2022 Acura TLX: legit 3 Series, C-Class, A4 alternative?

2021 Acura TLX Type S

By Chuck Giametta

What changes will make the 2022 Acura TLX different?

Little of significance as Acura’s best-ever sedan sails into the sophomore season of a brand-new design. Today’s shapely second-generation TLX debuted for model-year 2021 and continues for ’22 as competition for the BMW 3 Series, Mercedes-Benz C-Class, Audi A4 and other premium-compact cars.

Expect the 2022 TLX to return a core lineup of four-cylinder models and a higher-performance Type S version with a V-6. Both engines will again be turbocharged and link to an automatic transmission. All-wheel drive (AWD) will remain standard for the Type S and optional in place of front-wheel drive for the four-cylinder models.

Should I wait for the 2022 TLX or buy a 2021?

2021 TLX Advance Package

Buy a ’21. The ’22 won’t change enough to wait for, but it’s almost certain to cost more. In fact, don’t look for any noteworthy alterations to the TLX until styling and features are updated as part of a midcycle refresh on track for model-year 2024.

Buying a ’21 or a ’22 TLX will get you what Acura accurately describes as the “quickest, best-handling and most well-appointed sedan in the brand’s 35-year history.” Featuring a body and understructure not shared with any other Acura — or anything from parent-company, Honda – the ’22 TLX will again be priced less than many premium-compact rivals.

Will 2022 TLX styling be different?      

2021 TLX Type S

There might be a new color choice or two, maybe a fresh wheel design, but the 2022 TLX will be a carbon copy of the ’21. Lower, wider, and sleeker than the 2015-2020 first-generation, the front-drive-based ’22 TLX will again mimic the look of a sedan based on a rear-wheel-drive platform – the prestigious form of engineering used by almost all of its rivals.

Expect the ’22 lineup to return four-cylinder 2.0T models in four grades: Base, better-outfitted Technology, sporty A-Spec, and fully equipped Advance. Appearance differences among 2.0Ts should again include 18-inch alloy wheels for the Base trim and fancier 19s for the others. The A-Spec will again stand apart with a rear spoiler, gloss-black accents, and darkened headlights, taillights, and wheels.

The 2022 TLX Type S will again share the A-Spec’s basic look but use a different grille pattern and bigger front vents to help cool its larger engine. It’ll also double exhaust outlets to four and add some lower-body aero trim. The ’22 Type S will also continue with upgraded Brembo-brand brakes with red calipers and roll on 20-inch 10-spoke alloy wheels. Expect the return of the Performance Wheel & Tire package with extra-grippy summer tires in place of all-season tread and weight-saving “Y-Spoke” 20-inch alloys.

Inside, all 2022 TLXs will again share a determinedly sporty layout Acura calls a “Dual Personal Cockpit.” The Base model should return with leatherette upholstery. Perforated Milano leather would remain standard on all the others, with the A-Spec and Type S again getting black Ultrasuede seat inserts and a flat-bottom steering wheel.

2021 TLX A-Spec

Every ’22 TLX will again come with a 10.2-inch tablet-like infotainment screen and Apple CarPlay and Android Auto support. Wireless smartphone charging should again be optional for Base and Technology models and standard otherwise. Imbedded navigation that doesn’t require a cell signal for real-time GPS mapping should remain standard on all but the Base model.

Expect heated power front seats to return as standard across the board; all but the Base and Technology should again have front-seat ventilation. Look for the Advance to return with heated rear seats as an exclusive standard feature. A heated steering wheel should also remain standard on the Advance and an option for all other ’22 TLXs. A 10.5-inch head-up instrument display should also remain an Advance exclusive.

All models will reprise ambient LED cabin lighting; on all but the Base grade the lighting will again change with each driver-selected driving mode is adjustable to 24 different color schemes. A premium ELS-brand audio system should again be standard starting with the Technology model.   

All this makes for a compelling premium compact that has all the hallmarks of a genuine sport sedan. That claim is underscored by the car’s energetic proportions and punctuated by an eye-catching grille that on non-Type S models boasts a plastic insert with an especially dynamic pattern. Even the exterior door handles are special in their form and inviting in their function.

