2021 Acura TLX First Look: Back to the Roots


A couple of minutes after the checkered flag waved at 2017’s wet 24 Hours of Daytona, Acura’s bossman, Jon Ikeda, was cheering inside the luxurious model’s suite on the raceway. The #86 NSX GT3 car crossed the road in a good fifth place—however Ikeda was not solely acclaiming a profitable debut for the brand new Acura race automobile, he was celebrating what the model was constructing for the longer term.

The 2021 Acura TLX is a giant a part of that future. For the previous few years, the TLX has been among the many second-tier gross sales leaders within the hyper-competitive sport sedan section—trailing the stalwart BMW 3 Series and Mercedes C-Class, however placing the damage to the Audi A4, Alfa Romeo Giulia, Lexus IS, and Genesis G70. Nonetheless, it is by no means been seen as significantly attractive.

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Whereas protecting the TLX within the forefront of customers’ minds, Ikeda additionally desires to carry somewhat extra aptitude to an equipment luxurious sedan. Not solely is the brand new TLX going to herald a bolder design language, Acura additionally will resurrect the Sort S high-performance mannequin.

That moist Sunday afternoon in Florida was the start of a brand new chapter for Acura, and judging by Ikeda’s face, good issues had been coming. After launching the highly effective NSX and successful races, Acura is taking the subsequent step on its relaunch as Honda’s efficiency division. The second-generation 2021 Acura TLX ditches nearly every little thing it had earlier than and provides a bunch of key elements to actually compete within the sport sedan section.

With a regular 2.0-liter turbo for the common mannequin and a 3.0-liter twin-scroll turbo V-6 for the Sort S, Acura is doubling down by way of emotion. On high of that, the TLX brings a placing new design that borrows traces from the Acura Precision Concept and the gorgeous Type S Concept.

2021 Acura TLX: Robust Proportions

Have a look at the TLX, and its proportions leap out. The lengthy sprint to axle dimension (7.eight inches longer than the outgoing mannequin), expansive hood, and quick overhangs give this front-drive-based automobile a rearward stance to emphasise its sportier nature. The wheelbase has been prolonged by 3.7 inches, measuring 113.Zero inches. With a wider physique and decrease roof, the TLX delivers presence to the highway. In individual, the TLX’s good-looking traces additionally ought to acquire plenty of consideration.

The entrance fascia will get a bolder model of Acura’s pentagonal diamond grille, which is extra upright than the one we have seen within the RDX. The brand new technology of the Jewel Eye headlights—borrowed from the Sort S Idea—add 4 LED components and shiny daytime operating lights. The entrance fender additionally adopts its sharp traces from the idea, exhibiting a big radiator grille and hiding the foglights on the corners. The hood’s robust character traces add extra muscle to the entrance, serving to with the aggressive stance that Acura designers had been chasing.

From the aspect, the creases are extra refined and cleaner, however 19-inch wheels (18-inch are normal) add extra to the look. The rear might be the TLX’s greatest angle; the brand new taillights mimic the form of the daytime operating lights, whereas two large exhaust tubes add presence to the rear.

The A-Spec sport look bundle continues within the 2021 TLX, including distinctive 19-inch Shark Gray wheels, gloss black accents round its physique, a rear spoiler, and darker headlights and taillights. The Sort S grows from there, including quad exhaust tubes, a entrance splitter, and a rear diffuser. All of the chrome from the common automobile is subbed for black matte accents on the Sort S, giving it a sportier look.

2021 Acura TLX—A Acquainted Cabin

Following an identical design to the RDX’s interior, the TLX will get a new-look cabin with much-needed enchancment. The driving force’s seat carries a decrease seating place from which to look out over that expansive hood. The middle console has been redesigned, with a 10.2-inch display standing on high of the sprint.

The infotainment display could be managed utilizing a observe pad that sits close to the motive force and now has a bigger hand relaxation for a extra comfy place. That is the system used within the RDX, and after reviewing one for a full year, we discovered methods it wanted to enhance. Acura says it retains updating the software program to do away with bugs and make the system extra intuitive to make use of, however there isn’t any doubt that there is a studying curve for patrons new to the Acura interface.

Like with all Acuras as of late, as an alternative of getting a transmission lever, gears are chosen through an array of buttons. An enormous knob in the midst of the middle console permits the motive force to pick from 4 completely different modes—Consolation, Regular, Sport, and Particular person. The latter permits the motive force to individually regulate the engine response and transmission mapping—and even the suspension stiffness if the TLX is provided with the out there adaptive dampers.

