2021 Acura TLX Preview

Christian Wardlaw | May 28, 2020
  • Longer, wider, and lower than previous TLX
  • Same size inside, with a slight increase in trunk space
  • Turbocharged 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine is standard
  • 10-speed automatic, front-wheel drive or SH-AWD
  • Type S arrives in spring 2021, with turbocharged 3.0-liter V6, 10-speed, SH-AWD, full performance tuning
  • Full electric variable ratio steering
  • Brake-by-wire braking system
  • Double wishbone front, multi-link rear suspension with available adaptive damping
  • Expanded Acura Integrated Dynamics
  • Wheels sized 18-inches to 20-inches
  • Improved safety, infotainment technology

Introduction - Find the best Acura deals!

With recent confirmation that Acura is dropping the midsize RLX from its lineup, the redesigned 2021 Acura TLX will play an even more significant role as Honda’s luxury brand returns to its “precision crafted performance” roots.

Previewed by the Acura Precision Concept and teased by the Acura Type S Concept, the all-new 2021 Acura TLX is the second of the automaker’s cars and SUVs to adopt the company’s new design language, following the RDX SUV. Continuing on a front-wheel-drive platform, the 2021 TLX features a couple of turbocharged engines and still offers Acura’s torque-vectoring Super Handling All-Wheel Drive (SH-AWD) system.

2021 Acura TLX Type S tiger eye pearl front view

Designed in California, largely engineered in Ohio, and built in Marysville, OH, the new 2021 Acura TLX goes on sale in the fall of 2020, priced in the mid-$30,000 range.



Exterior Features - Find the best Acura deals!

Acura has been teasing the redesigned 2021 TLX for years. It started with the Acura Precision Concept, stoked the flames with the Acura Type S Concept, and now rolls out a production car that looks pretty much like the Type S.

2021 Acura TLX Type S gray side view

This is a larger car, but the interior is about the same size. It sits on a wheelbase that grows by 3.7 inches, with a whopping dash-to-axle dimension increase of 7.8 inches. The car is also wider, longer, and lower, with broader front and rear track measurements.

To emphasize the TLX’s improved stance, the cabin sits farther back on the car’s platform than before, giving this Acura decidedly Germanic proportions. Front and rear lighting adopts a new “chicane” illumination signature, and the Diamond Pentagon grille and Jewel Eye LED headlamps return. Around back, dual exhaust outlets and a shapely bumper with vent-style reflectors completes the look.

Naturally, the performance-tuned 2021 Acura TLX Type S gets a unique grille, larger front air intakes, a front splitter, a rear diffuser panel, a rear spoiler, and round quad exhaust outlets.

Acura confirms that nine colors will be available, five of which will be premium. Phantom Violet Pearl is new, and Tiger Eye Pearl will be exclusive to the TLX Type S.

Interior Features - Find the best Acura deals!

Acura says the TLX’s interior is more luxurious than before and is designed to a Dual Personal Cockpit theme to create “strongly delineated space” for both the driver and front passenger. The end result is a more modern and technical treatment than what you’ll find in other Acuras – including the RDX.

2021 Acura TLX A-Spec dashboard and red leather seats

Front sport seats are standard, and Acura says the 2021 TLX provides more hip and shoulder room than other vehicles in the segment. The cabin is just a tiny bit larger than before, and the trunk grows from 13.2 cu.-ft. to 13.5 cu.-ft.

The driver faces a leather-wrapped steering wheel and traditional round analog gauges separated by a wide driver information display. With A-Spec trim, they adopt red-on-silver markings that could prove difficult to see and read.

New ambient cabin lighting changes color depending on the driving mode. Alternatively, there are 24 themes you can choose, all named after iconic driving locations (“Pacific Coast”) or racetracks (“Suzuka”).

Acura says seven interior colors will be offered for the new TLX. Standard trim, the expected Technology trim, and Advance trim will offer Ebony, Espresso, Graystone, and Parchment colors. The TLX A-Spec and TLX Type S will come in Ebony or Red with Ultrasuede inserts. A new Light Orchid color is exclusive to the Type S.

Optional Features - Find the best Acura deals!

Depending on the trim package, the new TLX offers real aluminum, genuine open-pore wood, and premium leather upholstery.

Acura has confirmed Advance, A-Spec, and Type S versions of the new TLX. Certainly, there will be a base trim level, and historically a Technology package has bridged the gap between standard and Advance trim.

The A-Spec Package will include exclusive Shark Gray 19-inch wheels, gloss black exterior accent trim, darkened lighting elements, and a rear spoiler. Inside, the A-Spec will offer a thick-rimmed flat-bottom steering wheel with perforated leather and contrast stitching, and larger metal-plated paddle shifters.

Under the Hood - Find the best Acura deals!

