- Sharp design
- High-performance version
- Sporty interior
- More power
- Infotainment system is tricky
- No word on price
- Interior isn’t much bigger
- Will anyone notice?
The 2021 Acura TLX plants its flag among mid-size sedans with a racy design and high-powered options.
You’d be forgiven for forgetting about the mid-size Acura TLX sedan.
Up against heavyweights from other luxury automakers, the TLX fell behind. Up against best-selling crossovers from Acura, the TLX got lost in the shuffle.
This time around, the 2021 Acura TLX sculpts a daring shape around zesty turbocharged engines and powertrains to jog our memories. It goes on sale later this year, while a hot TLX Type S sedan is penciled in for early next year. Acura says the TLX will start in the mid-$30,000 range and build from there.
Style and performance
The 2021 TLX is a dead ringer for a concept car that’s made the rounds for Acura now for a couple of years. That’s a good thing.
The new TLX enlists lines, creases, and angles into service of a more organic shape than its predecessor. The nose of the TLX, which is larger this year, visually pulls its hood and fenders forward in a shape that gathers at the diamond-patterned grille that hints at its tension.
Along the sides, the TLX’s long hood and added inches between the dash and front axle hints at a rear-drive preference it doesn’t have. The athletic cabin reaches back toward a short rear decklid and pinched window line. The door handles rise from front to back, which makes the TLX look like a sprinter, poised in the blocks.
Around back, the high trunk lid spoiler is perched on top of wide taillights, which are stacked on big exhaust ports—or even bigger quad-tipped finishers on the Type S.
Inside, the TLX uses more right angles to frame its modern interior with a racier motif. The infotainment screen is planted on top of the dash, above air vents and climate controls, and a center stack dramatically drops to the armrest. Acura’s center-mounted, push-button shifter controls the 10-speed automatic transmission and a rotary knob for drive select mode figures into the middle. It’s not as big as a similar setup used in the NSX, but still dominates precious real estate.
Under the hood, the TLX is powered by a 2.0-liter turbo-4 or a 3.0-liter turbo V-6. The base engine makes 272 horsepower and 280 pound-feet of torque, increases of 66 hp and 100 lb-ft over the base engine in last year’s TLX.
That’s paired to a 10-speed automatic and front-wheel drive as standard. Acura’s all-wheel-drive system, which can send up to 70% of its power to the rear tires, is available on turbo-4 cars.
Acura didn’t specify the power from its turbo-6 in the Type S, but said it would be stouter than the optional 3.5-liter V-6 found in last year’s car. All-wheel drive is standard on the Type S and Acura says the torque-vectoring system has been improved with sharper turn-in and power response.
The TLX rides on a four-wheel independent suspension that’s been upgraded from last year. MacPherson struts were replaced in front by double wishbones, which are typically used in more expensive luxury cars such as the BMW 5-Series. In back, multilinks tie up the rears with confidence and comfort.
Comfort, safety, and features
By the numbers, the new 2021 TLX is nearly three inches longer from bumper to bumper than the outgoing version, with 3.7 inches added between the wheels. It’s also more than two inches wider and a half-inch lower than the previous model, on-trend with “longer, lower, wider” for every other sedan on the planet.
The interior of the new TLX isn’t significantly larger, however. That’s likely due to the long space between the front axle and dash, which was lengthened by nearly eight inches for a sportier look.
A-Spec and Type S models will get flourishes inside such as a flat-bottom steering wheel, LED ambient lighting, and large metal paddle-shifters.
The trunk will be small for its class, but will offer 13.2 cubic feet of cargo room.
All TLX sedans will be equipped with automatic emergency braking, active lane control, adaptive cruise control, driver-assistance features, and multi-stage front airbags developed by parent company Honda.
Acura didn’t specify what trim levels the TLX will be offered in but said that a 10.2-inch infotainment screen with a touchpad controller would be standard. A 7.0-inch driver information cluster is standard and a 10.5-inch head-up display is available. Premium audio will be on the menu, although it’s unclear if Acura will offer it a la carte. (Acura has typically bundled options into Advance and Tech packages with multiple added features.)
The 2021 Acura TLX will go on sale in the fall.