Building a world-class sport sedan is tougher than it looks. Of course, that's true of everything from making an omelet to setting a broken bone, but a smart, focused student can generally master either of those in less than a decade.
The learning curve is a bit - shall we say "extended"? - for automakers who want to challenge cars like the Audi A4, BMW 3-series and Mercedes C-class.
Twenty years after Cadillac joined the fray with the CTS, GM's luxury brand is back where it started, trying to establish the CT4 and CT5 as contenders. Ditto Lexus, whose next truly successful small sport sedan will be its first. Reading between the lines of corporate cost cutting initiatives, Infiniti appears to have all but given up trying. Jaguar appears headed the same direction.
All of which makes the 2021 Acura TLX noble and admirable, if not entirely successful. Honda's been plugging away at the sport sedan business since launching the luxury brand - Japan's first by several years, to give credit where it's due - in 1986.
Acura developed the 2021 TLX to compete with compact sport sedans like the 3-series and A4 and bigger midsize models such as the 5-series and Mercedes E-class. Targets like that are a bit problematic. They suggest an automaker wasn't sure what the target was, or belatedly realized it missed the bullseye.
Those concerns notwithstanding, the new TLX is an attractive sedan with a promising drivetrain and competitive prices.
Safety and driver assistance features
- Front collision warning and braking
- Lane departure alert and assist
- Adaptive cruise control with low-speed following function