2020 Acura TLX Review

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2019
The Car Connection
2019
The Car Connection

The Car Connection Expert Review

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May 15, 2019

Buying tip

The Acura TLX 4-cylinder with the Technology Package balances tech, luxury, and value best.

Athletic and well-appointed, the 2020 Acura TLX is an appealing mid-size luxury sedan, although the competition is fierce.

The 2020 Acura TLX is a mid-size luxury sedan with sporty aspirations that delivers spirited performance and impressive value. It grabs a 6.5 on our scale. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

The 2020 TLX hasn’t changed much aside from a new, limited-edition trim built on the same Ohio assembly line as the NSX sports car.

With the TLX, Acura sketches a subdued design that may be too conservative for some, while others will appreciate its simplicity and understated character. LED headlights, LED taillights and dual exhaust tips keep the TLX from being too staid. Inside, the sedan’s interior appointments are rich and its fit and finish are impressive. Its ambient lighting is a nice touch and its wide seats are extremely comfortable.

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Under the hood, buyers can select a 206-horsepower 2.4-liter inline-4 or a 290-hp 3.5-liter V-6. Front-wheel drive is standard, but Acura offers its excellent Super Handling All-Wheel Drive System with the V-6. Four-cylinder models also get an impressive dual-clutch 8-speed automatic transmission with paddle-shifters for manual control. V-6 models use a 9-speed automatic, which also comes with paddle shifters.

Every TLX gets standard heated front seats, keyless ignition, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility, and a long list of active safety systems including adaptive cruise control, forward-collision warnings with automatic emergency braking, rear cross-traffic alerts, active lane control, and blind-spot monitors. A heated steering wheel and a surround-view camera system are also available.

Acura offers the sporty TLX A-Spec trim on both 4-cylinder and V-6 models. The appearance package adds black trim, smoked headlamps, tinted taillight covers, a blacked-out grille, a rear decklid spoiler and gray 19-inch wheels. For 2020 Acura created the TLX PMC Edition, a hand-built version of the V-6 all-wheel-drive A-Spec model. It wears special red metal flake paint and just 360 will be built for about $50,000.

However, we recommend the TLX 4-cylinder with Technology Package. It may not have the sinister style of the A-Spec, but it offers a navigation system, a premium audio system and driver aids for considerably less than $40,000.

5

2020 Acura TLX

Styling

Although the 2020 Acura TLX is attractive inside and out, some buyers may find its design to be too conservative.

The 2020 Acura TLX is attractive, but it doesn’t take many chances. Some buyers may find it to be boring and even anonymous compared to the more daring designs of its competitors. We’ve rated the 2020 TLX a 5 out of 10 for its inoffensive but unexciting exterior styling. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

Its best angle is from the rear. Acura dresses the sedan with dual-exhaust tips, adiffuser-style rear bumper, and sharp LED taillights. The sportier A-Spec models are outfitted with tinted taillights and larger 4-inch exhaust tips. This year Acura has also added an A-Spec exclusive color, Apex Blue Pearl, which is bright and looks sharp with the model’s dark wheels. Upfront are intricate LED headlights and Acura’s signature grille, which adds visual width.

Inside things are more interesting. The TLX has a refined look, with comfortable seats that are supportive even on long drives. In the center of the dash sit two screens for the Acura’s infotainment system. A-Spec models get sportier, more bolstered leather covered bucket seats up front, while the upper trim levels feature contrasting stitching and piping for a more upscale feel.

Although the design of the Acura TLX doesn’t offend, it doesn’t excite either. It looks dated compared to others in this class and it won’t satisfy buyers interested in cutting-edge design.

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6

2020 Acura TLX

Performance

Even the performance of the 2020 Acura TLX A-Spec models falls short of the TLX’s competition, though the lineup is composed overall.

For performance, we’ve rated the 2020 Acura TLX a 6, awarding it points for its impressive powertrain lineup. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

Acura offers the TLX with two engines, a 2.4-liter 206-horsepower inline-4 and a 3.5-liter 290-hp V-6. Although some other Acura models feature advanced turbocharged engines, the engines in the TLX are naturally aspirated and are not as powerful as the engines in rivals such as the BMW-3 Series and the Mercedes Benz C-Class.

Both engines are smooth enough and powerful enough to satisfy most buyers, however. The TLX is more fun with the V-6 and Acura’s all-wheel-drive system. There’s strong acceleration off the line and still more in reserve for passing on the highway.

Unfortunately, the Acura’s 9-speed automatic transmission is a disappointment and it undermines some of the TLX’s performance potential. It feels lazy and doesn’t change gears as quickly or as crisply as the transmissions used by Audi, BMW and Infiniti. TLXs with the 4-cylinder engine get an 8-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission, which we prefer.

