Over the past year or so, Acura’s reintroduced some compelling performance options to its lineup to re-establish itself as a solid contender for performance driving value. I say reintroduced and re-establish, because not long ago, the brand was well-regarded as one of the top names in touring car racing around the world, particularly in North America’s various iterations of World Challenge. Whether they had a massive Speedvision, Speed, or Pirelli banner across the top of their windshields, the Integra, RSX, TSX, ILX, and first-gen TLX proved to be excellent track weapons, and won championships left and right between the late-‘90s and mid-2010s.
Now, Acura’s channeled this deep, race-dominating history with such vehicles as the most recent TLX, which debuted for the 2021 model year. Popping up around the middle of last year was the Type S trim: a hotly tuned, all-wheel drive sedan with some substantial tweaks done to its powerplant, chassis, suspension, brakes, wheels, and tires, to offer a fun and capable sports sedan for the same or less money than its competition by BMW, Audi, and even Lexus.
This 2022 sports sedan is priced well for the level of capability that it offers. I had a feeling it was going to be good after driving the lesser TLX A-Spec last Summer, and sure enough, the Type S treatment remedies all the A-Spec’s shortcomings, and proved to be incredibly fun to drive. Here’s why.
To experience the thrills of endless grip in the corners and 355 turbocharged horsepower, the 2022 Acura TLX Type S with performance wheels and tires (you’ll want those, I promise) starts at $53,600. Then, after adding its Tiger Eye Pearl color ($500), carbon fiber decklid spoiler and carbon fiber rear diffuser ($2,347 combined), and destination fee ($1,045), its all-day price comes out to $57,492.
2022 Acura TLX Type S
- Fun Powerband
- Front Double-Wishbone Independent Suspension
- Front Brembo Brake Calipers
- Engine: Turbocharged 3.0-Liter V6
- Horsepower: 355
- Torque: 354
- Drivetrain: All-Wheel Drive
- Transmission: 10-Speed
- Excellent Handling
- Great Power
- Handsome, Muscular Looks
- Brake Fade
- Some Awkward Interior Dimensions
- Confusing Tech
A Beautiful Package Inside And Out
The 2022 Acura TLX Type S has presence. Like I discussed in my review of its lesser trim sibling the TLX A-Spec, the design looks so good, and Acura hit it out of the park in terms of taking its current design language’s best qualities and molding them in a big muscular sedan.
The Type S takes it a tad further with motorsport-inspired 20-inch wheels, massive quad exhaust pipes, larger front brakes, a stylish rear trunk spoiler, front splitter piece, and other subtle upgrades. It looks so good in every color that Acura offers. The front grille emblem-slash-driver-assistance-sensor is a tad awkward in certain light, but Acura did a good job making the best of it nonetheless.
The TLX Type S is one of my favorite cars I’ve ever photographed, as I genuinely think it doesn’t have a bad angle. Other manufacturers should take note.
Inside, it’s all same-song-second-verse. There’s a healthy helping of soft-touch stitched leather in strategic places like the seats and center armrest, the curvature of the dash and its size brings about a sense of space and openness, and any material that isn’t leather is thankfully a matte hard, dense-feeling plastic. Piano black plastic is minimal and not in an area that’d see a lot of fingerprints.
The steering wheel is one of the best I’ve had the pleasure of, well, wheeling, through fun and twisty roads thanks to its thick diameter and good size. The seats are quite comfortable, have excellent bolstering and lumbar support, and feature both heating and cooling. Not bad at all for a sub-$55,000 cost of entry.
The TLX’s fitment, however, is awkward. Like the lower A-Spec, the Type S has great shoulder and legroom up front, but it’s lacking a bit in other areas. For a big sedan with big dimensions, such as a 75.2-inch overall width and 194.6-inch overall length, it’s unfortunate that headroom is comparatively meager at just 37.2 inches. At least for tall folks like yours truly (I’m six-foot-three, by the way). Still, hip room is a generous 55.8 inches and shoulder room comes out to 58.2 inches, so at least it’s not all tight and confined inside. Plus, visibility is generally good, and the well-bolstered front seats have a good, sports sedan driving position to them.
Infotainment and stereo quality are generally good, albeit Acura’s True Touchpad interface used for navigating through screens requires a bit of a learning curve in this big luxury sedan. Still, at least the sound system absolutely bumps at 710 watts, and Apple CarPlay connects quickly and functions flawlessly.
Additionally, the Type S has excellent advanced driver assistance systems like radar cruise control, lane keeping assistance, blind spot monitoring, and more, for added reassurance rolling down the road. But, once again, Acura’s True Touchpad is a painful means of navigating infotainment to get acquainted with.
The Type S Feels More Powerful Than Figures Suggest
Thankfully, the TLX Type S’ tech shortcomings are thoroughly overshadowed by its performance. Under its massive hood lives a turbocharged 3.0-liter V6, seated transversely and in front of the shock towers, kind of like an Audi with Quattro all-wheel drive, except turned the other way. Arranged in a 60-degree V with dual overhead cams and a single twin-scroll turbo bolted up along its starboard side, this revvy unit produces 355 horsepower and 354 pound-feet of torque.
