2021 Acura TLX SH-AWD A-SPEC Sport Sedan
Acura says the 2021 Acura TLX takes a dramatic step forward as the most performance-focused sedan Acura has ever offered. Built on an all-new platform and developed exclusively for TLX, it seriously targets today’s sport sedan enthusiast.
The new TLX launches on the heels of a successful new RDX sport-utility and integrates a number of the next-generation Acura technologies and features first deployed on RDX, including its 2.0-liter turbo engine, 4th-generation SH-AWD, ELS Studio 3D Premium Audio, and the latest iteration of Acura’s innovative True TouchPad Interface.
Already in love with the new RDX, we asked Acura to send us a new 2021 TLX for test.
2021 Acura TLX SH-AWD A-SPEC – as tested
Acura sent us a knockdown gorgeous TLX SH-AWD A-SPEC in Lunar Silver Metallic with Ebony interior and Bold Red seating w/ contrasting accents, running on 19-inch alloy wheels in a Shark Grey finish.
Delivered into our garage, the 2021 Acura TLX SH-AWD A-SPEC priced at $47,275.
The 2021 TLX is built on an all-new, Acura-exclusive body and chassis architecture. The new TLX has a 3.7-inch longer wheelbase, 2.2-inch wider body and a 0.5-inch lower height enhancing the performance sport sedan profile.
The TLX’s bold yet clean exterior form draws heavily upon the Acura Precision Concept with its near-exotic stance and proportion, sheer body surfacing and dramatic character lines.
Signature Acura design cues, first seen on the Acura Type S Concept, include an all-LED lighting package that with next-generation 4-lamp Acura JewelEye headlights, “Chicane” daytime running lights and taillights along with a new, wider Diamond Pentagon grille, upswept rear deck, and large dual exhausts finishers.
An A-SPEC Sport Appearance Package on our test 2021 TLX added a moonroof, gloss black surround with matte grey diamonds for the grille, gloss black window surround, gloss black rear license plate garnish and rear diffuser, aggressive gloss black rear trunk lid spoiler, gloss black treatment inside the headlights and taillights for a darkened appearance plus 19-inch wheels in a Shark Grey finish.
The 2021 TLX SH-AWD A-SPEC is powered by a 2.0-liter DOHC, direct injected and turbocharged 4-cylinder engine mated to a 10-speed automatic transmission – same as the new RDX. The engine has a peak output of 272 horsepower @6500 rpm with 280 lb.-ft. of torque @1600-4500 rpm.
The 10-speed automatic transmission makes exceptional use of the new turbo engine’s high torque output – says Acura. It offers a wider ratio range, more discrete gears, 4-gear direct downshifts, and a lower first gear for exceptional launch performance when compared to the previous 9-speed.
Enhancing the sport driving experience on our test A-SPEC was the latest generation Acura Super Handling All-Wheel Drive (SH-AWD). With performance-elevating torque-vectoring capability, it has 40 percent more rear torque capacity and 30 percent quicker front-to-rear torque transfer than the previous TLX. The SH-AWD can transfer up to 70 percent of engine torque to the rear axle, continuously apportioning 100 percent of that rear-axle torque between the left and right rear wheels.
NOTE: Limited in time and place to fully test powertrain p, we did carve enough drive time to directionally confirm. The TLX SH-AWD A-SPEC can fly.
Mechanical / Running Gear
The new Acura sedan platform marks the return of the double wishbone front suspension. When paired with a multi-link rear – they are a foundational component of the TLX’s handling prowess. Enhancing the double wishbone front / multi-link suspension, the TLX -A-SPEC is fitted with 2-stage Amplitude Reactive Dampers for additional performance handling.
The TLX A-SPEC is also equipped with Agile Handling Assist to further augment the vehicle’s handling dynamics using brake vectoring.
Other handling elements include Variable-ratio Electric Power Steering, NSX-derived Electro -Servo Brake-by-Wire technology, Brembo Front 4-piston Brake System with Ventilated Disc Front and Solid Disc Rear and 19-inch Aluminum Alloy Wheels mounted with Michelin 255/40R19 Primacy AS tires.
Inside, our 2021 TLX SH-AWD A-SPEC sported an Ebony interior that was technically sophisticated, exceptionally comfortable. Featuring premium materials throughout that including aluminum and metal accents pedals and door trims and full-grain, top-stitched Milano leather, this was a very premium cabin.
A major plus is the Sport seating. Both driver and passenger seats are 12-way power adjustable, featuring 3-mode heat and ventilation, Milano leather with black Ultrasuede inserts, and red contrast stitching and piping.
Other elements included: Dual Zone Climate Control, Keyless Access, Pushbutton Start, and Leather-Wrapped Flat Bottom Sport Steering Wheel w/Controls.
The premium ambiance in the cabin is augmented by the new IconicDrive interior LED ambient lighting system with 27 selectable color themes. Three of those themes are tied to the Integrated Dynamics System, one each for COMFORT, NORMAL and SPORT modes. The other 24 themes are named after iconic destinations and driving circuits.
