2021 Acura TLX Platinum Elite
Updated: Nov 30, 2021
Acura has been redefining itself in the past couple of years as a more stylish and sportier brand. It started in 2017 with the presentation of the technologically advanced NSX, and the aura of sportiness trickled down to their full-size sedan, the Acura TLX. The Platinum Elite is now the second the second-highest trim since earlier this year, since the legendary Type S nameplate came back in the lineup. Our test model has an MSRP of $51,805 and is manufactured in Marysville, OH.
On the outside, the TLX is bolder than the previous generation. The front grille is more pronounced, and the headlights unit has been reshaped and is more striking to keep on par with the trend in the luxury market. The rear part of the vehicle has also been revisited but isn't as eye-catching as the front. Overall, Acura had to distinguish their flagship sedan from the rest of the pack, and in our opinion, they achieved this quite well.
Inside, the designers inevitably had also to revamp the interior. They did this by adding wood to the dashboard. It was added in specific places and is a nice touch in an overall basic interior for a premium brand. Front seats are comfortable, and any driver can easily find a suitable driving position. To our unpleasant surprise, the rear seats are not as roomy as one might think by looking at the car outside. Headroom is okay; legroom is somewhat short, especially if the driver is sitting far back. Also, the ISOFIX ports aren't easily accessible, so it's a poor choice from Acura to give the TLX more trunk space than inside the cabin because the trunk is absolutely huge. It isn't a family hauler, but it's still a missed opportunity to make the car even more practical.
Tech-wise, the TLX is a tad disappointing. You will have a small screen flanked with both a physical tachometer and speedometer on the driver's side. The screen displays the basics such as fuel consumption and trip odometer, nothing else like a map or anything. It is starting to become a bit of a problem in a premium brand if the possibilities are limited to the most basic information. The most disappointing part is the central console; using the infotainment system is cumbersome and incredibly frustrating when the car is in motion. Not only is there no wireless Apple Carplay or Android Auto, but the screen isn't a touchscreen; you need to use the touchpad, which makes the whole screen and its overall use a pain in the butt. Acura tried to redeem themselves by adding a separate button to control the volume and skip tracks. Still, every other action has to be done via the pad, and it's just maybe the worse infotainment system in the car industry.
That being said, we appreciate that all climate controls aren't part of the terrible screen. They are slotted underneath it and are easy to use and the Japanese automaker perfectly executed this. Also, the big silver circle with the Acura logo is quite cool looking and emphasizes the car's dynamic feel. The weird Honda/Acura shifter is back on the TLX; it was a bold decision from the parent company Honda to use the exact same on a regular Honda Civic and on this premium sedan. We aren't sure if it is a cost-cutting measure or to tie the TLX with the rest of the big family; either way, we feel it takes back some aura of luxury tied to its price tag.
Performance-wise, our test model is powered by a 2.0L turbocharged 4-cylinder that produces 272 horsepower and 280 pound-feet of torque. The engine is coupled to a 10-speed automatic transmission, and power is distributed to all four wheels with the excellent SH-AWD system; stands for Super Handling All-Wheel Drive. The Acura TLX isn't the fastest vehicle in a straight line on the road, but the power offered is plentiful for highway and city driving. The car also feels light when going into curves, but the appearance of sportiness from the outside styling doesn't carry over to the actual driving. It's not all bad; the suspension wasn't too soft or harsh, making the driving experience feel premium. In Sport mode, the suspension is firmer, and the transmission will hold gears a bit longer but nothing crazy to report here. Fuel consumption is adequate, about 8L/100KM on the highway and 11L/100KM in the city. Overall, this is a car if you want a comfortable driving experience united with a bolder design.
The Acura TLX is a nice evolution from the first generation and is a step in the right direction. Now, how does it stack up against the Germans? Another party trick up its sleeve is its price; the sedan has a starting price of $44,105, about $20,000 less than any German rivals, so the car may not have all the latest technology. But at this price point, it's the most affordable way to get into luxury, and we have to congratulate Acura for such an aggressive pricing strategy. To give an idea, a fully equipped Mercedes-Benz E350 4Matic creeps up to almost $100,000, so a TLX Platinum Elite at $51,805 is a steal!
Check out our other Acura review of the RDX and of the MDX
Acura has lent us this vehicle one week as a press vehicle. We have no affiliation with Acura Canada. The above is a recollection of our personal opinion of the car referred above.