Whenever we have been given the opportunity to drive an Acura for a week, it always seems to come with and injection of mystique. There is just something about the automaker that sets them apart from other luxury brands; it is hard to put our finger on and may have something to do with their supercar NSX.
So it was for us as we anticipated the arrival of the all-new Acura TLX that has been redesigned for the 2021 model year basically from the ground up. There is a deep focus on performance in the new TLX that has come from the company’s second-generation NSX and a very concerted effort to return to motorsports completion.
Even though the new Acura arrived late in the evening after the sun had set in mid-November, the outlines and silhouette of the vehicle in our driveway were amazing and we couldn’t wait to get some dive time and view it in full sunlight!
Taking the TLX out that first night, however, was quite an experience in itself, as the exterior lighting is not all LED with both wrap-around headlights and tail lamps that give the vehicle a very aggressive or better yet performance-based look.
With the interior literally laced with red LED strip lights that curve around the cockpit and provide a very unique look in the dark, along with the beautiful deep maroon leather-clad seats, the mood is set and we loved every minute of out nighttime drives.
We had the opportunity on Sunday for a “Sunday Drive” down into Sanpete County for a visit to Utah Gov.-Elect Spencer Cox’s home to cover a group of folks protesting the wearing of masks out in front. If nothing else, the TLX got the entire crowd of 60-plus interested in something else for a short time.
We even heard the comment as we were driving away, “That is a very nice car.” Of course, the ride down was nothing short of outstanding with the plush leather seats that are both heated and cooled. We used the former most of the day as temperatures were hanging right around the mid 40s. About the only thing that we could have wanted would have been a heated steering wheel.
Again, we found the Acura to have one of the best Lane Keep Assist features that we have driven. It would keep us centered in the lane and, in conjunction with the adaptive cruise control, at the proper speed behind those in front of us.
We first encountered this technology five years ago in the same model as a new addition from the automaker. We were impressed then taking a trip to Moab in the TLX and it has gotten nothing but better since. It is so nice to have the car stay in the lane and be confident that the system will work flawlessly as it does in the Acura line.
The trip to Sanpete is all on two-lane roads and having this Acura Watch Safety system is a huge help on a drive like that, so kudos to the designers who keep making it better and better. This system also includes blind spot monitor, forward braking with pedestrian detection, and road departure mitigation, all standard features across the line.
Under the hood, the new Acura has changed quite a bit with the addition of a smaller 2.0-liter, direct-injection VTEC turbo, four-cylinder engine, down from the previous 2.4-liter, however with new horsepower numbers of 272 ponies. This is up considerably from the 209 it had in the previous model year.
Couple that with a 10-speed automatic transmission and the sedan really puts itself into the quick category, getting from 0 to 60 in just 6.1 seconds — pretty darn good for the mid-sized sedan. It is possible to spend more and get a slightly better time in some of the competition; however, we found the TLX to have plenty of get up and go!
Even with the smaller, more powerful motor, we were able to get a very nice 26.3 mpg for the week that consisted of mostly driving around town excepting our Sunday drive into Sanpete County, 2 better than the EPA has given the TLX.
The TLX comes with Acura’s new True Touchpad Interface that connects the user to the infotainment screen instead of having a touch screen installed. This device is somewhat like the setup in a Lexus where the user can swipe, pinch and move an icon about the screen to get the desired results (i.e., changing the radio station, setting navigation, that kind of thing).
Acura now accomplishes this through a touchpad located in the center console within easy reach for the driver. It functions like a touch screen by placing the cursor exactly on the screen where the driver puts his finger. This was kind of hard to get used to for the first few days, knowing that you had to move your finger to the right point in order to start.
We found ourselves wandering through the wrong stations, or menus until we really got the hand of it. It is an ingenious system and works well; it just takes some thought to get used to it and remembering how it works after being used to touching the screen on many of our other devices.
After a week, we were truly smitten with the new look, feel and drive of the newly redesigned Acura TLX.
Base price: $46,250
Price as driven: $46,250