By on June 23, 2021

The 2021 Acura TLX Type S is currently being shined up in showrooms around the country in the hopes of catching the eye of people that still remember the brand formerly produced a handful of downright excellent performance vehicles. It’s specifically trying to recapture the magic of the TSX — which the rest of the world knew as the fun version of the Honda Accord — and appears to have been built under a similar philosophy.

Rather than committing itself to ludicrous levels of power or an overabundance of attitude, Acura has attempted to deliver a balanced, tasteful luxury vehicle that can still scramble like an egg. While the previous offspring of this mindset made do with roughly 200 horsepower, the TLX Type S produces a much more meaty 355 horsepower and 354 pound-feet of torque and recently dropped some additional marketing materials to drive that point home now that it’s on sale. 

Developed by a team of Japanese and American engineers that were responsible for the Honda Civic Type R and Acura NSX, the TLX’s 3.0-liter, 24-valve DOHC V6 with a single twin-scroll turbocharger. Mated to a 10-speed automatic, the unit borrows a lot from the company’s familiar 3.5-liter V6 but has undergone a multitude of changes to ensure it’s capable of taking a fair amount of abuse and fits snugly within the engine bay.

From Acura:

Numerous engineering steps were taken to ensure the new engine’s compact size and low profile that enabled it to fit in the TLX engine room. This includes the placement of the turbocharger adjacent to the engine above the transmission and the use of low-profile cylinder heads. Separate cam bearing caps have been replaced by caps directly incorporating into the valve cover itself, lowering the engine’s height and reducing the number of parts. Fully assembled, the engine is 8 mm shorter than the naturally aspirated 3.5-liter V6.

Featuring a robust rotating assembly to meet the demands of extreme performance and durability, the Type S Turbo V6 employs a high-stress forged steel crankshaft and forged steel connecting rods. To help reduce emissions, the top piston ring carrier of its pistons is a high-density Ni-resist cast iron, which features better wear characteristics and better sealing.

There was also a bunch of talk about optimizing the turbocharger, exhaust system, and catalytic converter in a manner that’s designed to manage heat in a way that’s more environmentally sound. But that’s incredibly boring and not something anybody buying a performance sedan is likely to be interested in. Here’s what’s important: the turbo boost kicks on early, peaks 15.1 psi, and results in the full 354 lb-ft of torque being delivered at 1,400 rpm.

Engine assembly is completed in Anna, Ohio, and the unit is supposed to pair exceptionally well with the TLX’s upgraded suspension and “Super Handling All-Wheel Drive” system. Acura has also chosen to outfit the exhaust with butterfly valves that let drivers tailor the fervor of the sounds it makes via several drive modes. These selections also change throttle response, steering inputs, shift program, suspension dampening, torque vectoring, and even the look of the vehicle’s interior display.

While transformative, nothing about the car makes it seem as though it’s supposed to be riding on the bleeding edge of performance and it’s been electronically limited to 155 mph. But that’s largely fine when the sedan was clearly designed to be a luxury vehicle first and foremost. Nobody expects to see the TLX Type S mixing it up with the Mazda MX-5, Nissan 370Z, Mustang GT, and BMW 3-Series on weekend track days with any regularity. It’s tastefully restrained and meant to convey passengers around in a respectable and reliable manner, retaining the option to shake things up with serious on-demand performance.

Interested parties will need to be ready to drop $53,325 for the top-trimmed TSX. But you’ll probably want to spend another $800 to get the High Performance Wheel & Tire Package. This swaps the Pirelli Cinturato P7 tires for a set of aggressive P Zeros and substantially lighter wheels — cutting nearly 24 pounds of unsprung weight from the car. Considering the TSX Type S tips the scales at 4,221 pounds, we imagine it’ll make an appreciable difference at the limit.

