Although the Acura TLX isn’t quite a Japanese BMW 3-series, it’s still a no-fuss sports sedan with well-coordinated moves, good braking, a modicum of steering feel, and a handsomely appointed cabin. A 272-hp turbocharged inline-four powers the standard TLX; front-wheel drive is standard while all-wheel drive is available. The fully loaded TLX Type S employs a spunky 355-hp twin-turbo V-6 and comes standard with all-wheel drive. Both engines bolt to a 10-speed automatic. While the TLX is a bit portly for the segment, it feels light on its feet. Although the Acura is similar in size to other mid-size luxury sedans such as the Audi A6 and BMW 5-series, it doesn’t provide rear-seat riders with as much legroom. The TLX has the communicative feel that discerning drivers will appreciate and a price that makes it an affordable alternative to its German competitors.
What’s New for 2023?
Acura sprinkles handcrafted extras from its Performance Manufacturing Center into a new-for-2023 TLX Type S PMC Edition. This special edition is available in three colors previously used on the NSX: Curva Red, 130R White, and Long Beach Blue. The rarest of this exclusive edition will be sold only in Gotham Gray with only 50 to be produced. Exterior PMC details include a Berlina Black roof, antenna, door handles, and exhaust tips. Copper-colored 20-inch lightweight wheels also inspired by the NSX are exclusive to this model. And there’s some carbon fiber too: the TLX Type S PMC Edition decklid spoiler, rear diffuser, and interior trim pieces are made of the expensive material. All 2023 Acura models now come with a complimentary scheduled maintenance plan for the first two years and free access to the AcuraLink connectivity plan for the first three years.
Pricing and Which One to Buy
The 355-hp Type S occupies the top spot in the TLX lineup in both performance and price. While its former trait makes it our favorite, its price only adds to its attractiveness, especially compared with the BMW M340i. Pricing for the all-wheel-drive Bimmer starts a little higher than the Type S, but its bottom line balloons to over $56k when fully equipped. The Type S is less expensive and comes standard with luxuries such as adaptive dampers, leather upholstery, and an ELS premium audio system. We’d also opt for the $800 Performance package that brings unique 20-inch wheels on summer tires for maximum cornering grip and stopping power.
Engine, Transmission, and Performance
The regular TLX features a 272-hp turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder lashed to a 10-speed automatic transmission. Front-wheel drive is standard, and Acura’s all-wheel-drive system, which is called SH-AWD and shuffles power among the wheels to improve agility and traction, is optional. Unfortunately, our test car’s two-ton curb weight diminished its acceleration times. While it hit 60 mph in 5.9 seconds, that’s slower than similar setups in this segment and even the less powerful, albeit lighter, Honda Accord 2.0T we tested. Still, the TLX’s terrific chassis tuning made it very entertaining to drive and proved that Acura can still build a sports sedan. This sentiment is especially true of the higher-performance Type S, which boasts a 355-hp turbo 3.0-liter V-6, a responsive 10-speed auto, SH-AWD, and a sportier suspension setup. Unlike the regular TLX, it’s available with stickier summer tires on lighter 20-inch wheels. Our first drive showcased its gutsy engine, engaging steering, terrific body control, and strong brakes. However, it does have a firm ride that doesn’t mask road imperfections, and it didn’t feel as nimble as shorter sporty competitors such as the Audi S4.
Fuel Economy and Real-World MPG
The front-drive TLX is rated at 22 mpg in the city and 31 mpg on the highway. Models equipped with SH-AWD see those figures drop to 21 mpg city and 29 highway. The TLX Type S is rated at up to 19 mpg city and 25 highway. The all-wheel-drive, four-cylinder model we ran on our 75-mph fuel-economy route, which is part of our extensive testing regimen, earned 30 mpg. For more information about the ‘s fuel economy, visit the EPA’s website.
Interior, Comfort, and Cargo
Inside, the TLX has an expressive design that highlights its sporty character. These include attractive analog gauges and a prominent rotary drive-mode selector in the middle of the dashboard. Solidified by Acura’s excellent build quality, the TLX also boasts nicer cabin materials than its predecessor, including open-pore wood and real aluminum. Although the sedan feels spacious from side-to-side, the back seat feels smaller than some competitors in this class. Still, its highly adjustable front seats and excellent forward visibility reward drivers. The TLX also offers myriad interior colors, distinct leather upholstery, and desirable features, including a large 10.5-inch head-up display and customizable ambient-lighting settings that are each named after iconic driving destinations and racetracks, such as “Pacific Coast” and “Suzuka.”
