2020 Acura TLX

2020 Acura TLX Test Drive Review: An Eye-Catching Farewell

The midsize Acura TLX has been on the market since 2014, delivering competent (if not a bit forgettable) performance at an attractive price. Replacing both the TSX and TL in the Acura lineup in the USA, the TLX straddles a fine line between German competitors like the Audi A4 and BMW 3 Series and their larger counterparts like the A6 and 5 Series.

An all-new TLX has already been announced for the 2021 model year, bringing with it a new architecture, improved engine offerings, and a more modern interior. This means the 2020 Acura TLX is a lame-duck car with its 2.4-liter four-cylinder and 3.5-liter V6 engines offerings, older platform, and outdated dual-screen infotainment. However, if you are willing to live with some of the car's shortcomings, now might be the right time to buy one at a discounted rate. This may also be the last chance to buy an Acura sedan with the venerable naturally aspirated V6, which sounds better than the vast majority of turbo four-cylinders. Acura has also decided to send off this generation of the TLX with a new PMC Edition model, which is built in the same factory that puts together the NSX supercar. Only 360 of these special edition models will be built, all wearing a special shade of Valencia Red Pearl, and Acura sent us example number 47 to review.

2020 Acura TLX Changes: 🚙What’s the difference vs 2019 TLX?

Acura has kept the updates to a minimum for the 2020 model year, with the only change being an extended color palette and a new special edition model called the PMC Edition, which is named after the Performance Manufacturing Center in Ohio and limited to just 360 units. Nine colors are now available (up from seven) with four new premium colors which each cost an extra $400 while the PMC Edition is finished in a special shade of Valencia Red Pearl, which it shares with the NSX supercar.

Pros and Cons

  • Spacious cabin with plush seats
  • V6 sounds better than most
  • High level of standard driver aids
  • SH-AWD system is excellent
  • Beautiful PMC Edition stands out in a crowd
  • Four-cylinder engine lacks grunt
  • Sub-par infotainment system
  • Competition offers more lavish cabins
  • Nine-speed automatic is inconsistent
  • A-Spec package doesn't increase performance

Best Deals on TLX

2020 Acura TLX Trims

Trim Engine Transmission Drivetrain Price (MSRP)
2.4L
2.4-liter Inline-4 Gas
8-Speed Automatic
Front-Wheel Drive
$33,000
V6
3.5-liter V6 Gas
9-Speed Automatic
Front-Wheel Drive
All-Wheel Drive
$36,200
2.4L with Technology Package
2.4-liter Inline-4 Gas
8-Speed Automatic
Front-Wheel Drive
$36,700
2.4L A-SPEC Package
2.4-liter Inline-4 Gas
8-Speed Automatic
Front-Wheel Drive
$39,400
V6 with Technology Package
3.5-liter V6 Gas
9-Speed Automatic
Front-Wheel Drive
All-Wheel Drive
$40,100

TLX Exterior

Besides the addition of five new color options, the TLX's exterior is otherwise unchanged since its most significant update in 2018. That means the large, pentagon grille with a bigger Acura badge gives the frontal aspect a neat appearance with just enough presence. Jewel Eye LED headlights, LED taillights and brake lights, and 17-inch aluminum-alloy wheels on standard models are among the features included across the range (some packages feature bigger and more stylish wheel designs). The A-Spec model stands out with black exterior trim, unique wheels, a piano black decklid spoiler, and different front and rear bumpers. The PMC is further differentiated by a body-colored grille surround, gloss black roof, dark chrome exhaust finishers, and gloss black 19-inch wheels.

2020 Acura TLX Forward View CarBuzz
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Dimensions

Boasting bigger dimensions than a Mercedes-Benz C-Class but smaller than an E-Class, the TLX is 190.7 inches long, unless you opt for the sporty A-Spec or PMC Edition, which are 191 inches in length. All models have a 73-inch width and stand 57 inches in height. The TLX is longer than many competitors, with the new BMW 3 Series being 6.3 inches shorter. The wheelbase is 109.3 inches long. Curb weight ranges from 3,505 lbs for the base four-cylinder model to 3,812 lbs for the range-topping V6 with AWD. These figures are in line with other cars in this segment.

