Just like BMW has its various M-branded products, Hyundai now has N and N Line cars. And the latest one is the Sonata N Line sedan. But it’s not the only affordable sporty sedan out right now. Although the Type S model isn’t out yet, the 2021 Acura TLX is a decent sports sedan in its own right. But which is faster? That’s what YouTube team Throttle House wanted to find out.
The 2021 Hyundai Sonata N Line brings FWD power against the 2021 Acura TLX Advance’s AWD
The N Line trim brings a hefty dose of performance to the 2021 Hyundai Sonata. Under the hood is a 2.5-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine rated at 290 hp and 311 lb-ft. In comparison, the non-N-Line 2021 Sonata’s optional 1.6-liter turbocharged four-cylinder only makes 180 hp and 195 lb-ft.
The 2021 Hyundai Sonata N Line sends its power to the front wheels via an 8-speed dual-clutch automatic. And in an attempt to corral the output, the Sonata N Line has stiffer suspension, thicker anti-roll bars, as well as stiffer engine and transmission mounts, Car and Driver reports. Plus, larger brakes.
Combined with the standard launch control, all this makes the Sonata N-Line the fastest FWD sedan Car and Driver has tested. 0-60 mph comes in 5 seconds, and it runs the ¼-mile in 13.6 seconds.
The standard 2021 Acura TLX is also a FWD sedan. However, the model Throttle House tested is the Advance Package SH-AWD trim. But, while it has AWD, it doesn’t have any extra power. All non-Type S TLX models have the same 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine. It’s rated at 272 hp and 280 lb-ft, and it’s linked to a 10-speed automatic.
However, while the 2021 Acura TLX may have AWD, it’s also about 500 pounds heavier than the Hyundai Sonata N Line. As a result, in Car and Driver’s hands, it went 0-60 mph in 5.9 seconds and ran the ¼-mile in 14.5 seconds.
On paper, then, it seems like this is the Sonata’s test to win. But what happens when the rubber really meets the pavement?
Throttle House’s testing procedure
The 2021 Acura TLX Advance Package SH-AWD and 2021 Hyundai Sonata N Line went head-to-head in two ¼-mile drag races. The first was from a standing start, followed by a rolling race to eliminate traction or launch control benefits. And, seeing is the Sonata N Line has launch control, it used it in the first race.
However, as Car and Driver discovered, the Hyundai sedan needs that launch control for maximum acceleration. Without AWD or a limited-slip differential, the car’s front tires “often feel overwhelmed,” Roadshow reports. Not only is there torque steer, but the N Line also spins its wheels in tight corners. Especially when it’s in Sport Mode, which also disables the traction control.
So, while on paper the Hyundai sedan has the speed advantage, the Acura TLX has the traction advantage. In addition, Throttle House discovered when it raced the Honda Accord, Toyota Camry TRD, and Mazda6 Turbo that having a torque advantage isn’t always helpful. Even with a torque deficit, sometimes the car with more gears wins. And the TLX has more gears than the N Line.
Which is faster: the 2021 Hyundai Sonata N Line or 2021 Acura TLX Advance Package?
Throttle House’s race results were surprisingly mixed. The 2021 Acura TLX Advance Package SH-AWD beat the 2021 Hyundai Sonata N Line in the standing-start race. However, the Sonata decidedly won the rolling race. So, does this track with Throttle House’s previous gearing-related results? Maybe, maybe not.
In Car and Driver’s testing, reviewers noted that their pre-production N Line had a launch control software glitch. If the driver applied too much brake pressure, the car would cut torque during the launch. Hence why Car and Driver’s best results were achieved without launch control. It’s possible that the N Line in Throttle House’s test was suffering the same glitch.
With that being said, in this test, the Acura TLX did beat the Hyundai Sonata N Line. But perhaps a repeat when the Type S shows up is in order.
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