Infotainment and Connectivity
Every TLX features a 10.2-inch infotainment system that’s primarily controlled through a touchpad on the center console. Some functions can also be manipulated via steering-wheel buttons and physical controls next to the touchpad. There’s also a padded resting place for your wrist below the touchpad that makes it more comfortable to operate. The TLX comes standard with Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and a Wi-Fi hotspot. Those who want the fanciest ELS sound system and a wireless charging pad will have to opt for the Advance package.
Safety and Driver-Assistance Features
Every TLX comes standard with AcuraWatch, which includes a host of driver-assistance technology. The sedan also has new equipment, such as traffic-sign recognition and a driver-awareness monitor. For more information about the TLX’s crash-test results, visit the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) websites.
- Standard forward-collision warning and automated emergency braking
- Standard lane-departure warning and lane-keeping assist
- Available blind-spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert
Warranty and Maintenance Coverage
Acura provides one of the longer powertrain warranties on the market, and its limited warranty aligns with most of the TLX’s rivals, such as the Alfa Romeo Giulia and Mercedes C-class.
- Limited warranty covers four years or 50,000 miles
- Powertrain warranty covers six years or 70,000 miles
- Complimentary scheduled maintenance is covered for two years or 24,000 miles.
2021 Acura TLX SH-AWD
front-engine, all-wheel-drive, 5-passenger, 4-door sedan
PRICE AS TESTED
$49,325 (base price: $40,525)
turbocharged and intercooled DOHC 16-valve inline-4, aluminum block and head, direct fuel injection
122 in3, 1996 cm3
272 hp @ 6500 rpm
280 lb-ft @ 1600 rpm
280 lb-ft @ 1600 rpm
Suspension (F/R): control arms/multilink
Brakes (F/R): 13.0-inch vented disc/13.0-inch disc
Tires: Michelin Primacy A/S, 255/40R-19 96W M+S
Wheelbase: 113.0 in
Length: 194.6 in
Width: 75.2 in
Height: 56.8 in
Passenger volume: 93 ft3
Trunk volume: 14 ft3
Curb weight: 4026 lb
C/D TEST RESULTS
60 mph: 5.9 sec
100 mph: 15.3 sec
130 mph: 29.9 sec
Rolling start, 5–60 mph: 6.5 sec
Top gear, 30–50 mph: 3.7 sec
Top gear, 50–70 mph: 4.7 sec
1/4 mile: 14.5 sec @ 97 mph
Top speed (governor limited): 131 mph
Braking, 70–0 mph: 177 ft
Braking, 100–0 mph: 362 ft
Roadholding, 300-ft-dia skidpad: 0.87 g
Standing-start accel times omit 1-ft rollout of 0.3 sec.
EPA FUEL ECONOMY (C/D EST)
Combined/city/highway: 24/21/29 mpg
C/D TESTING EXPLAINED
2021 Acura TLX Type S
Vehicle Type: front-engine, all-wheel-drive, 5-passenger, 4-door sedan
Base/As Tested: $53,325/$54,625
Options: Summer tires, $800; Tiger Eye Pearl paint, $500
turbocharged and intercooled DOHC 24-valve V-6, aluminum block and heads, direct fuel injection
Displacement: 183 in3, 2997 cm3
Power: 355 hp @ 5500 rpm
Torque: 354 lb-ft @ 1400 rpm
Suspension, F/R: control arms/multilink
Brakes, F/R: 14.3-in vented disc/13.0-in disc
Tires: Pirelli P Zero PZ4
Wheelbase: 113.0 in
Length: 194.6 in
Width: 75.2 in
Height: 56.4 in
Passenger Volume: 93 ft3
Trunk Volume: 14 ft3
Curb Weight: 4201 lb
C/D TEST RESULTS
60 mph: 4.9 sec
100 mph: 12.6 sec
1/4-Mile: 13.6 sec @ 103 mph
130 mph: 24.2 sec
Results above omit 1-ft rollout of 0.3 sec.
Rolling Start, 5–60 mph: 5.5 sec
Top Gear, 30–50 mph: 3.3 sec
Top Gear, 50–70 mph: 4.5 sec
Top Speed (C/D est): 155 mph
Braking, 70–0 mph: 165 ft
Braking, 100–0 mph: 359 ft
Roadholding, 300-ft Skidpad: 0.96 g
C/D FUEL ECONOMY
Observed: 19 mpg
EPA FUEL ECONOMY
Combined/City/Highway: 21/19/24 mpg
More Features and Specs