  • Length 190.7 in
  • Wheelbase 109.3 in
  • Height 57.0 in
  • Max Width 73.0 in
  • Front Width 62.8 in
  • Rear Width 63.1 in

Exterior Colors

Four new premium colors have been introduced for the 2020 TLX. They are Canyon Bronze Metallic, Majestic Black Pearl, Performance Red Pearl, and Apex Blue Pearl - the latter hue is exclusive to the A-Spec model. Each color costs $400 over the standard colors. The four standard colors are Platinum White Pearl, Lunar Silver Metallic, Modern Steel Metallic, and Fathom Blue Pearl. San Marino Red, previously available for the 2019 model year, falls away. New for 2020, the PMC Edition featured hand-applied Valencia Red Pearl paint, which is shared with the NSX supercar uses nano-pigment technology. It adds a one-of-a-kind shine to the TLX's attractive body lines but comes at an expensive premium.

  • Majestic Black Pearl
  • Performance Red Pearl
  • Canyon Bronze Metallic
  • Apex Blue Pearl
  • Valencia Red Pearl
  • Platinum White Pearl
  • Modern Steel Metallic
  • Lunar Silver Metallic
  • Fathom Blue Pearl

TLX Performance

While emitting a surprisingly sporty sound and revving freely to its redline, the base 2.4-liter engine nevertheless provides only average performance. It produces 206 horsepower and 182 lb-ft of torque and is available exclusively with an eight-speed DCT and front-wheel-drive. 0 to 60 mph takes seven seconds for this model. The V6 instead uses a nine-speed automatic transmission and makes a stronger 290 hp and 267 lb-ft - it sees off the benchmark 0-60 mph sprint in 5.7 seconds. Front-wheel drive is standard but the V6 can be optionally specified with Acura's SH-AWD system that can send up to 70 percent of the torque to the rear wheels. German competitors from Mercedes-Benz, Audi, and BMW are all superior performers, but you'll have to pay significantly more for the privilege. The lack of turbocharged engine options in the TLX range also means that the Acura is less flexible than these rivals and takes more time to get up to top speed. In isolation, both TLX models provide adequate performance for everyday driving, but the V6's extra gusto does seem worth the extra outlay.

2020 Acura TLX Aft View CarBuzz
2020 Acura TLX Rear-Facing View CarBuzz
2020 Acura TLX Engine CarBuzz

Engine and Transmission

The inline-four, 2.4-liter TLX will be familiar for buyers upgrading from the smaller ILX. In the TLX, the DOHC i-VTEC unit produces 206 hp and 182 lb-ft of torque. The eight-speed DCT is unique in also using a torque converter, so not only does it provide the faster shifts typically associated with a DCT, but it also makes for more instant and less jerky acceleration from a standstill. It's a good match for the 2.4L, which does need to be worked fairly hard to keep the TLX moving at a rapid pace. The inline-four is however nicely refined, and exploring the upper reaches of the rev range can be quite an enjoyable undertaking.

The 3.5-liter V6 is also familiar and appears in other Acura models. Outputs are 290 hp and 267 lb-ft of torque, and performance and responsiveness feel robust. The V6 has no problem getting off the mark smoothly, though the lack of torque is apparent while accelerating. High-speed cruising and overtaking is an effortless affair, though the nine-speed automatic sometimes needs time to think before initiating a downshift. We wish Acura had offered the TLX with a slick manual transmission in this generation. The naturally aspirated V6 may not have the torque of its turbocharged rivals but it sounds a lot more pleasing to the ear.

  • Engines
    2.4-liter Inline-4 Gas, 3.5-liter V6 Gas
  • Transmissions
    8-Speed Automatic, 9-Speed Automatic
  • Drivetrains
    AWD, FWD

Handling and Driving Impressions

Acura's sporty A-Spec Package does little more than add some visual drama to the TLX, keeping it far off the pace of performance-oriented competitors from Europe. The return of Acura's Type S performance model should rectify this issue in the next generation. The TLX may not quite be able to match its RWD contemporaries on race track prowess but Acura's Super-Handling All-Wheel-Drive (SH-AWD) system does an admiral job allowing the driver to have some fun. This system can send up to 70 percent of the engine's torque to the rear wheels and unlike some other AWD layouts, power goes to the rear based on throttle position rather than when wheel slip is detected. From that 70 percent, the SH-AWD system can even distribute up to 100 percent of the torque between the left and right wheels to eliminate understeer through corners. The TLX may be a front-wheel-drive platform car but under certain driving circumstances, it feels rear-biased.

