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 desperate 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 car. That stated, 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 highway journey with it that I took in my 2001 Acura Integra GS-R final fall.
The vacation spot was southern Indiana, an sudden however heavenly place to test the dealing with of a car. Simply go south or east from Bloomington, Ind., on the squiggly traces you see on Google Maps. I promise you gained’t be disillusioned. Picture proof of each journeys under, together with my good friend’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 Sequence size, the TLX handles like a compact car. Its chassis is inflexible and unbending via 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 could possibly need on a backroad. There’s sufficient give from the dampers to easy out the unhealthy spots, however it’s dialed in to supply unwavering stability in huge weight transfers, too. Acura struck a contented steadiness.
Credit score for this car’s poise below stress on less-than-ideal roads must also be given to the brand new unbiased double wishbone entrance suspension design. You possibly can sense it finding out dips and modifications within the highway as you’re battling via a tough nook. The massive 255-section-width tires keep confidently glued to the pavement, speaking grip ranges via the wheel and chassis as you go. The super-quick steering ratio from the brand new electric rack does an honest job of simulating highway really feel, however the best half about it is the rack’s sheer pace. 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 is a car that modifications route the second your mind decides it desires to.
What actually ties this car’s dealing with collectively is Acura’s torque-vectoring SH-AWD system. The most recent era of this top-notch tools is now able to sending as a lot as 70% of accessible 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 providing you with a slight wiggle of the rear as you come out of the nook. Only a few front-drive-based all-wheel-drive vehicles might be as partaking 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 car.
As completely happy as I used to be with the dealing with, I used to be almost equally as pissed off with the transmission. Acura’s 10-speed automated within the TLX simply doesn’t carry out if you ask it to, and the issues appear largely software-based. Even with the car in Sport mode and the “S” transmission button pressed on the “PRNDL,” it’s helpless on a twisty highway. Time and time once more, the car would shift up into greater gears once I did not need it to. That left me and the two.0-liter turbo-four frolicked to dry round 2,000 rpm mid-corner or on nook exit, proper if you need the rpms to benefit from the torque-vectoring AWD system.
Acura instructed me on the launch that the shifting algorithm is essentially based mostly on steering angle to see if it must be holding gears or not. It’s now abundantly clear that counting on that algorithm to work is inconsistent at best. 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 3 Sequence for pace, it’s not sluggish or lackadaisical. Its downshifting logic is moderately smart, too, as a result of in the event you pull the paddle earlier than it’s protected to (learn: you’ll over-rev the engine), it’ll wait till you’ve braked to a sluggish sufficient pace, then routinely set off the downshift with no 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 highway invitations. Throttle response is boring, and even when you’re hot-footing it, the car won’t ever really feel fast popping out of a nook at 30-plus mph. Its hefty 3,990-pound weight makes certain of that. The engine’s one saving grace is its sound, and partly (possibly largely), the piped-in audio. Acura tunes in a correct growl to the cabin that intensifies in anger if you’re in Sport mode. It’s good at making you consider the engine is extra voracious than its acceleration would possibly painting — principally, it doesn’t sound like a vacuum cleaner. That stated, if I have been to (moderately unfairly) evaluate it to the noise my Integra makes at 8,100 rpm, I’d be yelling take me again!
All parts added up, the TLX is an above-average sport sedan. It’s good when the highway goes back-and-forth with no 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 presently 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 Long-Term 2021 Acura TLX web page.
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