All-new 2021 Acura TLX is Here and Means Business

For 2021, the Acura TLX is coming back stronger and meaner with a second generation full of promise and potential. The big reveal took place online today.

Will it manage to gain market shares among compact luxury sedans and live up to the reputation of the old TL? We’ll just have to wait and see.

Striking Looks

While not a radical departure from the outgoing TLX, which many people find too conservative, the new design is extremely sharp. The pictures released by Acura’s U.S. division show a car that stays remarkably true to the superb Type S Concept from last summer—maybe slightly toned down, but still impressive nonetheless.

Photo: Acura

With an athletic stance (the wheelbase is 94 mm longer and the width has grown by 56 mm), beautiful proportions, an imposing front grille and more assertive personality, the TLX lacks no visual attributes to attract fans of sports sedans. The model you see here is the high-performance Type S, which stands out with spectacular 20-inch wheels, a front splitter, larger air intakes and a new rear diffuser flanked by quad tailpipes.

The popular A-Spec package is back, featuring Shark Grey 19-inch wheels, gloss black accents front to rear, darkened headlight and taillight treatment, and a pronounced rear decklid spoiler.

Brand New Chassis

In order to be considered seriously by potential customers, the 2021 Acura TLX relies on a brand new chassis with a 50-percent increase in torsional stiffness and 56 percent lightweight materials. It got rid of the McPherson struts up front and replaced them with a double-wishbone suspension, while also incorporating a variable-ratio steering system, electro-servo brake-by-wire technology applied from the NSX and an available driver-selectable Adaptive Damper System.

Photo: Acura

Another important change is that Acura’s torque-vectoring Super-Handling All-Wheel Drive (SH-AWD) now comes standard on all Canadian TLX models. The Type S adds Brembo brakes with larger discs and specific tuning, plus some stickier tires.

100-percent Turbocharged

Forget the naturally aspirated four- and six-cylinder engines. Inspired by the latest RDX crossover, the 2021 Acura TLX gets a standard turbocharged 2.0-litre four-cylinder engine that produces 272 horsepower (+66) and 280 pound-feet of torque (+98)—numbers that are only bested by the Infiniti Q50 and Alfa Romeo Giulia.

Meanwhile, the TLX Type S uses an all-new turbocharged 3.0-litre V6 developed by members of the NSX team. Output has yet to be specified, which is too bad, but Acura Canada’s brand manager Emile Korkor told us to expect “insane” power and a massive jump in torque. It will be the quickest and best-handling sedan in Acura’s 35-year history.

Photo: Acura

A 10-speed automatic transmission with sequential SportShift and standard paddle shifters is mated to both turbocharged engines. No manual gearbox is available, but those who pick the Type S will benefit from sportier transmission tuning.

Cutting-edge Cabin

The cockpit in the 2021 Acura TLX is vastly different from the old one, with a Transformers-style centre stack and a bigger focus on technology and sportiness. At the same time, you’ll find many refined materials such as real aluminum, open-pore wood and full-grain Milano leather.

The wide and tall console features a leather-wrapped wrist rest providing an anchor point for operation of the touchpad that controls the infotainment system, also derived from the RDX. Trust us, you’ll need time to get used to it. There’s a 10.2-inch HD screen above, while the digital instrument cluster measures 7.0 inches. A 10.5-inch colour head-up display is available.

Photo: Acura

The interior is roomier with better forward visibility, customizable ambient lighting (24 colours), sport seats with up to 16-way power adjustability and, in A-Spec and Type S trim, a thick-rimmed, flat-bottom steering wheel wrapped in perforated leather with contrast stitching and larger, metal-plated paddle shifters. The Type S boasts unique materials and colours such as the available red and black combo pictured here.

We should also mention standard AcuraWatch, a suite of advanced safety and driver-assistive technologies including several new features such as Traffic Sign Recognition, Driver Awareness Monitor and Traffic Jam Assist.

When?

The new 2021 Acura TLX will arrive at Canadian dealerships early this fall with a base MSRP starting in the low $40,000 range. Unfortunately, the more exciting TLX Type S will make customers wait until the spring of 2021. Complete details including pricing, equipment, options and fuel economy ratings will be announced closer to launch.

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