Adding the A-Spec package to the TLX doesn’t add horsepower or radically improve the sedan’s handling, but its larger 19-inch wheels and wider tires do improve roadholding. The TLX’s all-wheel-drive system provides impressive traction and secure handling, especially with the larger 19-inch wheels and tires on the A-Spec.

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2020 Acura TLX

Comfort & Quality

The 2020 Acura TLX impresses with a comfortable ride, but its interior feels cramped for this class.

The 2020 Acura TLX strikes a balance between sporty and comfortable, with an interior to match. It earns 7 out of 10 for its good front seats and its nice materials. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

With its quiet interior and isolating ride, the TLX is adept at cruising on the highway, and we like its wide, well-bolstered front seats, which aren’t too firm and come standard with power adjustment. The TLX is ready for a road trip.

The 2020 TLX can seat five passengers, but three across in the back is tight and the sedan’s interior is cramped compared to the cabins of the BMW 3-Series and Mercedes Benz C-Class.

The TLX’s trunk can hold 14.3 cubic feet, which is on the low side for a sedan this large.

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8

2020 Acura TLX

Safety

The 2020 Acura TLX comes with a long list of standard collision-avoidance technology and it has done well in most crash tests.

The 2020 Acura TLX’s good crash-test ratings and high level of standard collision-avoidance tech earn it 8 out of 10 on our scale. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

The 2020 TLX earned a five-star overall safety rating from the NHTSA, and it scored five stars in each individual crash test.

The IIHS wasn't as impressed. Although the TLX earned a top "Good" rating in most of the organization’s crash tests, it was rated "Acceptable" in the small-overlap front crash test that simulates impact with a stationary object such as a utility pole. The IIHS rates the Acura’s standard automatic emergency braking system "Superior," but found the sedan’s child seat anchors to be hard to use. The IIHS’ ratings are based on the 2019 TLX, but we’ll update this space if they change.

Every TLX comes with automatic emergency braking, adaptive cruise control, and active lane control. Blind-spot monitors, rear cross-traffic alerts, parking sensors, and a surround-view camera system are optional.

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8

2020 Acura TLX

Features

Pack the 2020 Acura TLX with technology and features and its price climbs fast.

Good standard equipment, a wide array of options, and a big infotainment screen help the 2020 Acura TLX score 8 out of 10 for its features. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

The base 2020 TLX costs about $34,000 and wants for little. Tick all the option boxes and its price climbs quickly. We think the best value is in a relatively low-option Acura TLX.

Every TLX comes standard with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility, a suite of collision-avoidance tech, power-adjustable front seats, automatic climate control, keyless ignition, and synthetic leather upholstery.

We aren’t huge fans of the TLX’s dual-screen infotainment design with its 8.0-inch top screen and 7.0-inch bottom touchscreen. Its software can frustrate, too. Although the system does respond quickly inputs, the screens feel small against rivals with a single larger screen.

Acura bundles features into three packages: Technology, A Spec, and Advance. We think the best value is in the Technology package, which for $3,700 includes leather upholstery, navigation, blind-spot monitors, and a few other worthwhile features. For about $37,700, a TLX 4-cylinder with the Technology package is a decent luxury value.

At the top of the TLX lineup sits the V-6 SH-AWD with Advance Package that costs nearly $47,000. This model interior is trimmed in softer leather, heated and cooled front seats, heated rear seats, HD radio, navigation, and more.

All models have a 4-year/50,000 mile warranty plus a 6-year/70,000 mile powertrain warranty and roadside assistance.

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5

2020 Acura TLX

Fuel Economy

The 2020 Acura TLX delivers competitive fuel economy, even with its big V-6.

The 2020 Acura TLX is rated by the EPA at 23 mpg city, 33 highway,27 combined when equipped the standard 4-cylinder engine and 8-speed automatic transmission.

The 2020 TLX’s numbers aren’t tops among luxury cars, but they’re competitive enough to earn the TLX a 5 on our fuel economy scale. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

Adding the A-Spec trim drags the highway estimate down to 32 mpg due to its larger wheels.

Even more impressive is the sedan’s fuel economy with its available V-6. That configuration is rated at 20/31/24 mpg, though adding all-wheel drive and the A-Spec package drags those numbers to 20/29/23 mpg. The TLX isn’t available with a hybrid powertrain, unfortunately.

By comparison, the Mercedes C300 is rated at 27 mpg combined and the BMW 330i comes in at an impressive 30 mpg combined.

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6.5
Overall
Expert Rating
Rating breakdown on a scale of 1 to 10?
Styling 5
Performance 6
Comfort & Quality 7
Safety 8
Features 8
Fuel Economy 5
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