Acura equips the new TLX with a standard turbocharged 4-cylinder engine, the same one used in the RDX. It makes 272 horsepower and 280 lb.-ft. of torque, and drives the front wheels through a 10-speed automatic transmission with paddle shifters.

As an option, a next-generation version of Acura’s torque-vectoring SH-AWD is available. As was true before, it can send up to 70% of engine output to the rear wheels, and from there 100% of that power can flow to one side or the other. 

For 2021, Acura says it provides 40% more rear torque capacity and 30% quicker front-to-rear torque transfer than the previous system. The automaker also says the rear axle is continuously overdriven by 2.9% to amplify “the yaw moment effect of left-to-right torque transfer,” in turn fostering sharper, more accurate corner turn-in and “improved traceability” as the car takes the corner.

When the TLX Type S returns in the spring of 2021, it will have a new turbocharged 3.0-liter V-6, a recalibrated 10-speed automatic, and standard SH-AWD. Acura says this engine was developed by some of the company’s most experienced engineers, including some of the people who created the current NSX’s drivetrain.

Acura also says a hallmark of this new engine will be “immediate, high-torque response.” Specifications are not finalized, but Acura promises big gains in peak horsepower and torque when compared to the outgoing TLX’s 3.5-liter V-6, and improved power output across the engine’s full operating range.

Every TLX is built on a new dedicated sedan architecture with the most rigid body of any Acura in history (aside from the NSX). The company touts an overall improvement in torsional rigidity of 50%, and localized improvement of up to 100%, such as where the suspension mounts to the body. Furthermore, Acura employs 56% lightweight materials in the TLX’s construction.

A new double-wishbone front suspension aims to deliver superior ride and handling qualities, and pairs with a multi-link rear suspension design. Adaptive damping is available as an upgrade. 

A set of 18-inch wheels is standard, with 19-inch wheels available. Both come with performance-oriented tires that Acura claims will offer 20% more lateral grip than the outgoing TLX. The TLX Type S offers a choice between two 20-inch wheel designs. The standard caliper-spoke wheel resembles what Acura bolted to the Type S Concept while an NSX-inspired, lightweight Y-spoke wheel wrapped in summer performance tires will reduce unsprung mass at each corner of the car.

Electric variable-ratio steering replaces the outgoing TLX’s electric-assist hydraulic rack-and-pinion steering, and the 2021 TLX debuts new brake-by-wire technology derived from the NSX. The Type S braking system is specially tuned for performance and includes larger discs as well as 4-piston Brembo front calipers. 

Acura Integrated Dynamics is standard, offering the driver a choice between Comfort, Normal, Sport, and Individual settings. Additionally, the Type S adds a Sport+ setting for maximum performance. These driving modes adjust the car’s throttle, transmission, SH-AWD, steering, and when equipped, adaptive dampers to meet the expectations of each profile.

Safety - Find the best Acura deals!

To best protect the new TLX’s driver and passengers, the car employs an upgraded version of Acura’s Advanced Compatibility Engineering (ACE) body structure. It is engineered to maximize protection in a wider variety of crash scenarios and includes both ultra-high-strength steel single-piece door rings and an ultra-stiff center tunnel that runs the length of the platform.

To prevent a collision from occurring in the first place, AcuraWatch is standard equipment. This is a collection of advanced driving assistance technologies (ADAS) including adaptive cruise control, forward collision warning, automatic emergency braking, lane departure warning, and lane keeping assistance.

New for 2021, AcuraWatch adds a Traffic Sign Recognition system, a driver monitoring system, and Traffic Jam Assist technology that keeps the TLX centered in its lane and following traffic at a safe distance, making the daily commuter easier to bear.

Acura also debuts a new front passenger airbag with 3-chamber design. The company says that works like a baseball catcher’s mitt to better protect a person’s head during a collision.

Technology - Find the best Acura deals!

An improved version of Acura’s True Touchpad Interface (TTI) infotainment system comes standard in the new TLX, with an Acura ELS Studio 3D premium audio system available as an upgrade. 

As is true in the RDX, it includes a 10.2-inch high-definition display and a center console touchpad with “absolute position” mapping so that your fingertip location on the pad directly corresponds to the same location on the display screen.

Acura says the improvements include enhanced software for more accurate swipe action and handwriting recognition, a wrist-rest to make it easier to use the track pad, and both a stereo power/volume knob and tuning buttons on the console next to the TTI.

AcuraLink connected services are also improved, offering over-the-air updates, a 4G LTE Wi-Fi hotspot, and a long list of cloud-based services such as remote engine starting, remote door lock/unlock, emergency roadside service, stolen vehicle tracking, speed tracking, geo-fencing, and more.

Acura is the source of the information in this article. It was accurate as of May 28, 2020 but may have changed since that date.

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