Acura revealed the quickest, best-handling and most well-appointed sedan in the brand’s 35-year history – the all-new 2021 Acura TLX.
With a model-exclusive body structure and chassis architecture, all turbo engine lineup, and an athletic stance with bold proportions, the new TLX delivers dramatic gains in both style and dynamic performance.
The first Acura sedan fully designed around the brand’s Precision Crafted Performance ethos, the 2021 TLX will arrive at dealerships early this fall with a manufacturer suggested retail price (MSRP) starting in the low $40,000 range.
The second-generation TLX also marks the anticipated return of Acura’s Type S high performance variant after a decade-long hiatus. The TLX Type S, arriving next spring, will be powered by an all-new Acura exclusive 3.0-litre turbocharged V6 engine developed for Type S levels of performance.
Additionally, the new TLX Type S will be the first Type S model to feature Acura’s torque vectoring Super Handling All-Wheel Drive (SH-AWD) system, making it the best handling and most performance-oriented Acura sedan yet.
In fulfilling its mission as a modern sport sedan, the 2021 TLX integrates a multitude of performance, comfort and connectivity technologies first deployed on the successful third-generation Acura RDX.
These include a high-output 2.0-litre VTEC turbocharged engine, 4th-generation SH-AWD system, available award-winning Acura ELS STUDIO 3D premium audio and the latest iteration of Acura’s driver-focused True Touchpad Interface.
With this next generation TLX, our goal was to build the best overall performing Acura sedan, ever!
– Emile Korkor, Assistant Vice President of Acura Sales and Marketing.
We made our name in the performance sedan business and this is why we are doubling down to continue the brand resurgence sparked by the Acura RDX.”
The 2021 TLX features an athletic and powerful exterior design with proportions, stance and silhouette heavily influenced by the Acura Precision Concept and faithfully translated from the Type S Concept.
The new TLX’s performance intentions are conveyed through its low and wide stance, long dash-to-axle ratio, expansive hood, tapered greenhouse and pronounced rear haunches.
Relative to the previous model, the new TLX features a 94mm longer wheelbase, 56mm wider body with wider front and rear tracks (+30.5mm and +41mm, respectively), lower roof (-15mm) and an extended dash-to-axle dimension (+198mm).
At the front, a bolder and more upright diamond pentagon grille is flanked by signature, next-generation Acura lighting cues previewed in the Type S Concept.
These include new Jewel Eye LED headlights with four LED elements and bright-white “Chicane” LED daytime running lights inspired by the championship-winning Acura ARX-05 Daytona Prototype race car.
The sedan’s sleek and dynamic side profile uses sheer, angled surfaces to create strong light-and-shadow contrasts and to accentuate the sedan’s muscular rear wheel arches, which lead into a rear section featuring a shorter overhang, upswept rear decklid, “Chicane” LED taillights and exposed dual exhaust outlets.
The neatly tailored cabin section is set farther back on the body and features more steeply inward-sloping roof pillars to further emphasize the TLX’s muscular low and wide stance.
The roof itself has been sculpted with a lower-set centre section, defined by two inward curving grooves, for a more distinctive look that conveys a sense of movement and lower appearance.
A-Spec: Sport package
Acura’s highly popular A-Spec sport package continues, adding distinctive sport appearance upgrades inside and out. Unique exterior A-Spec features includes Shark Grey 19-inch wheels, gloss black accents front to rear, darkened headlight and taillight treatment, and a pronounced rear decklid spoiler.
Type S: High performance variant
Arriving spring 2021, the TLX Type S builds upon the A-Spec styling elements, elevating TLX’s sporty appearance even further. At the front, a unique open-surface Diamond Pentagon grille and larger side air intakes feed an all-new powerful V6 turbo engine developed for Acura Type S models.
Aerodynamic elements include a rear decklid spoiler, aggressive front splitter and rear diffuser, and large quad exhaust outlets that harken back to the 2007-2008 TL Type S. Exclusive 20-inch wheels will be offered, wrapped in 255-series performance rubber. More details on the TLX Type S will be released closer to its on-sale date in the spring of 2021.
