Remember when sedans ruled the world? Particularly sporty, luxurious sedans built for everyone from the entry-level guy straight out of business school all the way up to C-level executives? Yea, we remember. Now, cars like the Lincoln MKZ are headed to the great automotive graveyard, with many more following closely behind. And yet, in this time of great upheaval, the all-new 2021 Acura TLX has just dropped looking like its ready to turn back the clock.
Ironically enough, the 2021 Acura TLX is something of a D-segment throwback, seeking to advance the segment while Ford will soon discontinue its only remaining luxury D-segment model – the Lincoln MKZ, pulling out of the space completely. As such, the TLX will continue to do battle with the likes of the BMW 3-Series, Mercedes-Benz C-Class, Audi A4, Infiniti Q50, Lexus IS and ES, Volvo S60, plus the Cadillac CT5.
By the looks of things, the new TLX is certainly out for blood, too. For starters, its styling draws inspiration from the well-received Type S concept, with its low roofline, wide stance, and stretched wheelbase. It’s a great-looking car, for sure, and a huge improvement on the outgoing model. But more importantly, the new TLX has lots of exciting things going on underneath all that attractive bodywork.
Acura calls the 2021 TLX ” the quickest, best-handling and most well-appointed sedan in the brand’s 35-year history.” And that’s saying a lot, given the fact the Type S models of the past have achieved cult-like status among the JDM crowd. And speaking of the Type S, the 2021 TLX marks that model’s return to the Acura brand after a decade-long absence.
The TLX Type S, arriving next spring, will be powered by an all-new Acura exclusive 3.0-liter DOHC direct-injected and turbocharged engine V6 engine, but Acura isn’t talking power yet. The TLX Type S will also be the first Type S model to feature Acura’s torque vectoring Super Handling All-Wheel Drive (SH-AWD) system.
Visual changes to the TLX Type S include an open-surface diamond pentagon grille, larger side air intakes, a rear decklid spoiler, aggressive front splitter and rear diffuser, and large quad exhaust outlets that hearken back to the 2007-2008 TL Type S.
Two exclusive 20-inch wheels designs will be offered – a split-10 spoke design from the Type S
Concept and an NSX-inspired lightweight “Y-Spoke” wheel, both wrapped in 255-series
performance rubber. The front brakes consist of larger rotors and four-piston Brembo calipers.
That’s exciting for Honda and Acura fans in general, of course, but the regular 2021 TLX is designed to be rather athletic itself. It will utilize a a high-output 2.0-liter VTEC turbocharged, direct-injected engine producing 272 horsepower and 280 pound-feet of torque. Both TLX engines will be backed up by a 10-speed automatic transmission with Sequential SportShift.
The 2021 TLX also employs Acura’s 4th-generation SH-AWD system, as well as a double-wishbone front suspension, variable-ratio steering system, electro-servo brake-by-wire technology derived from the NSX, and an available driver selectable Adaptive Damper System. Acura says that the new TLX is its most rigid car ever, save for the NSX. And even better, it’s going to start at a very reasonable price in the mid-$30,000, though exact pricing has yet to be announced.
2021 Acura TLX buyers will also be able to opt for the popular A-Spec sport package, which adds unique features including Shark Grey 19-inch wheels, gloss black accents in the front and rear, darkened headlight and taillight treatments, and a rear decklid spoiler.
“With this new TLX, we’re doubling down on what today’s sport sedan enthusiasts are asking for – a more stylish, personal and performance-focused driving experience,” said Jon Ikeda, vice president and Acura brand officer. “Our designers and engineers really took the gloves off, rethinking what an Acura sport sedan should be, right down to its most essential elements – stance, proportion, platform and powertrain. This is unquestionably our most ambitious redesign of an Acura sedan.”
The irony that Acura is building an all-new, enthusiast-focused sport sedan is simply mind-blowing given the fact that so many other automakers, Ford included, are running away from the segment. Personally, we hope the 2021 Acura TLX sells like hotcakes, forcing Ford to realize the err of its ways and get back to building exciting driver’s cars, just like the old days.