We loved the all-new Acura TLX A-Spec we tested recently. Acura has been on a roll lately, and the TLX is now bigger, badder, and is the whole package when it comes to style, performance and technology.
But like the Kia K5 – also a sweetheart of a sport sedan – the manufacturer waited to introduce a more powerful, more driver focused version. In this case, the TLX Type S – bringing the performance Type S moniker back after many years of hibernation.
So, with Honda’s luxury division building a TLX to thrill like never before, we were excited to sample the most exciting Acura of late since the NSX.
Subtle but still Stunning
On the outside, you might not notice the Type S as being much different from the other TLX models, but not to worry, the TLX is gorgeous to begin with.
Acura says the TLX was heavily influenced by the Acura Precision Concept, and it definitely cuts a larger swath than the previous model, being 2.2 inches wider, 0.6 lower, riding on a 3.7-inch longer wheelbase, with wider front and rear tracks. Parked next to a BMW 3-series it looks much larger and a heck of a lot meaner!
Adding to the aggressive looks, the Type S features an exclusive open-surface Diamond Pentagon grille that increases airflow to the engine by 10%, a lower splitter, and a blackout treatment around the signature Jewel-ey LED headlights.
The profile is similar to other TLX models, except for massive 10-spoke, 20-inch alloy wheels with performance tires, and Brembo front brake calipers painted a bright red. Matte black window surrounds and Type S badging round out the look.
At the rear, there’s a unique gloss back diffuser, black trim around the LED taillights, and huge quad exhaust pipes that hint at the power offered on tap. Our favorite part of the exterior has to be the Type S exclusive Tiger Eye Pearl color, a rich brown-bronze that shimmers under direct sunlight. It turns heads, and people were constantly asking if it was a one-off custom paint job. It does look special and really sets off the powerful vibe.
Focused on the Business of Driving
Inside, the Type S is much like the outside – like other TLX models, but with some added goodies to raise the bar. Of course, there’s some heavy branding going on, with Type S logos on the head restraints, steering wheel, and special trim on the doors, dash and door sills.
Once you get past all that, there’s the drop-dead gorgeous Orchid Milano Leather interior with Black Ultrasuede inserts that’s unique to the Type S, that looks sporty and elegant. Ultra-comfortable 16-way power adjustable front seats can give you room to relax and features power-adjustable side bolsters that can hug you like a sumo wrestler in the turns.
A massive center console divides the driver’s cockpit from the passenger, while a fat D-shaped steering wheel gives serious sporty intent. Acura continues to give us real analog gauges in this day of digital displays, and we love them.
We’re less enamored with the pushbutton transmission controls – we’d still like a shift lever of some sort, and the “True Touchpad Interface” for the info-tainment system is fussy and distracting. Once you get what you want dialed in, the 10.2-inch display is sharp and clear, and the 17-speaker audio system sounds awesome.
The rear seats are comfy for adults, and the rear seats fold down for added space. In the Type S you’ve got additional cross-bracing to help keep the structure tight, but it does impede on the pass through from the trunk. It’s a fair trade off – and you can probably wiggle things around and sneak a set of golf clubs through there.
Type S Performance
All the goodies are nice, but how does it drive?
Under the hood is an all-new 3.0-liter, turbo V6, pumping out an impressive 355 horsepower and 354 lb.-ft. of torque at just 1,700 rpm. For comparison, the A-Spec model we loved featured a 272-horsepower, turbo 4-cylinder, so it’s a solid upgrade.
Harnessing all that power is an updated 10-speed automatic which can shift up to 40% faster when you’re using the paddle shifters. Standard on the Type S, optional on other TLX models is Acura’s Super Handling All Wheel Drive (SH-AWD to those in the know) that divvies up the power as needed.
This makes the Type S very quick off the line – below 6 seconds to 60 mph – but you are fighting the weight of a relatively large vehicle with all-wheel-drive. Acura makes it worth the wait (and the weight!) with an active exhaust system adapted from the NSX. Unlike some manufacturers that pump in pre-recorded sound into the cabin (we’re looking at you, BMW) in the right mode and rpm, the Type S lets more of the engine’s natural sound into the cabin, and it’s luscious and addicting, but remains well-mannered and refined at the same time.
As much as we love the throaty singing voice, it’s the handling that really wows us. It starts with steering that is light and feelsome, but also extremely quick and agile. A small tug of the wheel and the Type S turns NOW.
The Super Handling all-wheel drive makes this an easy car to drive quickly by shuffling the power to the wheels that need it most. In regular driving it provides a rear wheel drive feel that’s pure sport sedan.
That makes the S-Type perfect for carving up traffic (it would be a thrill on an autocross course), or tackling your favorite twisty road or freeway on ramp (it would also be a thrill on a road course). The stoppers are up to your shenanigans – thank you Brembo front brakes! – and with the adaptive damper control, you can enjoy a relatively smooth ride or dial it up for more aggressive going.
Even in Comfort setting, ride is on the firm side, and we guess that those big 20-inch wheels and tires plus that added bracing behind the rear seat has something to do with it, but we applaud Acura’s decision to make the Type S one for the drivers and not overly compromised towards luxury.
It’s an entirely livable ride handling balance, but if it’s not your cup of tea, there are other lovely TLX models that won’t ruffle feathers! (And are still a joy to drive)
Am I the Type S type?
You could be. At the top of the line of the TLX Lineup, our Type S with performance tires started at $53,100. Add $500 for the gorgeous Tiger Eye Pearl, and $1,025 for destination, and we rang the bell at $54,625.
The big dog in this segment would be the BMW M340i, which is a fantastic sport sedan. At $61,875, it is a serious step up, and we’d also point out that the TLX is almost the size of a BMW 5-series, feeling like you get a lot more sport sedan for your hard-earned buck. We’d also put the Lexus IS500 in the fray, again like the BMW, it’s more expensive at $62,000, a smaller vehicle and the Lexus’ case, rear wheel drive only, but Like the Acura it feels special.
Of course, the most attractive competitor lives at the Acura Dealership, if you don’t need all the performance goodies like the powerful V6, the TLX A-Spec is a lovely driver’s sedan, and at $47,775, it’s pretty wonderful, too. We’d probably pony up for the Type-S, but the A-Spec is a significant savings, and overall, any TLX is a great way to go.
The 2022 Acura TLX Type-S is a gorgeous, thrilling sport sedan that puts the Europeans on notice!
Ben Lewis grew up in Chicago, and after spending his formative years driving sideways in the winter – often intentionally – moved to sunny Southern California. He now enjoys sunny weather year-round — whether it is autocross driving, aerobatics, and learning to surf.