By on May 27, 2020

We’re still a day away from the (online) debut of Acura’s next-generation TLX sedan, and already there’s catnip to be had for the performance and handling crowd. And for lovers of tradition and heritage, too.

Late Tuesday, Acura revealed that the TLX won’t just feature a slinky body and potent — yet unspecified — powertrain. The new sedan will also break from its predecessor by reaching further into the past, returning to a suspension type that made past Acuras top performers in their class.

We’re of course talking about double wishbones, which Acura confirmed will be found up front in the 2021 TLX. If you were worried the TLX would end up as a flashy retread of your basic Honda Accord or the like, breathe easy — the new car rides atop a dedicated platform, with the eradication of the current-generation model’s MacPherson strut setup lending credence to Acura’s promise of the “quickest, best-handling, and most well-appointed sport sedan in Acura history.”

The source of the upcoming TLX’s power remains to be seen, but the architecture and chassis seems to meld with the brand’s promise of a legit sports sedan. Recall that this is the car that returns the Type S designation to the fold.

Image: Acura

While the current TLX, which debuted in 2014 for the 2015 model year, made do with a front suspension you’d find on most pedestrian vehicles, its TL predecessor boasted double wishbones for better road-holding in hard cornering. Keeping a car planted, at speed, in turns becomes much easier when all available rubber maintains contact with the road.

Indeed, Acura used this suspension setup to tempt customers during the brand’s heyday in the 1990s and early 2000s, foisting it on the Integra and Legend, too — as well as the NSX that actually sold. Speaking of which, Acura had best hope there remains an itch out there for a premium Japanese sedan that hustles.

Acura TLX sales fell for each year of the current generation model’s existence, falling from more than 47,000 units in the U.S. in 2015 to just over 26,000 last year. Back in the pre-beak mid-2000s, Acura sold more than 70,000 TLs each year. That was a different era, of course, and it remains to be seen whether this new TLX can rekindle some of the old magic.

[Images: Acura]

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38 Comments on “Back to the Future: Acura TLX Ditches the MacPhersons...”


  • avatar
    Chocolatedeath

    Looks nice but we will see how long this dedicated platform will stay exclusive before the Accord gets it. As far as the current model goes I still prefer the TL if for nothing else its size. The current one is way to tight in back. Also I realize that the RLX did not sell well why couldnt they put this much effort into it. Even though it still wouldnt sell in vast numbers folks like me would have atleast gave it a second look.

    • 0 avatar
      cardave5150

      I don’t think that sharing a platform with the Accord would be a bad thing, as long as the platform is GOOD. No reason to have a problem with Accords sharing some of this good stuff, if it means they can amortize development over a few-hundred-thousand additional units.

      • 0 avatar
        sgeffe

        It would be nice to see that sort of thing for a future Accord, a-la what Toyota did with the 1992-1995 Camry, which essentially was a Lexus with cloth seats and not leather, but with all of the rest of the quality.

        Sadly, the best part of this car, the 3.0T V6, will likely remain Acura-only.

      • 0 avatar
        stuki

        I can’t imagine wishbones on an Accord. People buying family sedans these days, generally prefer “strutty” handling from the front (less risk/feeling of tucking in when hitting a bump midcorner, and less edgy handling in general). Porsche uses struts in their sports cars (albeit only in mid and rear engined ones. The Pan has wishbones), so you’d think if it can be made to handle well enough for them, it should be good enough for an Accord. The Japanese, perhaps because of their emphasis on driving around Mt Fuji, on crazy tight roads where every single corner has wet leaves at the apes all year around, are obsessed with front ends that stick like a race car’s. On roads like that, drifting really is no longer just for show. You almost have to have a car set up to “sacrifice” the rear before front, unless you want to risk washing into the ditch in almost every corner.

        I can’t imagine the “dedicated platform” goes all that deep, though, unless versions of this is also being planned for markets outside North America.

        • 0 avatar
          conundrum

          Strutty handling? That’s a new one. Do tell. Like a Supra, any BMW, 600 hp Porsche turbos or what most people think is the best handling sports car the Boxster, struts work just fine. Even on the Civic Type R.

          Past Honda double A arms had uselessly small 4.5 inches total travel, which negated the point of that type of suspension completely. How much extra camber change are you going to get in a strut suspensiom with such little travel? It’s all marketing nonsense for fanbois.

          Read EngTips suspension forum to discover the yawning chasm between actually knowing something about handling and the average man on the street’s old wive’s tales. Like yours.

  • avatar
    indi500fan

    Is Acura sold worldwide? Or at least the US Acura models under the Honda name? Difficult to believe the volume here in NA is enough to keep the party going, unless there’s enough corporate drones on payroll with organizational influence to keep the party going.

  • avatar
    Car Ramrod

    I’m genuinely interested in a Japanese ports sedan that’s fun and has room for actual people in the back. Bought a 3rd gen TL when they first came out, these days I’m one or two headaches away from kicking the aging German car addiction.

    Acura seems to be banking on there still being audience for pseudo German sedan fun without German maintenance headaches.

    • 0 avatar
      Superdessucke

      Me too. I just bought a new car so I will not be in the market for a while. But, as a former RSX Type-S owner, it has broken my heart to see what Acura has devolved into. Hopefully, this resurrects the brand. I’m very excited to see this tomorrow!

      • 0 avatar
        JMII

        This gives a glimmer of hope for a return to Honda’s and Acura’s excellent handling of old. However its likely too little too late. The market for this kind of vehicle is getting smaller and most consumers don’t care about handling. If people cared about driving feel and feedback Mazda’s would be flying off the lot. Most people want numb appliances with sport badges on them.

