2022 Acura TLX Type S Review Update

Ron Sessions, Independent Expert | Feb 28, 2022

Introduction - Find the best Acura deals!

Longer, lower, and wider than a BMW 3 Series or Audi A4 but with a smaller footprint than the BMW 5 Series and Audi A6, the Acura TLX midsize sport sedan is a tweener priced closer to the base prices of the 3 Series and A4, but with roominess and standard amenities often found in the larger BMW and Audi models.

Despite the Acura brand’s sporty focus, however, the midsize TLX lacked the performance sedan cred of its major European competitors until the introduction of the Type S variant in mid-2021. It was the first Type S in Acura’s lineup in 13 years, a performance subset that is also being joined by the 2022 MDX Type S.

Highlights of the Type S that differentiate it from the basic 2022 TLX include:

  • All-new 355-horsepower 3.0-liter V6 engine
  • Active dual exhaust system with quad outlets
  • Standard Super Handling All-Wheel Drive (SH-AWD) with torque vectoring
  • Stiffer body
  • Firmer suspension
  • Adaptive dampers
  • Quicker variable-ratio steering
  • Larger Brembo front brakes
  • Meatier 255/35R20 tires
  • Larger 20-inch light-alloy wheels
  • More aggressive Sport+ drive mode

The 2022 Acura TLX Type S is unchanged from the 2021 version.

Acura, as always, keeps it simple with just two very well-contented Type S variants, one with Pirelli Cinturato P7 all-season tires and another one with a standard Performance Wheel and Tire package that rides on Pirelli P Zero summer performance tires. The test car had the stickier P Zeros.

In addition to the powertrain and chassis upgrades, standard amenities of the Type S include:

  • Leather and ultra-suede trimmed seats
  • Sixteen-way power-adjustable heated and ventilated front seats
  • D-shaped sport steering wheel
  • Rain-sensing wipers
  • Wireless cellphone charger
  • Embedded navigation with voice recognition
  • Immersive, 17-speaker Panasonic Acura ELS Studio 3D premium audio system

The Type S competes with luxury-brand midsize performance sedans such as the Audi S4, BMW M340i, Cadillac CT5-V, and Genesis G70 3.3T.

Previously, J.D. Power reviewed the 2021 Acura TLX. This review focuses on the 2022 TLX Type S performance variant and how it potentially impacts the sport sedan’s overall appeal to consumers.

What Owners Say About the Acura TLX - Find the best Acura deals!

2022 Acura TLX Type S Red Front Quarter View

Photo: Ron Sessions

The Acura TLX competes in the Midsize Premium Car market segment. According to data collected from verified new-vehicle buyers for the J.D. Power 2021 Automotive Performance, Execution and Layout (APEAL) Study, 69 percent of new Acura TLX buyers are male (vs. 65 percent for the segment), and the median age of a new TLX buyer is 59 years (vs. 63).

As part of the APEAL Study, owners rated the TLX in 10 primary categories. Listed below in descending order, you’ll find their preferences from their most favorite thing about the vehicle to their least favorite:

  • Exterior styling
  • Driving feel
  • Feeling of safety
  • Interior design
  • Driving comfort
  • Powertrain
  • Setting up and starting
  • Getting in and out
  • Infotainment system
  • Fuel economy

In the 2021 APEAL Study, the TLX ranks fourth out of four Midsize Premium Car models.

What Our Independent Expert Says About the Acura TLX - Find the best Acura deals!

In the sections that follow, our independent expert analyzes a TLX Type S SH-AWD equipped with the following options:

  • Performance Red Pearl paint
  • Performance Tire and Wheel package

The price of the test vehicle came to $55,145, including the $1,045 destination charge.

355-horsepower, Turbocharged V6 Power

2022 Acura TLX Type S Engine

Photo: Ron Sessions

With the current trend to electrified powertrains well underway—including some Honda and Acura products that will adopt General Motors’ Ultium battery technology and several automakers announcing they will stop the development of new internal-combustion engine designs—amazingly, the Type S has launched with an all-new, bespoke high-performance engine. Except that Acura’s parent Honda is first and foremost a darned-good engine maker that just also happens to build well-regarded cars. And from a pure business standpoint, carmakers will need the profits from sales of gas-powered cars, trucks, and SUVs in the short term to fund the long-term transition to electrification.

For the Type S designation to build awareness, Acura needed to dispel the notion that its flagship TLX sedan (now that the larger RLX is gone) was more than just a fancier and slightly faster Honda Accord. That begins with the TLX Type S’s all-new 355-hp turbocharged V6, also shared with the new-for-2022 MDX Type S SUV. In the TLX, that means acceleration from rest to 60 mph in just under five seconds, slightly more than a second quicker to the 60 mark than the 280-hp 2.0-liter 4-cylinder turbo base TLX can do the deed. The Type S’s new 355-hp double-overhead-cam (DOHC) turbo V6 is about 30 percent more powerful than the 4-cylinder turbo in the regular-issue TLX.

The new 3.0-liter DOHC V6 turbo also generates 354 pound-feet of torque, 26 percent greater than the 4-cylinder TLX power plant. The staged action of its twin-scroll turbo broadens the engine speed range where the V6 develops maximum torque, from 1,400 to 5,000 rpm. As a result, engine response is improved. Additionally, the engine remains in the fat part of the torque curve during most of its operation, reducing the need for the excellent-shifting 10-speed automatic transmission to downshift for part-throttle acceleration or to climb a mild uphill grade.

The new TLX Type S turbo V6 revs quickly and builds power enthusiastically. It’s the kind of power and responsiveness that’s key to attracting buyers typically drawn to European sport sedans.

