When the all-new 2021 Acura TLX Advance arrived at my doorstep I was knocked out by its dramatic new styling and the genuinely athletic stance it has. It looks larger, more expensive and more credible as a luxury sedan to say the least.
My Advance AWD tester was a good middle ground in the trim and pricing schemes of all, coming in at $49,325 and at that price sporting a lot of good stuff like LED headlamps, tail lamps, big dual exhaust tips (real I might add) and some handsome looking 19-inch alloys.
Built on what Acura says is an exclusive platform architecture, the TLX is now the flagship sedan. It looks a good deal larger because it is, getting a 3.7-inch longer wheelbase, 2.2-inches of extra width and additional length of about 3-inches.
The new body structure gets the latest high-grade steel construction techniques for a stiffer stronger way and lightweight components like cast aluminum shock towers and vast use of aluminum suspension components.
These include the return of a double-wishbone front suspension to offer up better handling and precision in its feel from better wheel control. A multi-link rear suspension and adjustable dampers by way of its drive modes are included as well.
Under the hood of our TLX is a high-output 2.0-liter VTEC turbo mated to a 10-speed automatic transmission. With 272 horsepower and 280 pound-feet of torque through all-wheel drive it provided a good push in the back for a base engine.
Power is delivered impressively through the 10-speed automatic much as we found in the Honda Accord Sport last year. The sound is aggressive and fits the personality of the car but the annoying engine auto-start-stop system could really have been left the hell out of the picture.
Handling was sharp and tight in its steering feel and indeed the new body structure felt solid as if it had been carved from a single block of steel. It was quiet and composed at speed with little wind noise to speak of.
The tuning of the adaptive dampers really needs some work however. On all but the Sport drive mode it floats, wallows and boats around like a Buick Regal from the 1980’s, something very unexpected in something from Acura. On Sport, it was almost to non-compliant. There was no happy medium.
At least the new cabin is rich with well done design and execution that is more in keeping with its luxury character casting than ever. Fine materials surround you from leathers to woods, forms are artistic and the seating exceptional.
The infotainment system functionality and sound quality was excellent, its menus well laid out and organized as they mimic most Honda vehicles. What was absolutely awful was its console mounted finger pad to navigate it all.
Utilizing what Acura calls “absolute positioning”, there is no cursor but a way of finger pointing that seems different for the sake of being different, difficult to manage from behind the wheel while driving and requiring way too much attention from the road.
Acura actually sent me a video ahead of my test drive to learn how to use it. Acura, if it requires a prerequisite class to figure out and use, it’s a fail. Put some knobs and a touch screen back in. Your customers will thank you.
The new 2021 Acura TLX is built in Marysville, Ohio and in spite of this, quality fit and finish was exquisite. In my finally thoughts I found that the TLX is very much unique in its class and stands out with its own personality marching to its own drummer. It’s not going to at all be accused of copying anyone.