Acura TLX: Motor Authority Best Car To Buy 2021 nominee

The Acura TLX and the TL before it have always been higher-end versions of the Honda Accord, with varying degrees of success in making the leap to luxury car. Acura rethinks that formula for 2021 by giving the TLX a platform of its own, a strong turbo-4, and a sportier, more attractive design. That strategy earned it a finalist spot in Motor Authority‘s Best Car To Buy 2021 competition.

The most obvious changes for the new TLX are in the looks department, where a 7.8-inch stretch between the dash and the front axle gives the car the sharper proportions of a rear-drive sedan. The car is also longer, lower, and wider, with a well-integrated shield-like grille and flowing fender haunches that all conspire to create a sportier vibe than we’ve seen since the Legend in the 1990s.

2021 Acura TLX A-Spec SH-AWD

2021 Acura TLX A-Spec SH-AWD

2021 Acura TLX A-Spec SH-AWD

2021 Acura TLX A-Spec SH-AWD

2021 Acura TLX A-Spec SH-AWD

2021 Acura TLX A-Spec SH-AWD

Acura goes for sporty handling and emotional performance as well. The new platform returns to a double-wishbone front suspension that Acura says provides a better tire contact patch. For the first time, the company also offers adaptive dampers on the Advanced model to balance ride and handling. A further boon to handling is Acura’s Super Handling All Wheel Drive system that can send 70% of the available power to the rear axle and all of the rear-axle torque to the outside wheel in turns to give what is otherwise a front-drive car the feel of a rear driver.

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The changes create playful, spirited handling with quick steering and minimal body lean. While the new 57/43 front/rear weight balance is an improvement, it’s still not as balanced as rivals like the BMW 3- and 5-Series and that means it won’t rotate as well during aggressive cornering.

A new 2.0-liter turbo-4 base engine replaces both a naturally aspirated 4-cylinder and a V-6. It’s a vast improvement over the previous 4-cylinder and its 272 horsepower and 280 pound-feet of torque are about a match for the V-6 though with better fuel economy. Acura injects some emotion into the engine by bringing the sound forward and enhancing it in some modes. It’s not a particularly rich sound and some buyers will find it too loud. They won’t be disappointed with the engine’s performance, as the 0-60 mph run should take about six seconds. We’re also looking forward to the 354-hp Type S model due next year, which should drop the 0-60 mph times into the four-second range.

The TLX’s playful power and sharp moves are complimented by a higher quality cabin with color palettes that range from sporty red and black to serene white and tan. Materials match German rivals, but it takes time to learn how to control the infotainment system with its haptic touchpad.

Sleeker, sportier, and more luxurious, the new TLX elevates Acura to a more premium position in the market. The TLX is now a worthy alternative to the German competitors it emulates and at a better price.

Will that propel the TLX to become Motor Authority‘s Best Car To Buy 2021? Check back on Jan. 4 when we reveal our winner, along with the champs from our sister sites, The Car Connection and Green Car Reports.

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