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“This thing is fast and so damn smooth!” That was my first thought when hammering the throttle on the 2021 Acura TLX Type S from a stoplight. All of the cars that sat next to me at the light quickly disappeared in the rearview mirror and I was ahead of the pack until I hit the next red light 100 feet away.

As it turns out, no one was racing with me and, in actuality, they were just going about their daily lives and most likely running errands. I was too, and I found out that this special Acura had more than enough power to carry out my tasks.

Is the Acura TLX Type S a return to form for the brand?

2021 Acura TLX Type S in blue posed in the middle of a street
2021 Acura TLX Type S | Acura

When we all got wind that Acura was bringing back the “Type S” badge earlier this year, I was extremely excited. Being a lifelong Honda fanboy, I took the news as a “return to form” for the brand and felt that it meant that we can all look forward to cars that once made the brand popular in the 90s and early 2000s. I found myself daydreaming about a newer RSX Type S with a turbocharged engine, but alas, the forthcoming Integra will do.  

My dreams of old-school Acuras were also heightened after driving the 2021 Acura TLX A-Spec at the start of this year. Its agility around corners and spritely turbocharged engine showed a lot of promise and had me eagerly awaiting my turn in the forthcoming TLX Type S.

Now that it’s here, I feel the Acura hit the mark (yet again) with the TLX Type S. No, it’s not a tin-can street racer that makes you feel “one with the road” like the Integra Type R, but it’s sporty enough for the street and fast enough to get to your daily appointments on time. Better yet, it can do double duty as a comfortable track car on the weekends, if you’re so inclined.

The Acura TLX Type S has a lot of power for everyday driving

the engine bay on the 2021 Acura TLX Type S
2021 Acura TLX Type S | Acura

Aside from a few aesthetic tweaks like the lightweight Y-spoke 20-inch wheels and the quad exhaust tips, there’s not much to differentiate the Type S from the TLX A-Spec. Even the interior on both cars looks largely the same as they both feature leather seats with suede inserts. But what sets the TLX Type S apart from its what’s under the hood: A turbocharged V6 that produces 355 hp and 354 lb-ft of torque.

That powerplant is matched to a 10-speed automatic transmission that routes power to all four wheels via Acura’s Super-Handling All-Wheel-Drive (SH-AWD) system. That sounds awesome, right? It is, but it’s too bad that you can’t use all of it when you’re driving to Target in a 40-mph zone. That is unless you peg the gas pedal as I did.

Stick the gas pedal to the floor and the first thing you’ll notice is the car’s quick throttle response, which is followed by a fast sweep of the tachometer. As the revs build, so does the power. But unlike the wave of power that you’ll find in the Genesis G70, the TLX Type S unleashes its horses in a smooth and linear fashion. That being said, there’s not much turbo lag to speak of, instead, it’s just an even and steady thrust forward.

That power delivery doesn’t come with much of a racket in terms of sound either. There is some sound that comes from those quad exhaust tips, but it’s pretty quiet at almost every point in the RPM range. The car handles well, too, but what’s more surprising is that it doesn’t beat you up at freeway speeds. That means that you can confidently throw it into your favorite decreasing radius turns that form the clover-leaf off-ramp to your nearest Costco. (I see you, my fellow pseudo racecar drivers.)

Do you really need the Type S version of the TLX?

The black and white interior layout on a 2021 Acura TLX Type S
2021 Acura TLX Type S | Acura

If you’re just going to daily drive the TLX Type S like 90 percent of the consumers that buy a mid-size sedan from Acura, then no, you don’t really need the TLX Type S. The extra power is great to have, but the 272 hp that comes out of the turbo 2.0-liter engine in the regular TLX will serve you just fine. Then again, if you’re interested in the TLX Type S, then you’re probably an enthusiast (or a Honda fan) like me.

In that case, the TLX Type S is worth the $55,000 asking price based on its power output alone. It’s a worthy contender in its class and is sure to put a smile on the faces of even the most hardcore import enthusiasts. The rest of it is great, too, and you can be sure that you’ll come in first place at almost every stoplight drag race, even if you are the only one racing.


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