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2021 Acura TLX

The best-selling from Acura’s catalog even got better with a complete redesign

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The second-generation Acura TLX has launched, and with it comes a plethora of exterior and interior upgrades along with a few upgraded features. It rides on an all-new platform and now competes with the Germans like the Mercedes-Benz C-Class, BMW 3-Series, and the Audi A5 while it is priced the lowest among them at $38,545. Is it the best you can buy in this budget? Let’s find out.


When the 2014 TLX arrived, it did not have much to offer, and frankly speaking, it did not dare to go against the thriving German performance sedans. Gradually the TLX got fine-tuned with each model year and Acura got the sale hikes. Fast forward to 2021 and now the TLX enters its second generation with updated looks, better performance, and a better value than before. The Civic Type-R engine replaces the old naturally aspirated engine and we are talking about a power bump of 66 horses and 98 pound-feet of torque. That said, the overall exterior and interior dimensions have been slightly increased. The addition of a new infotainment system is a much-needed upgrade. With all these upgrades, is the 2021 TLX any good? Definitely yes. But will it stand out in the competition? Let’s find out.

Trims and Features

2021 Acura TLX Exterior
- image 1018324

Unlike the outgoing model year, the 2021 TLX gets a total of 5 trims: Base, Technology, A-Spec, Advance, and Type S. Acura made the additional packages look like trims and also added the Type S in the lineup. The Base trim is priced at $38,545 and gets powered by a new 2.0-liter turbocharged engine, and comes with front-wheel drive as standard. Acura makes available the Super Handling- All-Wheel Drive (SH-AWD) as an optional add-on and is recommended for an excellent handling experience. Other standard features include:

  • LED headlights.
  • Sunroof.
  • 18-inch alloy wheels.
  • Keyless ignition and entry.
  • Dual-zone automatic climate control.
  • Simulated leather upholstery.
  • Heated and 12-way power-adjustable front seats.
  • Leather steering wheel.
  • 10-speaker audio unit.
  • 10.2-inch infotainment screen with a touchpad.
  • 7.0-inch digital instrument panel.
  • Satellite radio.
  • Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.
  • WiFi connectivity.
2021 Acura TLX Exterior
- image 1018364

Standard safety features available on the new TLX are as follows:

  • Lane-keeping assist.
  • Adaptive cruise control.
  • Forward collision warning.
  • Traffic sign recognition.

The following features are available with Technology:

  • Leather seatings.
  • Navigation system.
  • 19-inch alloy wheels.
  • 13-speaker sound system.
  • Front and rear parking sensors.
  • Rear cross-traffic alert.
  • Blindspot monitoring.
2021 Acura TLX Exterior
- image 1018430

The A-Spec gets all the Technology features along with a few exterior sporty appearances along with a few added features like:

  • Aluminum interior trims.
  • Sports steering wheel.
  • Microsuede seat inserts.
  • Ventilated front seats.
  • Wireless charging pad.
  • 17-speaker ELS premium sound system.
2021 Acura TLX Exterior
- image 1018362

It is the top-spec variant with the 2.0-liter engine and has all the features you would want in the car. A few of the features are as follows:

  • Puddle lights.
  • Heated rear seats.
  • Adjustable bolstering and under-thigh support for the front seats.
  • Heated steering wheel.
  • Premium leather seats.
  • Heads-up display.
  • 360-degree surround-view camera system.
  • Adaptive suspension.
  • Rain-sensing wipers.
Performance-Spec Acura TLX Type S Arrives With A V-6 And A $52,000 Price Tag Exterior
- image 990207

Type S.
This new trim gets an all-new turbocharged V-6 and the SH-AWD as standard along with some trim-specific features, and a few features from the Advance package like the adaptive suspension, rain-sensing wipers, and puddle lights. The important trim-exclusive features are as follows:

  • 20-inch alloy wheels.
  • Brembo performance brakes.
  • Sport+ driving mode.
  • Extra chassis bracing for improved handling dynamics.

Exterior Design Upgrades and Impressions

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The sleeker and bigger LED headlamps surely add sportiness with the slightly enlarged Diamond Pentagon intake grille. The front looks even bolder than the model it replaces. The fake brake-cooling vents do look cool but the functional ones could have added a little better braking performance.

2021 Acura TLX Exterior
- image 1018365

The rear gets sharp LED brake lights which kind of look similar to the ones on the new C-Class. The rear spoiler and the pair of sleek exhaust outlets give the rear-end a sports coupe-like touch. 18-inch alloy wheels come fitted with the TLX as standard but the 20 inchers can be upgraded with special summer tires for some extra cash.