The steering has a solid, heavy feel to it and offers a fair amount of responsiveness. It may not rival the engagement found in an Alfa Romeo Giulia but the TLX is still pretty fun to chuck around corners. Body roll is apparent but once the car leans in, the TLX is easy to place through apexes. We'd say Acura has struck a nice balance between sporty handling and well-mannered ride comfort with the TLX. It rides smoothly over the vast majority of road surfaces but felt a bit bumpy over cobblestones. If the Acura RDX crossover is any indication, the next-generation of TLX will build on the current model's handling prowess and should be a blast to drive.

TLX Gas Mileage

The 2.4L makes up for its power deficit somewhat by returning excellent gas mileage figures. EPA-rated estimates for this model are 23/33/27 mpg for the city/highway/combined cycles, which is an improvement on the Genesis G70 using a 2.0-liter turbocharged engine. With a 17.2-gallon gas tank, owners will be able to see a combined city/highway range of 465 miles. Economy takes a slight dip to 26 mpg in mixed driving should you opt for the A-Spec model.

The V6 model in standard form has EPA-rated economy estimates of 20/31/24 mpg on the city/highway/combined cycles and a range of 412 miles. These are better figures than what's achieved by a Lexus IS350 or a Genesis G70 3.3L. As with the four-cylinder model, the A-Spec adds some weight and economy, therefore, dips to 20/30/23 mpg, while the range-topping V6 with AWD has the same 23 mpg number in a mix of city and highway driving but a lower highway figure of 29 mpg. Acura recommends premium unleaded fuel for all TLX models.

  • Fuel Tank Capacity
    17.2 Gallons
  • Fuel Economy
    City/Hwy: 23/33 mpg
* 2020 Acura TLX 2.4L FWD

TLX Interior

Get inside the TLX and you'll be greeted by a well-built, comfortable, and spacious cabin with a neat rather than extravagant design. While the layout of the dashboard is by no means boring, it has just started to date a bit. Acura's controversial dual-screen infotainment system appears advanced, but it's more distracting to use than the single-screen interfaces of competitors. The same goes for the shifter buttons which do without a traditional lever in higher spec configurations. Seating is a highlight, being trimmed in high-quality leather, offering sufficient support, and being large enough for most adults. Gloss wood inserts and soft-touch plastics used on the upper dashboard impart a quality feel, although this is still not the most expensive feeling midsize sedan cabin. Unlike other aspects of the controls, Acura hasn't tried to reinvent the primary instrumentation and the end result is neat and logical.

2020 Acura TLX Control Panel CarBuzz
2020 Acura TLX Steering Wheel Design CarBuzz
2020 Acura TLX Center Stack CarBuzz
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Seating and Interior Space

The TLX seats five passengers, although two will be quite a bit more comfortable in the back than three. In front, the seats offer a good range of adjustability and space for legs and heads is plenty. The front seats offer plenty of side bolstering but adults with wider than average frames may find them a tad constricting. Rear legroom is excellent but foot space is slightly more limited for the middle rear seat passenger because of the center floor hump. Shoulder room may also feel a bit too cozy for some when three are seated at the back. Door apertures are a good size, so getting into and out of the TLX isn't a chore.

  • Seating capacity
    5-seater
  • Front Leg Room 42.6 in
  • Front Head Room 37.2 in
  • Rear Leg Room 34.5 in
  • Rear Head Room 36.7 in

Interior Colors and Materials

Several color options are available for the interior and they're dependent on the selected package and/or the color chosen for the exterior. Standard models are available with a choice of Ebony, Parchment or Graystone interior colors and these models also have leatherette trimmed seats. The steering wheel and shift knob are leather-wrapped. Selecting the Technology Package adds perforated Milano premium leather seats and the additional choice of Espresso-colored interior trim. V6 models with these leather seats also get contrast stitching and piping. A-Spec models are exclusively available with either black leather/Alcantara seats or full red leather seating. Wood trim on the dashboard, center console, and door panels are replaced by brushed aluminum and metal trim on the A-Spec. The PMC Edition gets a few unique touches including Milano leather with red stitching, a special steering wheel with perforated leather, A-Spec floor mats, and a plaque designating the build number out of 360.

