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We Compared the Acura TLX to the Lexus ES – Here’s What We Learned

Image Source: Darren Brode / Shutterstock

The medium-sized sedan is no longer the automatic choice for families, but it remains a comfortable mode of travel for individuals or families, particularly when it originates from a deluxe brand. Medium-sized cars may not offer the same space as SUVs, but they are more enjoyable to drive, more economical, and still quite practical.

Both the 2024 Acura TLX and 2024 Lexus ES are constructed on front-wheel-drive platforms and are positioned below luxury vehicles from Audi, BMW, and Mercedes-Benz in terms of price and market stance. Nevertheless, they both deliver luxury and satisfying driving dynamics, but with superior value.

TLX vs ES pricing and characteristics

The starting price for a TLX is approximately $46,000

The initial cost for an ES is around $43,000

Recommendations: TLX SH-AWD and ES 350/300h Luxury

How much does an Acura TLX cost?

The TLX is accessible as a standard front-wheel-drive model, an SH-AWD all-wheel-drive model, and a high-performance Type S model.

The front-wheel-drive base model is priced from about $46,000. Noteworthy features include leather upholstery, 12-way power-adjustable and heated front sport seats, a 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster, a 12.3-inch infotainment screen, navigation, a wifi hotspot, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, a 13-speaker ELS audio system, wireless smartphone charging, ambient interior lighting, a sunroof, LED headlights and taillights, and 19-inch alloy wheels. The standard warranty covers 4 years or 50,000 miles with 2 years or 24,000 miles of scheduled maintenance.

Our recommendation is the SH-AWD TLX priced at about $51,000. It is equipped with a 17-speaker ELS audio system, Milano leather and synthetic suede upholstery, ventilated front seats, a flat-bottom steering wheel, LED fog lights, a decklid lip spoiler, and a sport appearance package.

At the top tier of the lineup is the Type S model, around $58,000, and it is so enjoyable that we also suggest it. It features rev-matched downshifts, additional chassis bracing, Brembo 4-piston front brakes, a front splitter and rear diffuser, and a decklid spoiler along with a sporty appearance package.

How much does the Lexus ES cost?

Lexus presents its medium-sized sedan in ES 250, ES 350, and ES 300h models, with various base, Luxury, Ultra Luxury, F Sport Design, and F Sport Handling trim levels. Each model is backed by a 4-year/50,000-mile basic warranty combined with two complimentary scheduled maintenance visits in the initial year of ownership.

The ES 250 with all-wheel drive and ES 350 with front-wheel drive have an approximate starting price of $43,000. They come with standard 10-way power-adjustable front seats covered with synthetic leather, an 8.0-inch infotainment screen equipped with navigation, wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, a wifi hotspot, a 10-speaker audio system, LED headlights and taillights, and 17-inch alloy wheels. Additionally, the ES 350 includes a sunroof, as does the base ES 300h, which costs nearly $45,000.

The ES 250 engine power output is lacking, so we propose upgrading to the ES 350 or ES 300h and opting for the supplementary features of the Luxury trims which incorporate a 14-way power driver seat, semi-aniline leather upholstery, heated and cooled front seats, a power tilt/telescoping steering wheel, driver seat memory, wood interior trim, ambient lighting, a heated steering wheel, a wireless smartphone charger, sportier dampers, and 18-inch wheels. The price is about $48,000 for an ES 350 and close to $50,000 for an ES 300h.

Additionally, the F Sport Handling variants offer adjustable dampers, a sport-tuned suspension, a sport appearance package, front sport seats, performance gauges, aluminum pedals, a rear spoiler, synthetic leather upholstery, and 19-inch wheels. These versions cost close to $50,000 for an ES 350 and approximately $51,000 for an ES 300h.

At the highest level of the lineup, the ES 300h Ultra Luxury is priced above $53,000 and introduces a 12.3-inch infotainment screen, a hands-free trunklid, and a head-up display.

Advantage: It’s a tie due to comparable values and pricing.

TLX vs ES performance and all-wheel-drive systems

Is the Acura TLX All-Wheel Drive? What is the Speed of the Acura TLX?

The TLX is equipped with a standard 2.0-liter turbo-4 engine generating 272 hp. Power is distributed through a 10-speed automatic transmission to either the front or all four wheels.

The turbo-4 engine is robust, accelerating the TLX from 0-60 in about 5.9 seconds, with the transmission shifting promptly to maintain power for overtaking on the highway.

Acura’s SH-AWD system offers more than just safety in inclement weather. It can distribute up to 70% of the power from the front to the rear, while also allocating torque from left to right on the rear axle and even overdriving power to the outside wheel by 2.9% during turns for enhanced maneuverability.

The TLX showcases swift, well-weighted steering and firm yet comfortable suspension settings, providing agile handling, particularly for a front-wheel-drive-based vehicle, along with a smooth ride. Although it may not be as well-balanced as some rivals based on rear-wheel drive, it comes at a more affordable price.

The Type S model boasts a turbocharged 3.0-liter V-6 engine that boosts output to 355 hp and reduces the 0-60 mph time to 4.9 seconds.

Acura enhances the steering weight of the Type S, equips it with larger brakes, strengthens the body structure, and outfit it with adaptive dampers and a sport suspension setup that results in a stable ride and quicker chassis responses. Despite the 20-inch wheels, the Type S maintains a comfortable ride.

Is the Lexus ES All-Wheel Drive? What is the Speed of the Lexus ES?

The powertrain of the ES ranges from unimpressive to decent to fairly potent.

The ES 250 models are powered by a 2.5-liter 4-cylinder engine producing a modest 203 hp. Its 8.6-second 0-60 mph time is considered sluggish for a luxury vehicle and only average for a mid-size sedan. However, it is the sole engine option available with all-wheel drive, and we appreciate the smooth shifting of the 8-speed automatic transmission.

Moving up to the ES 300h introduces an electric motor to the 2.5-liter inline-4, boosting the total output to a still-modest 215 hp. With more mid-range torque, the 0-60 mph time of 8.1 seconds is more satisfactory, especially considering its efficiency. The implementation of a CVT can occasionally impede power delivery and prolong engine noise.

The ES 350 models feature the most power with a 302-hp V-6 engine providing smooth and prompt power delivery, emitting a mild growl, and achieving a strong 0-60 mph time of 6.6 seconds. Coupled with the 8-speed automatic transmission, it operates seamlessly.

The base configuration of the ES by Lexus showcases gentle damping for a comfortable journey and keeps the handling controlled yet understated. The steering offers a decent weight and feels natural, although responses are not particularly swift. Opting for the F Sport Handling Package enhances the setup with stiffer suspension tuning and adjustable dampers that aid in reducing body lean. While the ES becomes more involving with this package, it never quite reaches the sportiness level of the TLX Type S.
Image Source: Darren Brode / Shutterstock

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