The 2021 Acura lineup is fully uniformed after the last of beak-grilled models have finally switched to a contemporary design language based around the new Pentagon grille, which should serve the brand for years to come. Honda’s luxury division might not be the best-selling luxury Japanese brand as that honor has always belonged to Lexus, but at least they’re consistent. What’s more, Acura has been selling more units in the U.S. than Nissan’s Infiniti division year in, year out, ever since their inception in the late eighties.
Speaking of U.S. sales, Acura has accumulated 158,934 deliveries throughout 2018 which represents a growth of 2.8 percent compared to 2017. Meanwhile, Infiniti has accumulated 149,280 sales in 2018 and is now breathing down Acura’s neck. Lexus, on the other hand, has racked up 298,302 sales which is almost the combined result of both its competitive brands.
If first three quarters of 2019 are any indicator, Acura is in for another status quo year as sales stand in place compared to the same period in 2018. After moving 114,483 units during the first nine months of 2018, Acura has marketed 112,813 vehicles concluding with September, 2019. That’s a slight drop of 1.46 percent which could easily be turned into gain during what are traditionally the busiest months in the auto industry.
The Acura models for 2021 themselves will mostly remain unchanged, but some movement is still expected to take place. The TLX sedan, for instance, will be fully redesigned, and so will the MDX crossover. On the sporty end of the spectrum, the Japanese will likely be introducing the all-new high-performance NSX Type R.
Without further ado, here’s what to pay attention to when it comes to Acura in 2021.
What’s Hot in the New 2021 Acura Lineup
04. 2021 TLX
The entry-level luxury sedan slots between the flagship RLX and even more affordable ILX. Around since MY 2015, the TLX is getting its first substantial makeover not counting the MY 2018 facelift which gave it the new Pentagon grille. The second-gen Acura TLX is expected to be a much better car than the outgoing models. Especially since it comes in both the regular and sporty Type S guises. Will that be enough to stop the bleeding in sedan sales – it’s too soon to tell.
The 2021 Acura TLX is finally free to utilize company’s next-gen design language. The new car will be much more aggressive than its predecessor, with more pronounced wheel arches, a sharper-looking frontal fascia, and larger air intakes all working their magic towards that end. Naturally, the Type S models will be more aggressive than their conventional counterparts. Aside from getting larger wheels and sharper fascias, they’ll also sport quad exhaust tips which the regular TLX won’t be getting.
It’s still too early to talk about TLX’s interior as even its exterior is under heavy wrap. However, we can safely expect a completely revised cabin with new design language and plenty of new features. Also, it’s apparent that the new TLX will adopt the RDX crossover’s infotainment system with a pop-up display and a touchpad controller. Hopefully, by the time 2021 is upon us, the Japanese will have fixed an apparent defect which is now subject of a class action lawsuit.
A 2.0L turbocharged 4-cylinder engine from the RDX will likely serve the next-gen TLX’s lineup. It’s good enough for 272 horsepower which is just shy of the outgoing model’s most powerful 290-horsepower V6 mill. On the other hand, the performance-oriented 2021 Acura TLX Type S will likely borrow the NSX sports car’s technology. Its 3.5L twin-turbo V6 should be more than capable of providing around 350 horsepower without the help from separate electric motors. A 10-speed automatic transmission is expected to be the sole option while both the front and all-wheel drive will be in the picture as well.
Both the regular and Type S Acura TLX models are expected to arrive in time for model year 2021 with prices starting at under $35,000 for the entry-level. The all-new Type S models should warrant stickers higher than $40,000 to begin with. For comparison, the previous performance V6 SH-AWD grade started from around $38,000.
03. 2021 MDX
Much like the above mentioned TLX sedan, the MDX too is getting ready for a complete overhaul. The mid-size luxury crossover first appeared back in 2001 but the current-generation models are running on underpinnings unchanged since 2014. The fourth-generation Acura MDX will again be based on the Honda Pilot, hence it’ll remain one of the best family options in its segment.