Exclusive new body and chassis
The 2021 TLX is a sport sedan at its core, built on a new dedicated Acura sedan platform designed for Type S-levels of performance. The new chassis heralds the return of double wishbone front suspension to Acura’s top-selling sedan, offering more precise handling and cornering grip, as well as greater mechanical compliance for improved ride quality.
In addition, the TLX chassis incorporates multiple new performance-focused engineering upgrades, including a variable-ratio steering system, electro-servo brake-by-wire technology applied from the NSX and an available driver selectable Adaptive Damper System.
The TLX’s all-new chassis is anchored to an advanced new body structure — NSX aside, the most rigid ever offered on an Acura vehicle— delivering a 50 percent increase in global torsional stiffness and up to a 100 percent improvement in localized rigidity where the suspension is mounted to the body.
The new structure uses 56 percent (by weight) advanced, lightweight materials, including aluminum and press-hardened steel, more than any previous Acura sedan.
An ultra-rigid new centre tunnel serves as the backbone of the TLX’s higher structural rigidity, complimented by triangulated front shock tower bars, front and rear underfloor braces, a one-piece rear bulkhead stiffener and new cast-aluminum front shock tower mounts.
Front-to-rear weight balance is also improved by an extensive use of aluminum, including the front bumper, hood, front fenders and front damper mounts, in addition to locating the 12-volt battery in the trunk.
NSX electro-servo brakes
First developed for the second-generation NSX, the new TLX utilizes a highly sophisticated electric-servo brake system. This system allowed Acura engineers to finely tune the brake pedal force and electronically control the brake pressure to optimize the vehicle’s performance driving characteristics.
For the TLX Type S, multiple hardware upgrades will improve braking performance, including larger discs and four-piston Brembo front calipers complemented by performance-focused tuning of the entire braking system.
Wheels and tires
The TLX’s athletic stance is grounded by larger standard 18-inch (+1-in.) wheels and available 19-inch wheels in various finishes, depending on trim. Performance-tuned 255-series rubber provides 20 percent more lateral grip than the outgoing tires.
TLX Type S models will be equipped with sporty 20-inch wheels. A high-performance summer tire will be available, increasing grip while reducing unsprung mass.
Two high-output turbo powertrains
The new TLX will offer two, powerful and high-torque turbocharged engines. Standard power comes from a 2.0-litre DOHC, direct-injected and turbocharged engine with VTEC, mated to Acura’s incredibly responsive 10-speed automatic transmission with Sequential SportShift.
With peak output of 272 horsepower and 280 lb.-ft. of torque (SAE Net), the TLX’s 2.0- litre turbo boasts the highest horsepower in its core competitive set, delivering dramatic gains in horsepower (+66) and torque (+98 lb.-ft. at peak, +123 lb.-ft. at 1,500 rpm) when compared to the previous model’s naturally aspirated 2.4-litre 4-cylinder.
Compared to the previous TLX’s optional 3.5-litre V6, the new 2.0-litre turbo delivers an additional 13 lb.-ft. of peak torque, as well as an additional 48 lb.-ft. at 1,500 rpm.
When it arrives in spring 2021, the TLX Type S will deliver power from an all-new 3.0-litre, 24-valve, DOHC direct-injected and turbocharged engine developed by some of the company’s most experienced powertrain engineers, including members of the team that developed the NSX’s bespoke twin-turbocharged V6 hybrid power unit.
The new transverse-mounted V6 will be highly compact and lightweight, utilizing a dual scroll turbocharger and electronic wastegate to deliver immediate, high-torque response. Compared to the outgoing, naturally aspirated 3.5-litre V6, the new engine delivers dramatic gains in peak horsepower and, more critically, in torque, across the engine’s full operating range, including a more than 50-percent increase in low-end torque.
Final specifications for the new engine, including power output, will be released closer to launch timing.
Acura’s 10-speed automatic, with Sequential SportShift and standard paddle shifters, takes full advantage of both turbocharged engines’ high-torque output, offering a wider ratio range, more discrete gears, four-gear direct downshifts and a lower first gear compared to the previous 8-speed dual-clutch and 9-speed automatic transmissions.
Type S models will receive unique transmission tuning to provide an aggressive and responsive characteristic during performance driving scenarios.
