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2021 Acura TLX long-term update: Yosemite bound

How does the new TLX handle a 900-mile day of driving?

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Even with 450 miles of road grime, the 2021 TLX is a handsome car.
Kyle Hyatt/Roadshow

The 2021 Acura TLX sedan benefits from a whole bunch of fairly substantial upgrades, things like a reworked suspension, new styling, better tech and more. Seeing these upgrades on paper is one thing, but how do they affect the car's livability?

That's what we're aiming to find out with our long-term TLX SH-AWD, which I recently took on a trip from my home in Los Angeles up to Yosemite National Park. For those unfamiliar with California's geography, that's about 13 hours of driving, which I did in one day.

In the TLX, that journey was nowhere near as taxing as it might sound. The new double-wishbone front suspension and multilink rear do wonders for the TLX's handling characteristics and help deliver a smooth ride. That ride, coupled with the relatively luxe interior and comfortable seats, make for a great road-trip car.

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Comfort and efficiency are high on the list of reasons to love the TLX. 

Kyle Hyatt/Roadshow

No car is without its weak points, however. I'm tall -- 6 feet, 4 inches, to be exact -- and much of my height is in my torso. Yet even with the driver's seat in its lowest position, I regularly found my head brushing the headliner. Is this a deal-breaker? No. Is it annoying? Yes.

From a mechanical standpoint, however, the TLX is flawless. The 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine offers plenty of passing power at all times, though the engine noise isn't what I'd call pleasant. The 10-speed automatic transmission works smoothly and helps deliver reasonable real-world fuel economy. 

Speaking of fuel economy, I averaged around 26 miles per gallon over the 900 or so miles I drove, almost all of which were on the highway. That's a little bit short of the 29 mpg that the EPA shows for our Super-Handling All-Wheel Drive-equipped model, but also not bad, given the fact that I maintained above-average freeway speeds. I would like to see a car like the TLX sit somewhere in the 30-to-35-mpg range on the freeway, but it's a heavy car at almost 4,000 pounds with AWD, so something's gotta give. Still, after more than 3,000 miles of testing (so far), we're seeing just under 23 mpg, which is slightly below the EPA's 24-mpg combined rating.

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Even after 13 hours in the driver's seat, I got home without feeling too tired or sore.

Kyle Hyatt/Roadshow

The rest of the TLX experience -- infotainment, climate control, cargo space -- is all really pleasant. The ELS-branded audio system is decent, too, particularly with audiobooks. Even though my coworkers disagree, I think the infotainment system works well with Apple CarPlay, so navigation, etc., is easily handled through my phone.

Our TLX isn't a cheap car at almost $50,000, but it offers plenty of classic Acura/Honda driving dynamics and great build quality in a genuinely handsome package. The Acura TLX was meant as a bit of a comeback for the brand, and at first blush, it's certainly compelling. I'm looking forward to piling some more miles on it soon.

Check in with Roadshow's other long-term testers

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