EPA-estimated fuel economy for the Type S version of the TLX is 19 mpg city/24-25 mpg highway/21 mpg combined. In a week of mostly spirited driving (whenever I got the chance) over 92.2 miles, the Type S returned an observed 18.5 mpg average fuel economy in the vehicle’s trip computer.

Active Exhaust and Active Sound Control

In the future, when almost every new car, truck, and SUV will be electrically powered, the sound the electric vehicle (EV) power plant makes will no longer be a defining characteristic. Air rush and tire sizzle sounds will continue to telegraph how hard the EV is working, but the thunder down under of internal combustion will be hushed. Right now, however, the latest crop of fossil-fueled performance cars is up and running and refuses to go quietly. The 2022 Acura TLX Type S is in that group.

In addition to its lively 355-hp V6 turbo engine, one of the major differentiators between a regular-issue TLX and a Type S TLX is the latter model’s standard active exhaust system. Adapted from a similar system in the mid-engine NSX sports car, the TLX Type S system has a flapper baffle in each dual-exhaust muffler that opens for a heartier exhaust sound under certain circumstances.

The driver controls the pipe music via the dash-mounted Integrated Dynamics system driving mode selector. In Comfort mode, the flappers stay closed at idle and up to 4,000 rpm for a stealthier sound signature around town. Normal mode keeps the flappers closed up to 4,000 rpm as well, but open for a fluty flourish when the driver first starts the engine. Selecting Sport mode leaves the flappers open most of the time but closes them when cruising at light throttle. And Sport+ mode keeps the flappers open for business and the dual exhausts its most talkative all the time.

Bolstering the organic sound of the TLX Type S exhaust pipes is Active Sound Control, which broadcasts an appropriately pleasing synthesized facsimile of engine speed-related air intake and exhaust sounds through the car’s audio system speakers. Those same speakers also function to counteract unwanted booming during low-rpm cruising as part of the TLX’s Active Noise Cancellation system.

All About the Modes

2022 Acura TLX Type S Red Interior Dashboard

Photo: Ron Sessions

A core element in the TLX to the point of dominating the center of the dash above the pushbutton shifter is its driver-selectable Integrated Dynamics mode control. The system adds a selectable Sport+ mode to the regular-issue TLX’s Normal, Comfort, Sport, and Individual modes in the Type S.

Normal and Comfort modes are aimed at everyday driving, with lighter steering effort, baseline suspension damper settings, slightly more relaxed shifts, and a more subdued exhaust note. Sport mode firms up the steering and adaptive shocks, tightens up the shift schedule, and gives the exhaust more voice. Sport+ delivers faster transmission upshifts, further ratchets up the adaptive damper firmness, and increases the level of rear torque transfer for maximum cornering ability and handling.

Sport-tuned Underpinnings

Building on the TLX’s rigid body structure and excellent control-arm front and multi-link rear suspension, the TLX Type S takes driving enjoyment up a few notches. The front springs are firmer in the Type S, and thicker stabilizer bars front and rear boost roll stiffness. The standard adaptive shocks, which continuously adjust damping force individually at each wheel in real-time based on sensor inputs, have increased damping ability. The Type S’s precise-feeling and communicative electrically boosted, variable-ratio steering is quicker than standard TLX fare, especially on initial turn-in, but never nervous or twitchy at speed.

Larger front brake discs snubbed by robust 4-piston Brembo calipers give the Type S the ability to reduce higher speeds with greater fade resistance. An electric power brake servo adapted from the NSX delivers a firm pedal with minimal travel and quick top-of-pedal response.

Bringing it all together in a 355-hp sport sedan with nearly 60 percent of its weight over the front wheels is standard Super Handling All-Wheel Drive (SH-AWD). The system is the Gen 4 version introduced with the 2019 RDX crossover and the first-ever employed in a Type S variant.

In the TLX Type S, SH-AWD can send up to 70 percent of drive torque to the rear wheels and then direct up to 100 percent of that to either rear wheel. In corners, a torque-vectoring feature delivers more torque to the outside rear wheel, helping reduce understeer. It is rear wheel-biased, which means it also overdrives the rear axle nearly three percent, which helps the Type S rotate into the turn. The SH-AWD helps keep the Type S planted and composed, even deep into the V6 turbo’s power.

Independent Expert Opinion - Find the best Acura deals!

2022 Acura TLX Type S Red Rear Quarter View

Photo: Ron Sessions

Offering good bang for the buck, the Type S version of Acura’s TLX is a well-equipped premium midsize performance sedan that brings exhilarating driving fun and luxury fitments in a handsome 4-door that can also ace the daily commute. With a lively and talkative 355-hp turbo V6, engaging handling, communicative steering, pinpoint braking, and a remarkable, torque-vectoring all-wheel-drive system, it’s easier to overlook the car’s unintuitive remote-touchpad infotainment system, lack of convenient console storage, and occasionally flinty ride over rough pavement. Unlike its European competitors, pretty much everything you can get on a TLX Type S is included in the base price, so Acura’s performance sedan won’t run up the tab with expensive option packages to get a few features you might want.

Ron Sessions is a seasoned vehicle evaluator with more than three decades of experience. He has penned hundreds of road tests for automotive and consumer websites, enthusiast magazines, newsletters, technical journals, and newspapers.

The opinions expressed in this review are the author’s own, not J.D. Power’s.

No portion of these reviews may be reproduced, distributed, publicly displayed, or used for a derivative work without J.D. Power’s written permission. © 2023 J.D. Power

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