Read the engineering details of the redesigned ’21 Acura TLX, and it’s hard not to be impressed by the automaker’s effort to reposition the car as a genuine luxury sports sedan.
A turbocharged engine, next-generation torque-vectoring Super Handling All-Wheel Drive (SH-AWD), double-wishbone front suspension design and NSX-derived brakes are available in every version of the car, and the performance-tuned Type S takes the TLX to the next level.
But what about the things that matter during the daily drive, from price and packaging to colors, materials and equipment? Acura isn’t divulging all of the details, but we’ve gleaned enough to provide a good overview of what to expect.
Acura says the new TLX will go on sale in the fall of 2020, and the base price will be in the mid-$30,000 range. The outgoing ’20 TLX starts at $33,000, while the ’20 RDX SUV costs a minimum of $37,800. That gives Acura plenty of leeway to justifiably raise the TLX’s price without encroaching on the RDX.
According to an Acura spokesperson, “The trim structure will largely mirror the RDX.” Expect the new TLX to come in standard specification with a choice of Technology, A-Spec and Advance option packages. The more powerful and performance-oriented TLX Type S is a standalone model.
Though the new TLX is larger on the outside, the interior is essentially identical in size to the outgoing car. Trunk space rises slightly to 13.5 cu.-ft. (382 L).
Real aluminum, genuine open-pore wood trim (see center console photo at end of story) and perforated Milano premium leather are available for the new TLX, along with 16-way power-adjustable front sport seats with heating and ventilation. Buyers will select from seven interior colors, including a new Light Orchid exclusive to the Type S.
Acura designed the TLX’s cabin with a “Dual Personal Cockpit” theme, creating clearly defined environments for the driver and front passenger separated by a high and wide center console. Drivers face classic round analog gauges separated by a comprehensive 7-in. (17-cm) driver information display, and a 10.5-in. (27-cm) head-up display is available.
Centrally mounted on the TLX’s new dashboard, an Acura Integrated Dynamics System control knob takes center stage. It provides the driver with quick access to Comfort, Normal, Sport and new customizable Individual driving modes. In the TLX Type S, a Sport+ mode also is available. The settings adjust the car’s throttle and transmission response, SH-AWD behavior, steering calibration and, when equipped, adaptive suspension dampers.
Acura’s True Touchpad Interface (TTI) infotainment system is standard, equipping the ’21 TLX with a 10.2-in. (26-cm) high-definition display.
This is not a touchscreen system. Rather, users issue commands by voice or by placing a fingertip on the gently curved TTI touchpad on the center console. “Absolute position” mapping corresponds your finger’s location on the touchpad with the identical location on the screen.
Characterizing the TLX’s TTI as a “new implementation” of the technology, it gets software updates to improve the accuracy of swipe gestures and handwriting recognition.
Acura also adds a wrist-rest to make it less fatiguing to operate, repositions menu shortcut buttons for easier use and includes a power/volume knob and tuning buttons on the center console to the right of the touchpad.
AcuraLink connected services feature new over-the-air update capability and supply 4G LTE Wi-Fi access, remote engine starting, emergency roadside assistance and programmable alerts related to vehicle speed and geofenced boundaries.
An available 17-speaker Acura ELS Studio 3D premium sound system includes four ceiling-mounted speakers as well as a new Twin Telford subwoofer.
Acura says it improved the TLX’s Advanced Compatibility Engineering body structure to better absorb and deflect crash energy in a wider variety of collisions. A new three-chamber front passenger’s airbag debuts, acting like a catcher’s mitt to improve head protection.
AcuraWatch, a standard collection of driving aids, now includes a driver monitoring system, traffic sign recognition and a Traffic Jam Assist function for the adaptive cruise control.
Standard equipment includes 18-in. aluminum alloy wheels, one rung up from the 17s on the ’20 TLX. A 19-in. design accompanies A-Spec and Advance trim, while the Type S offers two 20-in. wheel selections. Nine paint colors are available, five of them premium and a handful reserved for the A-Spec and Type S. New hues include Phantom Violet Pearl and, exclusive to the Type S, Tiger Eye Pearl.
If the Acura RDX serves as a signpost, expect a TLX Advance with SH-AWD to cost about $46,500, with a TLX Type S easily zooming well past the $50,000 mark when the performance model arrives in spring 2021.