The Acura TLX gets a makeover for 2021, including bringing back the Type S performance-oriented model. The new TLX is the quickest sedan in Acura history. In addition to sporty performance, it has a high-end interior, available all-wheel-drive and is a good value among luxury midsize sedans.
Base Price: $53,100
As Tested: $53,825
Mileage: 19 mpg city/25 mpg highway/21 mpg combined
Honda’s upscale brand used to be known for making sporty, premium cars with the Honda value and reliability. Over the last decade, Acura hasn’t always been on target in producing lively, fun-to-drive vehicles but hopes to regain that ground with the redesigned TLX.
The new TLX is longer and wider with a lower stance and more aggressive looks. It comes in just one trim, 2.0T, and you add packages to get the features you want. Available packages are Technology, A-Spec, Advance and Type S, which is offered again for the first time since 2008. All have seating for five passengers.
Starting prices range from $37,500 for the base model to $52,300 for the Type S. Acura’s Super Handling All-Wheel-Drive is standard on the Type S. Front-wheel-drive is standard on the rest of the packages and SH-AWD is available for an additional $2,000.
The regular TLX gets a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder that makes 272 horsepower and 280 pound-feet of torque, paired with a 10-speed automatic transmission. The Type S is powered by a turbo 3.0-liter V6 that churns out 355 horses and 354 pound-feet.
The Type S drives like a sport sedan should. While it doesn’t sprint as quickly from zero to 60 mph as an Audi S4 or BMW M340i, it scoots from a stop and can eagerly accelerate for merging and passing at freeway speeds. The Type S stays planted when cornering, and steering and brakes are responsive—in fact the brakes can be a little sensitive. Hit ‘em hard and your front passenger will be lurching forward. While the Type S is a blast to drive on twisty backroads, it’s also pleasant as a daily driver, whether you’re commuting to work or stuck in stop-and-go traffic. The ride is smooth and comfortable.
Fuel efficiency isn’t as good as some rivals. EPA ratings for my Type S tester are 19 mpg city and 25 mpg highway with a combined rating of 21. I got 22 mpg during my week with a mix of city and highway driving.
The cabin is attractive and comfortable with quality materials. Front seats are comfortable, supportive, and roomy enough even for taller adults. However, the back seat is tight and most adults will wish for more leg- and headroom. The gear selector has buttons instead of a shifter, and a rotary drive mode selector that lets you choose from Normal, Comfort and Sport modes.
The TLX comes loaded with standard features including keyless entry, push-button start, rearview camera, dual-zone automatic climate control, synthetic leather upholstery, heated front seats with power adjustments, infotainment system with 10.2-inch display, 10-speaker audio system, Bluetooth, HD Radio, satellite radio, two USB ports, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, Wi-Fi hot spot, and a moonroof.
Available features include remote start, surround-view camera system, head-up display, real leather upholstery, heated steering wheel, ventilated front seats, heated rear seats, 13- and 17-speaker audio systems, navigation, two additional USB ports, wireless device charging and automatic high-beam headlights.
Standard driver assistance technologies include forward collision warning, automatic emergency braking, adaptive cruise control, lane departure warning, lane keep assist, and road sign recognition.
Available driver assistance technologies include blind spot monitoring, rear cross traffic alert, and front and rear parking sensors.
The dash is dominated by a 10.2-inch infotainment display – there’s no touchscreen, rather the system is controlled by a touchpad controller located between the two front seats or by steering wheel controls. The system takes getting used to, and can be distracting, especially when you’re trying to make minute movements on the touchpad. At least the graphics look good.
Trunk space is about average for the class with 13.5 cubic feet. The wide opening and pass-through area make it easy to transport large and long items.
Fun to drive
Good value for the money
AWD available on all packages
Not as athletic as some rivals
Below average fuel efficiency for the class
Clunky infotainment system
Tight back seats
My tester starts at $53,100. Tiger Eye Pearl paint is $500. Destination fee is $1,025 bringing the grand total to $53,825.
With the 2021 TLX, Acura takes a big step forward in once again making a luxury sedan that’s fun to drive with a high-end cabin and all of the amenities you expect. It doesn’t hurt that the TLX is offered at a relatively low price for the class which makes it worth checking out.