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2020 Acura TLX Review

The 2020 Acura TLX ranks near the back of the luxury midsize car class because of its lackluster interior materials, mediocre handling and engine performance, and below-average predicted reliability rating.

Pros & Cons

  • Lowest starting price in the class
  • Good fuel economy estimates
  • Comfortable ride
  • Lots of standard features
  • Some unimpressive cabin materials
  • Snooze-worthy base engine
  • Tight rear seat
  • Less athletic than rivals

Rankings & Research

The 2020 Acura TLX ranked #9 in Luxury Midsize Cars. Currently the Acura TLX has a score of 7.2 out of 10 which is based on our evaluation of 46 pieces of research and data elements using various sources.

7.2

Overall

Scorecard

Critics' Rating: 7.4
Performance: 6.5
Interior: 6.9
Safety: 9.7
Reliability:
J.D. Power Ratings Logo

Is the Acura TLX a Good Car?

The TLX is an OK car, but it doesn’t stack up well against the rest of the competitive luxury midsize car class. Some of its cabin materials don't make the grade for this segment, and even average-size adults might feel a little cramped in the back seat. Both powertrain options are unimpressive, and while the TLX provides a comfortable ride, it isn't as agile as other sporty luxury sedans.

Should I Buy the Acura TLX?

The TLX's main appeal is its low base price for the class and solid list of features, which include Android Auto, Apple CarPlay, automatic emergency braking, lane keep assist, adaptive cruise control, and automatic high-beam headlights.

Still it’s worth spending more money on a higher-ranked rival. Check out the BMW 3 Series if you want an engaging drive or the Lexus ES if you want a car with a refined interior and an excellent predicted reliability rating.

Compare the TLX, 3 Series, and ES »

Should I Buy a New or Used Acura TLX?

Acura debuted the TLX for the 2015 model year and hasn't made many significant changes to it since. There are no major changes for 2020, and there were none for 2019 either. For 2018, Acura made the AcuraWatch suite of active safety features standard (it was previously available), along with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay smartphone compatibility. The A-Spec package became available for 2018 as well. If you decide to buy used, the 2018 TLX makes a good choice. It's nearly identical to the new TLX but likely much less expensive.

If you're considering an older model, be sure to read our 2018 TLX and 2019 TLX reviews to help make your decision. Also, check out our Used Car Deals page to learn about savings and discounts you can find on used cars.

Compare the 2018, 2019, and 2020 TLX »

We Did the Research for You: 46 Reviews Analyzed

We analyzed 46 Acura TLX reviews – along with reliability ratings, fuel economy estimates, and more – to help you decide if the 2020 TLX is the right new car for you. This 2020 Acura TLX review incorporates applicable research for all model years in this generation, which spans the 2015 through 2020 model years.

Why You Can Trust Us

U.S. News & World Report has been ranking cars, trucks, and SUVs since 2007, and our team has more than 75 years of combined automotive industry experience. To remain objective, we don't accept expensive gifts or trips from car companies, and an outside team manages the advertising on our site.

How Much Does the Acura TLX Cost?

The 2020 Acura TLX has the lowest starting MSRP among luxury midsize cars, coming in at $33,000. You can replace the standard four-cylinder engine with a V6 for $3,200, and you can add all-wheel drive to models with the V6 for $2,000. Acura offers three upgrade packages that each add a few thousand dollars to the price. A fully loaded TLX will set you back nearly $50,000.

The TLX’s starting price falls in the middle of Acura’s car lineup. The smaller Acura ILX starts at $25,900, while the larger Acura RLX starts at $54,900. Pricing for the similarly sized Honda Accord sedan starts at just $23,720 though (Honda is the parent company of Acura). Despite its lower price, the Accord has a nicer cabin than the TLX and a comparable list of standard safety features.

Check out our U.S. News Best Price Program for great deals at your local Acura dealer. You can also find excellent manufacturer incentives on our Acura deals page.

Acura TLX Versus the Competition

Which Is Better: Acura TLX or BMW 3 Series?

The fully redesigned BMW 3 Series is a luxury small car that serves up blistering performance and is more fun to drive than nearly all of its rivals. Sharp handling and powerful engine options make the 3 Series the clear pick over the TLX for driving enthusiasts. The BMW doesn't sacrifice any space, either. It has a roomier back seat and a larger trunk than the TLX. While the BMW is better than the Acura in general, it's also more expensive. The 3 Series starts at about $40,250 and upgrades push its price north of $63,000.

Which Is Better: Acura TLX or Lexus ES?