Design-wise, the all-new Acura MDX won’t stray too far from what the outgoing models are providing, but sharper angles all over are still expected to convert it into a more aggressive-looking SUV. Thinner headlamps, a larger grille, new set of wheels, and revised fascias will all play their part in achieving that goal.
Inside, the 2021 Acura MDX also gets the RDX’s infotainment system with a widescreen pop-up display which receives commands via a touchpad controller. Actually, the entire Acura range is expected to adopt the same setup within the next few years. Being a relatively expensive option (although still more affordable than competition), the redesigned MDX will also boast a long list of advanced safety gear and driver’s aids.
The current models rely on V6 engines alone, but that might soon get changed. The RDX’s 2.0L turbo four is more than capable of providing similar numbers as the outgoing MDX’s 3.5L V6 while improving fuel economy at the same time. As far as the Sport Hybrid SH-AWD model goes, its 3.0L V6 with three electric motors will likely be carried over. After all, it’s good enough for 321 hp and 289 lb-ft of torque while returning up to 27 mpg combined. Expect the next-gen models to adopt a new 10-speed automatic gearbox while the hybrid is expected to continue using a 7-speed dual-clutch.
The next-gen Acura MDX is expected to make its official debut sometime in 2020 and arrive to dealerships in time for MY 2021. Prices will likely remain mostly intact with the entry-level models requiring around $45,000 and the range-topping units warranting at least $55,000 prior to extras.
02. 2021 NSX Type R
It seems like yesterday, but the second-generation has actually made its debut a few years back now. The Japanese haven’t done much to make it more appealing to the masses ever since its inauguration back in mid-2016, but that’s about to change soon. Enter the 2021 Acura NSX Type R – the high-performance version of a high-performance sports car which will finally bring about a much-needed refresh to the automotive icon.
To be perfectly fair, the Japanese have already introduced a new color palette a year before, but that hardly counts as a substantial change. This may have boosted the NSX’s sales initially, but they’ll start declining again if they don’t do something more radical. The Type R model is exactly that, and its more aggressive aero package screams in affirmation of that statement. What’s more, the high-performance version of the Japanese supercar will also weigh less and receive a different suspension setup than the regular units.
Interior will hardly differ, however. The Acura NSX Type R might offer a hard-core feature deletion package in order to save even more weight, but few people are expected to utilize it. Different colors, accents, stitching, and possibly even sportier seats are what we can likely expect.
The all-new Acura NSX Type R is expected to use the same 3.5L twin-turbocharged V6 mill helped by a trio of electric motors. Instead of 573 horsepower that the regular models make, however, the performance version is expected to drop as much as 650 ponies on us. A 9-speed dual-clutch automated manual gearbox should carry over to the new model but it’s still unclear whether the Type R will use an all-wheel drive system or possibly drop dual front electric motors and switch to rear-wheel drive in order to save on weight.
The all-new Acura NSX Type R is making its official debut at the 2019 Tokyo auto show and should arrive to a few select showrooms in time for MY 2021. When it does, it’ll likely cost around $200,000. Not to mention its insurance costs.
01. 2021 RDX
Only recently overhauled, the RDX is now the best-selling Acura model with 63,580 units delivered to U.S. buyers throughout 2018. The compact luxury crossover offers a fine combination of refinement, technology, comfort, and style, and is a good value for money. Although nothing is expected to be changed in 2021, the compact will easily remain one of the most coveted Acura vehicles.
The RDX might not have been the first Acura model to don the new design language but it will be the one to pave the way for others since it was the first fully redesigned model in company’s portfolio in recent years. It’s a bold and stylish alternative for compact luxury crossover buyers which does its job admirably but doesn’t come completely faultless.
The RDX’s interior has already started migrating to other Acura cars and will have become a standard by the time MY 2021 has said its piece. A more intuitive (at least according to Acura) infotainment system is only one part of the complex interior puzzle. The compact crossover provides an abundance of tech and convenience gear even in entry-level trims, but you’ll have to opt for upper grades in order to unlock its full potential.
