Sunday, February 25, 2024
Reviews 2023 Acura TLX Type S Review: What Took So Long?

2023 Acura TLX Type S Review: What Took So Long?

Great engine, good handling, awful infotainment system.

  • The 2023 Acura TLX Type S starts at $56,745 in the U.S., at $63,875 in Canada, freight and delivery charges included.

  • Great engine, good road manners, looks the part.

  • Frustrating infotainment system, low seating position, too few interior and exterior color options to choose from.

The 2023 Acura TLX Type S serves up plenty of horsepower and torque, meaty engine sounds, terrific handling characteristics and arguably racy good looks without being overdone. It’s a sports sedan done right, with a good balance of performance and luxury, and will likely hold up well over time.

It obviously reminds us of the equally superb Acura TL Type S the brand sold during the 2007 and 2008 model years, it was more powerful than the regular TL, boasted a stiffer suspension, a subtle yet sportier design, and was even offered with an optional six-speed manual transmission. Before this new Type S came along, that TL’s presence may have been the last time Acura had a truly desirable sports sedan in the lineup, how both what it offered and how it looked. A new generation of the TL appeared afterwards and included a Type S variant, but consumers didn’t seem too enamoured with the new design and sales decreased.

2023 Acura TLX Type S

What took so long for the brand to bring back a product people actually dreamed about?

Anyhoo, it’s here, and has been since late 2021. The 2023 Acura TLX Type S represents the third model year for the hot-rod sedan variant, which straddles the line between compact and midsize segments. It competes directly with the BMW M340i xDrive (382 hp), the Audi S4 (349 hp), the Mercedes-AMG C 43 (402 hp), the Genesis G70 3.3T (365 hp), the Lexus IS 350 (311 hp), the Infiniti Q50 Red Sport (400 hp), the Alfa Romeo Giulia (280 hp), the Cadillac CT5-V (360 hp) and, arguably, the Volvo S60 T8 Recharge (455 hp).

The TLX Type S is equipped with a twin-turbocharged, 3.0L V6 engine that’s connected to a 10-speed automatic transmission. Output is rated at 355 horsepower and 354 pound-feet of torque, all sent to the sedan’s four wheels via the brand’s SH-AWD setup. Blasting from 0 to 60 mph (0-96 km/h) takes about five seconds, which is pretty good, although a couple of aforementioned rivals are a few clicks quicker.

It’s not all about the stoplight race, though. The Type S just feels so much livelier than the other TLX variants, even the sporty A-Spec. Of course, the engine has much to do with that, as the blown V6 is a step up from the TLX’s standard turbo 2.0L four that develops 272 horsepower and 280 pound-feet. The Type S just wants to run, and sounds great doing it.

And yet, it can still be pretty smooth under relaxed driving conditions, despite a stiff ride caused in part by the thin sidewalled 255/35R20 rubber. The Type S is equipped with Shark Gray multi-spoke alloy wheels in the U.S., with lightweight Y-Spoke rims wrapped in summer performance tires as an option, while the Canadian market gets the lightweight wheels as standard.

Apex Blue paint is also denied for Canada as another cost-cutting measure. While we’re at it, the whole 2023 model-year TLX lineup has been streamlined in the northern country, which now includes the A-Spec, the Platinum Elite and the Type S, bringing the sedan’s admission price up by about $6,300 to $54,375 including freight and delivery charges. Meanwhile, in the U.S., the base and Tech trims are still offered, starting at $41,045.

2023 Acura TLX Type S

Getting back to the 2023 Acura TLX Type S, it also features Brembo four-piston front brakes with larger-diameter brake discs, an adaptive damper system, thicker front and rear stabilizer bars, recalibrated steering and what the brand calls high-performance chassis bracing. The Type S can definitely handle a twisty country road with poise without being too brutal for the daily drive.

The TLX Type S. city/highway/combined fuel economy is rated at 19/25/21 mpg in the U.S., although choosing the lightweight wheels and performance summer tire package reduces the highway figure to 24 mpg. The ratings are established at 12.3/9.4/11.0 L/100 in Canada, and premium fuel is required in both countries, of course. During our winter test, we managed an average of 19 mpg or 12.1 L/100 km.

The exterior styling proudly displays the Type S’ potential, with a front bumper lip spoiler and a decklid spoiler, both finished in glossy black, along with prominent quad exhaust tips. It looks mean, yet doesn’t scream “boy racer” so customers of all ages can appreciate the look. It should also age well over time.

One thing that doesn’t age well at all is the 2023 Acura TLX’s infotainment system. Even with more experience at the wheel, and getting used to the interface, the user experience isn’t good. The console-mounted touchpad with its concave surface is difficult to use while driving, trying to choose the right button on the screen is distracting, and we just don’t get the point of splitting up the display in two sections when the 10.2-inch screen isn’t all that big to begin with. The system should be much simpler to use.

2023 Acura TLX Type S

On the other hand, interior fit and finish is quite good, the switchgear feels solid, and the infotainment system interface is the only major ergonomic flaw. Well, the transmission selector buttons and switches also takes getting used to.

While the U.S. market gets a choice of Ebony, Red and Orchid interior color schemes, again, the Canadian market doesn’t get the third option, and Acura Canada has already taken the pleasure of choosing which interior color goes with what paint job. Authentic open-pore wood or carbon fibre trim can be added, but overall, sport sedan buyers get a lot more interior customization options over at BMW.

As for interior space, just like in the regular TLX, the low roofline makes us sit low to the ground, like a sports coupe. Rear-seat room is adequate, though the middle-seat occupant will rub his or her head against the headliner. The 16-way power-adjustable sport seats are comfy and supportive, though. We get that the Advance/Premium Elite are the most luxurious U.S./Canada trim levels, but why can’t the Type S also have heated rear seats, too?

Base price for the 2023 Acura TLX Type S starts at $56,745 in the United States and at $63,875 in Canada, freight and delivery charges included. That’s on par with its equivalents at Volvo and Infiniti, a little costlier than the Cadillac, the Lexus and the Genesis, and cheaper than the Audi, the BMW and the Mercedes-Benz. What the Acura can do better than some of its rivals is keep a good resale value, while its reliability record is stained a little by issues with its engine, brakes and infotainment system, according to owner data collected by Consumer Reports.

Offers performance, looks and handling, the 2023 Acura TLX Type S is the type of vehicle the brand should be selling all year, every year, not just sporadically and once every decade or so. To be truly competitive, Acura should overhaul its infotainment system interface and increase its list of interior and exterior colours, but leave the rest as is.

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