Overhauled 2021 Acura TLX Debuts Looking Super Sharp

The completely overhauled 2021 Acura TLX has debuted looking sharp and with new powertrains to match. Acura is calling the new TLX the “quickest, best-handling and most well-appointed sedan in the brand’s 35-year history.” For this generation, the Type S badge, which represents the best of Acura performance, also makes a return.

Here’s what you need to know about this new luxury sport sedan.

Sharp New Style

The mid-sized sport sedan stays very true to the Type S concept car that previewed it, and Honda’s luxury arm has been applauded for keeping the bold design and not toning it down too much for the production model. The sedan is larger in all dimensions than its predecessor except height (it is 15 mm lower).

An A-Spec appearance package will also be available that adds sporty-looking upgrades like a rear decklid spoiler, 19-inch wheels (18-inch wheels are standard), black accents, and darkened headlight and taillight treatment.

The high-performance Type S, which is returning after a 10-year absence, will have quad exhaust outlets, a unique grille, more pronounced front splitter and rear diffuser, side air intakes, 20-inch wheels, Brembo brakes, and performance tires.

The TLX is available in nine colours, including a new Phantom Violet Pearl. The Type S is available in an exclusive Tiger Eye Pearl.

New Powertrain and Chassis

To back up its sharp and sporty new looks, the TLX will come standard with a 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder engine, a 10-speed transmission with paddle shifters, and all-wheel drive. Output is rated at 272 hp and 280 lb-ft of torque, an increase over the previous four-cylinder TLX’s 206 hp and 182 lb-ft ratings. That torque also outshines the previous TLX’s V6 torque ratings.

The rear-biased AWD system has torque vectoring and can send up to 70 per cent of the power to the rear axle and then 100 per cent of that torque to either wheel. Acura says the response time of the AWD system has been improved by 30 per cent.

The transmission can downshift four gears directly and also has a lower first gear than the outgoing transmissions, which should improve responsiveness.

A new 3.0L turbocharged V6 will power the high-performance Type S model, but specs for this powertrain and variant haven’t been released yet. Acura did say, however, that it will offer “dramatic gains in peak horsepower” and a 50 per cent increase in low-end torque over the outgoing V6.

The TLX is built on an all-new body structure and much more rigid chassis that brings back a double wishbone front suspension, which should result in better cornering grip, more precise handling, and better ride quality. The chassis is not shared with a Honda product and Acura built this new one from the ground up. Steering and braking have also been improved and the sedan will have adaptive dampers.

While the TLX has always had driving modes, the new one features an Individual Mode that can be customized.

Luxurious Interior, Tons of Tech

Stepping up its interior game, the TLX will offer upscale trims like real aluminum, open-pore wood, and full-grain leather. Acura has promised more room for the driver and front passenger and 16-way adjustable sport seats for both. The thick, flat-bottom steering wheel has contrast stitching, is wrapped in perforated leather, and has metal-plated paddle shifters.

The TLX gets Acura’s touchpad infotainment interface, which debuted in the RDX. The touchpad controls a 10.2-inch HD display and recognizes swiping and handwriting, but there are also physical buttons for certain functions. The touchpad uses 1:1 mapping with the screen, meaning where you touch the touchpad should correspond to what is selected on the screen. The system has been criticized for not being the most very user-friendly in the RDX, but it’s important to note that it doesn’t act like a cursor or a laptop trackpad, but rather like a mirror of the screen.

The TLX also gets a seven-inch digital gauge cluster, in-car 4GLTE wifi, over-the-air updates, an optional 10.25-inch colour head-up display, 24 ambient lighting themes (they also change depending on what drive mode is selected), and more.

Acura’s suite of driver assistance and safety features will come standard on every TLX. It includes traffic sign recognition, driver awareness monitor, traffic jam assist, full-speed adaptive cruise control, forward collision mitigation, automatic emergency braking, blind spot monitoring, lane keep assist, lane departure warning, and rear cross traffic monitoring.

There’s also a new front passenger airbag that cradles an occupant’s head like a baseball mitt in the event of a front collision. This is the first time an Acura vehicle has been equipped with this new airbag.

Why Now?

Many might be wondering why Acura focused so heavily on overhauling a sedan that sold less than 3,000 units in Canada last year when the brand’s RDX compact SUV sold about 9,716 in the same period.

“We made our name in the performance sedan business,” Emile Korkor, AVP of Sales and Marketing at Acura Canada, told autoTRADER.ca. “It’s not about the volume. It’s about representing our customer fanbase well and focusing on our roots.”

Korkor admits that Acura lost focus of what made it so popular in its glory days — performance and fun — and that a lot of younger buyers abandoned the brand as a result. Acura is refocusing its strategy for the entire brand around performance and is hoping the new TLX will bring back that fanbase and spark that much-needed brand revitalization.

“This is a critical time for us. This return to our roots is a very big deal for us,” Korkor said. “We have to stay focused on being the best Acura we can be and bringing back those customers we know and love.”

2021 Acura TLX Availability and Pricing

The 2021 Acura TLX will arrive at dealerships this fall with pricing starting in the low-$40,000s, while the Type S arrives in spring of 2021. More details about the Type S will be revealed closer to its launch.

High-performance Type S variant returns. 5/28/2020 1:00:00 PM