2021 Acura TLX Exterior
- image 1018441

The new TLX is roughly about 0.6 inches lower with a height of about 56.4 inches, a width of 75.2 inches, which is wider by 2.2 inches, and an elongated wheelbase of 113.0 inches. The curb weight of the TLX with the smaller 2.0-liter engine is about 3,709 pounds and it goes above 4000 pounds with the higher trims.

2021 Acura TLX Exterior Dimensions
Model 2021 Acura TLX
Curb Weight (lb) 3,709
Length (inches) 194.6
Width (inches) 75.2
Height (inches) 56.4
Ground Clearance (inches) 5.3
Wheelbase (inches) 113.0

Acura-ness On The Inside

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Of course, being the luxury division of Honda, Acura has always been innovative on the interior side of things, and that is reflected quite well with the new 2021 TLX. The sedan gets covered with a lot of high-end materials with a sporty blend. The redesigned dashboard looks greatly sculpted and is covered with soft-touch materials. Its blacked and grey attire with a new 10.2-inch infotainment display sitting in the middle makes the front of the cabin look cool. The steering wheel comes leather-wrapped as standard and in front of that, a 7.0-inch digital display makes its way to the middle of two analog dials. The digital screen displays a lot of information and can be controlled via the buttons on the steering wheel. The center console looks chunky and has a lot of buttons for controlling the HVAC system along with a touchpad for the infotainment screen.

2021 Acura TLX Interior
- image 1018335
Faux-leather sports seats in the front come with 12-way power adjustability and multi-level heating options.

The standard seats come covered with faux leather but offer impressive cushioning. The higher trims offer genuine leather seats and a lot better cabin materials which are appreciated if compared to the Germans in the segment. The front sports seats have power-adjustability and heating functions as standard and those too get upgraded with the higher trims. In terms of spaciousness, the front row has ample space for the head and legs, unlike the rear. The seating capacity is up to 5 people but we don’t think that would a great idea to fit three people in the back seat. The chiseled legroom and average headroom will make any adult feel uncomfortable. If compared to the competition, the Audi A5 and BMW 5 Series have better rear room. The cargo capacity is just 13.5 cubic feet which is okay, but not class-leading by any means. For comparison purposes, the Audi offers the best-in-class 21.8 cubic feet.

2021 Acura TLX Interior
- image 1018381

Let’s jot down the standout interior features of the 2021 Acura TLX:

  • Dual-zone automatic climate control.
  • Leather-covered and heated steering wheel.
  • Keyless ignition.
  • 12-way power-adjustable front seats with multi-level heating options.
  • Ventilated front seats with adjustable thigh extension and bolstering.
  • Premium leather seats.
  • Leather/microsuede interior trim.
  • Rear heated seats.
2021 Acura TLX Interior Dimensions
Model 2021 Acura TLX
Seating Capacity 5
Front Row (Headroom/Shoulder Room/Leg Room, in inches) 37.2/58.2/42.5
Second Row (Headroom/Shoulder Room/Leg Room, in inches) 36.3/55.0/34.9
Cargo Capacity (lb) 13.5
2021 Acura TLX Interior
- image 1018405

The updated Acura True Touchpad Interface looks promising. The system offers a 10.2-inch display which is controlled via a touchpad that is far better than the unit Lexus ships with but still the system is not very intuitive. The touchpad can recognize handwriting and has voice recognition for added convenience. As standard, features like WiFi connectivity along with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, a 10-speaker audio unit, and satellite radio make it to the list, which is quite impressive. A few of the added infotainment features are as follows:

  • Navigation system.
  • 17-speaker ELS audio unit.
  • Front and rear parking sensors.
  • Wireless charging.
  • Real-time traffic recognition.

Performance and Handling

2021 Acura TLX Drivetrain
- image 1018415

If the updated exterior and interior did not make you happy then the performance surely will. Acura made sure to offer two new engines replacing the old naturally aspirated ones. The base engine is a 2.0-liter turbocharged inline-four engine that produces 272 horsepower and 280 pound-feet of torque. Gear shifts are taken care of by a 10-speed shiftable automatic transmission and power is sent to the front wheels as standard. Acura offers the SH-AWD as an optional add-on. While the 2.0-liter engine is the heart of almost all TLX trims, the Type S gets an all-new 3.0-liter turbocharged V-6 engine which is capable of belting out 355 horses and a whopping 354 pound-feet of torque, the latter of which kicks in as early as 1,400 rpm.

2021 Acura TLX Drivetrain
- image 1018328
Apart from the standard 272-HP 2.0-liter, turbocharged inline-four, there is an optional 3.0-liter turbocharged V-6 which produces a whopping 355 HP and comes with SH-AWD as standard.