Technology / Infotainment
Our test 2021 TLX SH-AWD A-SPEC had a full array of Acura’s newest and most advanced comfort, convenience, infotainment and connectivity technologies.
Major features included a high-mounted 10.2-inch dual content HD display w/ Acura Navigation 3D View System, a full-color 7-inch Multi-Information Display (MID) in the center gauge cluster and the (pretty awesome) 17-speaker, 710-watt ELS Studio 3D Premium Audio system.
Other features included Speed-Sensitive Volume Compensation, Acuralink Real-Time Traffic w/Rerouting, Mobil Hotspot, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto integration, Siri Eyes Free, Bluetooth HandsFree Smartphone Interface, Wireless Charging Pad, Bluetooth Streaming Audio, SiriusXM and HD Radio plus more.
IT also featured AcuraLink cloud-based services, including the in-vehicle 4GLTE Wi-Fi, vehicle location, geofencing, Acura concierge services and more.
We like the TLX’s True Touchpad Interface with its more ergonomically optimized palm rest. New console-mounted Power, Volume and Seek controls, next to the touchpad, improve usability.
Integrated Dynamics System
Our 2021 Acura TLX SH-AWD A-SPEC was equipped with the new Integrated Dynamics System, integrates s a multitude of powertrain, chassis and other systems. The driver controls the system by selecting the mode using the center console-mounted, Drive Mode Dial.
The Integrated Dynamics System features COMFORT, NORMAL and SPORT modes, that coordinate the Drive-By-Wire throttle, transmission, SH-AWD, steering, along with Active Sound Control, idle stop functionality and the ambient cabin lighting.
A new (Acura calls it) INDIVIDUAL mode allows the driver to create a fully personalized driving experience by choosing their own settings for each system. Once programmed, the INDIVIDUAL mode is activated in one step by pressing the Acura symbol at the center of the drive mode dial.
Safety and Driver Technologies
The 2021 Acura TLX Sport Sedan has earned a TOP SAFETY PICK+ rating from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) – the highest safety rating from the institute.
Targeting this rating, the new TLX is designed to provide advanced levels of both passive and active safety, utilizing the latest generation of Acura’s proprietary Advanced Compatibility Engineering (ACE) body structure and a full suite of AcuraWatch safety and driver-assistive technologies.
The 2021 TLX SH-AWD A-SPEC comes equipped with AcuraWatch technology, incorporating new features, including Traffic Sign Recognition, Driver Attention Monitor, and new Traffic Jam Assist (enables Lane Keeping capability at speeds below 45mph).
Other AcuraWatch features include Collision Mitigation Brake System (CMBS) with pedestrian sensing and Forward Collision Warning (FCW), Lane Keeping Assist (LKAS) with Lane Depart Warning (LDW), Road Departure Mitigation, and Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC) with Low-Speed Follow.
Additional standard driver-assistive features include a new Driver Attention Monitor, Multi-Angle Rear View Camera with dynamic guidelines, Vehicle Stability Assist (VSA) with Traction Control, and in-wheel tire pressure monitoring system (TPMS); while upper grades add features including Blind Spot Information (BSI), Rear Cross Traffic Monitor, front and rear parking sensors and automatic high-beam headlights.
2021 ACURA TLX Lineup
The new TLX offers four trim levels (FWD / SH-AWD): TLX (MSRP $37,500/$39,500), TLX w/Technology Package (MSRP $41,500/$43,500), TLX A-SPEC (MSRP $44,250/$46,250) and TLX w/Advance Package (MSRP $46,300/$48,300).
Acura is also offering a TLX TYPE S powered by a 3.0L Twin Scroll Turbo V6 delivering 355 horsepower with 354 lb.-ft. of torque. It is available in two trims starting at MSRP $53,345.
Learn more about both of the 2021 Acura TLX models here: https://www.acura.com/tlx
KEY DATA: 2021 Acura TLX SH-AWD A-SPEC
- Model TLX
- Trim Level A-SPEC SH-AWD
- Class Premium Sport Sedan
- Seating Five
- MSRP $46,250
- As Tested $47,275 (delivered)
- Engine 2.0L GDI DOHC Turbocharged 4-cylinder
- Horsepower 272 @ 6500 rpm
- Torque 280 lb.-ft. @ 1600-4500 rom
- Transmission 10-speed Automatic w/Sequential Sport Shift/Paddle Shifters
- Drive Modes Integrated Dynamics (COMFORT, NORMAL, SPORT, CUSTOM)
- Drive System SH-AWD (Super Handling All Wheel Drive)
- Wheel size 19-inch Alloy
- Tire Size 255/40R19 Michelin Primacy AS
- Suspension Double Wishbone Front/5-Link Rear w/Dampers
- Ground Clearance 5.3-inches
- Steering Variable-Ration Electric Power Assisted
- Brakes ESB (ElectroServoBrakes) w /Brembo 4-piston front
- Fuel Capacity 14.3 gallons
- Fuel Economy 21/29/24 mpg city/highway/combined
- Range 415 miles (highway)