• The 2021 Acura TLX Is a Luxury Sports Sedan that BMW and Mercedes Should Worry About

It comes with a new high-performance V-6 engine

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Introduced in 2014 as a replacement for both the TL and the TSX, the TLX is Acura’s answer to the highly popular BMW 3 Series, Mercedes-Benz C-Class, and Audi A4. But even though it was well-received in the U.S., it never managed to outsell its competitors. Acura is now looking to improve on that with the second-generation TLX, and based on its looks, technology, and power, Honda’s premium division should finally give BMW, Mercedes-Benz, and Audi a run for their money. Let’s find out more about that below.

The 2021 Acura TLX’s design is heavily based on the Type S concept

In 2019, Acura introduced the Type S concept as a preview of the future. A sleek fastback sedan with aggressive front and rear ends, the Type S proved popular with enthusiasts, and its proportions suggested that it may be a preview for the new TLX. But we know that production models are rarely heavily based on concepts, so we didn’t really expect the TLX to borrow much. And we were wrong.

The second-generation TLX is actually very similar to the Type S.

Sure, the bumpers aren’t as sporty, the lights are a bit different, the big rear spoiler is gone, and the rear fenders look milder, but overall the TLX is the Type S’ less aggressive cousin. And that’s a good thing because it leaves room for a higher performance version with mean looks.

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The second-gen TLX also retains some of the features seen on the first-gen model, like the sleek headlamps and the three-piece grille layout in the bumper. But everything looks crisp and sportier now. The TLX also retains the previous A-Spec package, which adds blacked-out elements.

But Acura also prepared a higher-performance Type S model.

Shown in white here, the Type S is just as menacing as the BMW M3 thanks to a black grille and bumper outlets, black headlamp bezels, a black spoiler on the trunk lid, and the black diffuser with multiple verticals fins.

Of course, you simply cannot ignore the big tailpipes arranged in a quad layout.

The 2021 Acura TLX Is a Luxury Sports Sedan that BMW and Mercedes Should Worry About Exterior
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2020 Acura TLX vs 2021 Acura TLX exterior dimensions
2020 TLX 2021 TLX 2021 TLX Type S
Wheelbase (in.) 109.3 113.0 (+3.7) 113.0 (+3.7)
Length (in.) 191.7 194.6 (+2.9) 194.6 (+2.9)
Width (in.) 73.0 75.2 (+2.2) 75.2 (+2.2)
Height (in.) 57.0 56.4 (-0.6) 56.4 (-0.6)
Track (in.) F: 62.8 R: 63.1 F: 64.0 (+1.2) R: 64.6 (+1.5) TBA

The 2021 Acura TLX’s interior is a big departure from the old one

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While the exterior still reminds me of the old TLX, the cabin is a brand-new design. It looks modern, more upscale, and it boasts more technology than before. What’s more, it’s now on par with what you get from the German premium automakers. The centrally mounted infotainment display measures 10.2 inches, while the digital instrument cluster is seven inches. Optionally, you can get a 10.5-inch head-up display head-up display. The build quality seems good, and even the plastic surfaces are higher quality than usual. The A-Spec model comes with sports seats with solid side bolstering, and you can even select a two-tone upholstery. The black and red combo shown here looks particularly appealing.

The 2021 Acura TLX Is a Luxury Sports Sedan that BMW and Mercedes Should Worry About Interior
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The TLX is fitted with AcuraWatch as standard. This suite of driver-assist technologies will keep you safe in the city and on the highway, and it will also make navigating through heavy traffic less stressful. Acura also added its new three-chamber front passenger airbag design, which is supposed to improve protection in frontal collisions.

The 2021 Acura TLX features new turbo power

The 2021 Acura TLX Is a Luxury Sports Sedan that BMW and Mercedes Should Worry About Exterior
- image 909080
Acura prepared two new engines for the TLX.

First up, there’s a turbocharged, 2.0-liter four-cylinder instead of the old, naturally aspirated 2.4-liter mill. The turbo-four delivers 272 horsepower and 280 pound-feet of torque, an extra 66 horses and 98 pound-feet compared to the old engine. The four-banger also delivers an extra 13 horsepower and 48 pound-feet compared to the previous 3.5-liter V-6.

The 2021 Acura TLX Is a Luxury Sports Sedan that BMW and Mercedes Should Worry About Exterior
- image 909087
The second engine is a twin-turbo, 3.0-liter V-6 that will power the Type S model.

Acura says that this mill was developed with help from the team that designed the V-6 hybrid drivetrain in the NSX, so it should be light and very powerful. Acura has yet to release numbers but promises "dramatic gains in peak horsepower and in torque across the engine’s full operating range" compared to the old 3.5-liter V-6. Needless to say, the all-new V-6 should deliver in excess of 350 horsepower and 350 pound-feet of torque.

Both engines mate to Acura’s 10-speed automatic gearbox with Sequential SportShift and paddle shifters. The Type S will also feature Acura’s fourth-generation Super Handling All-Wheel Drive system with torque vectoring. Although it won’t be standard with the four-cylinder model, you can order it as a separate option.

Ciprian Florea
Ciprian Florea
Senior Editor and Supercar Expert - ciprian@topspeed.com
Ciprian's passion for everything with four wheels (and more) started back when he was just a little boy, and the Lamborghini Countach was still the coolest car poster you could hang on your wall. Ciprian's career as a journalist began long before earning a Bachelor's degree, but it was only after graduating that his love for cars became a profession.  Read full bio
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