2021 Acura TLX first drive evaluation: Sharper picture

The TLX is certainly one of Acura’s greatest latest designs. 


You may’t speak concerning the 2021 Acura TLX with out first mentioning its design — not less than, that is been my expertise. Everybody I do know is gaga over this factor, and with good motive. Low, extensive, sporty and glossy, the brand new TLX actually grabs your consideration.

It is greater than only a fairly face, too; the TLX is brand-spankin’-new from the bottom up. And with its sturdy turbo energy, lengthy checklist of ordinary tech and comfy, assured street manners, Acura’s swanky compact sedan deserves rather more than only a double-take.

Style ahead

The 2021 TLX traces its design roots again to Acura’s Precision Idea from 2016, however it’s kind of the 2019 Sort S Idea come to life. I have been over the small print 1,000,000 occasions, however they by no means get outdated. From the fastback profile to the slim headlamps to that hunkered-down stance, this new TLX is my favourite Acura design of the previous… uh… actually very long time (sure, even together with the NSX).

The TLX measures Three inches longer, 2 inches wider and half an inch decrease than its predecessor, which now simply appears cumbersome by comparability. Acura’s sedan is bigger than key opponents just like the Audi A4, BMW Three Collection and Mercedes-Benz C-Class, and I genuinely assume it appears higher than all three. There is a Stinger-like vibe to the silhouette, and that is not a foul factor, although Kia does get bonus factors for its automobile’s hatchback versatility.

The mannequin seen here’s a TLX A-Spec, which comes with 19-inch wheels in addition to just a few black exterior trim bits. The bottom TLX rides on 18-inch wheels whereas 20s are reserved for the upcoming Sort S, which I will get to in a minute. LED headlights and taillights are commonplace throughout the board, and I like the way in which the piano-black trim on the mirror caps visually cut back their measurement. Even essentially the most fundamental TLX is tremendous trendy, and that is superior.

The cabin supplies are prime notch.


Comfortable cabin with just a few caveats

Although the inside is properly appointed, man, the TLX’s dashboard is busy. I just like the comfortable leather-based surfaces and the contrasting steel and piano-black trim items, however there’s a complete lot taking place on that brief heart stack. I nonetheless attain for the Dynamic Mode choice dial each single time I wish to alter the audio quantity, and the button-based digital gear shifter is as bizarre as ever. At the least the local weather controls are cleanly organized and the middle console is essentially freed from litter, even when the amount and search buttons form of seem like they’re little islands off the coast of the touchpad. There are additionally a bunch of various ambient lighting themes to your perusal, all whimsically named after roads or race tracks from numerous corners of the earth.

What I like most concerning the TLX’s cabin is its seating place. With comparatively skinny A pillars, there is a commanding view of the street forward, and it is good to have the ability to see the sculpting of the hood, even with the motive force’s seat in its lowest place. The beltline is fairly low, and neither the gauge cluster nor the infotainment display exceed the peak of the cowl. Ergonomically talking, that is all superb stuff.

That 10.2-inch multimedia show runs Acura’s latest infotainment software program, managed by the corporate’s True Contact Interface touchpad on the console. Acura tells me the up to date TTI has improved contact accuracy, and I will admit I am not battling it as a lot as I initially did when this tech launched within the RDX crossover. The menu construction itself is not too laborious to navigate and the display presents crisp, clear graphics. However the studying curve remains to be tough. You’d certainly get used to it for those who owned a TLX. After all, the identical might be stated for practically any fashionable infotainment system, actually, save maybe Lexus‘ convoluted Distant Contact UX. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are commonplace, in the event that they’re your factor, and Acura says TTI updates might be pushed out over the air because of an ordinary 4G LTE Wi-Fi hotspot.

The place the TLX takes a again seat to different luxurious opponents is not with its infotainment tech, it is with the gauge cluster. Audi, BMW, Mercedes-Benz and Volvo provide totally digital setups, however the TLX depends on an analog speedometer and tachometer with a 7-inch display between ’em. There’s nothing unhealthy about this setup per se, however I would like to see Acura undertake some form of reconfigurable show like Audi’s Digital Cockpit or BMW’s newest iDrive. It’d go a great distance towards zhuzhing up the place.