The fully redesigned Lexus ES is a more well-rounded car than the TLX, and its top-notch predicted reliability rating helps it land near the top of our luxury midsize car rankings. This Lexus boasts an elegant and ultra-quiet cabin, plenty of passenger room and trunk space, and well-balanced performance. The ES retails for a little under $40,000, which makes it one of the least expensive options in the class. Because of its excellent combination of quality and value, we named the ES our 2019 Best Luxury Midsize Car for the Money. It's a wonderful alternative and a better buy than the TLX.

Compare the TLX, 3 Series, and ES »

TLX Interior

How Many People Does the TLX Seat?

The Acura TLX sedan seats five people. The front seats have ample side bolstering and are spacious enough for most folks. Standard power adjustments make it easy to find a relaxing position. Rear-seat accommodations aren't as good. The second row has tight legroom and somewhat narrow seats. Taller adults will probably wish for more headroom back there as well. Synthetic leather upholstery and heated front seats are standard. Optional upgrades include Milano leather seats, ventilated front seats, heated rear seats, and a heated steering wheel.

TLX and Child Car Seats

The TLX has two complete sets of LATCH car-seat connectors on the rear outboard seats and an upper tether on the rear middle seat. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety gave the system the second-lowest rating of Marginal for ease of use. The lower anchors are set deep in the seat, and it requires too much force to attach the car-seat straps to the anchors.

TLX Interior Quality

The TLX lacks the opulence of other cars in the class, and you might also notice some fit-and-finish issues. Most cabin materials are pleasant enough, but there are some hard plastics. You'll have to pay more to get luxury upgrades like leather upholstery, which is standard in some class rivals.

TLX Cargo Space

With 14.3 cubic feet of space, the TLX's trunk is a little below average for a luxury midsize car. A 60/40 split-folding rear seat is standard, but the seats fold down to reveal an oval-shaped pass-through that doesn't span the whole width of the car. This can make it difficult to get bulkier items into the trunk. The best part of the TLX's cargo hold is the large space under the trunk floor, which is big enough for several shopping or grocery bags.

TLX Infotainment, Bluetooth, and Navigation

The TLX comes standard with a two-screen infotainment setup. The upper 8-inch screen contains navigation and smartphone integration via standard Android Auto and Apple CarPlay. You control these features with a physical knob on the center stack. The lower 7-inch touch screen sits within easy reach of the driver. Here you adjust most climate settings, as well as things like volume and the radio. Professional reviewers are divided on this dual-screen system. Some think it's logical and easy to use, while others find it overwhelming and distracting.

Other standard features include a moonroof, dual-zone automatic climate control, proximity keyless entry, and satellite radio. Optional features include a 10-speaker ELS Studio premium audio system, navigation, HD Radio, GPS-linked climate control, wireless device charging, and remote start.

Read more about interior »

TLX Performance

TLX Engine: One's a Bit Better Than the Other

The 2020 Acura TLX features a standard 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine that makes 206 horsepower. It's mated to an eight-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission, which shifts smoothly and delivers power steadily as you accelerate. Still, this engine feels pretty weak.

You can opt for a 290-horsepower 3.5-liter V6 that gets you moving quickly from a stop. This engine is paired to a nine-speed automatic. Unfortunately, this transmission doesn't always find the correct gear and can be slow to shift when you hit the gas hard at higher speeds.

TLX Gas Mileage: Pretty Impressive

The TLX gets some of the best fuel economy ratings among luxury midsize cars. It returns an EPA-rated 23 mpg in the city and 33 mpg on the highway with its base engine and 20 mpg in city and 31 mpg on the highway with the V6.

TLX Ride and Handling: Comfortable, but Not Very Athletic

The TLX comes standard with front-wheel drive. The all-wheel steering allows the rear wheels to turn in addition to the front wheels, making the car a breeze to maneuver in tight spaces like parking lots or city traffic. Super-Handling All-Wheel Drive (SH-AWD) is optional in V6-equipped TLX models.

This Acura rides comfortably, absorbing potholes and other imperfections in the road. It comes up a little short when it comes to sportiness, though. Steering feel and feedback is decent through turns, but the TLX is less athletic than many of its rivals.

Read more about performance »

TLX Reliability

Is the Acura TLX Reliable?

J.D. Power gives the 2020 Acura TLX a below-average predicted reliability rating of 2.5 out of five.

Acura TLX Warranty

Acura covers the TLX with a four-year/50,000-mile basic warranty and a six-year/70,000-mile powertrain warranty.

Read more about reliability »

TLX Safety

TLX Crash Test Results

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration gave the 2020 Acura TLX an overall rating of five out of five stars, as well as five stars in the frontal crash, side crash, and rollover evaluations.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety gave the TLX the highest score of Good in four crash tests and the second-highest score of Acceptable in the driver-side small-overlap front test. The TLX earned the top score of Superior for the effectiveness of its front crash prevention features, and an Acceptable rating for how well its headlights illuminate the road ahead.

