Acura gave the TLX a thorough makeover for the 2021 model year. The result is a return to the brand’s sporty roots.
The TLX made its debut in 2015. It had lost much of the dynamic driving abilities of its TL predecessor. The sophisticated double wishbone suspension of the TL was replaced by more mundane struts. More costs were cut by replacing the aluminum front subframe with a stamped steel piece.
A mid-cycle redesign in 2017 brought little change beyond a facelift.
Engineers and/or enthusiasts appear to have replaced the bean counters when it comes to the 2021 Acura TLX
The second generation TLX arrived for 2021, and all is right with the world again.
An all-new platform has an aluminum front subframe. This serves as a mounting point for a double wishbone front suspension complete with forged aluminum lower control arms and cast aluminum shock towers. A triangular tubular strut bar arrangement ties the front suspension to the firewall for added rigidity.
To further reduce weight and improve balance, the front fenders are made from aluminum and the battery has been moved aft, now resting in the trunk. Almost two thirds of the new TLX is made from high strength steel or aluminum. The simple brace behind the rear seats used previously, has been replaced by a stamped single piece bulkhead and another triangular brace is used to stiffen the rear suspension.
Atop the significantly upgraded platform of the 2021 Acura TLX rests an expressive new shape.
Longer, lower and wider, there is a more distinct presence. The low roof line does, however, hurt ease of entry/exit. On the other hand, the low hood line results in excellent forward visibility from the tech-forward cabin.
The snazzy interior offers plenty of stretching space up front, but larger second row occupants might wish for a little more room. The new TLX features higher end materials than the outgoing model, including open-pore wood and real aluminum.
Cockpit inspired IP is busy but ergonomic; except the touch-pad is awkward
The cockpit-inspired instrument panel appears rather busy at first glance.
But the layout proves ergonomic with more exposure. The driver faces attractive analogue instruments. Above them, at the base of the windshield is a 27-cm heads-up display. A 26-cm infotainment screen protrudes from the top of the centre stack and a prominent rotary drive mode control lies above pull-buttons for the transmission.
Functions are logically grouped in clusters, and using most major features involves the use of a dedicated button.
The sole exception is the touch-pad controlled infotainment system. I found it to be awkward in location and frustrating to use. Thankfully it is augmented by buttons on the steering wheel and physical controls next to the touchpad.
2021 Acura TLX Engines and Trims – Honda engine expertise
The 2021 TLX is available in five trim levels. All but the Type S are equipped with a turbocharged four-cylinder engine. The Type S gets a turbocharged V6.
Both engines are typical Honda efforts – excellent. After all, this company is still widely respected for its engine expertise.
The 2.0-litre four produces a 272 horsepower and a hefty 280 lb. ft. of torque at only 1,600 rpm. The silky 3.0-litre V6 ups the ante to 355 horses and 354 lb. ft. In both cases they are mated to a 10-speed automatic transmission and an updated all-wheel-drive system.
I tested a mid-level A-Spec and the flexible four provided plenty of poke with ample reserve for passing or merging.
A sophisticated double-wishbone suspension is a rare find in ‘affordable’ cars.
In this application, the result is a creamy ride combined with a pleasant alacrity should you wish to enjoy some twisty roads.
Augmenting this athleticism is Acura’s Super-Handling AWD system. It can vector power between front and rear and across both axles. This latest generation can send 40% more power to the rear wheels, 30% more quickly, and all of that can be split between the rear wheels. This allows the system to help turn the vehicle in fast corners and improve all-weather grip.
All trim levels are equipped with an array of driver assist and active safety features. They include a driver attention monitor, automatic emergency braking, traffic sign recognition, lane keep assist, adaptive cruise control, and forward collision warning with automatic emergency braking.
New exclusive airbag from Honda / Acura
The 2021 TLX also boasts a new Honda/Acura exclusive triple-chamber front passenger airbag, which positions the head and torso to reduce neck and cranial damage in certain impacts.
The second-generation Acura TLX is a return to the brand’s sporting roots, a marked improvement over the car it replaces. In an apples-to-apples comparison, it is also an excellent value when compared to the competition.
FACTS & FIGURES – 2021 Acura TLX A-Spec
As tested: $49,905 plus freight
Collision mitigation braking system, forward collision warning, lane and road departure warning, blind spot information system, lane keeping assist, rear cross traffic monitor, traffic jam assist
26-cm colour display, navigation system, traffic sign recognition, wireless smart phone charging, 17-speaker ELS audio system, 4G LTE hot spot,
adaptive cruise control, colour heads-up display, dual-zone automatic climate control, front and rear park sensors, bilingual wireless phone interface, LED headlights, power moonroof, 12-way power adjustable front seats, heated front seats, mirrors and steering wheel, Ultrasuede seating surfaces, ventilated front seats
2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder, 272-horsepower, 280 lb.-ft. of torque, regular fuel. 10-speed automatic transmission, all-wheel-drive. NRCan rating (litres/100km city/highway): 11.3 / 8.1
Length, 4,943 mm; width, 1,911 mm; wheelbase, 2,870 mm; weight, 1,827 kg
Audi A4, BMW 3 Series, Cadillac CT5, Genesis G70