While the admired Acura RDX and MDX SUVs enjoyed stellar sales, the company’s sports sedan strained to keep up. Well, I’m happy to write “Welcome Back Acura!”
For years, the premium line of Honda had meandered away from its popular third generation (2004-08) TL sports sedan, considered the model’s sweet spot offering. Thankfully, Acura’s designers rallied with a winner.
The 2023 Acura TLX Type S harkens back to those heady days of power, panache and eye-catching appearance. It’s slick, sounds terrific and invigorates the senses when in Sport + mode. All at a price significantly south of its targeted competitor. Seriously, what’s not to love?
The TLX offers six trim levels (Base, Technology, A-Spec, Advance, Type S and Type S PMC) starting from $41,245 to $63,995). Sadly, the rare top-end PMC wasn’t available, yet the Type S might be the sweet spot to investigate. There is only one tricky area to navigate when making your choice that I will get into later.
The TLX Type S’s rakish silhouette creates a cool sculpted sporty stance. It draws attention from any angle, especially in the tester’s amazing Apex Blue Pearl paint. Long gone is the controversial front beak now replaced by a subtle darkened Diamond Pentagon Grille and exceptionally bright Jewel Eye LED headlights.
The long hood, front underbody splitter, rear quad exhausts, diffuser and decklid spoiler complete the formidable, frisky and mischievous allure. Add in the $800 High-Performance Wheel and Tire Package’s 20” Shark Gray Y-Spoke rims with red painted brake calipers to deliver a ride that will provide miles of smiles.
The TLX Type S houses an engaging 3.0-liter, twin turbocharged V6 with 355hp/354 lb.ft. torque that scoots 0-60 in 4.9 seconds. Its sublime Adaptive Damper System suspension aptly swallows up the harshest potholes – even in the tautest Sport+ mode.
Handling with the rear-bias Super Handling All-Wheel Drive (SH-AWD) and tighter variable steering is excellent and comforting in iffy weather. In fact, unlike most others in the market, the Type S ably applies more power to the outside rear wheel in a corner, and doing so helps you turn harder when you apply more gas.
The 10-speed transmission shifts smoothly, and paddle shifters give an immediate response when manually mowing through the gears. Those red painted robust Brembo brake calipers provide sure stopping power.
Five driving modes (Comfort, Normal, Sport, Sport+ and Individual) provide plenty of options when the mood strikes. Individual allows you to tweak shifting, throttle response, damper settings and interior lighting. Sport+ brings a delicious rumbly exhaust note to crank up the emotions. I used it as my regular soundtrack.
Gas mileage for this robust cruiser is a commendable 19/25, but I squeezed 29 mpg on the highway with premium fuel.
The interior provides cozy comfort and excellent fit and finish, with open-pore wood and aluminum accents. Heated and vented 16-way power Sport seats with Perforated Milano Premium Leather and Ultrasuede inserts with contrast stitching are terrific, with adjustable side-bolstering, thigh support and lumbar settings.
A heated flat-bottom sport steering wheel feels perfect in your mitts with the usual one-button commands. A total of 24 available interior lighting choices are fun to scroll through. The cool analog dash gauges morph into saucy racing red when utilizing Sport+.
The gear shifts are unique vertical buttons below the infotainment screen, freeing up storage in the middle console, and a handy Dynamic Mode knob changes the drive settings. Meaning the controls are nicely placed for easy access. Driving visibility is good with generous sideview mirrors. An ample power moonroof nicely lightens the interior. Wireless phone charging is included along with Auto Hold to take your foot off the brake pedal during stops.
Rear seat room is decent in this class with good head room. Storage is okay at 13.5 cu.ft. Child safety seat connectors enjoy the highest safety rating of Good+ utilizing the extremely easy LATCH connections.
The TLX Type S provides excellent technology but some of the typically desired options will require extra investigating, as instead of each higher trim including the lower trim’s attributes while adding additional goodies, some are merely replaced. Thus, one needs to research comparing which trim levels click the most boxes. To wit, the Head-Up Display or Overhead Camera aren’t offered on the Type S trim – not even as a standalone option.
A clear 10.2” infotainment screen includes wired Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. The upgraded 17-speaker 3D ELS Studio Premium stereo is truly superb. You’d be hard-pressed to find something better in this price class.
Navigating the infotainment menus takes some practice as it’s controlled via the laptop-like trackpad (instead of a touch screen), requiring a deft touch – especially when driving. A thoughtful padded resting place for your wrist allows for more comfortable operating.
The highly rated standard safety features include forward collision warning, forward automatic emergency braking, pedestrian detection, adaptive cruise control (with low-speed follow), lane departure warning, lane keep assist, traffic sign recognition, traffic jam assist, and automatic high-beam headlights.
The 2023 Acura TLX Type S is a wonderful package of sporty looks, excellent handling, acceleration, exhaust rumbles and materials. A four-year/50,000-mile warranty adds two-years/24,000-miles of free maintenance. At a generously appointed base price of $56,350, it’s substantially less in cost than its European rivals. Give it a go when desiring fun-filled performance with Japanese reliability.
Test-drive the 2023 Acura TLX Type S at Park Place Acura in Plano.