There’s only one engine responsible for moving the best-selling Acura crossover around. A 2.0L turbocharged 4-cylinder generates a healthy 272 horsepower and 280 pound-feet of torque while pairing with a contemporary 10-speed automatic transmission. Both the front and rear-wheel drive are available across the board. One of the four-banger’s biggest advantages is its fuel economy which peaks at 22/28 mpg in front-wheel drive models but a more powerful optional engine would have been appreciated regardless.
The Acura RDX starts from just under $38,000, while the range-topping Advance Package trim with all-wheel drive requires at least $10,000 atop of that. Neither of these figures is expected to budge come MY 2021’s time.
What’s Not in the New 2021 Acura Lineup
02. 2021 RLX
The aging flagship Acura sedan isn’t enjoying its most successful of periods as fewer than 2,000 buyers opted for buying one in 2018. Then again, the full-size sedan was never the best of sellers to begin with since its best result was around 5,000 units back in 2013. Although Acura is in a process of overhauling its lineup, it would seem that the RLX will be omitted for MY 2021.
In spite of the fact the RLX rides on underpinnings unchanged since 2013, the full-size luxury sedan was already brought up to the new design language’s standard after a recent facelift for MY 2018. Although flagship luxury sedans are rarely engaging to drive, the RLX feels more burdened than its competitors. That’s the proof a facelift often isn’t enough to reverse one car’s bad fortunes.
Although the RLX offers an extremely comfortable cabin with an abundance of convenience and tech gear, it still doesn’t feel as luxurious as most of its competitors – especially the ones from Germany. What’s more, it’s also one of the most expensive cars in its segment – at least in an entry-level form. Heck, it’s more expensive than the Mercedes-Benz E Class even, although we all know that the similarly equipped E Class sedan would warrant a much higher price tag.
There’s only one engine behind the RLX sedan and it’s an aging 3.5L naturally aspirated V6 which develops 310 horsepower. Luckily enough, the same engine can also be obtained in the SH-AWD configuration with trio of electric motors and a lithium-ion battery pack. The RLX hybrid cranks up 377 combined horsepower and returns up to 28 mpg combined – 5 mpg more than the regular model. While the conventional RLX pairs to a 10-speed automatic transmission, the hybrid models make do with a 7-speed dual-clutch.
As already mentioned, the regular RLX stands out as the most expensive vehicle in its class thanks to a rather hefty price tag of $55,000. The optional hybrid package with all-wheel drive requires $62,000.
01. 2021 ILX
As one of the most outdated cars in its segment and one of the most outdated Acura cars overall, the ILX’s placement in the latter part of our hot/cold scale doesn’t really come as a surprise. There are simply plenty of better options out there and the fact that nothing has yet come out of Acura’s camp regarding the compact’s redesign, doesn’t work in its favor.
The compact luxury sedan might have received couple of facelifts already but it can’t hide the fact its underpinnings haven’t been properly updated since mid-2012. Technically, the ILX is just a plushier Civic, but at least Honda doesn’t have the luxury to neglect one of its best-sellers in such a way.
At least the ILX offers plenty of standard features from the get-go such as a dual-zone automatic climate control, heated seats, and a sunroof. Advanced safety features such as adaptive cruise control, automatic emergency braking, and lane-keeping assist are also standard. However, the entry-level ILX doesn’t offer a touchscreen infotainment system which speaks volumes about its age.
There’s only one engine available with the Acura ILX, and it’s a 2.4L naturally aspirated inline-four. Paired with an 8-speed automatic gearbox, the 4-cylinder returns 201 horsepower and 180 lb-ft of torque. Only front-wheel drive is available with the ILX which further distances the smallest sedan from the rest of the Acura lineup.
The Acura ILX starts from just under $26,000 before destination fees, and works its way towards the $32,000 price tag with the Premium and Technology packages both included. Although it’s one of the more affordable ways of owning a luxury sedan, the Acura ILX is far from actually being a true luxury vehicle. Of all the available Acura models, the ILX is arguably the one which provides the most reasons to avoid.