2020 Acura TLX white driving in city

2020 Acura TLX Road Test and Review

The 2020 Acura TLX is a luxury mid-size sedan with elegant styling and a well-appointed interior. It’s attractive inside and out and exudes a refined sense of luxury rather than demanding attention. Although it comes off as somewhat mild-mannered, the TLX delivers a surprisingly responsive ride once you get behind the wheel. This year, much of the TLX is a carryover save the new TLX PMC special edition, which takes its cues from the NSX supercar. It gets a singularly stunning paint color and a slew of appearance upgrades that make this luxury sedan a standout in any crowd. In any guise, however, the TLX delivers a comfortable and sporty luxury sedan experience. Let’s take a closer look at the 2020 Acura TLX and see if it’s the right luxury car for your needs.

  1. A Range of Four Well-Equipped Trims and One Special Edition
  2. The TLX PMC special edition is stunning.
  3. Choice of Two Engines
  4. You get the smooth ride and handling you’d expect from a luxury car.
  5. Comfortable Front Seats, but a Tight Rear Seat
  6. Fully-Featured Infotainment System
  7. Standard Advanced Driver-Assistance Features
  8. Fuel economy keeps more of your cash in your wallet.
  9. Final Thoughts
A Range of Four Well-Equipped Trims and One Special Edition

A Range of Four Well-Equipped Trims and One Special Edition

The 2020 TLX is available in a range of four trims that Acura calls, packages starting with the TLX Standard. It’s priced from $33,000 with front-wheel drive and a 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine. Leatherette sports seats with 10-way power-adjustability for the driver and a dual-screen infotainment system with both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are standard. The Technology Package model, priced from $36,700, adds sports seats with Milano leather, automatic climate control, voice recognition, a 10-speaker ELS Studio premium audio system, navigation, and expanded safety features. The A-Spec at $39,400 gets a performance appearance pack that includes dark chrome, black accents, unique bumpers, interior contrast stitching, and heated and ventilated front seats. All three of these trims also offer optional all-wheel drive and a more powerful 3.5-liter V6 engine. These come standard on the top Advance, which is priced at $45,950 and includes the features found in the Technology and Advance packages.

The TLX PMC special edition is stunning.

The TLX PMC special edition is stunning.

The TLX is an attractive luxury car, but the TLX PMC Edition is outright stunning. This limited-edition version of the TLX comes only in the Valencia Red Pearl paint used for the NSX supercar. We could wax poetic about this paint all day, but it’s truly something you must see to appreciate. The PMC Edition also has a black roof panel and door handles, along with a unique black grille and the more-powerful 3.5-liter V6 engine. The PMC Edition's interior features more extras, with each of the 360 units built sporting a numbered plaque. There’s a perforated leather-wrapped steering wheel, red contrast stitching on the door panels, center console, steering wheel, and armrest, and metal A-Spec badging on the floor mats. It also includes the options provided by the A-Spec and Advance packages that are available across the TLX lineup. Pricing on this special edition comes in at $50,945.

Choice of Two Engines

Choice of Two Engines

The base powertrain on the 2020 Acura TLX includes a 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine with 206 horsepower and 182 lb-ft of torque paired to an eight-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission. Optional on the first three trims and standard on the Advance Package is a more powerful 3.5-liter V6 with 290 horsepower and 267 lb-ft of torque paired to a nine-speed automatic with paddle shifters. We spent our drive time with this more powerful engine. The V6 is responsive and easily delivers the power needed to merge into heavy highway traffic. A light foot on the accelerator is all that’s needed to get a little extra power for highway passing. While it’s responsive and even aggressive at speed, the V6 delivers measured acceleration in city driving. Smooth transmission shifts never jar passengers and are timed to deliver extra power exactly when needed while maintaining a calm, luxury car demeanor.

You get the smooth ride and handling you’d expect from a luxury car.

You get the smooth ride and handling you’d expect from a luxury car.

The ride in the TLX is consistently smooth and calm even over rough road surfaces or pavement riddled with potholes. The suspension does an admirable job of ironing out bumps and dips in the road, making this a luxury car that lets passengers relax and enjoy the trip. Road and wind noise are also minimal, adding to the overall positive rider experience. It’s equally relaxing to be the driver, as the TLX doesn’t demand overmuch from whoever sits behind the wheel. Minimal inputs are required to keep the TLX on track, so longer trips aren’t as wearisome, while the responsive steering lets the driver maintain a connection with the car. The TLX stays composed even with quick maneuvers at highway speeds and leaves the driver feeling confident and in control.

