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The 2021 Acura TLX is an amazing stereo with a damn car attached



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</script></div> Acura TLX

Photo: Acura

Jalopnik ReviewsAll our test drives in one convenient place.

It seems that Acura is starting to regain some of the sporty-casual luxury energy that made the brand attractive initially. Like the early Acuras, the 2021 TLX is not radical, but it is is good looking, pleasant to drive and lots of car for what it costs.

(Full disclosure: Acura has created a socially remote presentation and driving opportunity to learn and test the route of the new TLX near Detroit.)

Here we mix the formatting of the review a bit, because why not. Jalopnik Editor-in-Chief Rory Carroll went to the TLX launch event and drove the car, but instead of starting a regular recording, review editor Andrew Collins interviewed him via chat to find out what the car was like.

The resulting conversation has been edited for flow and clarity, but is almost intact, as it happened.


Andrew Collins:

Okay, I hear you’ve just spent some time in the new TLX. Let’s disappear with some context, what did you do with it and what did you do that could be similar?

Rory Carroll:

I drove a TLX A-Spec (sports, lists for about $ 46,000) and a TLX Advance (comfortable, close to $ 50,000) back to the cycle in the Detroit suburbs. All the traffic jams and actually a pretty good place to test a sports sedan.

The comparison part is interesting because the TLX is still extraordinary – the engine is mounted transversely. You know, next to each other. All other luxury sports sedans are longitudinal. It is also between sizes, as Acura expects to compete with A4 and A6, it is hair longer and wider than A6.

AC:

Hmmm, well, I guess the TL / TLX has always been what we would first call front-wheel drive, compared to BMW and Benz, which have been rear-wheel drive in the past. So I guess that makes sense?

RC:

Yes.

indefinitely

Photo: Acura

AC:

Does the Acura do a great job of AWD on this car?

RC:

They are, I think rightly so. The cars I drove had SH-AWD. I was hoping to get there. I think Acura understands that the expectation in this class is a car that is RWD, with the AWD option. So much of the new TLX has been designed around this. Or rather, designed in response to this.

You see it with the long hood; the overall proportions of the car would make you believe that it could be RWD.

And the control is set to bring you as close as possible to this feeling of RWD.

Of course, first-class sports sedans are usually based on RWD. But Acura will not develop an RWD architecture for this car. In any case, there is a lot of success with the cars in front. However, they noted that this car is not based on the Accord, but only the Acura platform.

AC:

Describe this feeling of RWDness a little more broadly. Does it have anything to do with where you can feel the weight of the car? And / or where does the traction seem to come from?

RC:

So, the weight of the car is obviously up front. But it feels pretty well balanced; the distribution is 57/43 biased. (The car weighs about 4,000 pounds.)

The way the SH-AWD is set up gives you an estimate of the RWD. But at a roundabout, for example, you get something that comes close to that feeling of loading when the weight is over the drive wheel.

It can send a lot of power to the outer rear wheel in turn. From my notes here, it can send 70 percent to the back, but 100 percent to the right or left side of the car. It will still focus on understeer – almost every car is set to understeer. But in the corners you can bring out a little the back. It’s fun, but it’s a different sensation for me.

indefinitely

Photo: Acura

AC:

So it sounds like this is a pretty legitimate car. At least for “practical” fun driving.

RC:

That’s right.

I asked one of the engineers about it and he said that there was already talk of allowing the car to really exceed. But that was scratched for safety reasons, at least by the A-Spec and Advanced cars. I wouldn’t be surprised to see the Type-S get a track mode that really allows you to elevate it.

I don’t want to give the impression that he feels RWD or that he wants to deviate. this will allow the rear to hang a bit, but that’s not the same feeling you get from an RWD car.

However, on the road I don’t think most drivers will ever be able to make that distinction.

AC:

Does the engine have juice that matches the steering?

RC:

The engine is a really interesting AC. I’m glad you asked about it.

I mean, I was pretty sure you would, but … it’s a 2-liter turbo. So, nothing exotic there. It is set to deliver a lot of torque immediately. Peak turns on at 1600 rpm and remains equal to 4500. The car really gets up and runs.

But – and there are other turbo fours that do this now – as they are only calibrated for multi-gear automatic, the feeling is different from what you’re used to.

There is very little sense of build speed as the touch climbs. Which is something I would associate with Honda / Acura performance cars. You come out of a slow turn and matte it and it’s simple On.

indefinitely

Photo: Acura

AC:

And the transmission can handle it? Any change of paddle that is worth doing, or better yet just run it in D.

RC:

Yes, the show continues. It’s almost like CVT, where it just doesn’t break. Clicking through the shoulder blades is more fun, but you know, it’s not really an event. The car is fun because of the way it handles, not because of the way it accelerates.

