When it comes to the luxury sedan category, most consumers tend to gravitate toward German performers like the Audi A4, BMW 3 Series, and Mercedes-Benz C-Class, while Japanese nameplates like the Lexus IS and Acura TLX are often overlooked. And while we can admit that the latter entry has been getting long in the tooth over the course of the past five years, Acura is kicking it up a notch for 2021.
The all-new 2021 Acura TLX is wider, longer, and more stylish than its predecessor, but the redesign also brings a much-needed update under the hood.
More entry-level power
The first-generation Acura TLX, which was introduced in 2015, came standard with a 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine that produced 206 horsepower and 182 lb-ft of torque. And while this engine provided enough pep to motivate the mid-size sedan in a spirited fashion, the available 3.5-liter V6 was the better engine to go with.
The larger mill produced a stout 290 horsepower and 267 lb-ft of torque and was mated to a nine-speed automatic transmission. It was by no means “sluggish,” but what is good can always be made better. With the introduction of the second-generation 2021 TLX, buyers will be treated to a much stronger entry-level engine choice as well as a more-powerful upgraded option.
The new Acura TLX will come standard with a turbocharged 2.0-liter, four-cylinder engine that will produce 272 horsepower and 280 lb-ft of torque, which is 66 more horsepower and a whopping 98 more lb-ft of torque than the outgoing 2.4-liter engine. Even more impressive is that the new turbo engine is rated at 13 more lb-ft of torque than the stouter V6 engine from the last generation. Even in its most basic form, the 2021 TLX is a massive upgrade compared to the past iteration.
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The return of the Type S
Acura did announce the long-awaited and anticipated return of the Type S moniker as the upgraded trim level for the 2021 TLX. However, the details on it were sparse. What we do know is that the 2021 Acura TLX Type S will be powered by a turbocharged 3.0-liter V6 engine that will produce 50 percent more low-end torque than the outgoing V6, according to Acura.
Both the base model and Type S engines will be mated to a 10-speed automatic transmission with four-gear direct downshifts for quicker shifting adaptability and a lower first gear for more optimal acceleration. The TLX will also be offered in front-wheel and all-wheel-drive form thanks to the brand’s newly updated Super-Handling All-Wheel Drive system.
Performance in the corners
Engine choices aside, what really makes the new Acura TLX a solid performer is what lies beneath its fenders. Acura blessed the 2021 TLX with a front double-wishbone suspension for better grip and ride quality while stopping power is provided by NSX-derived electric-servo brakes. Additionally, the Type S model will benefit from larger Brembo brakes.
It’s not just about moving forward and stopping, though, as the new TLX also receives a more-rigid body structure in addition to more chassis bracing than the last generation to provide 50 percent more torsional stiffness and up to 100 percent more localized rigidity, according to Acura.
Drivers will also be able to tailor their driving experiences to their personal preferences via a drive mode dial on the center console that allows the car to be placed in “Comfort,” “Normal,” and “Sport” modes. Those looking for more control can also make use of the “Individual” mode, which allows for changes to each individual performance element of the car including the suspension.
While the Acura TLX has often overshadowed by its more-expensive German rivals, this new second-generation model promises to breathe new exhilarating performance into a once-aging sport sedan. And while the upgraded TLX may or may not put Acura back on the map, we can at least be excited that the brand is moving toward a performance-oriented future.