2021 Acura TLX Review: Stylish and sporty, with lots of bang for the buck

The Acura TLX offers buyers a good time behind the wheel and true premium appointments.

Photo courtesy of Acura

The Honda Accord is a really decent car. It's perennially one of the top sellers in the U.S., and for good reason. But, sometimes the Accord isn't enough. That's where the Acura TLX comes in.

Acura has completely redesigned the TLX for the 2021 model year. It's made the car into a sharp-looking and better handling machine that is designed to remind buyers what Acura was all about in its 1990s and 2000s heyday. One quick trip around the neighborhood will show you that it achieves that, in spades. A longer trip will make you realize that it's okay to say "no" buying an SUV.

2021 Acura TLX Advance Diving the TLX is a pleasure. It's both comfortable to be in and engaging to toss around on the road.Photo courtesy of Acura

2021 Acura TLX Advance

The exterior of the car looks good. It has LEDs in the right places for its premium price point and styling that makes it stand out (for all the right reasons) more than it blends in. The car is athletic in its state and a bit moody and aggressive while fitting in with the rest of the Acura family, which includes the redesigned 2022 MDX. Every bit of that is a positive.

The TLX is longer, wider, and taller than the Accord by a few inches in each direction.

The suggestion of performance extends from the outside to the inside though the cabin does not set aside the comfort and convenience features one typically wants from a sedan for the weight-saving suede substitute upholstery or unique and different-just-to-be-different knobs, dials, and buttons that make operation more complicated than it needs to be. The TLX is more than properly trimmed out for its price point.

One of the best features of the TLX is its space. The waterfall dashboard design gives the front passenger the illusion of having more space to occupy in front of them. There is more passenger volume in the 2021 TLX versus the 2020 - slightly more room - and all other -room metrics are nearly the same from the old generation to the next. The Accord has more headroom, three cubic feet more cargo space, and nearly 10 cubic feet more passenger space.

The TLX is longer, wider, and taller than the Accord.Photo courtesy of Acura

The center console's side bolsters, with their interiors accented in real wood add to the premium look and feel of the vehicle in an unexpected way. Between those bolsters are the Acura's climate controls. They are button-operated and match what is in the RDX and MDX. They're not as fancy as what you'll find in a luxury car, but for the premium segment, they're attractive enough and extremely easy to use, which makes them winners.

Putting the Dynamic Mode drive mode selector front and center in the TLX, RDX, and MDX makes it easy to use and puts it front of mind. The shifter being directly under it frees up center console space, a logical layout that is an equal part practical.

Speaking of dynamic, the TLX is a dynamic dream, for a non-sports car. While the tester was not the TLX Type S (that super sporty variant is coming later this year), it does have quite a bit of dynamic difference form the Accord. The TLX with all-wheel drive grips the road, even when you're pushing the limits of what it can handle.

Steering is accurate and properly weighted, and allows the car to easily go where you want it. The TLX takes corners with ease and little body lean. There's no need for super bolstered seats as the TLX doesn't toss you around unless you make it.

The car's waterfall dashboard gives the interior a spacious feeling.Photo courtesy of Acura

Acceleration from its 2.0--liter turbo-four is plenty for daily drivability, and even when you want to go have a riot behind the wheel on the weekend. The engine is paired with a 10-speed automatic transmission that delivers the 272 horsepower and 280 pound-feet of torque smoothly and relatively efficiently. Changing to the Sport drive model gives the TLX noticeably shorter shifts and changes up the throttle response and damping capability, and tightens up the steering. It's a proper Sport mode.

While you're at speed, or idling, there's a lot to take in on the driver's information display. Smartly, Acura has put the necessary information front and center. If you're looking for your trip meter, fuel efficiency, or odometer information, you're doing to need to look to the smaller area of the screen. While you might strain your eyes to see it, you don't really need the info displayed there on-the-go.