2021 TLX A-Spec

The “Dual Personal Cockpit” design imparts a close-cropped feel for front seaters, a diminution accentuated by such details as rather too-small dashboard vents. The ’22 TLX will again be about as wide overall as most rivals, but its interior seems scaled down a few percent from the likes of the 3 Series and C-Class.

Acura’s 2021 redesign added a significant 3.7 inches to the wheelbase. That distance between the front and rear axles is a key determinate of passenger legroom. The ’22 TLX will again boast one of the longest wheelbases in its competitive set. Yet, the interior packaging gives passengers no more room to stretch than in top rivals. And the relatively low roofline leaves scant clearance for rear occupants taller than 5-feet-9 or so. Still, the seats are supportive and comfortable, and four adults can easily ride for reasonable distances without complaint.

However, many drivers are apt to take issue with Acura’s True Touchpad Interface. A roughly 2-square-inch trackpad on the center console, it’s the main physical control for most of the TLX’s infotainment functions. It’s based on a feature the automaker calls absolute positioning. A finger on the touchpad displays a cursor in the corresponding location on the dashboard screen. It reacts accurately to the correct tap, but your natural tendency to slide your finger from one quadrant to another can confuse it. And the need to glance frequently between screen and pad to synchronize commands is not conducive to safe driving.

2021 TLX True Touchpad Interface

Compounding the problem is a dash screen too far from the driver, with type too small, to be easily read if you lack really sharp vision. The whole setup is far more distracting than the larger, closer touchscreens or turn-and-push console control knobs found in some rivals.

Some drivers are also likely to prefer a traditional transmission lever to the TLX’s console buttons. They require acclimatization and never seem to achieve the second-nature status of a conventional gear lever.

Materials quality is generally top-notch. Look for the Advanced model to return with real open-pore-wood cabin trim to return as standard with the Advanced Package and optional for all but the Base model. Genuine aluminum trim should again be standard on other TLXs, including the Type S, with carbon fiber remaining available on all but the Base grade.

Interior surfaces will again feel substantial and be grained or padded where expected — with the glaring 2021 TLX exception of the plain plastic surface right of the True Touchpad Interface. Adding a soft skin to this face and upgrading from the parts-bin volume knob and tuning toggle it hosts would enhance the 2022 TLX experience. 

Interior storage space is good for the size of the cockpit. At 13.5 cubic feet, trunk volume is competitive in the segment. But the tight opening and the lumpy contours of the trunk’s sidewalls detract from its utility. Acura does deserve credit for shielding contents from the lid’s hinges by housing them within flocked panels.

Any 2022 TLX mechanical changes?

2021 TLX Type S

Extremely unlikely. Expect the 2022 TLX in both 2.0T and Type S form to carryover mechanically unchanged – a stasis to be celebrated.

These sedans should retain a tight, taut overall feel with no slop in the suspension and an impressive precision to the steering. Every ’22 TLX should again feel nimble when changing direction and locked-in during straight-line cruising. Indeed, Acura has achieved a Germanic feel some German-brand rivals don’t always deliver.

The 2022 TLX 2.0T models will again use a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine with 272 horsepower and 280 pound-feet of torque (think of torque as the key ingredient in acceleration). That output should remain slightly above average for 2.0-liter turbo fours in this competitive set.

The ’22 TLX Type S will reprise a turbocharged 3.0-liter V-6 with 355 horsepower and 354 pound-feet of torque. Among direct rivals with turbo sixes, the ’22 Audi S4 should return with 349 horsepower and 369 pound-feet of torque; the BMW M340i with 382 horses and 369 pound-feet; the Genesis G70 with 365 and 376, respectively; and the Mercedes-AMG C43 with 385 and 384, respectively.  

All 2022 TLXs will again have a 10-speed automatic transmission with steering-wheel shift paddles offering manual-type gear control. They’ll also be back with Acura’s Integrated Dynamics System that calibrates powertrain, steering, and AWD response within driver-selected Normal, Comfort, Sport, and Individual modes.

