2021 Acura TLX A-Spec Long-Term Wrap-Up | Not-so-long-term car

Been wondering what ever happened to our long-term 2021 Acura TLX A-Spec test car? Wonder no more, for we have answers to share with you in our long-term wrap-up.

Last we updated you on our bright Apex Blue sport sedan, it was experiencing electrical gremlins aplenty. We weathered odd issues — random shifts into Park while stopped, infotainment glitching — the car simply decided to not start one day. This led to it being flat-bedded to the Acura dealer where it stayed for an abnormally long time. It was just over two months to be exact. The problems were ultimately determined to be from water intrusion to the fuse box, and some of the wait was for parts that had become corroded due to water being where it absolutely shouldn’t be.

Of course, our first question was, how did water get into the fuse box? Acura didn’t have an obvious answer for us at first, but don’t worry, we eventually got one.

So, once the parts were in and installed, Acura gave the car a clean bill of health, and we took it back with only a month left in our year-long loan term. Unfortunately, our TLX would not make it that long. Editor-in-Chief Greg Migliore took the TLX for this final stint. Two weeks of regular driving went by without any issue, but then the electrical gremlins returned. One afternoon he went out to the car and the dash lit up like a Christmas tree, sending the car into what Migliore said felt like a limp mode. The car technically ran, but it was not drivable.

This meant yet another trip on the flatbed to the Acura dealer for another diagnosis. The days came and went, and eventually our original year-long loan term with the TLX expired. Approximately a month after this, Acura finally had answers for what had befallen our poor TLX. 

Why so long, you ask? Acura actually called in engineers to try and sort out what had happened with this particular car. The answer? Water in the fuse box, once again. Apparently, the water intrusion issue from before hadn’t been fully solved because the original source of leakage wasn’t found in the first go-round, and water was still making its way into the fuse box. Acura tells us that trying to find the source of the intrusion is quite challenging, and that’s why it took the dealer and engineers so long to diagnose and sort out.

Ultimately, the leak was determined to be via the A-pillar of the car due to a “manufacturing anomaly.” Engineers found condensation inside the A-pillar where it shouldn’t be, and they found that water traveled down the A-pillar via a wire into the fuse box area, where it then penetrated the fuse box. For those wondering, the TLX’s fuse box is located in a normal spot, under the dash, north of the dead pedal. Of course, water and sensitive electronics don’t mix well together, and it explains all of the random electric problems our car had over its time with us.

Unfortunately, by the time Acura sorted out the root of the issue, our originally scheduled time with the TLX had expired. And, no surprises here, but Acura did not extend our loan and deliver the car back to us. After it was flat-bedded to the dealer that final time, we did not see it again. Honestly, we’re not entirely shocked by that, either. Even after Acura believed it had been fixed once, the problem was most certainly not fixed.

As it stands now, we can simply tell you what happened and what Acura reported back to us. That includes the company’s engineers confirming to us that the water leak we experienced was “not a common issue.” Plus, they believe that there are no other TLXs out there like ours with the same issue. While we don’t have the ears of all new TLX owners, we’ve searched the internet high and far for those reporting similar things on forums, Facebook groups and elsewhere, and we couldn’t find anyone with the same problem. Obviously, even one owner having the experience that we had with a brand-new car is not good. And assuming our car is an anomaly, what luck for Acura that the one car with this problem just happens to be one it loaned out to media, inherently amplifying the issue.

Moving beyond the Problem

Yeah, we all have a little bit of a sour taste in our mouth about this one, but when it was running, we adored the TLX. It gained universal love from the staff on its handling and driving dynamics. The 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder grew on us during our time with it. The final overall fuel economy average was 23 mpg after about 9,000 miles of driving, which is only 1 mpg off the 24-mpg combined EPA figure. And while the 10-speed automatic wasn’t everybody’s cup of tea, it too was well received.

Acura’s new design continues to look striking and attractive well over a year since the car debuted, and the interior punches well above its price in both luxury and tech. Some of us have grown to enjoy Acura’s TrueTouch infotainment system, while others have … continued to dislike it. This is one you must try before you buy, for it’s one of the most divisive things about this car.

It’s a shame that our time with the TLX A-Spec had to end this way, and we genuinely hope that nobody else has to deal with similar issues. Though please let us know if you did. At the very least, know that Acura engineers at the highest level are now at least aware of the possibility and have taken steps to ensure it never happens again.

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