Consider the current Acura TLX a mulligan on the part of Honda’s luxury division. Don’t get us wrong, because it’s not as though Acura’s sports sedan is particularly bad, it’s just not quite at the same level as its competition. Want a comfortable enough, attractive enough, reasonably priced luxury sedan? Then the value-laden TLX does the job. In search of driving engagement, head-turning looks, or brand snobbery? Then look past the 2020 Acura TLX and check out one of its competitors. Or next year’s TLX.
The upcoming 2021 Acura TLX may just turn things around, thanks to its standard turbocharged four-cylinder engine, available all-wheel-drive, salacious styling, and newly available Type S trim that includes a turbocharged V-6 engine. Sure, it’s the second-generation TLX, but if it delivers the chops to properly compete with the likes of the Alfa Romeo Guilia, Audi A4, BMW 3-Series, Genesis G70, and others, consider it the TLX’s true take-off moment. Here’s how the 2021 TLX compares to its predecessor—on paper:
2021 Acura TLX vs. 2020 Acura TLX: Performance
Say goodbye to natural aspiration in the TLX, because the new TLX is a turbocharged-only affair. A turbo 2.0-liter inline-four replaces the outgoing TLX’s entry-level 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine. With 272 horsepower and 280 pound-feet of torque, the 2021 TLX’s forced-induction-four packs 66 more horses and 98 additional lb-ft of twist over the 2020 model’s four-pot engine. Factor in the new TLX’s available all-wheel-drive (the four-cylinder 2020 TLX is front-wheel-drive only) and a new 10-speed automatic gearbox in place of the old eight-speed dual-clutch unit, and the second-generation TLX ought to have no trouble outpacing its four-cylinder forebear.
Likewise, the new TLX’s available V-6 engine welcomes turbocharging technology. Acura remains mum on the specs of its new 3.0-liter six that powers the sporty TLX Type S, but it’s safe to assume the engine will better the 290 horsepower and 267 lb-ft of torque put out by the 2020 model’s 3.5-liter V-6. Unlike the outgoing TLX, the 2021 model exclusively pairs its V-6 engine with all-wheel drive. A 10-speed automatic gearbox is the sole transmission on offer and replaces the prior six-cylinder TLX’s nine-speed unit.
2021 Acura TLX vs. 2020 Acura TLX: Size
As the informal replacement to both the long-gone Acura TSX and TL sedans, the 2015 Acura TLX cast a shadow that was larger than the former sedan but shorter than the latter. The 2021 TLX, however, finds itself closer in size to the larger TL of yore. At 194.6 inches long, the new car is 0.6 inch longer than the old TL and a rather substantial 2.9 inches longer than the 2020 TLX. Similarly, the new TLX’s 75.2-inch width bests that of the TL by 1.2 inches and the outgoing TLX by 2.2 inches. In fact, the only exterior measurement of the 2021 TLX that shrinks relative to its 2020 counterpart is its height: At 56.4 inches, the new TLX is 0.6 inch lower than the old one.
2021 Acura TLX vs. 2020 Acura TLX: Interior and Cargo Capacity
Despite it benefitting from a 3.7-inch longer wheelbase (now measuring 113.0 inches), the 2021 Acura TLX is barely any roomier than its predecessor. Blame the model’s attractive wares that trade space for style. That said, the 2021 TLX still sees improvements in its cabin and cargo hold, and passenger volume grows from 93.3 cubic feet to 93.4, per the Environmental Protection Agency’s measurements. Likewise, cargo volume expands from 13.2 cubic feet to 13.5 cubes. If you’re after a more spacious Acura sedan, then you’re SOL, as the Japanese luxury brand’s larger RLX sedan fails to see the 2021 model year in the United States.