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TEST DRIVE: Acura TLX Type S

David Haueter samples the new Acura TLX Type S…

Photo: David Haueter

Acura has been going through something of a performance resurgence.

The NSX supercar has been around for a while now, but Acura just recently announced an NSX Type S for 2022 (its final year) and announced that they’ll bring back the Integra for the 2023 model year.

Of more relevance for the present, Acura introduced a Type S model for the first time in more than ten years, with the TLX Type S, which is a hotter, more performance-oriented version of the TLX sedan.

Acura made some noteworthy changes to the TLX for the Type S.

The turbocharged all-aluminum V6 produces 355hp and 354 lb.-ft. of torque, up significantly from the 272hp and 280 lb.-ft. of torque in the standard TLX.

Acura didn’t just crank up the turbo boost to get that power increase. The V6 is built with increased crank rigidity and was designed to be more compact, with a lower height and reduced internal parts. It also features a forged steel crankshaft and connecting rods.

Photo: David Haueter

The double-wishbone front and multilink rear suspension has also been significantly enhanced, with adaptive dampers that are specifically tuned for the TLX Type S, along with a 40 percent stiffer front spring rate than the standard car. The Type S also has stiffer front and rear stabilizer bars and a 13 percent stiffer body structure, which also helps to improve body control and responsiveness.

Another key performance feature is Acura’s Super Handling All-Wheel Drive, which has true torque vectoring that can send up to 70 percent of torque to the rear axle. The 20-inch wheels wear high performance Pirelli P-Zero tires and stopping is improved with Brembo front brakes with 14.3-inch front rotors and four-piston fixed calipers.

A 10-speed automatic is the only transmission available but is built with stronger internal parts and programmed for quicker shifts.

Visually, the TLX Type S has a sportier look with a front splitter and rear diffuser, along with a quad exhaust. The newly designed “Diamond Pentagon” grill increases airflow to the engine by 10 percent. Inside, there’s a flat-bottomed steering wheel that’s inspired by the NSX, along contrasting stitching and piping and Alcantara inserts.

Photo: David Haueter

Despite an upcoming NSX Type S model, it’s best to think of the TLX Type S as a competitor to cars like the BMW M340i and the Audi S4, not the more hardcore M cars from BMW or the RS models from Audi. Acura also has the A-Spec package for the TLX, which adds sporty design elements but doesn’t improve performance.

The TLX Type S gives you all the right feelings you want to get from a performance-oriented sports sedan as you walk up to it.

It looks aggressive and low-slung and has attractive dimensions, but you also realize that it’s quite a large car. It’s 194.6 inches long, which is close to 9 inches longer than the BMW M340i.

When it comes to size comparisons to BMWs, it’s actually closer in size to the BMW 5 Series.

The size of the TLX Type S also results in a substantial curb weight of 4,201 pounds, which is 222 pounds heavier than the BMW M340i with all-wheel drive.

Photo: David Haueter

Even with its size and weight, the TLX Type S is a quick car. It can get from 0-60 mph in around 5 seconds, and the 10-speed automatic delivers quick and smooth shifts and always seems to be in the right gear.

I drove the TLX Type S from New Jersey to Watkins Glen, N.Y. and it proved to be a fast and comfortable cruiser on the highway.

The seats are supportive yet very comfortable and the ride is firm but nicely controlled with the adaptive dampers in Comfort mode.

We didn’t have anyone traveling in the back seat with us, but the TLX Type S has a surprisingly small and relatively spartan back seat for a car that’s as big as this.

In typical Honda/Acura fashion, the ergonomics and driving position of the TLX Type S are spot on for the most part, but I did find that the touchpad for the infotainment system is overly sensitive and somewhat difficult to use, and Acura overdid it with the red lighting on the tach. It’s so red that it’s hard to see clearly.

Photo: David Haueter

One of the best features of the TLX Type S interior is the ELS Studio 3D 17-speaker audio system, which is one of the most fantastic audio systems I’ve ever experienced in a car.

It’s so good that you’ll find yourself looking up your favorite songs on your playlist to crank up the volume and just listen. If you’re a serious audiophile, it may be a key reason to buy this car.

We drove some twisty country backroads on the way back from Watkins Glen to New Jersey, and the TLX Type S proved to be entertaining to drive on these types of roads, though it did feel a bit out of its element in the sharper turns, when the size and weight of the car became more evident in quick transitions.

On the plus side, the car does have above average steering and braking feel.

The bottom line on the TLX Type S is that it’s an excellent all-around sports sedan. It looks good, is comfortable (except for the back seat for taller people), and has a strong engine, good brakes, and competent handling.

It may not match up dynamically to a car like the BMW M340i, but it’s likely to be more reliable and less expensive to own, and it’s a good value for the money. 

Photo: David Haueter

David Haueter (@InfoTrends_DH) has been an automotive writer and photographer for the past 20 years. His writing and photos have been published in Roundel, Bimmer, Forza and Excellence and SportsCarInsider.com as well as other automotive and racing magazines.

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