TLX Sedan Trunk and Cargo Space

The TLX boasts competitive trunks space in this segment, with 13.2 cubic feet of space available on every model besides the Advance Package, which curiously has a bigger 14.3 cu-ft of available space. The latter figure is more than you'll find in a Lexus IS or Genesis G70, with the trunk being sufficiently deep. Underneath the trunk floor is another compartment with just enough space for four grocery bags. For larger items, the back seats can be folded down and have a 60/40-split, although the aperture isn't the largest.

Interior storage space comprises a covered compartment ahead of the gear selector and a larger storage area beneath the center armrest. The door pockets are medium-sized and can accommodate a 1-liter sized bottle.

2020 Acura TLX Second-Row Seats CarBuzz
2020 Acura TLX Trunk Space CarBuzz
2020 Acura TLX Cargo Room CarBuzz
  • Trunk Volume
    14.3 ft³

TLX Infotainment and Features

Features

The standard TLX is a sedan that is sufficiently equipped for buyers looking at the lower end of the range. Leatherette-trimmed sports seats with ten-way power adjustment for the driver (along with power lumbar support) are standard. The front seats are heated and the front passenger seat has four-way power adjustment. Keeping the cabin at an optimum temperature is a dual-zone climate control system with humidity control. Further standard items are a power sunroof, push-button ignition, an on-demand multi-use display, cruise control, a multi-view rear camera, and the AcuraWatch suite of safety features and driver aids. Adding on one or more of Acura's available packages adds features such as Acura's navigation system, increased seat adjustment with Milano leather, a blind spot information system, rear cross-traffic monitor, rain-sensing wipers, a heads-up warning, a wireless charger, and GPS-linked climate control. The A-Spec Package adds sportier trim bits to the interior and exterior, and these include sports seats with leather/Alcantara trim, heated and ventilated front seats, and special red instrumentation. Opting for the PMC Edition is the only way to combine the A-Spec Package with the Advanced Package.

Infotainment

Acura has persisted with its dual-screen layout for the infotainment system and the setup remains flawed. An eight-inch upper screen combines with a seven-inch lower touch screen to divide the display of climate, audio, and navigation information. While it reacts faster to inputs than earlier versions of the system, speed of operation is still slowed by the twin-screen layout and confusing menus. The standard sound system uses seven speakers and connectivity features include Apple CarPlay and Android Auto integration, Pandora compatibility, USB audio interface, Bluetooth streaming audio, MP3/aux input, SiriusXM satellite radio, and Siri Eyes free. Acura's navigation system with 3D view gets added on with the Technology Package, although the graphics and images are far from modern looking. This package also adds HD radio, song by voice, the AcuraLink real-time communication system, and an upgraded ten-speaker ELS audio system, which sounds great. Wireless charging is available with the Advanced Package.

2020 TLX Problems and Reliability

The 2015 model year was the most troublesome for the TLX, with 171 problems reported and most being for transmission faults. However, matters have improved markedly since then. The NHTSA did issue two TLX recalls for the 2019 model for reduced fuel pump performance (on V6 models) and for an engine stall caused by teeth separation from the timing belt. Damaged components were replaced without any charge. Should anything go wrong in terms of reliability, the TLX comes standard with a four-year/50,000-mile basic warranty and a six-year/70,000-mile powertrain - these warranties are similar to what's offered by the Lexus IS and Audi A4.

Warranty

  • Basic:
    4 Years \ 50,000 Miles
  • Drivetrain:
    6 Years \ 70,000 Miles
  • Corrosion:
    5 Years \ Unlimited Miles
  • Roadside Assistance:
    4 Years \ 50,000 Miles

TLX Safety

The TLX is a very safe vehicle, with the 2020 model having earned a full five-star overall NHTSA safety rating. This is matched by an excellent spread of scores from the IIHS's review, with the TLX also offering a "superior" level of front crash prevention thanks to the standard collision mitigation braking system. The Acura TLX's excellent reviews in terms of safety will be an advantage for safety-conscious shoppers.

