2019 BMW 3 Series Sedan vs. 2020 Acura TLX

Detailed Review, Specifications & Comparison

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Safety

The 3 Series Sedan has standard Active Head Restraints, which use a specially designed headrest to protect the driver and front passenger from whiplash. During a rear-end collision, the Active Head Restraints system moves the headrests forward to prevent neck and spine injuries. The TLX doesn’t offer a whiplash protection system.

Both the 3 Series Sedan and the TLX have standard driver and passenger frontal airbags, front side-impact airbags, driver knee airbags, side-impact head airbags, front seatbelt pretensioners, plastic fuel tanks, four-wheel antilock brakes, traction control, electronic stability systems to prevent skidding, crash mitigating brakes, daytime running lights, lane departure warning systems, rearview cameras, available all wheel drive, blind spot warning systems, around view monitors and rear cross-path warning.

Warranty

The 3 Series Sedan’s corrosion warranty is 7 years longer than the TLX’s (12 vs. 5 years).

BMW pays for scheduled maintenance on the 3 Series Sedan for 3 years and 36,000 miles. BMW will pay for oil changes, lubrication and any other required maintenance. Acura doesn’t pay scheduled maintenance for the TLX.

There are over 27 percent more BMW dealers than there are Acura dealers, which makes it easier should you ever need service under the 3 Series Sedan’s warranty.

Reliability

A hardened steel chain, with no maintenance needs, drives the camshafts in the 3 Series Sedan’s engine. A rubber cam drive belt that needs periodic replacement drives the TLX’s camshafts. If the TLX’s belt breaks, the engine could be severely damaged when the pistons hit the opened valves.

To reliably start during all conditions and help handle large electrical loads, the 3 Series Sedan has a standard 720-amp battery. The TLX’s 650-amp battery isn’t as powerful.

The battery on the 3 Series Sedan is in the trunk, which protects it from hot underhood temperatures that can degrade battery life. By keeping the 3 Series Sedan’s battery 20 to 30 degrees cooler, its life is increased by years. The TLX’s battery is in the hot engine compartment.

J.D. Power and Associates’ 2018 Initial Quality Study of new car owners surveyed provide the statistics that show that BMW vehicles are better in initial quality than Acura vehicles. J.D. Power ranks BMW 11th in initial quality, above the industry average. With 12 more problems per 100 vehicles, Acura is ranked 20th, below the industry average.

J.D. Power and Associates’ 2019 survey of the owners of three-year-old vehicles provides the long-term dependability statistics that show that BMW vehicles are more reliable than Acura vehicles. J.D. Power ranks BMW 7th in reliability, above the industry average. With 49 more problems per 100 vehicles, Acura is ranked 26th.

From surveys of all its subscribers, Consumer Reports’ December 2018 Auto Issue reports that BMW vehicles are more reliable than Acura vehicles. Consumer Reports ranks BMW 5 places higher in reliability than Acura.

Engine

The 330i’s standard 2.0 turbo 4 cyl. produces 49 more horsepower (255 vs. 206) and 113 lbs.-ft. more torque (295 vs. 182) than the TLX’s standard 2.4 DOHC 4 cyl. The 330i’s 2.0 turbo 4 cyl. produces 28 lbs.-ft. more torque (295 vs. 267) than the TLX’s optional 3.5 SOHC V6. The M340i’s standard 3.0 turbo 6 cyl. produces 92 more horsepower (382 vs. 290) and 102 lbs.-ft. more torque (369 vs. 267) than the TLX’s optional 3.5 SOHC V6.

As tested in Car and Driver the 330i is faster than the Acura TLX:

3 Series

TLX 4 cyl.

TLX V6

Zero to 30 MPH

1.9 sec

2.6 sec

2 sec

Zero to 60 MPH

5.2 sec

6.8 sec

5.8 sec

Zero to 80 MPH

8.6 sec

11.3 sec

9.3 sec

Zero to 100 MPH

13.9 sec

17.9 sec

14.1 sec

5 to 60 MPH Rolling Start

6.4 sec

7.3 sec

6.2 sec

Passing 30 to 50 MPH

3.2 sec

3.8 sec

3.6 sec

Passing 50 to 70 MPH

3.9 sec

4.5 sec

4 sec

Quarter Mile

13.9 sec

15.4 sec

14.2 sec

Speed in 1/4 Mile

100 MPH

93 MPH

100 MPH

Top Speed

156 MPH

134 MPH

129 MPH

Fuel Economy and Range

On the EPA test cycle the 3 Series Sedan gets better fuel mileage than the TLX:

MPG

3 Series Sedan

RWD

330i 2.0 turbo 4 cyl.

26 city/36 hwy

AWD

330i 2.0 turbo 4 cyl.

25 city/34 hwy

TLX

FWD

2.4 DOHC 4 cyl.

23 city/33 hwy

A-Spec 2.4 DOHC 4 cyl.

23 city/32 hwy

3.5 SOHC V6

20 city/31 hwy

A-Spec 3.5 SOHC V6

20 city/30 hwy

AWD

3.5 SOHC V6

20 city/29 hwy

Regenerative brakes improve the 3 Series Sedan’s fuel efficiency by converting inertia back into energy instead of wasting it. The TLX doesn’t offer a regenerative braking system.

Regardless of its engine, the 3 Series Sedan’s engine automatically turns off when the vehicle is stopped, saving fuel and reducing pollution. (Start/Stop isn’t accounted in present EPA fuel mileage tests.) Acura only offers an automatic engine start/stop system on the TLX SH-AWD.