That heart stack is terribly busy.


Turbo energy and a properly sorted chassis

I discussed the Sort S earlier, so let me get this out of the way in which: The warmer model of the 2021 TLX will launch subsequent spring, and no, I have never pushed it. Examine again in just a few months and I will let you know all about its 3.0-liter turbo V6, 355 horsepower, 354 pound-feet of torque, distinctive suspension tuning, Brembo brakes and all the opposite hotness.

The remainder of the TLX lineup makes use of a 2.0-liter turbo I4 — the identical one you will discover within the RDX — with 272 hp and 280 lb-ft of torque, which is aggressive in opposition to the four-cylinder engines provided by rivals. Entrance-wheel drive is commonplace however you possibly can go for Acura’s Tremendous-Dealing with All-Wheel Drive system, whereas a compulsory 10-speed computerized transmission handles shifting duties.

The massive information beneath is the TLX’s swap to a double-wishbone entrance suspension fairly than the less-sophisticated MacPherson strut setup discovered within the outgoing mannequin. Mixed with multilink rear suspension, the one best a part of the TLX’s driving expertise is its experience high quality — superbly balanced and composed whereas cornering, however tremendous supple on the freeway with out feeling imprecise. My A-Spec makes use of the inventory chassis setup, whereas Advance and Sort S fashions obtain adaptive dampers. I am curious to see if there is a noticeable distinction, however because it stands, I haven’t got a single grievance about this TLX’s inventory tune.


This sedan’s steering jogs my memory that Acura and Honda have all the time been able to mastering this integral bond between automobile and driver. The TLX’s wheel itself is completely sized and its motion properly weighted, with crisp turn-in and loads of communication about what the tires are as much as. General, the TLX strikes with a lightness paying homage to the model’s older, extra celebrated merchandise. It is simple, nice and rewarding to drive.

I’ve all the time preferred Acura’s torque-vectoring all-wheel drive and it actually helps enhance the TLX’s agility on winding roads. Even within the Regular drive setting, the TLX does not thoughts being hustled by means of a collection of switchbacks within the canyons north of Los Angeles, and for those who flip that massive Dynamic Mode knob to the correct, you will put the TLX in Sport, the place the powertrain livens up a bit. (Additionally, the TLX-going-mega-fast graphic it shows on the infotainment display is form of rad, if a bit gimmicky.) Actually, although, I would keep out of Sport mode more often than not. The 10-speed computerized can sometimes be dimwitted right here, both holding gears too lengthy or not shifting rapidly sufficient, and the steering wheel-mounted paddles do not provide fast responses.

I am positively wanting to drive the TLX back-to-back with key opponents, particularly the Audi A4 45 TFSI and BMW 330i xDrive, as a result of I actually do assume the Acura can stand toe-to-toe with these heavy hitters. The TLX has higher steering really feel and a extra tossable aura, and it has the upper-hand on driver-assistance tech, too, with the complete AcuraWatch suite commonplace throughout the board. This package deal consists of issues like full-speed adaptive cruise management with stop-and-go performance, visitors signal recognition and blind-spot monitoring — all issues that price further on pricier German rivals.

A-Spec touches give the usual TLX a Sort S vibe.


Greater than only a good worth

The Acura TLX has all the time undercut its main opponents on value, and that stays true for 2021. At $38,525 together with $1,025 for vacation spot, the TLX is less expensive than an equal A4, 330i or C300 whereas providing a better degree of ordinary tools. The Germans have barely nicer cabin tech experiences, certain, however that apart, the TLX is a critically well-executed package deal.

After all, the TLX’s largest problem stays the identical: How do you persuade somebody who’d in any other case purchase (OK, lease) a BMW 330i to take a look at an Acura as a substitute? Fortunately, the TLX’s sharp fashion ought to make potential patrons look twice. Extra aggressive and compelling than ever, those that do take a look at a TLX will likely be pleasantly shocked.

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