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2020 Acura TLX Review

The 2020 Acura TLX continues to offer strong value among premium luxury sedans. In typical Acura fashion, the TLX is offered with only a few options, but its price remains extremely competitive.

The TLX also carries Acura’s legendary reputation for reliability and resale. In a bid to build on that reputation, the company is now producing a limited number of hand-built and hand-painted TLXs that are being assembled in the same facility where the Acura NXS sports car is built. It’s a clever idea that should appeal to consumers who are tired of paying top dollar for luxury cars that can quickly depreciate or fail to hold up over time.

Yet, while all these factors are definitely bonuses in the TLX’s favor, for those not so enamored by brand identity, there are any number of less expensive family sedans that offer the same or even higher levels of luxury, safety and performance.

From a styling standpoint, the TLX’s bold front end makes a dramatic statement, but a Kia Optima or a Nissan Maxima can look just as attractive. Where the road is concerned, the 4-cylinder model generally fails to inspire. Moving to the V6 all-wheel-drive version significantly improves the TLX’s ability to impress driving enthusiasts, but it’s still not a best-in-class performance by any means.

With that said, we think the TLX will appeal to those who place safety, fuel economy, a comfortable ride and intuitive instrument controls over flashy good looks and high-tech gizmos. If, however, you believe a luxury car should do more, you may find much more to like about the BMW 3 Series, the Infiniti Q50 or the Audi A4.

What’s New for 2020?

For 2020, four new colors have been added to the TLX’s color palate: Performance Red Pearl, Majestic Black Pearl, Canyon Bronze Metallic and A-Spec-limited Apex Blue Pearl. Also new is a limited edition, hand-crafted PMC Edition assembled by the same master technicians who build the NSX supercar. The TLX PMC has unique interior and exterior styling and comes painted in a brilliant Valencia Red Pearl paint. See the 2020 Acura TLX models for sale near you

What We Like

  • Excellent crash-test scores
  • Quiet interior
  • Roomy rear seat
  • Uncomplicated dash design
  • Impressive handling when equipped with AWD
  • Acura’s ELS Studio audio

What We Don’t

How Much?

$33,995–$51,000

Fuel Economy

The Acura TLX is powered by one of two engines. The base model is powered by a 2.4-liter 4-cylinder engine that generates 206 horsepower and 182 lb-ft of torque. Power flows to the front wheels through an 8-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission with a manual-shift mode. This transmission is unique in that it also includes a torque converter for smoother gear changes. Fuel economy for this model is rated at 23 miles per gallon in the city and 33 mpg on the highway. With the A-Spec package, those figures become 23 mpg city/32 mpg hwy.

Optional on the TLX is a 3.5-liter V6 offered with either front-wheel drive or Super Handling AWD. This engine produces a robust 290 hp and 267 lb-ft of torque and employs a 9-speed automatic with an electronic Sequential SportShift mode. Fuel economy for the FWD TLX V6 is 20 mpg city/31 mpg hwy, while the SH-AWD model gets 20 mpg city/29 mpg hwy. A-Spec models earn similar figures, with FWD models getting 20 mpg city/30 mpg hwy and AWD versions returning 20 mpg city/29 mpg hwy.

Standard Features & Options

The 2020 TLX features four trim levels: TLX 2.4, TLX 3.5 V6, TLX A-Spec and TLX PMC Edition. The 2.4 can be equipped with the Technology and A-Spec packages, while the V6 can be equipped with the Technology package, AWD, the A-Spec trim or the Advanced package.

The TLX 2.4 ($33,995) includes the advanced Precision All-Wheel Steer (or P-AWS) system, 17-in alloy wheels, Acura Watch (forward-collision warning, lane-keeping assist, road-departure mitigation and collision-mitigation braking), adaptive cruise control, a power moonroof, keyless access with push-button start, a rearview monitor, dual-zone automatic climate control, jewel-eye LED headlights, Siri Eyes Free, imitation-leather seating, heated front seats, an 8-way power driver’s seat with power lumbar, a 4-way power passenger seat, two LCD view screens (eight inches on top and seven inches on the lower dash), Bluetooth, a 7-speaker AM/FM/CD audio with Android Auto, Apple CarPlay, app integration and USB and auxiliary input jacks.

The TLX 2.4 with the Technology package ($37,695) adds rear cross-traffic alert, blind spot monitoring, rain-sensing wipers, voice-activated 3-D navigation, leather seating and the 10-speaker Acura ELS audio system with HD Radio.

The TLX 2.4 with A-Spec Package ($40,395) adds 19-in alloy wheels, front and rear parking sensors, unique exterior and interior styling cues, a choice of black Alcantara or red leather seating, sport front seats, heated and ventilated front seats, wireless phone charging and a black headliner.

