DRESSED TO IMPRESS: 2021 ACURA TLX SH-AWD
With Lexus pulling their mid-size GS sedan and Infiniti lost in god knows where land, the Japanese are practically surrendering the premium sedan territory to the Germans. Obviously, we can’t have Mercedes-Benz, BMW and Audi monopolizing this posh market and thankfully, Acura has come up with a solution.
Back in 2004, Acura introduced a new flavor of enthusiasm for the uptight business class when they revealed a new iteration of the TL. Over the years however, the TL evolved into the TLX and went from a sporty defiant youth you could introduce to the girlfriend’s parents back to its uptight, pretentious roots that was most likely driven by the average Country Club in-laws. Cutting ties like a millennial from their parents’ checkbook, the TLX has rejoiced us with a sportatious attitude that will make our parents think the debt they incurred for our college education was worth its disparity.
There isn’t an angle that the latest TLX doesn’t look good from. The design is absolutely stunning hinting at a sports car-like presentation with its low, wide-body profile and crisp lines that has us biting our lower lip like a teenager that can’t flirt. The TLX sort of fits oddly into the premium class world – its not quite the mid-size that could compete with the Cadillac CT5, BMW 5-series or Audi A6; but it’s also not on the compact scale either that would necessarily compete with Alfa Romeo Giulia, Genesis G70 or Lexus IS.
While the hood may be oddly too long for something that carries a small milk-carton sized 2.0-liter turbocharged engine, we have to remind ourselves there is a future twin-turbo V-6 in the works for the later-to-come Type S. This 2.0-liter however is not your average dad joke – punched with 272-horsepower, we put that pedal to the metal and before we know it, we’re scurrying to 60-mph in under six-seconds. Utilizing the same setup from the latest RDX, there is a satisfying enjoyment to this engine when the going gets gone. The 10-speed automatic delivers a decent level of gratification that doesn’t have us utilizing the steering wheel paddle shifters all that much.
Designed to be a sports sedan from the start, Acura wanted to make sure they got the ingredients right the first time. With the Type S in their sights, the TLX was engineered from the ground up to be a performance-based sports sedan. There is a completely new structure and architectural development that has provided a stiffer chassis and firmer suspension. Handling has been dialed in for a more adaptive, controllable feel. On our top trimmed Advance model, the available drive modes of Comfort, Normal and Sport give the suspension tuning a Jackal and Heide personality with Normal/Comfort floating like our Grandparents old Buick LaSabre. Dialing into Sports mode however manages to hit the sweet feel of what we’d expected from a premium sedan.
Pricing has increased nearly $5000 from the previous generation TLX, but even with its $38,000 entry point, there is still a whole lot of standard premium for its buck. Opting between the Technology, A-Spec or Advance Package – each specializes in its own nature of what its driver is looking for. Our top packaged Advance TLX, with its optional $2000 Super Handling All-Wheel Drive comes in just under the $50,000 mark.
Inside the TLX is business as usual with a suite of real wood materials, leather and metal trimming. Thanks to its wide-profile design, its proportions have been adjusted to where we’d least expected as the interior volume has increased substantially and optimizes an ergonomic layout. Acura admitted that rear seat occupation has been reduced and allocated to the front seat as people who are looking for rear seat passenger comfort will be redirected to the crossover section of the dealer’s lot.
Overall however, the interior is a pleasant atmosphere and we get the sense that Acura has sorted out even the finest of details when it comes to occupant comfort. Things like offering a phone holder next to the center armrest that is also a wireless charging pad on our Advance trim. Audio controls are easily accessible on the center console verses having to reach and hunt for the knob on the dash. And the ELS 3D Audio, well now that’s just kick-ass. Now if we could just get them to detour away from the touchpad infotainment control, it would be darn near perfection.
Stepping up its game from the previous generation, this new TLX is something to get excited about. And if this 2.0t TLX already has our hearts thumping, what would the TLX Type S have in store for us.
Vehicle: 2021 Acura TLX Advance SH-AWD
Base Price: $38,000
As-Tested Price: $49,325
Engine: 2.0-liter Turbocharged Four-Cylinder
HP | Torque: 272-HP |280 lb-ft of Torque
Transmission: 10-speed Automatic
Drivetrain: Super Handling All-Wheel Drive
MPG: 21 | 29 | 24 (City | Highway | Combined)
As-Tested MPG: 25.0-MPG COMBINED | 31.1-MPG HIGHWAY (200-MILES AT 75-MPH)
Fuel Range: 290 miles
0-60 MPH: ±6.0 seconds