Acura has revealed its latest sports sedan, with the 2021 Acura TLX promising concept-inspired styling with more power and engagement than the outgoing model. Based on the comely aesthetic of last year’s Acura Type S Concept, the new TLX should be priced as aggressively as it looks, the automaker promises.
Back when we first saw the Type S Concept, it was clear that the car wasn’t far from being production-ready. Sure enough, that has translated very closely to the new vehicle you see here today.
The 2021 TLX gets a low, wide stance, with a lengthy sculpted hood and pronounced rear haunches. It’s over half an inch lower than the old TLX, and 3.7-inches longer in the wheelbase. The body is 2.2-inches wider, with the front and rear tracks up 1.2-inches and 1.6-inches, respectively.
The front has the latest iteration of Acura’s diamond pentagon grille, with a more detailed look than we’ve seen on other recent cars from the company. It’s paired with new Jewel Eye LED headlamps, each of which get four LED elements and “Chicane” LED daytime running light components. Those, Acura says, are meant to remind you of its ARX-05 Daytona Prototype race car.
Matching “Chicane” tail lamps – also in LED – and dual exhaust outlets pick up the same themes at the rear. The cabin, meanwhile, is set further back on the body, and has more steeply inward-leaning roof pillars. An A-Spec sport package, meanwhile, will add 19-inch Shark Grey alloy wheels, gloss black trim accents, darkened lights, and a rear decklid spoiler.
2021 Acura TLX engines and performance
Of course, just looking the part isn’t enough: the new TLX has to deliver on the road. It starts out with a new dedicated Acura sedan platform, with double-wishbone front suspension and a variable-ratio steering system. The NSX supplies its electro-servo brake-by-wire tech, and there’ll be optional adaptive dampers.
Global torsional stiffness is up 50-percent over the outgoing TLX, and in fact this is the most rigid chassis Acura has ever offered – NSX aside. It’s a combination of aluminum and press-hardened steel for the most part, with a new ultra-rigid center tunnel. The front bumper, hood, front fenders, and the front damper mounts are all lightweight aluminum.
Optional will be rear-biased Super Handling All-Wheel Drive (SH-AWD), with 40-percent more rear torque capacity and 30-percent quicker front-to-rear torque transfer than in the outgoing TLX. It will push up to 70-percent of torque to the rear wheels normally, with up to 100-percent of that being shifted from the left to right side depending on traction requirements. The rear axle will also be continuously overdriven by 2.9-percent, Acura says, amplifying the yaw moment effect when the torque shifts from side to side.
For power, there’ll be a choice of two engines. Standard is a 2.0-liter DOHC turbo, with 272 horsepower and 280 lb-ft of torque: that’s 66 hp and 98 lb-ft more than the old 2.4-liter non-turbo engine. In fact, it’s even more torquey than the old TLX’s optional 3.5-liter V6. It’ll be paired with a 10-speed automatic transmission with Sequential SportShift.
Those who want more power, meanwhile, may want to wait for the new 3.0-liter, 24-valve DOHC twin-turbocharged V6 engine. Transverse-mounted it’ll have more power and torque across the whole range compared to the outgoing V6, though Acura isn’t talking specific numbers yet. At the low-end, though, the chatter is more than 50-percent increase in torque.
There’s a 2021 Acura TLX Type S in the pipeline
That engine will be the preserve of the all-new TLX Type S. It won’t be available at launch, but may well be worth waiting for. It’ll have a unique open-surface diamond pentagon grille, a more aggressive front splitter, and larger side air intakes. At the rear, there’ll be a special decklid spoiler and a special rear diffuser, along with large quad exhaust outlets.
The Type S will get two 20-inch wheel designs for buyers to choose between. First, there’ll be the split-10 spoke design from the Type S Concept; alternatively, there’ll be NSX-inspired Y-Spoke wheels. Either way, they’ll come with 255-series performance tires.
As well as the 3.0-liter V6, the 2021 TLX Type S will also get SH-AWD as standard. Acura will also offer an exclusive Tiger Eye Pearl paint finish, while Apex Blue Pearl – familiar from the A-Spec cars – will also be available.
Inside, a more premium cabin with more tech
Inside the new TLX, there’s the promise of more high-end trim and comfort. The high and wide center tunnel wrap around the driver and front passenger, who each get more hip and shoulder room. They also have sport seats, with up to 16-way power adjustment.
The driver has a leather-wrapped steering wheel, while A-Spec and Type S cars will have a thick-rimmed, flat-bottomed wheel with perforated leather, contrast stitching, and larger, metal-plated paddle shifters. Type S cars also get special badging.
A 10.2-inch HD display is mounted at the top of the center stack, and there’s a 7-inch color display in the driver’s instrumentation. A 10.5-inch color head-up display is optional, as is the Acura ELS STUDIO 3D audio system. Infotainment navigation is via the True Touchpad Interface, with a touchpad – mapped 1:1 with the display UI – in the center console. It’ll support handwriting recognition and gestures.
AcuraLink with 4G LTE and Wifi hotspot support, together with OTA updates and various cloud services are also included. Seven interior color schemes will be offered, model-depending, including options like ebony and red leather, and a Light Orchid leather option on the TLX Type S. Ambient lighting will be optional, automatically changing according to whether you’re in Comfort, Normal, or Sport mode, with 24 different driver-selectable color schemes.
The TLX Type S will also have a Sport+ mode, while all TLX cars will have an Individual Mode. That allows for customization over all the various drive mode settings, and is accessed by pressing the Acura logo in the center of the drive mode dial.
On the safety and assistance side, all 2021 TLX trims will get AcuraWatch. That includes adaptive cruise control with low-speed follow, Traffic Jam Assist, and traffic sign recognition. It also uses Acura’s new front passenger airbag system, which has three chambers designed to embrace the head in a crash like a baseball catcher’s mitt.
2021 Acura TLX pricing and release date
What we’re equally eager to see is just how much the 2021 TLX comes in at. Acura says that it’ll confirm full pricing closer to the sports sedan’s arrival at dealerships early this fall. However, we’re told to expect something starting in the mid-$30,000 range.
As for the TLX Type S, for that we’ll have to be a little more patient. Acura says to expect its more potent version of the sedan to hit dealerships in spring 2021.