A few months have handed since we took supply of our new 2021 Acura TLX A-Spec long-term tester, and the miles are beginning to pile on — the odometer simply clicked previous 6,000.
I used to be significantly desirous to get behind the wheel of our TLX, as my first go-round in Acura’s new sports activities sedan left me feeling good about the place Acura was headed with this automotive. That mentioned, I solely spent about an hour within the saddle throughout my first drive expertise, and that point was on unfamiliar roads. The stint I simply accomplished was a full month, and in that point I handled the TLX as if I owned it. A lot so, that I accomplished the identical mini street journey with it that I took in my 2001 Acura Integra GS-R final fall.
The vacation spot was southern Indiana, an surprising however heavenly place to check the dealing with of a automotive. Simply go south or east from Bloomington, Ind., on the squiggly traces you see on Google Maps. I promise you received’t be disenchanted. Photograph proof of each journeys beneath, together with my buddy’s Alfa Romeo Giulia(s).
The TLX was an absolute peach on the a whole lot of miles of winding pavement. Regardless of its BMW 5 Collection dimension, the TLX handles like a compact automotive. Its chassis is inflexible and unbending by each sort of nook. This isn’t the Kind S (neither is it an Advance trim with the adaptive dampers), however it’s all of the chassis you might need on a backroad. There’s sufficient give from the dampers to easy out the dangerous spots, however it’s dialed in to supply unwavering stability in huge weight transfers, too. Acura struck a contented steadiness.
Credit score for this automotive’s poise beneath stress on less-than-ideal roads also needs to be given to the brand new unbiased double wishbone entrance suspension design. You’ll be able to sense it checking out dips and adjustments within the street as you’re battling by a tough nook. The large 255-section-width tires keep confidently glued to the pavement, speaking grip ranges by the wheel and chassis as you go. The super-quick steering ratio from the brand new electrical rack does an honest job of simulating street really feel, however the very best half about it’s the rack’s sheer velocity. Acura takes full benefit of this sedan’s inflexible chassis with that fast, exact turn-in. It’s not fairly as quick because the Alfa Romeo Giulia’s energetic steering, however the finish result’s a automotive that adjustments course the second your mind decides it needs to.
What actually ties this automotive’s dealing with collectively is Acura’s torque-vectoring SH-AWD system. The most recent technology of this top-notch gear is now able to sending as a lot as 70% of obtainable torque to the rear axle and ranging 100% of that to both the left or proper rear wheels. Enter a nook; smash the go-pedal, and simply let SH-AWD determine it out. So long as you’re tracing the road precisely with the steering wheel, the torque distribution might be sorted out and preserve you lifeless set on the trail ahead earlier than supplying you with a slight wiggle of the rear as you come out of the nook. Only a few front-drive-based all-wheel-drive automobiles might be as participating and enjoyable to play with as this one. It doesn’t matter what you do, this TLX won’t ever really feel like a front-wheel-drive automotive.
As joyful as I used to be with the dealing with, I used to be almost equally as annoyed with the transmission. Acura’s 10-speed computerized within the TLX simply doesn’t carry out once you ask it to, and the issues appear largely software-based. Even with the automotive in Sport mode and the “S” transmission button pressed on the “PRNDL,” it’s helpless on a twisty street. Time and time once more, the automotive would shift up into greater gears once I did not need it to. That left me and the two.0-liter turbo-four out to dry round 2,000 rpm mid-corner or on nook exit, proper once you need the rpms to reap the benefits of the torque-vectoring AWD system.
Acura advised me on the launch that the shifting algorithm is basically primarily based on steering angle to see if it ought to be holding gears or not. It’s now abundantly clear that counting on that algorithm to work is inconsistent at greatest. The answer? Throw it into handbook mode. Acura’s paddle shifters are simply tremendous to make use of, and whereas the transmission is a step behind one thing just like the ZF eight-speed in a BMW Three Collection for velocity, it’s not sluggish or lackadaisical. Its downshifting logic is moderately good, too, as a result of if you happen to pull the paddle earlier than it’s secure to (learn: you’ll over-rev the engine), it’ll wait till you’ve braked to a sluggish sufficient velocity, then robotically set off the downshift with out a second paddle pull.
All the open pavement and abandoned again roads made me yearn for a extra characterful engine, too. Whereas the two.0-liter turbo makes good energy at 272 horsepower and 280 pound-feet of torque, it merely fails at being a enjoyable companion to wring out when the street invitations. Throttle response is uninteresting, and even if you find yourself hot-footing it, the automotive won’t ever really feel fast popping out of a nook at 30-plus mph. Its hefty 3,990-pound weight makes positive of that. The engine’s one saving grace is its sound, and partly (perhaps largely), the piped-in audio. Acura tunes in a correct growl to the cabin that intensifies in anger once you’re in Sport mode. It’s good at making you imagine the engine is extra voracious than its acceleration would possibly painting — mainly, it doesn’t sound like a vacuum cleaner. That mentioned, if I have been to (moderately unfairly) examine it to the noise my Integra makes at 8,100 rpm, I’d be yelling take me again!
All components added up, the TLX is an above-average sport sedan. It’s sensible when the street goes back-and-forth with out a break within the snaking, however the transmission is fast to frustrate, and the engine simply merely permits it to get by with sufficient energy to successfully feed its SH-AWD system. Nothing extra.
Above all else, it makes me ecstatic for the eventual Kind S that (in studying Acura’s at the moment obtainable press materials) has the potential to repair each unfastened snag or qualm I’ve with the A-Spec’s driving efficiency.
It is possible for you to to seek out all different posts on our Lengthy-Time period 2021 Acura TLX web page.