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2021 Acura TLX Performance Review

Scorecard

Performance: 7.7

The 2021 Acura TLX provides peppy acceleration, buttoned-down handling, a comfortable ride, and strong braking performance. Fuel economy is about average for this class. The 10-speed automatic transmission operates well in normal driving, but it shifts slowly in manual mode.

  • "The new turbo engine enables quick acceleration, and the Honda-designed 10-speed transmission is well matched." -- Autotrader
  • "Regardless of the spec, all TLXs rode smooth and quiet over regular surface streets, with all the poise necessary for the car's premium standing." -- Automobile Magazine
  • "Acura has done its homework and delivered a proper sports sedan, designed to entertain its driver through an engaging driving experience (when you want it to). The overall sense is one of smoothness, in everything from the power delivery and chassis balance to the ride quality and astonishing quiet in the cabin." -- Cars.com

Engine Options, Horsepower, and Acceleration

  • Engine: 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder with 272 horsepower and 280 pound-feet of torque
  • Drivetrain: standard front-wheel drive; available all-wheel drive
  • Transmission: 10-speed automatic

The TLX’s turbocharged four-cylinder engine feels punchy, and it zips the TLX around town and up to highway speeds with confidence. The 10-speed automatic transmission shifts smoothly and quickly on its own, but the gear changes feel rather slow when shifted manually.

  • "Forward momentum is plenty brisk with the full 280 lb-ft coming on at 1,600 rpm. The shorter first gear ratio gets you up and moving in a hurry, and we estimate the 0-60 mph time to be about 5.5-6.0 seconds. … A 10-speed automatic is the only transmission available. In a vacuum, its shift speed is acceptable, smooth and well-optimized. It’s especially well-tuned to work with you in successive corners in Sport mode, holding onto gears through corners and downshifting on braking. However, its responses are too slow in manual mode and a clear step behind several rivals." -- Autoblog
  • "These numbers are also delivered over a wider rpm range than the previous engines. Add in the new 10-speed transmission, which replaces the previous 9-speed, and the result is excellent throttle response and strong forward thrust." -- Forbes
  • "Power from the new four-cylinder engine is strong in the middle of the rev range thanks to all that beefy torque, and the engine makes an excellent, throaty growl when pushed. The new 10-speed automatic is smarter and better behaved in every way than the old nine-speed as well." -- Edmunds

MPG Estimates

The TLX earns decent fuel economy for a luxury midsize car with a four-cylinder engine.

  • TLX, FWD: 22/31 mpg city/highway
  • TLX, AWD: 21/29 mpg
  • TLX A-Spec, FWD: 22/30 mpg
  • TLX A-Spec, AWD: 21/29 mpg

Handling and Braking

The Acura TLX strikes a great balance between comfort and sportiness. The TLX feels agile and stable through turns, the steering is quick and direct, and the brakes provide authoritative stopping power. The TLX’s suspension soaks up bumps and dips comfortably, even on rough roads.

  • "Even without the adaptive dampers, body composure is excellent, with minimal roll and predictable reactions during long sweepers and tight, technical turns alike. Steering is light and without much feel, but turn-in is quick and predictable. Considering the intended market, we'd say this is right on-beat, but for a sports sedan, we'd like a little more feedback." -- Automobile Magazine
  • "The brakes and pedal feel is another highlight. They feel strong and grant the kind of confidence you want in spirited driving. Speaking of that, the new TLX is markedly more athletic and fun to drive. … After our time in the mountains above Malibu for our initial test, we cruised down California’s famed Pacific Coast Highway. With the TLX’s drive mode switched from sport to comfortable or normal, the TLX proved a fine partner for everyday cruising. The adaptive dampers in the Advance model further tamed road imperfections, but even the standard setup works well." -- Autotrader
  • "Dynamically speaking, the TLX proved wholly competent. The new suspension maintains good body control and keeps roll to in a minimum in the corners, even when you get to hustle. Steering feel is adequate, not great, but precision and weighting is top notch." -- Autoweek
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2021 Acura TLX

MSRP: $37,500 - $48,300

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