Does the 2021 Acura TLX’s Traction Control Hold It Back?

The seeming return of the 2021 TLX to its sport sedan roots is good news for Acura fans. But while it’s a good car overall, some reviewers have found the regular 2021 Acura TLX more lukewarm than hot. However, the hosts of the YouTube channel Throttle House seem to have figured out how to give the TLX some extra spark. Namely, by pulling the traction control fuse.

What does the 2021 Acura TLX Advance Package SH-AWD offer in terms of performance and luxury?

A purple 2021 Acura TLX Advance Package
2021 Acura TLX Advance Package | Acura

The specific model in Throttle House’s video is a 2021 Acura TLX Advance Package SH-AWD. Until the Type S model arrives, the Advance Package is the top TLX trim. With AWD it starts at $48,300; and, befitting its range-topping status, it comes well-equipped.

All non-Type S Acura TLX trims have the same engine and 10-speed automatic transmission. Under the hood is a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine with 272 hp and 280 lb-ft. That’s more power than a base BMW 3 Series has. However, in AWD form, the Acura TLX out-weighs the BMW, Car and Driver reports.

As a result, in a straight line, the equivalent 3 Series is faster. In Car and Driver’s hands, the 2021 TLX goes 0-60 mph in 5.9 seconds and runs the ¼-mile in 14.5 seconds. But the BMW 330i xDrive does those deeds in 5.2 seconds and 13.9 seconds, respectively.

The black-leather-upholstered front seats and dashboard of the 2021 Acura TLX Advance Package
2021 Acura TLX Advance Package interior | Acura

However, while the 2021 Acura TLX Advance Package’s outright performance may be slightly underwhelming, its technology makes up for it. It comes standard with a full ADAS suite including adaptive cruise control, lane-keep assist, blind-spot monitoring, and steering assist. Plus, it has new “catcher’s mitt” multi-stage passenger-side airbags. And even the base models have heated front seats, a WiFi hotspot, and a 10.2” center screen, MotorTrend reports.

Going for the Advance Package means you get all the bells and whistles. The features include an acoustic windshield, adaptive dampers, rain-sensing wipers, a heads-up display, and a surround-view camera, MT reports. The TLX Advance Package trim also comes with a 17-speaker ELS 3D audio system. Plus, heated and ventilated front seats, heated rear seats, a heated steering wheel, and open-pore wood trim.

How pulling the traction control fuse let Throttle House have more fun with the Acura TLX

If you’re just driving around, the 2021 Acura TLX Advance Package is an excellent comfortable commuter. To quote The Drive, “[t]he seats, in every sense, are great.” The ride is well-dampened, and the interior ergonomics are “near-perfect,” Motor1 reports. Plus, even if you’re not trying to be sporty, the Acura TLX turns in quickly and accurately with minimal body roll, Automobile reports. True, the infotainment system is a bit clunky at first, but there are plenty of physical buttons.

But what about when the road turns twisty, or you’re at a track? The AWD shows it’s well worth the upcharge, thanks to the “[a]mazing agility” it provides, Road & Track reports. And while the adaptive dampers’ firmness makes for good handling, the ride is never harsh. The TLX’s steering is somewhat light, but it’s accurate and sharp. And while the engine has some lag, there’s more than enough power.

However, there’s a problem: traction control. Together with stability control, traction control helps keep your car safely on the road. Specifically, traction control mitigates wheelspin by either braking specific wheels or reducing the power sent to them, Autoblog explains.

On the road, this is very helpful. And some performance cars, including the Civic Type R, benefit from electronic stability and traction control, Car and Driver reports. But for serious off-road or racetrack work, these safety nets are usually disabled, R&T reports. Often, that’s done by pushing an ‘ESC Off’ or ‘TC Off’ button, or something similar. However, in the Acura TLX’s case, ‘off’ doesn’t mean ‘off.’ And keeping the traction control on doesn’t let the sedan’s chassis shine, Throttle House reports.

So, the team fully disabled the traction control by pulling the fuse, which is also a common practice, R&T reports. And with it truly off, Throttle House found the 2021 Acura TLX to be noticeably more playful. The BMW 3 Series is still sportier, but the TLX is more fun.

What does this mean for the potential buyer?

Naturally, we at MotorBiscuit do not recommend pulling the traction control fuse on your own road car, Acura TLX, or otherwise. As Throttle House demonstrated, the traction control is linked to the ABS. So, if you pull the fuse to disable traction control, you’ve also lost ABS. And often, because modern car electronics are so interconnected, disabling one system turns on a whole host of warning lights.

There are one or two scenarios where turning the traction control off can be beneficial. For example, if you’re stuck in the snow, you want the wheels to spin to get the car free. So, you need to turn off the traction control, The Drive reports. And you can still drive with it off, Autoblog reports. But unless you have the proper training and are on a closed course, don’t yank any fuses out.

The front 3/4 of a white 2021 Acura TLX Type S
2021 Acura TLX Type S front 3/4 | Acura

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Getting back to the 2021 Acura TLX, though, is it worth considering? For Throttle House, it’s worth the upcharge over the Honda Accord. And it’s worth taking a look at if you’ve been eyeing a 3 Series. But if you want a truly sporty experience, waiting for the Type S is a safer bet than pulling fuses.

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