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2021 Acura TLX Sports Sedan Is a Welcome Return to Form

2021 Acura TLX Sports Sedan Is a Welcome Return to Form

The all-new Acura TLX aims to reclaim the performance image that once helped Honda's luxury brand stand out. Along with a stylized design that looks faithful to the concept car, the 2021 TLX marks a return to form of sorts by resurrecting the revered Type S high-performance nameplate. It's powered by either a potent turbocharged four-cylinder or a gutsy turbo V-6. Acura will also offer every TLX with its effective Super Handling All-Wheel Drive (SH-AWD), which has become a company staple. A new dedicated platform with a more sophisticated chassis is expected to enhance the car's ride and handling compared with the outgoing model. Likewise, the 2021 TLX receives a snazzier interior that will help it better compete against rivals, such as the BMW 3-series and Audi A4.



We've been given our first official glimpse into the brand-new 2021 Acura TLX sedan, and so far we like what we see. It's clear that Acura wants to be considered a brand that focuses on performance, boosting power with two turbocharged engine options and the return of the Type S variant after a decade-long absence.

Acura stuck close to the well-received Type S concept when styling the new TLX, which means the sedan boasts crisp lines, aggressively creased sheetmetal and a low, wide stance. An angular grille is flanked by Acura's Jewel Eye headlights and Chicane LED running lights to create an expressive face, and similarly shaped taillights at the back end finish off a cohesive design. An A-Spec sport package adds darkened elements along with a unique set of 19-inch wheels and a rear spoiler.

What's New for 2021:

Acura gives its best-selling TLX sedan a full redesign for 2021. The latest generation was nicknamed the "Seven-Second Knockout" during development, because the company intends it to be significantly more exciting than the version it replaces. The sports sedan gains a more distinct presence from longer, lower, and wider proportions. It also adds more powerful engines, an updated version of SH-AWD, and enhanced chassis components. The storied Type S model also rejoins the lineup for the first time since the 2008 TL, and we've been told the badge will proliferate to other Acura models too.

Engine, Transmission, and Performance:

The TLX continues to offer both a four- and six-cylinder engine. The standard mill is a turbocharged 2.0-liter inline-four that makes 272 horsepower and 280 lb-ft of torque. The redesigned sedan also sees the return to the brand's enthusiast roots with the Type S high-performance trim. This model alone gets the newly developed turbocharged 3.0-liter V-6, which will be more powerful than the 290-hp 3.5-liter V-6 in the outgoing model. It comes standard with Acura's Super Handling All-Wheel Drive (SH-AWD). While the regular TLX starts with front-wheel drive, it can be had with SH-AWD too. Every version features a 10-speed automatic transmission, but the Type S receives unique tuning for sportier behavior. The TLX is built on a new and exclusive platform with a double-wishbone front suspension that's said to improve its ride-and-handling versus the last generation. The sedan also now features variable-ratio steering, an electrically controlled braking system, and available adaptive dampers.

Fuel Economy and Real-World MPG:

Neither Acura nor the EPA have announced how fuel efficient the 2021 TLX is expected to be in the city or on the highway. We fully expect the four-cylinder version to be thriftier than the V-6 option, and adding all-wheel drive to the mix will probably slightly reduce fuel savings. Once its government ratings are made public, and we test the Acura's powertrains on our 200-mile highway route, we will report their real-world fuel economy.

Interior, Comfort, and Cargo:

Inside, the TLX has a more expressive design that is intended to highlight its sporty character. With details that mimic the Acura RDX compact-luxury crossover, such as attractive analog gauges and a prominent rotary drive-mode selector in the middle of the dashboard, the sedan has a distinct aesthetic that should be solidified by Acura's excellent build quality. The TLX also boasts nicer cabin materials than before, which include open-pore wood and real aluminum. Its new dimensions provide increased passenger space from side-to-side too. However, overall passenger volume and maximum cargo volume are only slightly larger. Still, its highly adjustable front seats and improved forward visibility are expected to reward drivers. The TLX also offers myriad interior colors, distinct leather upholstery, and desirable features. The latter includes a large 10.5-inch head-up display and customizable ambient-lighting settings that are each named after iconic driving destinations and racetracks, such as "Pacific Coast" and "Suzuka".

Infotainment and Connectivity:

Every TLX features a 10.2-inch infotainment system that's primarily controlled through a touchpad on the center console. Some functions can also be manipulated via steering-wheel buttons and physical controls next to the touchpad. While we're not particularly fond of the setup found on the RDX, Acura says it has made the interface respond more accurately. There's also a padded resting place for your write below the touchpad that makes it more comfortable to operate. The infotainment system features a Wi-Fi hotspot and an ELS premium stereo, and we expect it to come standard with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.

Safety and Driver-Assistance Features:

The 2021 TLX hasn't been crash tested by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) or the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). Still, every model comes standard with AcuraWatch, which includes a host of driver-assistance technology. The sedan also has new equipment, such as traffic-sign recognition and a driver-awareness monitor. Key safety features include:
  • Standard adaptive cruise control.
  • Standard blind-spot monitoring.
  • Standard lane-keeping assist.
Warranty and Maintenance Coverage:

Acura provides one of the longer powertrain warranties on the market, and its limited warranty aligns with most of the TLX's rivals, such as the Alfa Romeo Giulia and Mercedes C-class. However, the company doesn't offer any complimentary maintenance.
  • Limited warranty covers four years or 50,000 miles.
  • Powertrain warranty covers six years or 70,000 miles.
  • No complimentary scheduled maintenance.

Pricing and Which One to Buy:
  • Base: $35,000 (est.)
  • Type S: $45,000 (est.)
Acura hasn't said exactly how much the 2021 TLX will cost. However, it has said that the regular TLX will go on sale this fall in the mid-$30,000 range. While the company didn't comment on pricing for the Type S variant, it did confirm that that model will go on sale in the spring of 2021.

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