  • avatar
    slavuta

    WOW! My 1990 Civic was $8K and had double wishbones in all 4 corners

    • 0 avatar

      *much less equipment
      **tiny
      ***not nearly as safe
      ****not nearly as powerful
      *****figure not inflation adjusted

      If you’re going to use 30-year-old hyperbolic references, you have to include the asterisks.

      • 0 avatar
        slavuta

        I crashed it head-on @40mph… No airbags.. I am still here

        • 0 avatar
          notapreppie

          Is that supposed to be some sort of evidence in a debate?

          • 0 avatar
            Attack Roflchopter

            I would say that is evidence, yes. He crashed, he lived. I can remember in the 90s going on about how much safer my little 4G civic was over my first car which was a 67 beetle.

        • 0 avatar

          “No airbags.. I am still here”

          It depends on how you define the “I”. Is it still the same “I” that was before crash? There may be subtle nuances that grow considerably over time and as result your new “I” has a very different personality which may or may not coexist with the original “I” you were born with.

          • 0 avatar
            slavuta

            “Is it still the same “I” that was before crash?”

            Actually, worse. 2 Weeks after crash, I purchased 240SX and this thing was real fun. Took it out on snow days to.

          • 0 avatar
            Lorenzo

            If it’s true every, or most every cell in your body is replaced over seven years, there would have been a different slavuta eventually anyway.

          • 0 avatar

            “most every cell in your body is replaced over seven years”

            No, cells are hardware. We are talking about software – how cells connected, the pattern that dramatically evolves over time from carrying pictures of chairman Mao to everything is alright.

    • 0 avatar
      Superdessucke

      It was a Huge deal back in 2000 when it was announced that the 7th gen 2001 Civic would ditch the double wishbone and go to Macpherson struts. Nearly 20 years later, Honda’s finally reversing course and going back to at least one thing which made it special. A good sign.

      • 0 avatar
        sgeffe

        Yes.

        The advent of the RSX, which ditched the ‘bones, is when Acura (and Honda) started losing the plot, IMHO.

        We’ll see if this new TLX marks a true turnaround. Despite how good my 2019 Accord Touring is, the 4th-Gen Accord (1990-1993, the generation following the “hidden headlights”) is still my benchmark, and IIRC, a survey of the B&B from a couple years back said the same thing.

      • 0 avatar
        psychoboy

        Somewhere in an automotive magazine from that era, I read a quote from a Honda person (PR flack? engineer?) who admitted the reason the Civic was ditching the upper control arms after 13 years and three generations was to limit the platform’s appeal to the boy-racer crowd. It seems Honda felt their Civic was losing grandmother and secretary new car sales due to how the model was portrayed in the second-hand market and the Fast & Furious franchise.

        ….and so began Honda’s lost decade.

      • 0 avatar
        Lorenzo

        So I can go back to Monroe Gas-Matics, right?

  • avatar

    “…the new car rides atop a dedicated platform…”

    This combined with the suspension is a promising start.

  • avatar
    3800FAN

    Honda giveth and honda taketh away.

  • avatar
    notapreppie

    Wait, I thought that MacStruts were usually employed for packaging reasons. Mostly with transverse/FWD cars.

    Did they come up with a new way to package a transverse/FWD configuration to work well with double-turkeys or is the TLX going to be a longitudinal/RWD platform?

  • avatar
    dal20402

    10-speed auto only in the initial base model.

    I’ll continue to hold out hope for a manual in the Type S, but in my heart of hearts I know better.

    I still think about my 2004 TSX and its beautifully shifting 6-speed all the time. The 6-speed/K24 powertrain was absolutely perfect for city use. Such slick shifting. Never felt strained, but also not so powerful you’d be committing a felony if you wound it out.

    • 0 avatar
      bobbysirhan

      There’s something to be said for a moderately powerful but fun to drive car. I’ve had cars where a heavy foot spills everyone’s coffee and draws every eyeball to the horizon, and I’ve had cars where the engine is responsive enough to alter my line through a corner but not to break 14 seconds in the quarter mile. The latter ones do the best job of being fun on the street while being inexpensive to run.

  • avatar
    Varezhka

    I really do not understand Honda. Do they really need another dedicated FWD mid/full-size platform when their engineering resources are already stretched quite thin? That’s a big part of their recent decline in product reliability.

    If they really want to spend that money, at least go RWD as a clear differentiator. Otherwise, it will just be seen as a bigger/expensive Accord like the RLX, different platform or not.

    • 0 avatar
      bobbysirhan

      I suspect this is the next Accord. Do you remember when Lexus launched the ES250 and people were pretty disappointed that a sister car to the LS400 was a BMW-fied Camry? When the ES300 came out, they introduced the Lexus first and the press talked about how the Camry that followed was a bargain Lexus. Maybe someone at Honda isn’t completely out of their depth after all. We’ll know if they introduce a naturally aspirated model with a manual transmission for people who have driveways full of aging Hondas and Acuras that they bought new and can’t find worthy replacements for.

    • 0 avatar
      sgeffe

      This essentially moves the TLX upmarket a bit, and speculation is that the ILX may be transformed into a more complete offering, instead of simply a tarted-up last-gen Civic, to get the buyers of the current base TLX. Think a mature version of the Civic Type-R.

      Might they rename it to something like..hmm..I know..INTEGRA?! One could only hope!

      • 0 avatar
        Art Vandelay

        @sgeffe, one can only hope this is the case with the ILX.

        Love the type R’s drive, bit I’m not 23 anymore so the rest of it does nothing but turn me off.

  • avatar
    Jerome10

    Nobody cares. Sales will tank. Acura is deader than dead.

    And I like Honda’s.

  • avatar
    HotPotato

    Wow, that’s…actually good looking from the side. Almost rear wheel drive proportions. This thing vs. a Stinger, anyone?

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