2021 TLX Integrated Dynamics System controller

The ’22 Type S will retain an additional Sport+ mode and its transmission will again feature rev-matching downshifts. It’ll also return with a stiffer suspension, larger anti-roll bars, and larger brakes than the 2.0Ts. And both the Type S and the 2.0T Advance model will again come with driver-adjustable suspension firmness.

Continuing at extra cost on the 2.0T models and as standard on the Type S will be Acura’s Super Handling All-Wheel Drive (SH-AWD). It can transfer up to 70 percent of the engine’s torque to the rear axle during normal driving conditions, while continuously apportioning up to 100 percent of that rear-axle torque between the left- and right-rear wheels.

In our tests, SH-AWD gives any TLX a reasonable rear-drive feel especially noticeable when powering out of corners. The Type S dials everything up a notch, honing handling with quicker turn-in and more cornering grip, advantages particularly evident with the Performance Wheel & Tire package.

The 2.0T models should continue to ride firmly but remain sufficiently compliant to keep bumps from jarring the structure. By contrast, the 2022 TLX Type S will likely continue to suffer intrusive impart harshness over ruts, pavement joints, and potholes. It’s enough to warrant a long test drive to see if you find this comfort tradeoff worth the Type S’s performance advantages. 

Expect 2022 TLX 2.0T models to again accelerate off the line smartly and scoot through city and suburban traffic. In Normal and Comfort mode, however, our 2.0T test models were slow to respond to the throttle in highway-speed merging and passing situations. Sport mode delivered the kick needed to make such maneuvers effortless and added another degree of sporty brio around town, too.

At roughly 4.5 seconds 0-60 mph, the ’22 TLX Type S should again beat a 2.0T by about 1.5 seconds. It’ll pack a commensurate punch in other driving, too, its turbo boost coming on more forcefully and with less lag than with the four-cylinder. While no match for full-on high-performance premium compacts — like the far more expensive 503-horsepower BMW M3, 505-horsepower Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio, or 472-horse Cadillac CT4-V Blackwing — a 2022 TLX Type S will again deliver all the acceleration most drivers will ever need.

Will 2022 TLX fuel economy improve?

2021 TLX Advance Package

Expect 2022 TLX EPA ratings to repeat those of the 2021 models, maintaining these Acura sedans on par with direct rivals of similar power. With front-wheel drive, the ’22 TLX 2.0T models should again rate 22/31/25 mpg city/highway/combined (22/30/25 for the A-Spec grade). With AWD, look for all 2.0Ts to repeat at 21/29/24 mpg.

EPA ratings for the ’22 TLX Type S should remain 19/25/21 mpg, or 19/24/21 with Performance Wheel & Tire package. Acura should continue to recommend premium-grade 91-octane gasoline for all ’22 TLX models.

Will the 2022 TLX have new features?

2021 TLX Advance Package

Nothing new is likely. The ’22 TLX will continue to furnish an impressive array of comfort and convenience items, many of them, such as imbedded navigation and leather upholstery, standard on far more trim levels than is common even in this upscale segment.

We would, however, suggest Acura extend the safety of blind-spot and rear cross-traffic detection to the Base-level 2022 TLX. Sure, only 15 percent of TLX buyers are expected to choose that grade. But those who don’t spring for the Technology Package – at $4,000 for 2021, the least expensive way to add those driver assists – deserve their protection, too.

Still, even the Base 2022 TLX will return with a good selection of standard safety features under the AcuraWatch bundle of assists. Included will be autonomous emergency braking designed stop the car automatically to mitigate a frontal collision with another vehicle, object, or pedestrian.

Lane-departure warning with automatic steering correction is part of the suite. So is adaptive cruise control designed to maintain a set distance from traffic ahead, even in stop-and-go driving. Among other returning conveniences: brake hold that keeps the vehicle stationary without requiring constant pressure on the brake pedal, and remote window lowering and sunroof opening via the keyfob.

In addition to features mentioned earlier, expect the 2022 TLX Base grade to also return with automatic highbeam headlights, dual-zone automatic climate control, keyless access with pushbutton ignition, heated front seats, a 12-way power driver’s seat with power lumbar adjustmet, a power moonroof, and ambient cabin lighting.

