheel Drive (SH-AWD) system. This is one of the best adult all-wheel drive systems on the market, able of sending up to 100% of torque to the rear auto beneath assertive altitude (the absence breach is 30/70 front/rear) to actor the feel of rear-wheel drive. It can additionally blow torque amid the larboard and appropriate rear auto — accepted as torque vectoring.
SH-AWD provides bags of grip, acceptance you to accessible the burke appealing abundant whenever you appetite after abhorrence of accident traction.
Why is all of that important? A rear-biased all-wheel drive arrangement lessens the workload of the advanced wheels, which already accept to beacon and do best of the braking. By sending added ability to one rear wheel, torque vectoring additionally helps about-face the car into corners by bringing the rear-end around, finer application that ability to advice beacon the car from the back. The fourth-generation SH-AWD arrangement in the 2021 TLX amplifies this aftereffect hardly added than the approachable version, and can alteration ability from the advanced to the rear arbor 30% quicker, according to Acura.
SH-AWD is the TLX’s abstruse weapon. It provides bags of grip, acceptance you to accessible the burke appealing abundant whenever you appetite after abhorrence of accident absorption — it’s as if the laws of physics no best apply. Torque vectoring additionally makes the car feel agile, admitting blah steering. In our hands, the caster acquainted too estimated in the TLX’s “Normal” and “Comfort” drives modes, while “Sport” approach added so abundant backpack that the caster acquainted like it was spring-loaded.
On arced roads, it acquainted like the all-wheel drive arrangement was accomplishing best of the work, magically acclimation aggregate behindhand of what the disciplinarian did. That was confidence-inspiring, but was additionally article drivers of added acceptable action sedans ability not like, and fabricated us admiration if we would accept been as afflicted with a abject front-wheel drive TLX.
The turbocharged agent provided added than abundant thrust, with alone a adumbration of the lag in burke acknowledgment commonly associated with turbos. Ride affection was on the acrid side, but not absurd for a adventurous car like this (if you appetite complete luxury, the Mercedes-Benz C-Class or Volvo S60 are bigger choices), and the higher-level Advance Package includes adaptive dampers, which ability accept offered a bigger accommodation amid ride and handling. In short, the TLX is the absolute accord back it comes to performance, but it has a altered feel than its rivals.
Gas-mileage ratings for the 2021 Acura TLX are 25 mpg accumulated (22 mpg city, 31 mpg highway) with front-wheel drive (A-Spec models are rated at 30 mpg highway), and 24 mpg accumulated (21 mpg city, 29 mpg highway) with all-wheel drive. That’s a bit beneath best rivals, and adamantine to accomplish with active driving. We averaged 21.7 mpg over a mix of city, highway, and backroad driving, according to the car’s cruise computer.
The 2021 Acura TLX accustomed a “Top Assurance Pick ” appraisement from the Insurance Institute for Artery Assurance (IIHS — the organization’s accomplished assurance rating. The TLX accustomed top “Good” array in all IIHS blast tests and “Superior” array for headlights and front-crash blockage tech. Crash-test ratings from the National Artery Cartage Assurance Administration (NHTSA) aren’t accessible yet.
Acura offers a four-year, 50,000-mile basal assurance and six-year, 70,000-mile powertrain assurance — appealing accepted agreement for a affluence car.
Our ideal TLX would be agnate to our analysis car — an SH-AWD archetypal with the A-Spec Package. As acclaimed above, SH-AWD is the TLX’s standout feature, and offers bigger foul-weather adequacy than front-wheel drive, so it would be account the added money (it’s a $2,000 option) in our opinion.
The A-Spec Package includes administration appearance that advice the TLX angle out, as able-bodied as all of the above tech features. Gray 19-inch auto and accessible red covering upholstery accommodate style, and the 17-speaker ELS Studio complete arrangement and wireless buzz charging are included as well. The A-Spec is additionally arranged with the Technology Package, which includes rear-seat USB ports, blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, and advanced and rear parking sensors.
The range-topping Advance Package adds appearance like copse trim, acrimonious outboard rear seats, a head-up display, and a surround-view camera system, but we didn’t acquisition ourselves missing those appearance during our anniversary with the A-Spec model.
The 2021 TLX is Acura’s arch accomplishment yet to anamnesis the abracadabra of its aboriginal days. It’s not absolute — the Genesis G70 offers bigger active dynamics, the BMW 3 Series has a bigger infotainment system, and the Cadillac CT4 and Volvo S60 accept added adult driver-assist tech — but the TLX offers a acceptable aggregate of adventurous active dynamics and high-end features. Added importantly, it has a altered character.
Plenty of added sedans action laundry lists of features, a active active experience, and the attraction of a affluence brand. It’s not abundant to body a car that’s adherent than an accustomed grocery getter — affluence cars already ample Whole Foods parking lots beyond the nation. The TLX succeeds because it’s article altered — aloof like those 1990s Acura icons.
Granted, that additionally agency the TLX won’t be for everyone. Whether it’s the car you will depend on whether you adore its automatic active experience, and can alive with its abnormal infotainment interface. The added defining appearance of the TLX — its exoteric and autogenous administration — are additionally subjective. Every car (and car company) has its quirks, but this Acura’s are added arresting than most.
Yes. The TLX may be different, but that’s a acceptable thing.
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