Transmission

The 3 Series Sedan’s launch control uses engine electronics to hold engine RPM’s precisely in order to provide the most stable and rapid acceleration possible, using all of the available traction. The TLX doesn’t offer launch control.

Brakes and Stopping

For better stopping power the 3 Series Sedan’s brake rotors are larger than those on the TLX:

330i

M340i

TLX

Front Rotors

13 inches

13.7 inches

12.6 inches

Rear Rotors

13 inches

13.6 inches

12.2 inches

The 3 Series Sedan’s standard front and rear disc brakes are vented to help dissipate heat for shorter stops with less fading. The rear discs on the TLX are solid, not vented.

The 3 Series Sedan stops much shorter than the TLX:

3 Series

TLX

70 to 0 MPH

165 feet

179 feet

Car and Driver

Tires and Wheels

The 330i’s standard tires provide better handling because they have a lower 45 series profile (height to width ratio) that provides a stiffer sidewall than the TLX’s standard 55 series tires. The 3 Series Sedan’s optional 225/35R20 front and 255/30R20 rear tires have a lower 35 series front and 30 series rear profile than the TLX A-Spec’s 40 series tires.

For better ride, handling and brake cooling the 330i has standard 18-inch wheels. Smaller 17-inch wheels are standard on the TLX. The 3 Series Sedan’s optional 20-inch wheels are larger than the 19-inch wheels on the TLX A-Spec.

Changing a flat tire near traffic can be dangerous and inconvenient. The run-flat tires standard on the 3 Series Sedan can be driven up to 50 miles without any air pressure, allowing you to drive to a service station for a repair. The TLX doesn’t offer run-flat tires.

Suspension and Handling

The 3 Series Sedan offers an optional driver-adjustable suspension system. It allows the driver to choose between an extra-supple ride, reducing fatigue on long trips, or a sport setting, which allows maximum control for tricky roads. The TLX’s suspension doesn’t offer adjustable shock absorbers.

For a smoother ride and more stable handling, the 3 Series Sedan’s wheelbase is 2.9 inches longer than on the TLX (112.2 inches vs. 109.3 inches).

The 3 Series Sedan’s front to rear weight distribution is more even (51.5% to 48.5%) than the TLX’s (59.7% to 40.3%). This gives the 3 Series Sedan more stable handling and braking.

The 330i xDrive handles at .89 G’s, while the TLX V6 SH-AWD pulls only .82 G’s of cornering force in a Car and Driver skidpad test.

For better maneuverability, the 3 Series Sedan’s turning circle is 1.4 feet tighter than the TLX V6’s (37.4 feet vs. 38.8 feet). The 3 Series Sedan xDrive’s turning circle is .3 feet tighter than the TLX SH-AWD’s (39.2 feet vs. 39.5 feet).

Chassis

The 3 Series Sedan is 5 inches shorter than the TLX, making the 3 Series Sedan easier to handle, maneuver and park in tight spaces.

The front grille of the 3 Series Sedan uses electronically controlled shutters to close off airflow and reduce drag when less engine cooling is needed. This helps improve highway fuel economy. The TLX doesn’t offer active grille shutters.

Passenger Space

The 3 Series Sedan has 1.5 inches more front headroom, .9 inches more rear headroom and .7 inches more rear legroom than the TLX.

Cargo Capacity

To make loading and unloading groceries and cargo easier, especially for short adults, the 3 Series Sedan offers an optional power trunk, which opens and closes automatically by pressing a button, or optionally by just kicking your foot under the back bumper, completely leaving your hands free. The TLX doesn’t offer a power trunk.

Servicing Ease

The engine in the 3 Series Sedan is mounted longitudinally (North-South), instead of sideways, as in the TLX. This makes it easier to service and maintain, because there are no rear spark plugs and the accessory belts are in front.

Ergonomics

The 3 Series Sedan offers an optional heads-up display that projects speed and other key instrumentation readouts in front of the driver’s line of sight, allowing drivers to view information without diverting their eyes from the road. The TLX doesn’t offer a heads-up display.

The power windows standard on both the 3 Series Sedan and the TLX have locks to prevent small children from operating them. When the lock on the 3 Series Sedan is engaged the driver can still operate all of the windows, for instance to close one opened by a child. The TLX prevents the driver from operating the other windows just as it does the other passengers.

The 3 Series Sedan’s rain-sensitive wipers adjust their speed and turn on and off automatically based on the amount of rainfall on the windshield. This allows the driver to concentrate on driving without constantly adjusting the wipers. The TLX’s standard intermittent wipers change speed with vehicle speed, but can’t turn on and off or change speed based on changing rainfall.

To help drivers see further while navigating curves, the 3 Series Sedan offers optional adaptive headlights to illuminate around corners automatically by reading vehicle speed and steering wheel angle. The TLX doesn’t offer cornering lights.

The 3 Series Sedan’s optional Parking Assistant can parallel park or back into a parking spot by itself, with the driver only controlling speed with the brake pedal. The TLX doesn’t offer an automated parking system.

Model Availability

The BMW 3 Series comes in sedan, four-door hatchback and station wagon bodystyles; the Acura TLX isn’t available as a four-door hatchback or station wagon.

Recommendations

The BMW 3 Series outsold the Acura TLX by 46% during 2018.

© 1991-2018 Advanta-STAR Automotive Research. All rights reserved.

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