Sun. Jan 17th, 2021

The SUV may be ascendant these days, but some carmakers still have room in their hearts, or more accurately their product portfolios, for the four-door sedan. Among them is Acura, the high-end arm of Honda in North America, which recently debuted its second-generation TLX. But don’t assume this is a case of badge engineering; the second-gen TLX is unique to Acura—you won’t find it wearing a Honda logo in Japan or Europe.

Acura is mostly known as a luxury brand, competing for customers with Lexus and Infiniti, but the company’s roots are actually much more sporty than plush. Acura wants to reconnect with that heritage as a way of differentiating itself from those rivals, and to that end, it says the new $40,000 2021 TLX is the most performance-focused sedan it has ever made. It starts with a monocoque chassis that’s 50 percent stiffer overall, with even higher rigidity at the parts where the suspension is attached. There are braces for the underbody, more rigid mounts for the front dampers, and a very stiff center tunnel. But at the same time, there’s extensive use of aluminum, even in some of these high-stiffness areas, to cut weight over the old model.

Further to its sporting intentions, Acura opted for a double-wishbone arrangement for the front suspension, which it says has 85 percent more lateral stiffness than the MacPherson struts on the first-generation TLX. That means the tires’ contact patches don’t shrink too much under cornering.

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