There are folks out there that complain about the Acura touch interface for the infotainment system controls. Spend some time with them and sincerely get to know them and they suddenly become incredibly easy to use. Just remember, unlike a mouse, there's no swiping to move the selector. It's a touch-for-touch system like on an iPad.

The touch pad interface and wireless device charging are well placed.Photo courtesy of Acura

The space where Acura has elected to fit the wireless device charger is also its own type of genius. It's below the center console bump out wrist rest for the touch interface, which holds it in place when carving corners, and keeps it close enough to the driver that you can look down and see what alert has popped up if you're not using Apple CarPlay or Android Auto at the time.

Acura's long list of standard and available safety and driver assist features help keep you going down the road without nagging. The car also has Acura's new airbag technology for the front seat passenger.

Pricing for the TLX starts at $37,500. As tested, the car was nearly $50,000. The TLX blows away its closest premium competition by a mile. Maybe more. It's also a lot better at $48,000 than what you'll find in many other luxury cars for the same price.

Most importantly though, Acura has put significant daylight between its Honda brother, not just in price, but also in materials, drivability, maneuverability, and design. That's a big step in the right direction for the brand.

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New sports car

The Acura Integra is coming back in 2022

This is all we know about the new Integra's styling.

Acura

Secrets are hard to keep these days. It seems like new products always end up being leaked by one of the hundreds of people involved in the development process, to the point that even the most secretive companies have a hard time unveiling a product that people don't already know about. That wasn't the case this week, though. After announcing the final version of its NSX supercar at Monterey Car Week, Acura took to the skies with an impressive drone show that eventually spelled out a message no one expected to see: The Integra is coming back in 2022.



The original car launched in 1986, and its legend grew over time. After accumulating dozens of awards and spawning an entire industry around customizing and enhancing the Integra, Honda and Acura discontinued the car in 2001. We saw a successor to the crown in the Acura RSX for a few short years afterward, but it's been 15 years since a small, tossable sports car has graced the Acura catalog. Granted, Honda has been on a tear with the Civic Si and Civic Type-R, but there has been a hole in the Acura lineup for some time now.


Acura Integra The original Integra is the stuff of legend.Acura


Waiting is the hardest part, as they say. Other than the gorgeous drone display and tantalizingly mysterious teaser photo, we know nothing, which is a difficult spot to be as a car enthusiast. There are a few details, though. The car will return in 2022 as a "compact premium entrant," according to the press release. Company VP and Acura Brand Officer Jon Ikeda also said that the car is "returning to the Acura lineup with the same fun-to-drive spirit and DNA of the original, fulfilling our commitment to Precision Crafted Performance in every way – design, performance and the overall driving experience."

Given parent company Honda's success with performance versions of the Civic, we're optimistic that the 2022 Integra will put its compact dimensions to good use on the road and on the track. We'll have to be patient, though, because official details won't become available until closer to the car's introduction in 2022.


2022 Acura Integra Acura shared the new Integra's logo.Acura

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All-new SUV

2022 Acura MDX Review

The MDX is all-new for 2022.

Acura

Acura is an interesting company. Its vehicles have long been sort of an afterthought compared to Japanese luxury heavy-hitter Lexus, but the brand offers a sporty, upscale alternative to the plush rollers from elsewhere in the country. The MDX is Acura's flagship vehicle, and though it skipped the 2021 model year altogether, the vehicle that landed for 2022 is worth the wait.

I spent a week testing the 2022 MDX, putting it through its paces, first as a family SUV, and then as a sporty alternative to other traditional luxury options. I liked the previous MDX, but found its infotainment to be too complicated and its third-row seats to be too cramped. The SUV's latest iteration addresses those problems and more – at least partially. Let's take a look at what's what.

