The SUV could also be ascendant lately, however some automotive makers nonetheless have room of their hearts, or extra precisely their product portfolios, for the four-door sedan. Amongst them is Acura, the high-end arm of Honda in North America, which not too long ago debuted its second-generation TLX. However do not assume it is a case of badge engineering; the second-gen TLX is exclusive to Acura—you will not discover it sporting a Honda emblem in Japan or Europe.
Acura is usually referred to as a luxurious model, competing for purchasers with Lexus and Infiniti, however the firm’s roots are literally rather more sporty than plush. Acura desires to reconnect with that heritage as a manner of differentiating itself from these rivals, and to that finish, it says the brand new $40,000 2021 TLX is essentially the most performance-focused sedan it is ever made. It starts with a monocoque chassis that’s 50 percent stiffer overall, with even increased rigidity on the bits the place the suspension is connected. There are braces for the underbody, extra inflexible mounts for the entrance dampers, and really stiff middle tunnel. However on the identical time, there’s intensive use of aluminum even in a few of these high-stiffness areas to chop weight over the outdated mannequin.
Additional to its sporting intentions, Acura opted for a double-wishbone association for the entrance suspension, which it says has 85 p.c extra lateral stiffness than the MacPherson struts on the first-generation TLX. Which means the tires’ contact patches do not shrink an excessive amount of below cornering.
For now, there’s only a single engine accessible for the TLX, a 2.0L turbocharged four-cylinder that gives 272hp and 280lb-ft. That makes the engine barely much less highly effective than the three.5L V6 within the outdated mannequin, however the turbocharged 4 isn’t solely extra torquey general, it additionally has a wider torque plateau, from 1,600-4,500rpm. Equally, there’s solely a single transmission selection—a 10-speed automated transmission, though the TLX is on the market both in front-wheel drive or all-wheel drive (SH-AWD in Acuraspeak, and the model we examined).
We have skilled variations of this SH-AWD system in different Acuras, just like the RDX crossover and NSX hybrid supercar. On this software, as much as 70 p.c of the engine’s torque can go to the rear axle, and 100% of that torque may be despatched to both the left or proper wheel, ought to the situations demand that. Throughout cornering, the rear differential makes use of torque-vectoring to
Along with the $2,000 you may want to seek out if you need AWD, it’s also possible to count on to lose just a little gas effectivity—25mpg (9.4l/100km) mixed for FWD, 24mpg (9.8l/100km) mixed for AWD.
As ever, everybody may have their very own tackle whether or not or not they like the best way a automotive is styled. This TLX has grown fairly a bit over its predecessor and is now nearer to the scale of its competitor the Lexus ES. The wheelbase has expanded by 3.7 inches (94mm), and the general size is has grown by 2.9 inches (74mm). However essentially the most noticeable change is the elevated dash-to-front axle size, which has grown by 7.8 inches (198mm).
That provides the automotive a moderately totally different proportion when considered side-on. It is also wider general (by 2.2 inches/56mm) and has a wider observe than the final TLX—the entrance wheels are 1.2 inches (30mm) additional aside, the rears 1.6 inches (40mm). Curb weight can be just a little increased, regardless of using light-weight supplies the place attainable—the FWD TLX ideas the scales at 3,702lbs (1,679kg), the SH-AWD variant at 3,920lbs (1,778kg).
Although it is a larger automotive, the TLX is definitely fairly straightforward to put on the street because of the outstanding creases that run the size of the hood. As I’ve noted before, placing advanced creases into physique panels is without doubt one of the methods automotive makers flex on one another, and with this, TLX Acura is flexing fairly laborious (in contrast to the chassis itself).
I favored the TLX’s inside. The entrance seats are very snug, with respectable room within the again as properly. Acura is sticking with standard analogue dials for the primary instrument show, however there’s additionally a ten.5-inch full-color heads-up show as an choice. The infotainment system has a ten.2-inch show on the sprint, which you management by way of a touchpad on the middle console.
For those who’ve by no means used Acura’s touchpad earlier than, it may be just a little unusual at first, as there is a 1:1 relationship between the touchpad and the display screen. However with just a little familiarity—a day or two ought to do it—it turns into extraordinarily pure. A giant benefit is you can construct up muscle reminiscence, which implies having the ability to function the infotainment with out taking your eyes off the street. Acura’s native system is completely high quality, with an intuitive UI, and there is Apple CarPlay and Android Auto for individuals who choose to make use of their telephones.
Because it’s 2021, you possibly can and will count on a full complement of superior driver-assistance programs in a midsize luxurious automotive, and the TLX doesn’t disappoint. The additions for this era are a new kind of front passenger airbag (that we explored recently), traffic-sign recognition, traffic-jam help, a driver-monitoring system, and pedestrian sensing and automated emergency braking. I by no means skilled AEB activating, however the TLX’s ahead collision warning could be very delicate and even just a little jumpy. Some may discover that overly annoying, however with security programs like FCW, I am going to take overeager over asleep.
As for the driving expertise, whereas it’s a sharper-handling automotive than the final TLX, in Advance trim I nonetheless discovered the automotive wallowed just a little throughout route adjustments, with just a bit an excessive amount of lag between enter and response. This was partially ameliorated by rising the burden of the steering, however I believe eager drivers will need to go for the A-Spec model.
Itemizing picture by Acura