Comfortable Front Seats, but a Tight Rear Seat

Comfortable Front Seats, but a Tight Rear Seat

The TLX offers space for five passengers, including comfortable and supportive front seats. Leatherette upholstery is standard with available Milano leather and Alcantara on higher trim levels. Standard power-adjustability makes it easy to find the right seating position. While some luxury sedans lean toward the softer side, the TLX features standard sports seats. These are a bit narrower, which may feel tight on those with larger frames, but the benefit is how well they hold you in place in more spirited driving scenarios. The rear seat offers room for three passengers, but realistically only two adults can fit. Three across is extremely tight and suited to no more than the briefest of trips in a pinch. Even two adults will find the rear seats of the TLX confining. While there’s enough shoulder room, headroom is short for tall adults and legroom is slim no matter your height.

Fully-Featured Infotainment System

Fully-Featured Infotainment System

Standard infotainment in the TLX includes dual screens with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, plus a seven-speaker audio system. One step up in the trim range and infotainment gets significant additions, including a 10-speaker ELS Studio premium audio system with HD radio, navigation with 3D view, voice recognition, and AcuraLink connected services. AcuraLink adds emergency notification for airbag deployment, stolen vehicle tracking, remote locking and unlocking of doors, and the ability to find your car with your smartphone should you forget where you parked. Through a subscription service, AcuraLink also provides a live concierge that can send directions directly to the navigation system. Although a fully-featured system, it feels dated compared to offerings in competing luxury vehicles and even to what’s offered in more recently updated Acura vehicles.

Standard Advanced Driver-Assistance Features

Standard Advanced Driver-Assistance Features

The TLX comes with a long list of standard safety through AcuraWatch. This includes a forward collision warning, collision mitigation braking, a lane-departure warning, lane-keeping assist, road departure mitigation, and adaptive cruise control. There’s also a rearview camera with dynamic gridlines to more easily see just how much room there is behind the car, hill start assist, and heated side mirrors that tilt down in reverse for a better view. Additional available features on select trims include a head-up warning, blind-spot and rear cross-traffic monitoring, and front and rear parking sensors. That’s an extensive offering of safety without having to go up to the higher trims. The TLX also receives high marks for safety with a Good in all Insurance Institute for Highway Safety crash test except for the toughest small overlap frontal evaluation, where it scored Acceptable. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration also rated it well with an overall five out of five stars.

Fuel economy keeps more of your cash in your wallet.

Fuel economy keeps more of your cash in your wallet.

Fuel economy ratings for the Acura TLX are good and ensure you won't feel the pinch if gas prices rise. The base four-cylinder engine achieves an EPA-estimated 23 mpg in the city, 33 mpg on the highway, and 27 mpg combined with front-wheel drive. Choose the V6 engine and numbers predictably drop slightly to 20 mpg in the city, 31 mpg on the highway, and 24 mpg combined. The A-spec is rated slightly lower than the rest of the trims with a drop of 1 mpg for highway and combined driving for both engine variants. The all-wheel drive TLX comes equipped only with the V6 engine and posts the lowest fuel economy of the lot. It gets an EPA-estimated 20 mpg in the city, 29 mpg on the highway, and 23 mpg combined. While lower than the rest of the trim range, it’s a worthy trade for the added capability.

Final Thoughts

Final Thoughts

The 2020 Acura TLX offers a sporty take on the luxury sedan with a V6 engine that provides a spirited driving experience without straying too far into performance territory. This is luxury sedan, not a sports car, and the TLX never forgets to put passenger comfort first with a relaxing and comfortable ride. The interior looks and feels beautiful with the sole drawback of a rather cramped rear seat. The range of trims is well-balanced offering increased technology, amenities, and a sportier look all depending on your personal preference, with the PMC trim providing a true premium experience. Solid safety features with high crash test scores and a fully-featured infotainment system round out the package. The 2020 Acura TLX continues to be an appealing choice for luxury sedan buyers in search of a sportier option.