Similar to the smaller 2.0-liter engine, the V-6 gets a 10-speed automatic transmission and all-wheel drive as standard. Both the engines provide a huge improvement in the performance over the previous generation engines. The base engine with its increased power figures and the optional all-wheel-drive setup can accelerate up to 60 miles an hour in 5.9 seconds according to the tests performed by Car And Driver. A standing quarter-mile timing of 14.5 seconds has been recorded too which is a lot better than the 2020 model year.

The V-6 gets a huge performance bump over the naturally aspirated engine and now it is about a second faster than the base engine with 4.9 seconds for a knot to 60 and 13.6 seconds to reach a quarter-mile.
2021 Acura TLX Drivetrain
- image 1018411

Acura did keep a few elements from the outgoing model year and embraced them for a better output. Yes, the handling and braking performance is still in the good book. The front-wheel-drive unit will not be the best in terms of handling but the SH-AWD is the one to go for if you want to enjoy twisties in speed. The system can send full power to the rear axle for making the TLX drive like a rear-wheel-drive sedan. It even can shift power between the left and right wheels for enhanced traction while on a race track or visiting your nearest mountain roads. The adaptive suspension with the Advance package changes the dampening profile incorporated with the driving modes and offers the best of both worlds in terms of comfort and sportiness. The steering feedback is not the best but are quite well-tuned for the new generation.

2021 Acura TLX Performance Stats
Model 2021 Acura TLX  2021 Acura TLX (Type S)
Engine 2.0-liter turbocharged inline-4 3.0-liter turbocharged V-6
Drivetrain AWD AWD
Transmission 10-speed shiftable automatic 10-speed shiftable automatic
Power  272 HP @ 6,500 RPM 355 HP @ 5,500 RPM
Torque  280 lb-ft @ 1,600 RPM 354 lb-ft @ 1,400 RPM
0-60 MPH (seconds) 5.9 4.9
Quarter-Mile (seconds) 14.5 13.6
Top Speed (MPH) 131 131

Fuel Economy

2021 Acura TLX Exterior
- image 1018325

Surely the higher power figures mean to sip a little extra fuel than the outgoing engines and that is seen clearly with the new 2021 TLX. The sedan with the base engine gets rated at 22 MPG in the city, 30 MPG on the highways, and a combined economy of 25 MPG by the EPA. The more powerful V-6 gets rated at 19/25/21 for city/highway/combined. Acura decided to cut the gas tank capacity by 1.3-gallon which is now 15.9 gallons total and that has brings down the overall range a bit The base engine has a combined range of 397.5 miles while the V-6 pulls out 333.9 miles altogether.

2021 Acura TLX Fuel Economy
Model 2021 Acura TLX w/ 2.0-liter inline-4 2021 Acura TLX w/ 3.0-liter V-6
MPG (City) 22 19
MPG (Highway) 30 25
MPG (Combined) 25 21
Tank Capacity (Gallons) 15.9 15.9
Range (City/Highway/Combined, in Miles) 349.8/477.0/397.5 302.1/397.5/333.9

Safety Convenience

2021 Acura TLX Exterior
- image 1018370

Safety was never an issue for Acura, and it is as safe as any high-end German sedan. The new generation TLX got rated with a complete 5-star by the NHTSA and that was similar to the IIHS which has rated it with “Good” in a majority of categories and also awarded it with the “Top Safety Pick+”. The AcuraWatch comes as standard with the 2021 TLX which packs forward-collision warning, automated emergency braking, and a lot more. A few of the important safety features that come with the new TLX are as follows:

  • Blindspot monitoring.
  • Adaptive cruise control.
  • Lane departure warning.
  • Vehicle stability control.
  • Rear cross-traffic alert.
  • Post-collision safety system.
  • Pre-collision safety system.
  • Emergency braking assist.


2021 Acura TLX Exterior
- image 1018423

The 2021 Acura TLX brings a host of updates with its second generation and for a starting price of $38,545, and choosing the base trim with the AWD will be enough for a lot of people. However, it is not the best in the class in terms of performance and handling if compared side-by-side to the Germans. But the latter costs a lot more than the Acura. With all that said, Acura might be have a big winner on its hands.

Amreetam Basu
Amreetam Basu
Automotive Journalist
After working predominantly as a freelancer at CarHP/CarIndigo, Amreetam joined the TopSpeed team as a journalist in September 2021. In a world where SUVs are booming, he favors sedans and adores BMWs and Mercedes, with a special spot for Lexus and Genesis. He is currently pursuing Master of Arts in History and is 23 years old.  Read full bio
About the author

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