TLX Safety Features

Standard driver assistance features in the 2020 TLX include forward collision warning, automatic emergency braking, lane departure warning, lane keep assist, road departure warning, adaptive cruise control, automatic high-beam headlights, and a rearview camera.

Optional active safety technologies include blind spot monitoring, rear cross traffic alert, a surround-view parking camera, rain-sensing windshield wipers, and front and rear parking sensors.

Read more about safety »

TLX Dimensions and Weight

The Acura TLX is 16 feet long. Its curb weight ranges from 3,505 to 3,838 pounds.

Where Is the 2020 Acura TLX Built?

Honda builds the 2020 Acura TLX in Ohio.

Which Acura TLX Model Is Right for Me?

The 2020 Acura TLX can be configured in a number of ways. There are two main powertrain choices: a four-cylinder or V6 engine and either front-wheel or all-wheel drive. Instead of trim levels that add more features, Acura sells the TLX with several optional packages. You may not need any of them because this car comes with a long list of standard features, but the Technology package is a good value. It adds premium leather seats, navigation, blind spot monitoring, and other amenities. Spring for a TLX with the V6 engine for better acceleration.

Acura TLX

The 2020 Acura TLX retails for $33,000. A four-cylinder engine, an eight-speed automatic transmission, and front-wheel drive are standard. You can upgrade to a V6 engine for $3,200, and all-wheel drive is optional for another $2,000.

Standard features include synthetic leather upholstery, a 10-way power-adjustable driver's seat, a four-way power-adjustable passenger seat, heated front seats, a leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob, a moonroof, dual-zone automatic climate control, and proximity keyless entry. Infotainment amenities include Android Auto, Apple CarPlay, satellite radio, a USB port, Bluetooth, and a seven-speaker premium stereo.

The TLX also comes with forward collision warning, automatic emergency braking, lane departure warning, lane keep assist, road departure warning, a rearview camera, adaptive cruise control, and automatic high-beam headlights.

Acura TLX with Technology Package

Adding the $3,700 Technology package raises the TLX's price to $36,700. This bundle includes premium Milano leather upholstery, a 10-speaker ELS Studio premium audio system, navigation, HD Radio, GPS-linked climate control, an 8-inch digital instrument cluster display, blind spot monitoring, rear cross traffic alert, and rain-sensing windshield wipers. V6 models receive a 12-way power-adjustable driver's seat.

Acura TLX with A-Spec Package

The A-Spec TLX costs $39,400, and adds unique interior and exterior styling, ventilated front seats, wireless device charging, and front and rear parking sensors.

Acura TLX with Advance Package

The TLX with Advance Package is priced at $45,950 and comes standard with the V6 engine and all-wheel drive. It also includes heated rear seats, a heated steering wheel, remote start, and a surround-view camera.

Check out our U.S. News Best Price Program for great savings at your local Acura dealer. You can also find excellent manufacturer incentives on our Acura deals page.

See 2020 Acura TLX specs and trims »

The Final Call

Besides a low starting price and a good number of standard features, the 2020 Acura TLX doesn't offer many advantages over its competition. Many other luxury midsize cars have better driving dynamics, more space, and nicer interiors.

Don’t just take our word for it. Check out comments from some of the reviews that drive our rankings and analysis.

  • The 2020 Acura TLX cuts its own path through the dense jungle of premium-compact sedans. Its formula of impeccable build quality, absolute reliability and generous standard equipment has made an impression on buyers, who keep flocking to the TLX. It doesn’t have German presence like the Audi A4, BMW 3 Series or Mercedes-Benz C-Class, nor does it have the European style of the Alfa Romeo Giulia and Jaguar XE or the aesthetic impact of the revived Volvo S60. And it starts out as a front-wheel-drive model, displeasing the enthusiasts. However, there’s a large contingent of luxury-car drivers who don’t care which wheels are driven as long as they get them home at night and back to work the next morning." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • "If you're looking for luxury, power, safety and technology, we suggest moving to the top-of-the-line TLX 3.5 SH-AWD with the Advance package or the performance-oriented TLX 3.5 A-Spec. Other than the Acura name, the base TLX just doesn't provide enough to convince us you couldn't spend the same money or less on a Ford Fusion, Honda Accord or Kia Optima and get more car for your money." -- Autotrader (2019)
  • "The … Acura TLX remains true to its mission of providing substance over flash. While its European and American competitors battle for brand cachet, the TLX quietly continues offering an expert blend of performance, comfort and reliability. It won't set your pulse alight, but it's no snoozer either. … It's still a smart choice if you seek a lot of value from a luxury sedan." -- Edmunds (2019)
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