US NHTSA crash test result

  • Overall Rating
  • Frontal Barrier Crash Rating
  • Side Crash Rating
  • Rollover Rating

Key Safety Features

The TLX is a car with an above-average level of standard driver aids. These are all built into the AcuraWatch system and include adaptive cruise control with low-speed follow, lane keeping assist, lane departure warning, traffic jam assist, road departure mitigation system, collision mitigation system, and forward collision warning system. However, the adaptive cruise control isn't the fastest of its kind and can be frustratingly slow to make adjustments in traffic. The driver aids are complemented by seven airbags, hill start assist, automatic brake hold, brake assist, and LATCH anchors for child seats. All of the available packages add on a rear cross traffic monitor and a blind spot information system.

Verdict: 🏁Is the new Acura TLX a sedan good worth buying?

As with the TL that preceded it, the new Acura TLX offers a nicely sized and priced package for luxury buyers who are willing to trade a bit of brand prestige for a greater assortment of standard features. As a lame-duck model though, it would be hard to recommend the 2020 TLX at its advertised MSRP but with factory incentives, buying a leftover one before the 2021 model arrives could be a smart purchase.

We particularly loved the TLX PMC Edition that Acura sent us and with only 360 being built in total, it will likely hold its value stronger than other TLX models. The only issue is, it will be tough to buy one of the PMC Editions below MSRP, as the factory hasn't offered any incentives on it. Give it a few years and the TLX PMC Edition may draw some interest from Acura diehards but we aren't sure if a fabulous paint job and some badging will be enough to make European luxury car owners drop more than $50,000 on it with a brand-new TLX arriving soon.

🚘What's the Price of the Acura TLX?

The TLX range starts off with the 2.4-liter, four-cylinder P-AWS (Precision All-Wheel Steer), front-wheel drive variant at an MSRP of $33,000. The cost of the Acura TLX excludes a destination and handling fee of $1,025 and is exclusive of tax, licensing registration, and incentives. Next is the Technology Package at $36,700 and then the A-Spec Package at $39,600. The Advance Package is only available on V6 models.

The standard 3.5-liter, V6 P-AWS is also front-wheel-driven and has a base price of $36,200. The V6 with the Technology Package is $40,100 and the V6 with the A-Spec Package rises to $42,800. All-wheel drive is available on these models for an additional $2,000. The V6 SH-AWD with Advance Package costs $45,950 - as the Advance Package is only available with AWD, this option does not need to be added. Opting for the PMC Edition at $48,950 is the only way to combine the sporty A-Spec Package with the Advanced Package, but it also then carries a higher destination and handling fee of $1,995, meaning you won't pay less than 50k for the privilege of owning one.

2020 Acura TLX Models

Eight models (including the limited PMC Edition) make up the complete TLX range in the US. These are the base 2.4-liter, the base 3.5-liter V6, 2.4L with Technology Package, 2.4L A-Spec, V6 with Technology Package, V6 with A-Spec, and V6 with Advance Package. All V6 models are available with optional all-wheel drive save for the V6 with Advance Package which comes as standard with the SH-AWD system. The four-cylinder TLX makes use of an eight-speed DCT with torque converter and paddle shifters, while V6 models use a nine-speed automatic transmission with paddle shifters. The PMC Edition includes the range-topping V6 with SH-AWD with the A-Spec and Advanced Packages.

The base model is decently specified, but Acura's add-on packages bring with them the most appealing features in the TLX range.

The Technology Package is built around enhanced connectivity, with features such as navigation and the AcuraLink information system coming as standard. This package also adds leather-trimmed seats.

The A-Spec Package gives the interior and exterior styling a lift with unique, sporty accessories like special alloy wheels, LED fog lights, a decklid spoiler, Alcantara seats, and red cabin accent lighting.

For the most luxurious TLX experience, the Advance Package adds LED puddle lights, parking sensors, front and rear heated seats, and front-seat ventilation.

The PMC Edition combines both the A-Spec and Advance Packages, but also adds black 19-inch alloy wheels, a black roof, dark chrome exhaust finishers, unique interior upholstery, a production number plaque, and most notably, Valencia Red Pearl paint shared with the NSX.