The TLX 3.5 ($37,195 FWD; $39,195 AWD) includes all the same equipment as the base 2.4, but it also features the V6 engine, the 9-speed automatic transmission, an electronic push-button gear selector, an 8-way power passenger seat and 18-in wheels.

The TLX 3.5 with the Technology package ($41,095 FWD; $43,095 AWD) includes all the equipment from the Technology package, plus the V6 engine and driver’s-seat power thigh support.

The TLX 3.5 with A-Spec Package ($43,795) adds the same features as the 2.4 A-Spec Package (see above) plus the V6 engine.

The TLX 3.5 with the Advanced package ($46,945 AWD) adds front and rear parking sensors, wireless phone charging, LED interior lights, heated and ventilated front seats, heated rear seats, a heated steering wheel, a windshield wiper de-icer, a Surround View camera, remote start, LED front fog lights and 18-in wheels.

The TLX 3.5 A-Spec with the Technology package ($43,795 FWD; $45,795 AWD) adds a performance-tuned suspension, quicker steering ratio (AWD only), 19-in alloy wheels, front and rear parking sensors, unique exterior and interior styling cues, a choice of black Alcantara or red leather seating, sport front seats, heated and ventilated front seats, wireless phone charging and a black headliner.

The TLX 3.5 PMC ($50,945) includes the Advanced and A-Spec packages plus the following special items: Valencia Red Pearl paint, a body-colored grille surround, gloss black painted roof and door handles, gloss black 19-in wheels and dark chrome 4-in dual exhaust finishers. The interior is fitted with black Milano leather seats with Alcantara inserts plus black piping and red stitching for the seats, door panels and center armrest. The perforated black leather steering wheel includes metal finished paddle shifters.

Safety

The TLX comes standard with 4-wheel anti-lock disc brakes, electronic traction and stability control and seven airbags, including front, front-side-impact, side-curtain and driver’s-knee variants. Also standard is Acura Watch, which includes lane-departure warning and assist, collision warning, collision-mitigation braking and adaptive cruise control. Optional safety equipment includes rear cross-traffic alert and front and rear sonar warning sensors.

In government crash testing, the Acura TLX performed exceptionally well, earning five out of five stars in every category. Likewise, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety gave the TLX top marks in all but the small-overlap front crash test, in which it earned a Marginal score.

Behind the Wheel

Although some of the TLX’s rivals truly distinguish themselves on the road with sharp handling or especially impressive acceleration, we can’t say the same for the TLX. With the exception of the A-Spec trim, the TLX’s ride and handling are more about comfort and competence than competition.

With the V6 under its hood, the 2020 Acura TLX has enough power for any situation, and the steering is appropriately responsive. The FWD TLX’s driving experience, however, doesn’t stand out from the pack in terms of sportiness — a reality that’s true from the base model, which uses a 206-hp 2.4-liter 4-cylinder, up to the V6-powered TLX, which musters 290 hp and 267 lb-ft of torque. However, this engine combined with the A-Spec and SH-AWD setup can produce a very different driving experience, one that we think will probably satisfy all but the most diehard driving enthusiasts.

Interestingly, the TLX’s engine details help to illustrate our larger point: Given its size, the 4-cylinder TLX includes one of the least powerful engines in its segment, and the V6 model is overpowered by nearly every competitor, from the BMW 340i to the Infiniti Q50 to the Cadillac ATS.

Other Cars to Consider

2020 Alfa Romeo Giulia The Alfa Romeo Giulia offers more power, better handling and styling that just won’t quit. However, when it comes to long-term reliability and resale value, the jury is still out on this Italian stallion.

2020 Infiniti Q50 The 2020 Q50’s styling and interior layout are much more expressive than the TLX’s, and its myriad of engine offerings includes three turbocharged options and one hybrid. The Q50’s optional Sport packages make it much more fun to drive as well.

2020 Lexus IS The new Lexus IS can match the TLX for quality, dependability and resale value, and it offers a more powerful base engine too. Although the TLX has a stronger V6 than the base IS 300, the IS 350 delivers an additional 16 hp.

Used Lexus GS A 2014-2018 Lexus GS would give you more interior space, power and luxury, and it’s a better-known commodity in the luxury-car world. There’s also a hybrid model.

Autotrader’s Advice

If you’re looking for luxury, power, safety and technology, we suggest moving to the top-of-the-line TLX 3.5 SH-AWD with the Advance package or the performance-oriented TLX 3.5 A-Spec. Other than the Acura name, the base TLX just doesn’t provide enough to convince us you couldn’t spend the same money or less on a Hyundai Sonata, Toyota Camry, Honda Accord or Kia Optima and get more car for your money. Find an Acura TLX for sale

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