Competes with: Cadillac CT4, Genesis G70, Infiniti Q50
Looks like: A more practical version of the Type S concept
Powertrain: 272-horsepower, turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder; turbocharged 3.0-liter V-6 (power figures TBA); 10-speed automatic transmission; front- or all-wheel drive
Hits dealerships: Early fall 2020 for non-Type S versions; spring 2021 for the Type S
Acura unveiled its completely redesigned 2021 TLX sedan today, and it certainly has the looks of a sports sedan. Does that matter? While Deion Sanders espoused and exemplified the concept of “look good, play good,” we’ll have to wait and see if the TLX — especially the resurrected Type S variant and its new turbo V-6 — can cash the check written by its looks.
The new TLX is based on an all-new, exclusive-to-Acura vehicle platform that Acura says is stiffer than the previous-generation TLX’s, and is longer and wider with a longer wheelbase and wider track. Buyers can choose from front- or all-wheel drive with the base turbo four-cylinder engine — the last TLX only offered all-wheel drive with its V-6 — while the 2021 TLX Type S with its new turbo V-6 has standard AWD.
The longer and wider look contributes to a very aggressive-looking sedan, particularly in the TLX’s performance-oriented Type S guise. The front end features a more pronounced “diamond pentagon” grille, new LED headlights with LED daytime running lights. Sculpted lines run from the front along the lines to an aggressive rear end with a short deck lid and redesigned LED taillights. The roof is lower thanks to more aggressively angled roof pillars and looks even lower thanks to inward-sloping roof styling toward a lower center section. A-Spec versions wear unique 19-inch wheels and darkened exterior accents along with a rear deck lid spoiler.
The crown jewel of the lineup, the Type S, gets a unique “open-surface” grille along with larger side air intakes. It also wears a unique front splitter and rear diffuser, deck lid spoiler and a choice of two unique 20-inch wheel designs.
Acura has focused on the driver and front passenger with what it calls a Dual Personal Cockpit. The center tunnel and wraparound instrument panel create specific spaces for both front occupants as they sit in their sport seats.
Acura is also including a new version of its True Touchpad Interface, which uses a center-console-mounted touchpad to control functions displayed on a 10.2-inch screen mounted atop the dashboard. Acura says the system is improved and comes with physical controls for power, volume and seek functions — though we haven’t been very big fans of its implementation in the RDX SUV.
Engine and Transmission
The base engine in the TLX is a new, turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder that produces 272 horsepower and 280 pounds-feet of torque, increases of 66 hp and 98 pounds-feet over the outgoing 2.4-liter four-cylinder, respectively. The four-cylinder even produces more torque than the optional 3.5-liter V-6 in the previous TLX.
Power figures for the all-new 3.0-liter turbo V-6 aren’t yet available, but Acura promises “the new engine delivers dramatic gains in peak horsepower and, more critically, in torque, across the engine’s full operating range, including a more than 50% increase in low-end torque.”
Both engines will be paired to a 10-speed automatic transmission, with the Type S getting a specially tuned version. Four-cylinder models will come with a choice of FWD or AWD, while the V-6 Type S will have standard AWD.
Other new features under the TLX’s skin include electro-servo brakes derived from the NSX supercar instead of hydraulic brakes and a double-wishbone front suspension instead of the last TLX’s MacPherson strut design.
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The TLX will come standard with the AcuraWatch advanced safety suite, which now includes three new features: traffic sign recognition, a driver alertness monitor and a traffic jam assist system that will keep the car in its lane and at a set following distance in a traffic jam.
Additionally, the TLX will also be the first Acura to use a new “catcher’s mitt” airbag design that aims to do a better job of protecting occupants’ heads when the devices are deployed in a crash.
Acura says the TLX will have a starting price “in the mid-$30,000 range” and expects it to arrive at dealerships early in the fall, though the Type S won’t join the party until the following spring (and at a presumably higher price). More Type S details will be revealed closer to its arrival.
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