All ’22 TLX models will also come with AcuraLink telematics. This includes a WiFi hotspot, Android Auto and Apple CarPlay with Siri Eyes Free, and a multi-angle rearview camera. Also available through AcuraLink should be Key by Amazon In-Car Delivery. It enables TLX owners with Amazon Prime to use their cellphone to remotely unlock and then relock their car to accept a package.

The 2022 TLX Technology Package will again build on the Base model with navigation and leather, plus Acura’s noteworthy ELS audio system with 13 speakers, and front and rear parking sensors. All ’22 TLXs should return with two charging USB ports for the front seats. Acura would do well to offer USB connectivity for rear-seaters, too – at least as part of the Technology Package. Same goes for a power trunklid, a common feature in this class. Also on the to-do list to make the ’22 TLX more competitive: offer remote engine start as standard on more than just the Advance package models.

In addition to its appearance and upholstery upgrades, the A-Spec package should again include all the above, plus “shark gray” alloy wheels, LED fog lights, stainless steel-trimmed gas and brake pedals, ventilated front seats, a 17-speaker ELS audio system, and a black headliner.

The 2022 TLX 2.0T line’s flagship Advance Package should continue to include the cabin and audio upgrades and the adaptive suspension, plus power-folding outside mirrors, LED puddle lights, a heated steering wheel, front seats with power thigh extension and side-bolster adjustment, a clear and informative head-up instrument display, 16-way power adjustable front seats, rain-sensing windshield wipers, and a surround-view camera.

Type S will return with its performance upgrades and appearance exclusives while otherwise duplicating much of the Advance Package content except for the surround-view camera and head-up instrument display.

How much will the 2022 TLX cost?

2021 TLX A-Spec

At roughly $39,000-$54,500, the 2022 Acura TLX should continue to undercut every direct rival from a European brand, be slightly less expensive than the impressive Genesis G70 from South Korea’s Hyundai family, and remain competitively priced against similarly equipped examples of Detroit’s Cadillac CT4. That should hold even with the almost inevitable year-over-year price inflation. 

Note that, as per Honda/Acura custom, expect few if any factory options. Each ’22 TLX grade should again have a contained set of features as part of its base price. Here, however, Acura could well continue to offer as dealer-installed options equipment not commonly available in that form.

For ’21, the dealer-installed extras were limited to the 2.0T line. Buyers could add a variety of items to models on which they weren’t standard, including fog lamps ($600); various exterior dress-ups, such as chrome emblems and spoilers ($50-$750); remote engine start ($416); a heated steering wheel ($475), wood interior trim ($499); and black 19-inch alloy wheels ($460 for four). 

For reference, here are model-year-2021 TLX prices, including Acura’s $1,025 destination fee. In the 2.0T line and with front-wheel drive, the ’21 TLX Base model was priced at $38,525, with the Technology Package at $42,525, with the A-Spec kit at $40,275, and in Advance Package form at $47,275.

Expect Acura to again add $2,000 to 2.0T-line prices for SH-AWD.

The 2021 TLX Type S, with SH-AWD standard, was priced at $53,325, or at $54,125 with the Performance Wheel & Tire package.     

When will the 2022 TLX come out?

2021 TLX Type S

Expect a 2022 TLX release date in the third quarter of 2021.

Best 2022 TLX competitors

Alfa Romeo Giulia, Audi A4, BMW 3 Series, Cadillac CT4, Genesis G70, Lexus IS, Mercedes-Benz C-Class, Tesla Model 3

About Chuck Giametta

This nationally recognized, award-winning writer brings to Carpreview.com two decades of automotive testing and reporting for newspapers, books, magazines, and the Internet. The former Executive Auto Editor of Consumer Guide, Chuck has covered cars for HowStuffWorks.com, Collectible Automobile magazine, and the Publications International Ltd. automotive book series. This ex-newspaper reporter has also appeared as an automotive expert on network television and radio. He’s a charter member of the Midwest Automotive Media Association, the president of the Rocky Mountain Automotive Media association, and a juror for the annual Active Lifestyle Vehicle of the Year awards. Chuck writes from Colorado Springs, Colo. If you have a question for Chuck, write to him at [email protected]