Torque vectoring SH-AWD
Superior handling capabilities are now standard on all TLX models with the rear-biased Super Handling All-Wheel Drive™ (SH-AWD), Acura’s industry-leading torque-vectoring all-wheel drive technology.
SH-AWD is offered as standard equipment on the 2.0-litre TLX and on the TLX Type S, the first Type S model to feature all-wheel drive.
Acura’s 4th-generation SH-AWD system has 40 percent more rear torque capacity and 30 percent quicker front-to-rear torque transfer than the 3rd-generation system in the outgoing TLX.
The Acura SH-AWD system in the new TLX transfers up to 70 percent of engine torque to the rear axle during normal driving conditions, while continuously apportioning up to 100 percent of that rear-axle torque between either the left and right rear wheels.
Additionally, the rear axle is continuously overdriven by 2.9 percent, which amplifies the yaw moment effect of left-to-right torque transfer, elevating performance through sharper and more accurate turn-in, and improved traceability when cornering.
Driver-focused, premium cockpit design
The 2021 TLX’s more premium, personal and tech-focused cabin takes inspiration from the Acura Precision Cockpit’s intuitive functionality and flowing lines.
Designed around the desires of today’s luxury sport sedan enthusiasts, the TLX is tastefully appointed with available authentic, high-grade materials including real aluminum, open-pore wood and full-grain Milano leather.
Developed under the theme of “Dual Personal Cockpit,” the sedan’s new, more luxurious interior places a strong emphasis on the driver and front-seat passenger.
The TLX’s high and wide centre tunnel and wrap-around instrument panel create a more personal and strongly delineated space for both front-seat occupants, while its wider body design enables true first-class seating comfort for both, with top-of-class hip and shoulder room (+. 13mm and +18mm , respectively).
Both the driver and front passenger also benefit from the tailored design of Acura’s advanced front sport seats, highly customizable with up to 16-way power adjustability available.
For the driver, a stout leather-wrapped steering wheel, clean and clear instrumentation, and improved forward visibility serve as the foundations for an in-command and exhilarating driving experience.
A-Spec and Type S models feature unique details throughout the cabin, including a thick-rimmed, flat-bottom steering wheel wrapped in perforated leather with contrast stitching and larger metal-plated paddle shifters.
In addition to unique materials and colours, the TLX Type S interior is distinguished by Type S badging on the door sills, steering wheel and embossed headrests.
Intuitive technology and connectivity
The 2021 TLX also incorporates a full array of Acura technologies designed for enhanced comfort, connectivity and audio entertainment, starting with a new implementation of Acura’s innovative and driver-oriented True Touchpad Interface.
This system features a high-mounted 10.2-inch HD display and a console mounted touchpad with “Absolute Position” mapping. For more intuitive control, the TLX’s upgraded interface features physical Power, Volume and Seek controls positioned within easy reach to the immediate right of the touchpad.
Utilizing the latest True Touchpad Interface software, the TLX offers more accurate swipe zones and handwriting recognition, as well as other performance enhancements. In addition, an ergonomically friendly wrist rest provides an anchor point for operation of the touchpad.
The 2021 TLX features a standard 7-inch full-colour Multi-Information Display (MID) in the centre gauge cluster and an available 10.5-inch full-colour Head-Up Display (HUD).
The available award winning Acura ELS STUDIO 3D premium audio system features four ultra-slim Highline ceiling-mounted speakers as well as a new Twin Telford subwoofer design.
The new TLX also features the latest generation of AcuraLink™ with in-vehicle 4GLTE Wi-Fi, over-the-air software update capability and a wide array of available cloud-based services, including emergency roadside assistance, remote locking/unlocking and engine start, stolen vehicle tracking, remote diagnostics, geofencing, speed tracking and Acura concierge services.
Colours and trims
The new TLX will feature an expanded colour palette with nine exterior finishes including five premium colours. New to the TLX for 2021 is a distinguished Phantom Violet Pearl. The TLX Type S will be offered in an exclusive, bold Tiger Eye Pearl. Apex Blue Pearl, previously available only on A-Spec models, will be added to the Type S catalog.