It will shift down four gears at once, which is useful as it is 10-speed. But that also doesn’t always give you the downshift you want.

AC:

Okay, it sounds like the thing is solidly decent to drive, which is nice to hear. But the Acura sedan will get used mainly between home and office. So how much luxury is the cabin and where do you think the car falls into the rock between extreme speeds and comfort?

RC:

The pre-cladding is really comfortable. The leather is nice, it has that wood veneer with open pores and all the metal outer elements are actually metal. The adaptive suspension is really good. This is a legal luxury car. And the stereo, well, we’ll get to the stereo, but it’s a lot. A lot. Okay.

RC:

A-Spec is a little more spicy.

AC:

The cabin, you mean.

RC:

In a. My car had red leather seats, carbon fiber upholstery, red stitching, all that. I wish you could take the A-Spec wood.

One thing that’s great about the interior – and I guess it’s because of the windshield paddle – the driver’s dashboard is raised like a pod around the steering wheel and cluster. But the right falls down. This way you don’t get the feeling of a narrow front window where you look through a slit.

The car also has a simple volume knob and traditional forward / reverse buttons for skipping songs.

AC:

They are always welcome.

RC:

Yes, it’s fun to watch car manufacturers add them back to the interior.

AC:

I remember Honda’s PR people were so excited to say, “We put the volume knob back” a few years ago in, I think, the Civic. But of course, yes, it’s one of those keyboard shortcuts that most drivers just like and don’t want to be replaced by a touch screen. I included myself.

RC:

Yes, this is one of the many things you should be able to do without watching.

AC:

Sounds like you’ve been pretty impressed with this car in general, but is there anything you’ve changed? Any weak points that stood out to you?

RC:

The great thing is that I will always prefer an RWD car. Or at least based on RWD. I will always want a manual transmission. And I’d like to be able to drive it in the snow to better understand what’s really going on with the AWD system. At road speeds, it’s hard for me to say exactly what happens while it’s happening.

But I think it’s a good car overall. With fucking unreal stereo

AC:

Ha, yes, Acura loves its ELS audio systems. Did the press team come up with any specifications or demonstrations for this thing to explain why it sounds so good?

RC:

A few weeks before driving, they offered to bring a TLX to the house so I could listen to the stereo. That didn’t work out, but I joked about it, like, “Man, they’re really proud of this radio.”

But when I drove the car, they had preloaded USB with lossless files. I tried it and it was quite shocking. I don’t think the specs are super crazy, but modern standards: 17 speakers, 710 watts.

AC:

What exactly confused your thoughts about sound?

RC:

It’s like a high-end home system, crystal clear and well balanced. But obviously your position is fixed. So it doesn’t get worse if you’re sitting on the wrong side of the couch. Obviously all car systems are like that, but it feels really special, really clear.

The first song on the list was Toto’s Africa. Which is a song I’ve heard a thousand times. One of those songs that appears on the radio and you don’t have to turn on the channel, but not a song I would ever choose to listen to. The thing is, in this car it was a completely different song. Like, at first I thought it might be a live appointment or something. All sorts of little things I’ve never heard before. Acura TLX changed the way I think of Toto’s “Africa”, haha.

indefinitely

Photo: Acura

AC:

Dooo do do, dododoDO. Okay, real conversation: Is the stereo good enough to be the main reason to buy this car?

RC:

Let me put it this way: If a friend told me he spent $ 40,000 on a home stereo, I’d obviously think it was crazy. But if I went and listened to him and he sounded so good, he looked much less crazy.

However, most people who buy this car will listen to Spotify or iTunes files, which, no matter how good the stereo systems are, will not meet the insane level of detail that this stereo can deliver.

So I think if you’re a person who’s aware of these things and you care about having a great car stereo (I’m not), then I think this one should be involved.

AC:

Okay, so far away from audiophiles, what do you think would be the reasons to take TLX over other things of similar size and power?

RC:

I think the price and value. This is one of those twin cars where it extends to the 3rd and 5th series, or the C-Class and E-Class. But you get a lot for your money.

I also think the new design is really good, really distinctive.

We were all surprised at how well the outgoing TLX sold and I think the price / value had a lot to do with it. This is still good value, but it looks better and is a lot more fun to drive than the last one. It will be really interesting for me to drive a Type-S.

AC:

Yes, I am much more interested in this car now than before this conversation. And double while reviewing the specs, because I completely forgot that the Type-S will have a completely different engine and claims to be 80 HP more than these standard models. It sounds like the Acura is returning to being in a cool place between pleasant to drive and comfortable without getting too soft.

Anything else we missed?

RC:

Looking at the notes, I think that’s pretty good.


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