2021 Acura TLX Long-Term Update | Pleasurable drive, puzzling gremlin

·3 min read

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This was my first long haul behind the wheel of our long-term 2021 Acura TLX, and past experience with the brand (and Honda in general) led me to believe that if I could get past any seat comfort issues, the TLX and I would get along just fine. As it turned out, I had no cause to worry in the first place. The TLX’s seats are comfortable and supportive enough for my typical driving position – and look great in red to boot. Not having to worry about my back screaming at me after a couple solid hours on the highway, I was able to devote my attention elsewhere, and the report is largely positive.

To me, the most impressive thing about the TLX is how small it feels from behind the wheel. I’ve had it in my driveway for nearly two months (for various reasons, none of them good; look for more in a future update) and despite driving it rather frequently, I often forget that it’s a midsize.

How’d Acura accomplish that? It’s all in the feedback. The steering is dialed in pretty much perfectly and lacks the artificial and distant sensation present in Audi’s FWD-based luxury sedans, for example. I’d even put the TLX ahead of BMW’s 2 Series Gran Coupe in this department. Sure, they’re very different vehicles, but that Acura can accomplish this with something as large as the TLX while even BMW’s compacts disappoint? Well, it says something.

And though it may feel small, it isn’t. The TLX more than accommodated enough luggage for two people traveling to a Lake Michigan wedding over a long weekend, and did shuttle duty throughout the festivities without even a peep from rear-seat passengers, apart from commentary about the red leather. It’s a bit polarizing, I’ll admit, but I think it looks great against the blue exterior.

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Over the 500-mile round trip, the TLX averaged just a hair under 30 mpg (against an EPA rating of 29 mpg highway; score one for the numbers geeks) at cruising speeds of 75-80. Michigan highways aren’t known for top-notch surfaces, but even on the grooved pavement found on many of its interstates and other rural expressways, tire hum never became intrusive. Present? Sure, just not unpleasantly so.

My gripes are few. I wish the cruise control would be a bit more aggressive in accelerating to a set speed when resumed, for one; it seems downright lazy under certain conditions. I could also do entirely without the silly touchpad-like infotainment interface. It’s serviceable with practice, but seems over-engineered for something that could have easily been accomplished using conventional control schemes.

The wireless charging cubby on the center console is also a bit of a mixed bag. It’s handy, but I found that smaller phones (of which my Samsung Galaxy S10 is apparently one) can easily get jostled away from the ideal contact point for the charging coil, shutting it off entirely until the phone is pushed back into position. My phone still charges over the course of a drive, but not nearly as much as I’d like.

I've also encountered what appears to be a new gremlin, this time in the TLX's powertrain controls. While sitting at a light or stop sign with auto stop/start disabled, the TLX will occasionally shift itself into park, chime pleasantly, then unlock the doors to allow for passenger egress. That’s all very pleasant-sounding, but not the response I want when attempting to make a move into rush-hour traffic.

With the TLX approaching 10,000 miles under our stewardship, we’re coming up on its next service appointment. We’ll have the transmission looked at when we take it in for its oil change and tire rotation and report back when we know more. Stay tuned.

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