There are certainly cheaper ways to get more horsepower from a comfortable car. But Acura is trying to offer a relatively complete performance package that’s capable of providing all-day comfort, engaging handling, and just enough panache to make you wonder if you really need to go with a fancier nameplate. We’re liking what we’re seeing thus far and are curious how the model stacks up against the V6-equipped Genesis G70, as well as the sea of European executive cars both are obviously targeting, in a road test.


[Images: Acura]

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29 Comments on “Acura Explains Thinking Behind TSX Type S, Details Engine...”

  • avatar

    This headline and the tags need to take the L.

  • avatar

    “While transformative, nothing about the car makes it seem as though it’s supposed to be riding on the bleeding edge of performance and it’s been electronically limited to 155 mph. But that’s largely fine when the sedan was clearly designed to be a luxury vehicle first and foremost.”

    “But that’s largely fine when the sedan was clearly designed to be a FWD vehicle first and foremost.”

    Fixed it for you.

  • avatar
    Rick Astley

    The v6 used in the Type-S is simply the motor they developed for the stillborn NSX that was nixed in favor of the hybrid setup that went into the actual NSX.

    There’s a bit of talk about this on Temple of Vtec. But as far as a ton of extra work, this motor might have been a bit taller for NSX duties, but they didn’t have to do too much here.

    Regardless, the manual transmission TSX was on my short-list as I wish to have a manual and prefer the sedan form factor and have a budget of ~$40-50K (not many options with those requirements), but for the price they are asking, this car makes no sense aside from it having an actual manual transmission. Ordered a Bronco instead (2.3, MT). It wasn’t a sedan, but what the hay, it seems like more value and fun at the price point than this TSX.

  • avatar

    So is it a TSX, or TLX? If it’s the latter, they should bring back the former. And the RSX.

  • avatar

    Off topic, but these newer articles based on press releases are about a hundred thousand times better than the ones written by Sakurai.

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    What a fawning puff piece.

    “But that’s largely fine when the sedan was clearly designed to be a luxury vehicle first and foremost.”

    Sure, yet we get no photos or description of the luxury interior, but 2 photos of the engine along with a detailed description and mfr-supplied video of its engineering modifications.

    “Rather than committing itself to ludicrous levels of power or an overabundance of attitude”

    Because that would be the Bad Plaid, and this is the tasteful Acura. You just can’t help yourself.

  • avatar

    Only about ten years late. The brain trust at Acura looked long and hard at BMW/Benz marketing, saw that they could again sell 5/8 the car, tarted up enough, for 7/8 the money, and it was a go !

    Too expensive for an FWD chassis, sorry. North-South only at this price.

    A blown six (one turbo ! don’t knock yourselves out).

    Who keeps the engineers tied up in the basement ?

    • 0 avatar
      SCE to AUX

      In 10 years, this TSX will be a featured Rare Ride.

      The B&B will comment on how Acura lost its way after the Integra, and someone will say they’d buy the listed car if the owner wasn’t asking $40k.

  • avatar

    I owned a TSX, one of the first to come off the boat in late spring 2003. It was in some ways the most satisfying car I’ve ever owned, certainly the most balanced and usable on the street.

    This doesn’t replicate what made the TSX special. This is more of a successor to the 3.2TL Type S; it’s just an average transverse sedan with a stonking engine.

    The TSX was about balance and driver involvement. The 6-speed stick was just as good as it is in every other Honda application; throws were short and precise and it was easy to keep the engine in its midrange-heavy powerband. The four-cylinder engine meant the car was fairly light (over 800 lbs lighter than this porker!) and had decent weight distribution for a front-driver. You could toss it around in everyday traffic and get real grins from driving it at moderate speeds. This new car is just about acceleration and little else.

    I am hoping that the new Civic Si will actually be more of a TSX successor.

    • 0 avatar

      I had a 3.2TL. It was a great car – and I agree, basically the progenitor for this one. Satisfying V6, nice-enough interior, not a particularly flashy badge, reliable as heck, cheap service, and $5k less than a RWD equivalent from BMW. At least in 2008 that BMW would be a much more satisfying drive, but these days I don’t know what you get for the Roundel Tax.

