Delivers the Performance Sedan Goods Like Never Before
It has been thirteen years since we’ve seen a Type S badge on an Acura. Well, it has returned and bringing it back is the already delightful TLX sedan. But, naturally the Type S TLX is now the best performing Acura four-door ever. Sounds like the type of Acura that we need to hop in and put down the hammer.
Acura is quick to point out that the Type S formula is designed to create ultimate street performance; whereas Honda’s Type R is more track and autocross ready. And after spending time behind the wheel of this 2021 Acura TLX Type S, we came away convinced it’s a TLX that’s been hanging out a lot with the NSX, and has turned into an overachiever to keep up.
So, with that in mind let’s see what makes a TLX Type S. Starting under hood, it’s an all-new 3.0-liter V6 turbo with 335–horsepower and 354 lb-ft. of torque; designed by the same folks that gave us the NSX’s powertrain.
The double-wishbone front and multi-link rear suspension are upgraded with standard adaptive dampers and bigger stabilizer bars. Wheels are 20-inch Shark Gray lightweight alloys, upgradable to summer performance tires.
Brembo brakes with 4-piston calipers are added, as is an additional Sport+ mode to the Integrated Dynamics System; and even extra chassis bracing front to back.
Say what you want about Acura’s tech-heavy approach, but their Super-Handling All-Wheel-Drive system is no joke. In the Type S it puts power down better than ever.
Next, it’s off to Mason Dixon Dragway to see how it all comes together. At launch, there’s no lag and no wheel spin. The Type S just hooks up and goes to 60 in 5.1–seconds with plenty of low end torque in the offing.
The upgraded 10-speed automatic transmission delivers fast and firm shifts throughout the ¼-mile. Type S power does seem to taper off at the top end of the tach, and the engine has more of a high-pitched inline sound than torquey V6. But its overall still quite rewarding; and with a 13.7-second ¼ at 102 miles-per-hour, almost a second faster than the standard TLX.
The Type S’ livelier feel was immediately apparent in our handling course. Turn-ins are extremely quick, catching us off guard at first, as we weren’t expecting such immediacy.
The steering is heavy, but could still use more road feel. As we pushed harder through the cones, there was also bumpiness to the chassis, as well as that ever present sense of computer aided performance as SH-AWD shifts power to the rear, and whichever wheel offers the most grip, eliminating any hint of understeer. So, it may not feel the smoothest, but it has great balance, and we were really hustling through here.
The new Sport+ drive mode of course sets all systems to maximum effect, including throttle response, shift mapping, active exhaust, steering effort, damping, torque vectoring, and even interior lighting.
The Brembo brakes front rotors are upgraded in size by more than an inch over the standard TLX; and they bite down hard, as the whole car hunkers down to consistent stops of just 110-feet from 60 miles per hour.
Off the track, road ride is noticeably firmer than our long-term TLX A-Spec, but not ridiculously so; and opting for the Type S is proof enough you know what you’re getting into.
In fact, comfort and size are both benefits compared to European and Asian competition.
Front sport seats are still wide and very comfortable. Interior upgrades include a flat-bottom steering wheel, aluminum trim, and French stitching; plus Acura keeps real gauges, which we love, and puts plenty of info in the center on a 7-inch display.
Government Fuel Economy Ratings are 19-City, 25-Highway, and 21-Combined. We averaged a fine 23.7 miles-per-gallon of Premium.
Type S pricing starts at $53,345; considering there’s not a whole lot you can add on top of that and it includes all-wheel-drive, it’s clearly one of the best values in the middle ground sport sedan segment.
Acura has been espousing their performance car mantra for years, with both hit and miss results. Outside of the NSX, the TLX Type S is their most direct hit yet. Its quick, turns on a wish, and stops fast. Plus, it’s still a comfy long-distance cruiser and pretty frugal too. For us, the 2021 Acura TLX Type S delivers on the total performance sedan experience like never before.
Engine: 3.0L V6 Turbo
Torque: 354 lb-ft
0-60 mph: 5.1 seconds
1/4 Mile: 13.7 seconds at 102 mph
EPA: 19 City / 25 Highway / 21 Combined