The entire latter figure is available at just 1,400 RPM, though the powerband still has a progressively building nature to it. It isn’t super aggressive, but still feels strong all over. Though, higher up near 5,000 RPM, torque seems to kick in just a bit harder, which, when paired with a sweet, baritone V6 roar, is truly grin-widening. The S is a beast in any driving scenario, and a dangerous one at that, thanks to its well-insulated interior and comfortable, planted ride. Cruising at 95 miles an hour is shockingly easy to jump up to and hold for a car in this price range.
60 MPH arrives in 5.1 seconds from a standstill, though the S feels faster than that. Especially considering its 4,200-pound curb weight. It jumps off the line with confidence and gusto thanks in part to its Super Handling All-Wheel Drive, and passes the quarter mile in 13.5 seconds.
This big sedan moves with confidence and muscle with any throttle input beyond a quarter of its travel, and it’s so fun to rip away from stop lights and merge with way more speed than needed. Though, if you want a more chill driving experience, it’ll happily remain chilled out until you pin the throttle.
The 10-speed automatic transmission is a quick-shifting delight that’s smooth and seamless, yet sharp and motivating on fun roads. Motivating, in that its solid-blip-action feels great while ripping down a fun road in Sport+ mode. It’s also a genuinely impressive unit - it’ll hold gears high in the revs for a very long time before upshifting on its own.
I never really did much of my own shifting, which is a testament to how good it is. I usually find myself opting to actuate autos myself via paddle shifters when it comes to holding revs in fun corners, but the Type S’ transmission tuning knew exactly where I wanted the revs to be at all times.
Impressive Steering, Handling, And Braking
The TLX Type S bolsters its status as a multi-faceted sedan by offering an excellent ride and handling. With adaptive dampers held in place by double-wishbone independent suspension up front and multi-link independent suspension in the rear, plus thicker sway bars and stiffer springs in the front compared to lower trims, it’s as chill and comfortable in Comfort mode as it is solid and confident in Sport+.
While slicing through my favorite road in Angeles National Forest, there was little body roll to speak of, just stout, solid handling that dealt with mid-corner bumps incredibly well and felt well planted. You can feel the dampers doing their job maintaining contact patch, yet simultaneously limiting roll.
This is all thanks in part to the Type S having additional bracing behind the rear seats and under the hood compared to lower trims, which yields a 13 percent increase in rigidity. Combined with 255/35/20 Pirelli P Zero tires and SH-AWD, the chassis has grip and feel for days. Even with traction control turned off, it’s very solid and planted, and the tires will screech for a good long while before they let go.
The 3.0-liter V6 sits well-ahead of the front wheels, and you’d think its portly, 4,200-pound curb weight doesn’t do it any favors, but the Type S handles itself well, regardless. You would think physics would disagree, but the S dances around on winding roads like something that’s far more balanced, and weighs around 800 pounds less.
This beefed-up TLX features proportionally beefed-up four-piston Brembo to reign it all in, wrapped around 14.3-inch rotors that are over an inch larger than lower trims. Pedal feel is excellent and has a confidence-boosting weight to it, which feels grabby and is easy to smoothly balance with the throttle. But the brakes themselves become overwhelmed after repeated hard braking into tight corners. This is probably easily solved with better fluid and sturdier pads.
Steering feel is good, but its weight and ratio are even better. The wheel itself feels very nice in the hands and can telescope very far back, mimicking a more race car-like driving position. It loosens up for low-speed turns so low-speed street and parking lot maneuvers are a breeze, yet boogeying at high speed on fun roads is solid and confidence-boosting.
To blow your mind completely, quickly switching to the other end of the spectrum to Comfort mode hides these athletic, twisty-road-eating characteristics incredibly well. The dampers loosen up and provide a relaxed, nicely cushioned ride. Hints of its performance trickle through over certain bumps and rough tarmac, probably due to possessing springs that are 40% stiffer than lesser trims, but on the whole the Type S rides quite well over everyday, well-trampled roads.
Great Value In Sports Sedan Fun
The 2022 Acura TLX Type S is a stout, fast, grippy, comfortable, well-appointed, and capable sports sedan that should be a consideration for anyone who’s in the market for such a well-rounded package. It even returns good gas mileage considering its size and performance figures: 19 MPG city and 25 MPG highway. It’s as confident and thrilling as it is serene and cozy, and I’m very glad to see that Acura is back to taking factory performance seriously.
Hopefully, consumers pick up on this and the S is around for a good, long while. It’d be a shame if enthusiasts were to think of fast Acuras, and only had the soon-to-be-discontinued NSX Type S, a sadly brief appearance by this beast, and various legendary models of yore to reference.