2022 Acura MDX Features and Driving Impressions

The MDX starts at just under $47,000, and reaches just over $60,000 in its top Advance Package. My test vehicle landed at the top end of that spectrum, but the base MDX's list of features will likely be enough to make most people happy. The standard 12.3-inch infotainment screen, digital gauge cluster, extensive advanced safety equipment, and spacious interior make the entry-level MDX quite the compelling vehicle.


2022 Acura MDX The 2022 MDX features sleek styling.Acura


Though we're looking at a brand-new SUV here, Acura opted to leave the previous model's engine in place. The tried-and-true 3.5-liter V6 makes 290 horsepower and 267 pound-feet of torque, but now comes with an impossibly smooth ten-speed automatic transmission instead of the nine-speed seen in 2020's MDX. The engine, while unimpressive on paper, is strong enough to pull the three-row MDX to 60 mph from a standstill in 6.4 seconds – quicker than I, or anyone else, should hope to go with a family in tow. Additionally, the engine is so smooth and so well in tune with the MDX's chassis that it's impossible to want for more. Of course, the world being what it is, Acura will give you more. If you're willing to wait, the MDX Type S will hit the streets later in 2021 with 355 horsepower from a turbocharged 3.0-liter V6.

It's easy to assume that the 2022 MDX is just another frumpy family hauler, but that's not entirely the case. Acura gave the vehicle an all-new chassis that the brand says is actually a light truck platform that has been tuned to target the driving dynamics of a sports sedan. That, combined with a double wishbone front suspension and a multilink rear suspension system, help the new MDX handle like a much smaller vehicle while retaining a family-friendly ride in most circumstances. Steering is noticeably assisted, but not to the point of feeling too light or disconnected.

2022 MDX Technology

Acura ditched the overwhelming dual-screen infotainment setup seen in previous MDX models for a single screen and touchpad controller – similar to the system that comes in the smaller RDX. Though it's easier to use than the screen-on-screen system, the touchpad takes longer to learn than it should. Over time, however, it's likely to become more intuitive than I could give it credit for in a short week of testing. The 12.3-inch unit runs wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto and comes with a Wi-Fi hotspot, Amazon Alexa capabilities, and Bluetooth. A Qi wireless charging pad is standard as well, but depending on how you like to charge your smartphone you might end up with a confusing pairing situation. My preference is to charge with a cable, which caused wireless Apple CarPlay to disconnect my iPhone in favor of a wired connection, but this didn't happen all the time. The sometimes-connected-sometimes-not situation was frustrating and confusing, so it's probably best to charge with the wireless pad if you choose to use wireless CarPlay.


2022 Acura MDX The MDX's interior is an extremely nice place to spend time.Acura


My tester's Advance Package meant that I had access to even more tech. There was a 10.5-inch head-up display, an ELS Studio 3D premium audio system with 16 speakers, and charging ports in the second and third rows. When it comes to safety tech, however, everyone gets in on the party. Acura includes a load of advanced safety features as standard gear on the 2022 MDX, which includes forward collision warnings, collision mitigation braking, lane departure warnings, lane keep assist, road departure mitigation, adaptive cruise control, traffic jam assist, blind spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alerts, and traffic sign recognition.

2022 MDX Safety

That list of features and stellar crash test scores helped the MDX achieve a Top Safety Pick + designation from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. The agency scored the MDX Good in all crashworthiness categories and Superior in both vehicle-to-vehicle and vehicle-to-pedestrian crash prevention with the standard safety systems.


2022 Acura MDX The MDX is a solid premium family hauler.Acura


The MDX was already a compelling vehicle with great standard features and attractive styling, and the updates have only made the Acura's case stronger. The new ten-speed automatic transmission and chassis tuning have made the family-hauler an engaging vehicle to drive, but haven't in any way compromised its ability to do the boring "SUV stuff" well. On top of that, the MDX matches or beats many of its competitors on fuel economy, returning up to 26 mpg on the highway, and let's not forget about safety scores, which for any family should be top of mind.


2022 Acura MDX The MDX is sporty but refined.Acura

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