See All 2020 Acura TLX Trims and Specs

Additional Packages

Unlike the typical trims found on models from other manufacturers, Acura has created several packages which build upon one another for added specs. For example, both the A-Spec Package and Advance Package can only be had after adding the Technology Package.

The most inexpensive package is, therefore, the Technology Package for $3,700 on the 2.4L and $3,900 on V6 models. The highlights of this package are Acura's navigation system with 3D view, an upgraded ELS ten-speaker audio system, Milano leather seats with 12-way power adjustment for the driver, as well as two useful safety features: a rear cross traffic monitor and a blind spot information system. The V6 models with this package also get a power thigh extension for the driver's seat, contrast stitching and piping for the seats, and side underbody spoilers. The A-Spec Package includes the Technology Package and costs $6,600 on both the four-cylinder and V6 models. This package gives the TLX more of an edgy look and feel with a unique front bumper, a dark chrome grille surround, darkened headlight detailing, exclusive dual oval exhaust finishers, a decklid spoiler, and A-Spec badging. It's also the only model that has Alcantara seat trim and an optional red leather interior. Finally, the Advance Package is exclusive to V6 models specified with AWD and can be had for an additional $7,750 over the base V6 with AWD. This is the only package to boast parking sensors front and rear, remote engine start, a surround-view camera system, heated rear seats, a heated steering wheel, wireless charging, and a heads-up warning.

🚗What Acura TLX Model Should I Buy?

At under $4,000 over the standard models, the Technology Package represents excellent value for money as it adds several desirable features to the TLX while maintaining a strong value proposition. However, if the driving experience is a priority, then the base V6 undercuts the 2.4L with the Technology Package and is also a tempting option - there is virtually no cheaper way to get V6 power in a luxury sedan in this segment. For the more badge-conscious, specifying a Mercedes-Benz C-Class or Audi A4 to a similar level as the range-topping TLX Advance will see the pricing easily eclipse $50,000, so there is also value to be found at the top-end of the TLX range. We love the special nano-pigment paint on the TLX PMC Edition but at over $50,000 with destination, there are much quicker options available.

2020 Acura TLX Comparisons

Acura ILX Acura
Honda Accord Honda
CompetitorHorsepowerMPGPrice (MSRP)
Acura TLX272 hp22/31 mpg$37,500
Acura ILX 201 hp24/34 mpg$25,900
Honda Accord 192 hp30/38 mpg$24,270

2020 Acura TLX vs Acura ILX

At a base MSRP of around $7,000 less than the TLX, the ILX is a cheaper means to luxury motoring. The smaller Acura looks just as stylish as the TLX and uses a similarly powered 2.4L four-cylinder (although no V6 option exists). However, it only takes a quick back-to-back test drive to see where the ILX falls significantly short in comparison to the TLX. For starters, the ride quality is a lot less supple and refined while the cabin isn't as spacious. Interior material quality is also rougher and the ILX is less practical: trunk space is down to 12.3 cu-ft and the rear seat folds down, but only as one piece (the TLX uses a 60/40 split). There are simply better cars at the ILX's price, and for a few thousand more, the TLX feels like a far superior product because of how much it offers.

See Acura ILX Review

2020 Acura TLX vs Honda Accord

With its coupe-like rear roofline and blunt, aggressive front-end, the Accord certainly stands out. It's not the only reason the Accord is worth considering over a TLX though, as the Honda is a thoroughly capable midsize sedan with a capacious cabin finished in sturdy, smart materials. MSRP starts at just under $10,000 cheaper than the base price of the Acura TLX and the turbocharged engines are sprightly and economical. There's more rear legroom and cargo space in the Accord, while the infotainment system is easier to use than the unit in the TLX. The TLX does, however, use plusher interior materials and is more refined, while the available TLX V6 elevates the driving experience beyond what the Accord can offer. However, if value is a strong consideration, the Accord is a great alternative.

See Honda Accord Review

Acura TLX Popular Comparisons

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2020 Acura TLX Video Reviews

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76
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$33,000 - $48,950
Price Range (MSRP)
Acura TLX