Already competitive with higher-priced sport-luxury sedans, the Acura TLX is all-new for 2021 boasting a more powerful, performance-focused compact sedan with a new profile aimed at keeping it Acura’s bestseller.
2021 Acura TLX SH-AWD Advance Review
Those awed by TLX’s good looks will also find a stylish, luxury-laden cabin with a newly designed, versatile Touchpad mitigating twitchiness found searching for functions in competitors like Lexus or BMW.
It increases the driver’s ability to keep eyes on the road while identifying customized icons. Where you touch the center spine Touchpad is where you can relocate your most frequently used icons on the 10.2-inch dashboard screen.
The 2021 Acura TLX is now longer, wider, lower, extended in the wheelbase, and riding on bigger 19-inch wheels wearing all-season Michelin tires on a more rigid body frame.
Acura’s former TL that became the TLX is the brand’s best-selling sedan with a resale value after five years near 50% of the purchase price, according to industry analysts.
Behind the wheel (we tested the 2021 TLX SH-AWD Advance, top of eight TLX trims with no options) the new Super Handling-All Wheel Drive was stunningly smooth, distributing power accurately to wheels in need, helped by a new double-wishbone front suspension.
The more powerful 2.0-liter turbo 4-cylinder engine delivered ample get-up-and-go, either from a stop or underway, ready to compete against BMW, Audi, Mercedes or Lexus in the same automotive niche.
Standard in the Advance trim are Tech and Advance packages (options in lower trims) and AccuraWatch. They included comfort features, driver aids, and top-notch cutting-edge driver safety features, including driver attention monitoring, traffic-sign recognition, and low-speed dynamic cruise control for traffic jams.
The TLX has the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety’s best crash safety rating.
The luxuriously appointed cabin combines aluminum, open-pore wood, and topstitched Milano leather with other top-grade materials.
A 7-inch gauge and info display under an extended cowl include ambient lighting with 27 color themes, three corresponding to Comfort, Normal, and Sport driving modes – all beautiful at night. The heads-up display is legible while wearing sunglasses, a rarity.
There are no extra knick-knack spaces in the cabin.
The rear seat is uncomfortably tight for big adults and the trunk lid automatically opens but closes manually. There is a tire mobility kit in the 13.5 cubic foot trunk.
Sun visors are excellent.
At a Glance
LIKES: Looks, price, power, handling, ride, safety features, audio, driver visibility, value, fun to drive
DISLIKES: Tight rear seating, sparse knick-knack spaces, manual trunk lid close
BOTTOM LINE: Sure to make inroads against competition as reputation swells with 2021 improvements
Fact File: 2021 Acura TLX SH-AWD Advance
75.2 inches, w/out mirrors
2.0 liters, turbocharged, DOHC, inline-4, direct fuel injection
272 hp at 6,500 rpm
280 ft.-lbs. at 1,600 rpm
10-speed automatic, manual paddles
21 mpg city/29 mpg hwy
15.9-gallons, premium gas
0-60 in just over 6 seconds
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Tom Crosby has written more than 1,000 automotive reviews and is a retired Vice President of Communications for AAA Carolinas. He has seen dramatic changes in the automotive industry over the past 25 years and ponders the advent of self-driving vehicles, electric-only vehicles, sophisticated in-car telematics, and the financial challenges facing automotive manufacturers in an increasingly congested worldwide market.