      • 0 avatar

        “but these days I don’t know what you get for the Roundel Tax.”

        Brilliantly focused engineering aimed at stability, efficiency, poise and grace at autobahn speeds (Even the 3er is solid enough to “invite” texting while flying down the road at 155 now). With near everything else sacrificed to that end.

        Doesn’t make them objectively bad at more sedate driving. Just a bit dead, heavy feeling and remote.

    • 0 avatar

      This is a pretty insightful comparison, I think. I can’t quite figure out who will be excited for this car. Someone who wants “performance”, and is willing to pay for it, but doesn’t quite understand it?

      • 0 avatar

        I’d be more worried about the “understanding” part wrt those who see 355hp, 10 speeds, SH-AWD and Honda Si/R/NSX class chassis tuning, and don’t realize it resolves to plenty of “performance.”

        Like most “executive” class performance vehicles these days, it’s unlikely to be all that viscerally exciting to drive, though. But that’s rarely why these are bought. They’re bough for competence (and even then, mainly in the hands of Top Gear reviewers…..), not involvement.

        • 0 avatar

          But this level of objective performance is superfluous on the street and the driver involvement that’s missing is the important part. I don’t want to drive antisocially fast and be bored; I want to drive at reasonable speeds and have it be fun.

          • 0 avatar

            That’s my issue with how supposed “performance” cars have become, in the spec-sheets, ‘Ring times, and track-reviews era as well.

            The cars are great for 1000 mile days blitzing Nevada backroads at 120+. But for everything remotely legal, a Civic Si, Type R, Hyundai N, Gti, Hemi Challenger, Hellcat-anything etc (not to mention the 86, Miata, FiST and GR Yaris, although those are a bit small), are just more rewarding.

  • avatar
    Tele Vision

    ‘Developed by a team of Japanese and American engineers that were responsible…’

    Here are your two choices:

    A) ‘Developed by THE team of Japanese and American engineers that WAS responsible…’ – referencing the operative word ‘team’;

    B) ‘Developed by a team of Japanese and American engineers WHO were responsible…’ – referencing the operative word ‘engineers’.


    A Pedant

  • avatar

    How far has Acura fallen? Appears they decided to use the Kia Stinger as a benchmark.


  • avatar

    I am sorry but it does not look like a luxury vehicle at all. Honda has to learn few things from Hyundai about how to make luxury vehicles.

  • avatar
    Robert Schwartz

    I read about it, and I bought an Avalon to replace my 2014 Accord V6.

  • avatar

    Oh, Mr. Tele Vision, so you’re the pedant that goes around correcting people? I guess I should blame the author, he’s the one that wrote the article. ;)

    • 0 avatar
      Tele Vision


      One of them, yes. I dropped out of the major’s ( majors’ ) program in English at the University of Calgary to go play music. Twice. I remember some of it, at least: The schooling – not the music. I don’t remember any of the gigging and touring and running leg and roadside fistfights and assorted/associated debauchery. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it…

  • avatar
    Robert Schwartz

    I read about it, and I bought an Avalon to replace my 2014 Accord V6. I am very happy with the Avalon.

  • avatar
    DC Bruce

    Yet another “driver’s car” that is idiot-proof. That is, an idiot can drive it like an idiot and probably not end up upside down in a ditch. The “savage geese” reviewed the car (actually drove it!) and figured out that there appeared to be considerable torque limiting applied to the engine from a stop. No matter what, the car short shifted out of first gear. They did praise its amazing handling — thanks to all the electronic gizmos, torque vectoring and so on.

    But they also said it was not — and apparently was not intended to be — a track car.

    Probably about equivalent to a 340i for somewhat less dollars and with — possibly — better reliability. Honda still apparently hasn’t mastered cylinder deactivation; and the trick engine mounts that smooth out the roughness when running as half a V6 are prone to failure. They reportedly cost $1,000 each.

  • avatar

    Stinger and Genesis G70 will sell far more, Acura has simply fallen off the radar.

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