The 2021 Acura TLX Type S Is a Sports Sedan Worthy of Its Badge

Although the 2021 TLX is good in its own right, for some, the Acura sedan isn’t sporty enough. But then, we’ve known since the redesigned TLX launched that there was an even sportier version on the horizon. That version is the 2021 Acura TLX Type S, and it’s finally here. And from the looks of things, it was worth the wait.

The 2021 Acura TLX Type S resurrects an iconic sub-brand

A silver 2005 Acura RSX Type S on a mountain road
2005 Acura RSX Type S | Acura

Integra Type R notwithstanding, Acura’s best performance cars haven’t used the ‘Type R’ nameplate. And because of the brand’s luxury image, that likely won’t change anytime soon

 But that doesn’t mean the luxury brand never had its own performance moniker. It’s just that, rather than ‘Type R,’ Acura’s most beloved models, like the early-2000s RSX, bore the ‘Type S’ badge. And now, after over a decade, the name is back thanks to the 2021 Acura TLX Type S.

A gold 2021 Acura TLX Type S on a twisting mountain road
2021 Acura TLX Type S | Acura

Although there are several notable differences between the standard 2021 Acura TLX and the Type S, the biggest is under the hood. Instead of a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine, the Type S has a 3.0-liter turbocharged V6 rated at 355 hp and 354 lb-ft. That power goes to all four wheels via a 10-speed automatic and a standard AWD system. And it’s enough to let the sedan go 0-60 mph in an estimated 4.6 seconds, Car and Driver reports.

However, the trim-specific engine is just the start of what the 2021 Acura TLX Type S offers over the standard car. It has a more rigid chassis, stiffer suspension, stronger suspension components, thicker anti-roll bars, and upgraded adaptive dampers, MotorTrend notes. The Type S’s transmission also shifts faster than the one in the standard TLX, and it has larger Brembo disc brakes. Plus, while the standard Acura TLX also offers AWD, the version in the Type S has sportier tuning and torque-vectoring.

The red-leather front seats and black-leather dashboard of the 2021 Acura TLX Type S
2021 Acura TLX Type S front interior | Acura

But wait, there’s more. The 2021 Acura TLX Type S offers optional summer performance tires and lighter wheels. It also has retuned steering and an extra Sport+ driving mode, Autoblog reports. The battery is also in the trunk for better weight distribution, Roadshow reports. And it comes standard with several features that are optional on lower-trim TLXs, such as ventilated front seats, navigation, rain-sensing wipers, and an upgraded audio system, Car and Driver notes.

With the 2021 TLX Type S, “Acura has built a true performance sedan,” MotorTrend says

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When MotorTrend tested the standard 2021 Acura TLX on a racetrack, reviewers came away disappointed. That’s not what happened with the TLX Type S. Or, as Roadshow calls it, the TLX “Type Yes.”

To be sure, the TLX Type S isn’t precisely a track car, Car and Driver notes. But then, neither is the old RSX Type S, The Drive reports. And that’s not a demerit against the new sedan. The changes Acura made to the TLX to make the Type S turn it into “a competent and comfortable performance car, one that you wouldn’t think twice about daily driving or taking the scenic route home,” The Drive says.

Although the turbocharged V6 would benefit from more power, Motor1 notes it’s a linear and lag-free engine. Combined with the AWD system, gripper tires, and tweaked suspension, it’s a recipe for a sports sedan that’s easy to guide through corners. Not to mention easy and fun to rotate through the corners. And the transmission shifts extremely quickly, Car and Driver reports, especially in Sport+ mode.

The brake system might be brake-by-wire, but the brakes themselves grab well and provide plenty of feedback, MT reports. And it’s the same kind of system found on the NSX supercar. The steering doesn’t transmit a significant amount of feedback, Motor1 reports, but it’s still precise and well-weighted, Roadshow notes. And the ride is well-dampened and stable without ever being harsh, especially with the lighter wheels cutting unsprung weight.

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The 2021 TLX isn’t the only Acura getting a Type S variant, merely the first. But while the sports sedan isn’t perfect, it’s a sign of good things to come.

Is it a sports sedan you should consider?

The standard 2021 Acura TLX starts at $37,500; an A-Spec with AWD starts at $44,750. Meanwhile, the TLX Type S starts at $52,300; the summer tires and lighter wheels cost $800 extra.

A dark-gray 2021 Audi S4 in the desert
2021 Audi S4 | Audi

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It’s possible to get an Audi S4 for slightly less money. However, that’s an S4 with practically no options. Once it’s equipped to Type S levels, it costs about $10,000 more, Roadshow points out. And it ‘only’ has 349 hp.

Another cheaper alternative is the Genesis G70 3.3T, with a 365-hp 3.3-liter twin-turbocharged V6. Even with AWD, it’s $3800 cheaper than the TLX Type S. However, it’s also smaller than the Acura, which Car and Driver notes is already a bit tight on rear passenger space.

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All the same, the 2021 TLX Type S brings back the things that made Acura an enthusiast favorite in the early 2000s. It’s cheaper than the German sports sedans but delivers the same kind of luxury and performance. The badge has come back strong.

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