2020 Acura TLX

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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Acura TLX is a lame-duck car with its 2.4-liter four-cylinder and 3.5-liter V6 engines offerings, older platform, and outdated dual-screen infotainment.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.

Read in this review:

  • Exterior Design 7 /10
  • Performance 6 /10
  • Fuel Economy 7 /10
  • Interior & Cargo 6 /10
  • Infotainment & Features 7 /10
  • Reliability 7 /10
  • Safety 9 /10
  • Value For Money 6 /10
6.9
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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 2020 Acura TLX

2020 Acura TLX Trims

See trim levels and configurations:

Trim Engine Transmission Drivetrain Price (MSRP)
2.4L
2.4L Inline-4 Gas
8-Speed Automatic
Front-Wheel Drive
$33,000
V6
3.5L V6 Gas
9-Speed Automatic
Front-Wheel Drive
All-Wheel Drive
$36,200
2.4L with Technology Package
2.4L Inline-4 Gas
8-Speed Automatic
Front-Wheel Drive
$36,700
2.4L A-SPEC Package
2.4L Inline-4 Gas
8-Speed Automatic
Front-Wheel Drive
$39,400
V6 with Technology Package
3.5L V6 Gas
9-Speed Automatic
Front-Wheel Drive
All-Wheel Drive
$40,100
See All 2020 Acura TLX Trims and Specs

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.

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.

2020 Acura TLX Comparisons

Acura ILX Acura
Honda Accord Honda

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

2020 Acura TLX Popular Comparisons

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