Acura has been teasing the return of a performance-focused sedan to its lineup for years now. Behind the scenes, plans have been in place to bring back some of the sports flavor to the Acura lineup that made it so popular two decades ago. Today, the first part of that puzzle has been revealed: the 2021 Acura TLX.
As it turns out, Acura had already given away many clues about the TLX, showing off a darn close version of it as the Type S prototype at the 2019 Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance. With its elongated wheelbase and low roofline, the TLX looks every bit the sports sedan.
The All-New 2021 Acura TLX: Reveal
The car’s exterior showcases Acura Precision Concept design with an expansive hood, tapered windows, and muscular rear haunches. Its wheelbase is 3.7 inches longer in the new generation. The car also has a 2.2-inch wider body, wider off-set tracks in the front and rear (+1.2 in. and +1.6 in., respectively), a lower roof (-0.6 inches), and an extended dash-to-axle dimension (+7.8 in.).
The second-generation TLX is faced by an upright diamond pentagon grille that is flanked by lighting originally showcased on the Type S Concept. Under the headlamp cover are new Jewel Eye LED headlights with four LED elements and bright-white “Chicane” LED daytime running lights inspired by the championship-winning Acura ARX-05 Daytona Prototype race car. At the back are LED taillights and exposed dual exhaust.
The TLX rides on standard 18-inch wheels. Nineteen inchers are available in a variety of finishes, depending on trim level. TLX Type S models will be equipped with 20-inch split-10 spoke alloy wheels finished in Shark Gray. Buyers can upgrade to a lightweight wheel inspired by the NSX “Y-spoke” design that will be offered alongside a high-performance summer tire.
An available A-Spec package puts black accents on the car but doesn’t include any performance upgrades.Photo courtesy of Acura
Acura will make its popular A-Spec appearance package available on the TLX. It will include Shark Grey 19-inch wheels, gloss black accents front to rear, darkened headlight and taillight treatment, and a pronounced rear decklid spoiler.
The company will sell the model in nine exterior finishes including five premium colors. New to the TLX for 2021 is Phantom Violet Pearl. The TLX Type S will be offered in an exclusive, bold Tiger Eye Pearl. Apex Blue Pearl, previously available only on A-Spec models, will be added to the Type S catalog.
Drivers will be able to choose between Comfort, Normal, and Sport drive modes. TLX Type S models also get a Sport+ mode.
Ride and Handling
The 2021 TLX rides on a new platform that was designed for the sports car. The performance-focused chassis has a double wishbone front suspension, the same as what is in the redesigned 2021 BMW 5 Series and the current Acura NSX. This is in place of the common MacPherson strut setup that is favored by many other sedans.
The car also has a variable-ratio steering system, electro-servo brake-by-wire technology (applied from the NSX), and an available driver selectable Adaptive Damper System.
The car features an elongated wheelbase.Photo courtesy of Acura
The architecture of the car is the most rigid that Acura has ever produced. It delivers a 50 percent increase in global torsional stiffness and up to a 100 percent improvement in localized rigidity where the suspension is mounted to the body. The new structure uses 56 percent (by weight) advanced, lightweight materials, including aluminum and press-hardened steel, more than any previous Acura sedan.
Acura has used aluminum extensively on the body and placed the car’s 12-volt battery in the trunk to give the car a good front to rear balance ratio.
Acura is offering all variants of the car with all-wheel drive. Acura calls their rear-biased system Super Handling All-Wheel Drive (SH-AWD) and it delivers industry-leading torque-vectoring all-wheel drive technology. The TLX Type S comes standard with the tech.
The cabin of the TLX takes a heavy nod from the RDX, which was redesigned for the 2019 model year. Its premium appointments and driver-centric cockpit design put the car in line with the expectations of sports car enthusiasts who may have been turning to German brands to satisfy their need for speed.
TLX models will be available with a red and black leather interior. Photo courtesy of Acura
While a high center turned divides the car up front, it creates a dual-cockpit-like design for the driver and front passenger. However, because of the extended width of the next-gen model, Acura doesn’t expect occupants to feel pinched.
Sporty front seats provide 16-way power customized adjustability for the driver and front passenger.
A total of seven interior color options will be offered on the 2021 TLX. Ebony, Espresso, Graystone and Parchment will be offered on the standard TLX models, depending on trim. TLX A-Spec and TLX Type S models will feature either Ebony or Red Leather, both with black Ultrasuede inserts. Additionally, the TLX Type S will offer an exclusive Light Orchid leather interior option.
The car features real aluminum, open-pore wood, and full-grain Milano leather appointments. The steering wheel is wrapped in leather. In A-Spec and Type S models, that wheel is flat-bottomed.
At the center of the dashboard is a 10.2-inch infotainment screen that is navigated using the driver-oriented True Touchpad Interface. This is the same system setup as in the RDX. Physical power, volume, and seek control buttons are mounted next to the touchpad.
The car’s center stack is straight from the RDX playbook, with some fine tuning.Photo courtesy of Acura
In front of the driver is a 7-inch multi-information display in the middle of the center gauge cluster. A 10.5-inch full-color head up display is available, as is the Acura ELS Studio 3D premium audio system.
The new TLX also features the latest generation of AcuraLink with in-vehicle 4G LTE Wi-Fi with over-the-air software update capability and a variety of available cloud-based services, including emergency roadside assistance, remote locking/unlocking and engine start, stolen vehicle tracking, remote diagnostics, geofencing, speed tracking and Acura concierge services.
All models will come equipped with the latest version of AcuraWatch safety and driver assistance technology.
On-sale date and pricing
The 2021 TLX will arrive at dealerships early this fall with a manufacturer suggested retail price (MSRP) starting in the mid-$30,000 range. The 2021 Acura TLX Type S will arrive in the spring of 2021. The new TLX will be manufactured exclusively at the company’s Marysville, Ohio plant.