Acura's return to performance has begun.
We've been eagerly awaiting the arrival of the next-generation Acura TLX ever since the stunning Type S Concept was shown off last year. Following a small teaser image and an unplanned leak, the 2021 Acura TLX has been official reveal. And it looks great. As we expected, the production TLX adopts the same attractive design of the concept with a wide stance, lowered roofline, and longer wheelbase.
The current TLX's 2.4-liter four-cylinder and 3.5-liter V6 engines have been scrapped in favor of two new engines, one of which is familiar while the other is all-new to the Acura lineup. A 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder with VTEC acts as the base powertrain, producing the same 272 horsepower and 280 pound-feet of torque found in the RDX crossover. These are gains of 66 hp and 123 lb-ft compared to the outgoing four-banger and 48 lb-ft more than the V6. As with the RDX, power is sent to front-wheel-drive or Super Handling All-Wheel-Drive through a 10-speed automatic, replacing the old eight-speed dual-clutch and nine-speed automatic.
But that's not all. Acura will also bring back the Type S high-performance nameplate after a long hiatus, ushering in a new age of performance for the brand.
The 2021 TLX Type S will arrive later in the spring of 2021, powered by an all-new 3.0-liter, 24-valve, DOHC direct-injected and turbocharged V6 sending power to SH-AWD only. Acura says this new engine was developed by its top engineers, who are also responsible for the bespoke twin-turbocharged V6 found in the NSX supercar. Unfortunately, the V6's power outputs remain a mystery at this time, but Acura says it will deliver "dramatic gains" compared to the old normally aspirated V6 with greater than a 50 percent increase in low-end torque.
Acura developed a dedicated sedan platform specifically or the TLX, complete with double-wishbone front suspension, variable-ratio steering system, adaptive dampers, and an electro-servo brake-by-wire technology that was directly influenced by the NSX. On the Type S, the brakes will be four-piston Brembo units. This new advanced new body structure is said to be the most rigid ever offered by Acura (besides the NSX) and is made up of 56 percent lightweight materials such as aluminum and press-hardened steel.
Explaining the TLX's beauty can actually be done just by looking at the numbers. Compared to the last TLX, this new model has a 3.7-inch longer wheelbase, a 2.2-inch wider body, a 0.6-inch lower roof, and a 7.8-inch extended dash-to-axle ratio. At the front Jewel Eye LED headlights adds a touch of luxury and were inspired by the championship-winning Acura ARX-05 Daytona Prototype race car. At the rear, muscular rear wheel arches give off an imposing stance including "Chicane" LED taillights and exposed dual exhaust outlets.
Buyers can opt for the A-Spec Sport Package, which adds includes Shark Grey 19-inch wheels, gloss black accents, darkened headlights and taillights, and a rear decklid spoiler. The sportier Type S gets its own unique styling features including rear decklid spoiler, front splitter, rear diffuser, and large quad exhaust outlets (harkening back to the TL Type S). All Type S models will ride on 20-inch wheels (pictured above) with either a split 10-spoke design from the concept or a Y-Spoke wheel that was inspired by the NSX.
The interior feature similar elements from the RDX including the steering wheel buttons, shifter controls, and infotainment systems. Overall though, the cabin layout appears much different than its crossover counterpart featuring high-quality materials such as real aluminum, open-pore wood, and full-grain Milano leather. A-Spec and Type S models get unique interior touches including a flat-bottom steering wheel, metal paddle shifters, and unique colors and materials. The Type S specifically features badging on the door sills and steering wheel, and embossing on the headrests.
As with the RDX and the NSX, a large drive mode selector sits prominently on the infotainment stack. The TLX features the typical Comfort, Normal, and Sport modes while a new Individual setting can be triggered using the Acura button on the drive mode dial. Type S models will also feature a Sport+ setting, which incrementally dials up the throttle response, transmission, SH-AWD system, power steering, and adaptive dampers.
All TLX models will come standard with the AcuraWatch suite of advanced safety and driver-assist technologies. This suite adds new features including traffic sign recognition, driver awareness monitoring, and traffic jam assist with adaptive cruise control. Nine exterior colors will be available including five premium paints with a golf hue called Tiger Eye Pearl being exclusive to the Type S. Apex Blue Pearl, which was previously exclusive to the A-Spec, will now be available on the Type S.
Inside, buyers can select from Ebony, Espresso, Graystone, or Parchment interiors on the standard TLX while Ebony and Red Leather with Ultrasuede inserts are available on A-Spec and Type S models. Light Orchid leather will be a Type S exclusive. Official pricing has not been announced but Acura says the base TLX will start in the mid-$30,000 range with the Type S likely costing significantly more.
The 2021 TLX is set to arrive in fall 2020 and we should have pricing information by then.