2021 Acura TLX Type S: A Legend Returns


Experienced by Kimatni D. Rawlins

The premium sports sedan from Acura arrived at Automotive Rhythms headquarters in a stunning Apex Blue Pearl color scheme attracting the eyes of many during our spirited test drive. The Type S moniker returns in the form of the 2021 Acura TLX Type S replete with a Diamond Pentagon meshed grille, a front splitter, Matte Black window trim, a Gloss Black rear diffuser and spoiler, a new lightweight and compact V6 turbo engine, and Super Handling All-Wheel Drive (SH-AWD) with True Torque Vectoring that delivers up to 100% traction to either the right or left wheels.


With an MSRP of $52,300, the only option required is the upgraded paint for $500 with all other amenities and styling attributes included. As a result, Acura says it’s the best performing, best handling, and most well-appointed Acura sedan they have ever built. The Japanese automaker increased the performance capabilities of the Type S without sacrificing daily comfort, which I can attest to directly since the vehicle felt like a daily driver until I switched the 5-mode Integrated Dynamics System into Sport+. It’s like going from Olympic Decathlon capabilities — where the car does a bit of everything well — to all-out Andre De Grasse mode, who won the Gold Medal at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic 200 meters in thrilling fashion. I enjoyed more than a few scintillating sessions of athleticism in Sport+ without the need of the paddles shifters since the Type S blips throughs the gears appropriately depending on acceleration. Moreover, braking from the NSX-derived 4-piston red Brembo calipers and larger discs was just as compliant.


The Type S collection will endow your standard TLX with a styling package, the Acura ELS Studio 3D premium audio, a wireless charging pad, flat-bottom sport steering wheel, red leather-trimmed 16-way powered sport seats with UltraSuede inserts and power-adjustable bolsters, parking sensors, and much more. In addition, AcuraWatch safety adds Adaptive Cruise Control, Collision Mitigation Braking, Forward Collision Warning, Lane Departure Warning, Lane Keeping Assist, Road Departure Mitigation, and Traffic Jam Assist. I inadvertently experienced Collision Mitigation Braking when a vehicle in front of me decreased speed abruptly and turned right without signaling. The TLX Type S stopped on its own and displayed a message for me to brake further.

Aesthetically, the vehicle looks great, whether stagnant or flying by. Acura didn’t overdo it as this is not an NSX but still has some NSX flare and engineering. To go along with the stylish 20″ alloy rims and 255/35 R20 Pirelli P Zero all-season or summer tires explicitly developed for the Type S, Acura added large oval quad exhaust tips; an aluminum hood and fenders; Jewel Eye LED headlights; sunroof; and a specific sport-tuned suspension for dynamic handling. Competing with the Audi S4 (not the RS4), the Type S is a track-capable sports car but not necessarily a track destroyer.


Power resonates from a compact 3-liter twin-scroll turbocharged V6 engine with 355 horsepower and 354 lb-ft of torque readily available from 1,400 rpm. It’s paired with a fast-reacting 10-speed automatic transmission with paddle shifters. Striving for emotional engine performance, Acura applied the turbo techniques of the Civic Type-R and the NSX to the Type S V6 for immediate throttle responses. The 3-liter also features variable cylinder management to meet environmental responsibilities, which the company strives towards.


Back inside the race-inspired cockpit, I always felt like every driving task was a dash to the finish line, especially with the push-button shifter and ignition. The steering wheel features perfectly placed thumb indentations for proper gripping and turning. WiFi, Apple CarPlay, ambient lighting, and dual-zone climate control with air filtration enhance driver and passenger comfortability. However, the multimedia system still seems outdated with remedial graphics and limited abilities. And the True Touchpad Interface is quirky. Also, the rear is tight, and at 5’11,” my head touches the headliner.


The new TLX S Type enhances the Acura lineup with more excitement and family choices. It will put a spark to your daily drive while garnering the respect of fellow premium sport sedan owners. Go for the Tyger Eye Pearl, Performance Red Pearl, or Apex Blue Pearl for supplementary attraction.

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