The cabin has a premium really feel normally, and the 24-color ambient lighting system ups the expertise at evening. The lighting scheme modifications relying on the chosen drive mode, however drivers can override that to a colour of their selection. The ELS Studio 3D audio system is one other spotlight within the TLX—with 17 audio system (yet one more than within the RDX), you most likely will not hear any noise coming from outdoors.

Though the entrance seats have loads of area, it is a completely different story for rear passengers; headroom and legroom had been fairly tight for my 6-foot body. There aren’t any USB ports for backseat passengers, both—solely two within the entrance together with an non-compulsory wi-fi charger.

2021 Acura TLX—The Coronary heart and Soul

The 2021 Acura TLX shall be powered by a 2.0-liter turbo engine that produces 272 hp and 280 lb-ft of torque. The brand new four-banger comes straight from the RDX, and it has additionally been used within the Honda Civic Sort R and Accord. It is a large improve in comparison with the outgoing TLX, which is powered by an outdated 2.4-liter naturally aspirated engine with 206 hp and 182 lb-ft.

The Sort S’ coronary heart, nevertheless, will come within the type of a 3.0-liter twin-scroll turbo V-6. Though Acura is tightlipped on the bigger engine’s numbers, we anticipate energy to be within the mid-300s. Even when in comparison with the non-compulsory 3.5-liter V-6, the three.0-liter turbo within the Sort S ought to carry an evening and day distinction.

Each the common TLX and the Sort S will share a 10-speed automated transmission, although the Sort S’ gearbox has been tuned for efficiency driving. The tranny can ship all the ability to the entrance wheels, or to all 4 wheels with the non-compulsory Tremendous-Dealing with All-Wheel Drive (all Sort S models will include standard SH-AWD). Like within the RDX, the system can ship as much as 70 p.c of the torque to the rear axle relying on driving circumstances, and 100 p.c of that rear torque could be transferred to the proper or left wheel.

Beneath its pores and skin, Acura developed an all-new platform for the TLX. Model reps say the structure was particularly developed to assist the efficiency of the Sort S and doesn’t share any elements with different Honda and even Acura merchandise (but).

An important element is the improve from struts to regulate arms for the entrance suspension. The revised suspension ought to ship higher dealing with by way of corners. One other key factor is the 50 p.c improve in torsional stiffness that may enhance the journey. The platform makes use of 56 p.c light-weight supplies corresponding to aluminum and high-strength press-hardened metal—greater than in another Acura sedan.

Studying from the NSX, Acura engineers had been capable of implement the identical form of electric-servo power-assisted braking system within the TLX. Acura says the system allowed it to tune the brake pedal pressure and brake stress to ship managed, agency stopping energy. The Sort S will get the identical setup however with upgraded {hardware}, which incorporates four-piston Brembo calipers within the entrance.

2021 Acura TLX—Security

As you’d anticipate, all TLXs come geared up with an extended record of security applied sciences—from adaptive cruise management to automated emergency braking—underneath the AcuraWatch identify at no additional price. For 2021, site visitors signal recognition and a driver consciousness monitor are added to that record, with the latter monitoring the motive force’s habits and application.

A brand new front-passenger airbag makes its method into the TLX, which makes use of a three-chamber design that additional protects the passenger’s head in case of an accident.

2021 Acura TLX—Does It Have What It Takes?

Given drivers’ want for efficiency with out sacrificing usability and practicality, the compact sport sedan market is hard to win over, however the 2021 Acura TLX is making an attempt onerous to do exactly that. Although the section might not be as well-liked because it was just a few years in the past, it nonetheless attracts consideration, and Acura is exhibiting what it may do in a crowded subject.

When Ikeda walked me by way of the 2021 TLX for the primary time, I acknowledged his facial features from that Sunday afternoon in Daytona. Acura has labored onerous to get to the place it’s, and the TLX—particularly the Sort S—represents an essential step towards demonstrating the model’s efficiency roots. Whether or not the TLX can take us again to the sportiness of the unique Acura Integra or the delicate Legend stays to be seen, but it surely seems Acura is on the proper path.

Count on the 2021 Acura TLX to reach within the fall, adopted by the Tye S within the spring of 2021.

2021 Acura TLX
PRICE $35,000-$55,000 (est)
LAYOUT Entrance-engine, FWD/AWD, 5-pass, 4-door sedan
ENGINE 2.0L/272-hp/280-lb-ft turbo DOHC 16-valve I-4; 3.0L/350-hp/350-lb-ft (est) turbo DOHC 24-valve V-6
TRANSMISSION 10-speed auto
CURB WEIGHT 3,500-3,750 lb (est)
WHEELBASE 113.Zero in
L x W x H 194.6 x 75.2 x 56.Four in
0-60 MPH 4.5-6.5 sec (MT est)
EPA FUEL ECON Not but rated
ON SALE Fall 2020

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