A total of seven interior colour options will be offered on the 2021 TLX. Ebony, Espresso, Graystone and Parchment will be offered on the standard TLX models, depending on trim. TLX ASpec and TLX Type S models will feature either Ebony or Red Leather, both with black Ultrasuede inserts.
Additionally, the TLX Type S will offer an exclusive Light Orchid leather interior option.
Further enhancing the driving environment, the new TLX features available ambient LED lighting throughout the cabin.
The new system provides a unique interior ambient lighting scheme that changes with each driving mode (Comfort, Normal, Sport), as well as 24 selectable interior lighting schemes, each named after an iconic performance driving destination or track, such as “Pacific Coast” and “Suzuka”.
Customizable driving performance
The 2021 TLX provides for a more versatile and personalized driving experience through the use of Acura’s Integrated Dynamics System, now featuring an Individual Mode. As before, the system integrates a multitude of powertrain and chassis systems, accessed via the drive mode dial prominently positioned on the centre console.
Comfort, Normal and Sport modes (and Sport+ on TLX Type S) incrementally dial up the sporting reflexes of the TLX using pre-set programs for the Drive-By-Wire throttle, transmission, SH-AWD, electric power steering, available Adaptive Dampers and more.
An Acura-first, the 2021 TLX will feature an Individual Mode, activated by pushing the Acura logo at the centre of the drive mode dial. The new Individual Mode provides for discrete control of all the same features, enabling the driver to choose their preferred individual settings for each element of system control.
Advanced safety and driver-assistive technologies
All 2021 TLX models will come equipped with the AcuraWatch suite of advanced safety and driver-assistive technologies standard. This includes several new features, such as Traffic Sign Recognition (TSR), Driver Awareness Monitor and Traffic Jam Assist (TJA).
Working in conjunction with Adaptive Cruise Control with Low Speed Follow, Traffic Jam Assist helps reduce driver stress in highly congested traffic situations by helping keep the vehicle in its lane and at a set interval behind a car detected ahead.
Additionally, the 2021 TLX features the first-ever application of the company’s new front passenger airbag technology.
This new proprietary airbag uses a three-chamber design that functions much like a baseball catcher’s mitt, designed to more effectively cradle, and helping to protect the front seat occupant’s head to help mitigate potential injury in more steeply angled frontal collisions.
The new TLX also delivers advanced levels of passive safety (collision protection) performance through the use of Acura’s proprietary Advanced Compatibility Engineering (ACE) body structure, which has been further refined to provide additional occupant protection in a wider range of collision scenarios.
Additional structural safety features include ultra-high-strength-steel one-piece door rings and an ultra-stiff center tunnel that helps optimize the absorption and direction of collision forces around the cabin.
Design, development and manufacturing
Design, engineering and development of the 2021 Acura TLX was conducted primarily in America.
Styling was led by Acura Design in Torrance, Calif., while full platform development was led by engineers in the company’s development center in Raymond, Ohio. Engineering development of the new 3.0-litre turbocharged V6 was led by the company’s R&D center in Tochigi, Japan.
The new TLX will be manufactured exclusively at the company’s Marysville, Ohio, plant using domestic and globally sourced parts. The TLX’s 2.0-litre and 3.0-litre turbocharged engines will be produced exclusively at the company’s Anna, Ohio, engine plant, also home to the twin-turbocharged V6 hybrid power unit in the Acura NSX supercar.
The 10-speed automatic transmission will be manufactured exclusively at the company’s Tallapoosa, Georgia, plant, and the SH-AWD system’s front power takeoff unit and rear differential will be manufactured in the company’s Russells Point, Ohio, plant.
2021 TLX delivers on the muscular design and proportions previewed in the Type S Concept with a wide stance, low roofline and stretched wheelbase.
With a standard 2.0-litre Turbo, TLX offers top of class power with 66 more horsepower and nearly 100 lbs.-ft. more torque than the outgoing entry engine.
Ultra-rigid new body structure and advanced new chassis with double wishbone front suspension sharpens the reflexes of Acura’s top-selling sedan.
Arriving Spring 2021, TLX Type S debuts Acura’s new 3.0-litre V6 Turbo engine and a first-for-Type S, Super Handling All-Wheel Drive.