2019 Volkswagen GTI vs. 2020 Acura TLX

Detailed Review, Specifications & Comparison

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Safety

The GTI has a standard Automatic Post-Collision Braking System, which automatically applies the brakes in the event of a crash to help prevent secondary collisions and prevent further injuries. The TLX doesn’t offer a post collision braking system: in the event of a collision that triggers the airbags, more collisions are possible without the protection of airbags that may have already deployed.

Both the GTI and the TLX have standard driver and passenger frontal airbags, front side-impact airbags, side-impact head airbags, front seatbelt pretensioners, front wheel drive, height adjustable front shoulder belts, plastic fuel tanks, four-wheel antilock brakes, traction control, electronic stability systems to prevent skidding, daytime running lights, rearview cameras, available crash mitigating brakes, lane departure warning systems, blind spot warning systems, rear parking sensors and rear cross-path warning.

A significantly tougher test than their original offset frontal crash test, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety does 40 MPH small overlap frontal offset crash tests. In this test, where only 25% of the total width of the vehicle is struck, results indicate that the Volkswagen GTI is safer than the TLX:

GTI

TLX

Overall Evaluation

GOOD

ACCEPTABLE

Restraints

ACCEPTABLE

ACCEPTABLE

Head Neck Evaluation

GOOD

GOOD

Head injury index

243

250

Peak Head Forces

0 G’s

0 G’s

Chest Evaluation

GOOD

GOOD

Hip & Thigh Evaluation

GOOD

GOOD

Femur Force R/L

1.1/.1 kN

1.6/2.1 kN

Hip & Thigh Injury Risk R/L

0%/0%

0%/0%

Lower Leg Evaluation

GOOD

MARGINAL

Tibia index R/L

.55/.53

1.15/.91

Tibia forces R/L

3.1/.7 kN

4.4/5 kN

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration does side impact tests on new vehicles. In this test, which crashes the vehicle into a post at 20 MPH, results indicate that the Volkswagen GTI is safer than the Acura TLX:

GTI

TLX

Into Pole

STARS

5 Stars

5 Stars

Max Damage Depth

13 inches

14 inches

HIC

247

249

New test not comparable to pre-2011 test results. More stars = Better. Lower test results = Better.

For its top level performance in all IIHS frontal, side, rear impact and roof-crush tests, and with its optional front crash prevention system, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety grants the GTI the rating of “Top Pick” for 2017, a rating granted to only 155 vehicles tested by the IIHS. The TLX was not even a “Top Pick” for 2016.

Warranty

The GTI comes with a full 6-year/72000-mile basic warranty, which covers the entire car. The TLX’s 4-year/50,000-mile basic warranty expires 2 years and 22000 miles sooner.

The GTI’s corrosion warranty is 5 years longer than the TLX’s (10 vs. 5 years).

There are over 2 times as many Volkswagen dealers as there are Acura dealers, which makes it much easier should you ever need service under the GTI’s warranty.

Reliability

The Volkswagen GTI’s engine uses a cast iron block for durability, while the TLX’s engines use an aluminum block. Aluminum engine blocks are much more prone to warp and crack at high temperatures than cast iron.

A hardened steel chain, with no maintenance needs, drives the camshafts in the GTI’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.

J.D. Power and Associates’ 2019 survey of the owners of three-year-old vehicles provides the long-term dependability statistics that show that Volkswagen vehicles are more reliable than Acura vehicles. J.D. Power ranks Volkswagen 12th in reliability, above the industry average. With 40 more problems per 100 vehicles, Acura is ranked 26th.

Engine

The GTI’s 2.0 turbo 4 cyl. produces 22 more horsepower (228 vs. 206) and 76 lbs.-ft. more torque (258 vs. 182) than the TLX’s standard 2.4 DOHC 4 cyl.

As tested in Car and Driver the Volkswagen GTI is faster than the Acura TLX (automatics tested):

GTI

TLX 4 cyl.

TLX V6

Zero to 30 MPH

2.3 sec

2.6 sec

2 sec

Zero to 60 MPH

5.6 sec

6.8 sec

5.8 sec

Zero to 80 MPH

9.2 sec

11.3 sec

9.3 sec

Zero to 100 MPH

14.3 sec

17.9 sec

14.1 sec

5 to 60 MPH Rolling Start

6.5 sec

7.3 sec

6.2 sec

Passing 30 to 50 MPH

2.9 sec

3.8 sec

3.6 sec

Passing 50 to 70 MPH

3.8 sec

4.5 sec

4 sec

Quarter Mile

14.3 sec

15.4 sec

14.2 sec

Speed in 1/4 Mile

100 MPH

93 MPH

100 MPH

Fuel Economy and Range

On the EPA test cycle the GTI gets better fuel mileage than the TLX:

MPG

GTI

FWD

Manual

2.0 turbo 4 cyl.

24 city/32 hwy

Auto

2.0 turbo 4 cyl.

25 city/31 hwy

TLX

FWD

Auto

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

Auto

3.5 SOHC V6

20 city/29 hwy

Environmental Friendliness

In its Green Vehicle Guide, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) rates the Volkswagen GTI higher (7 out of 10) than the Acura TLX (3). This means the GTI produces up to 24.5 pounds less smog-producing pollutants than the TLX every 15,000 miles.

Transmission

The GTI Automatic’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 GTI SE/Autobahn’s front brake rotors are larger than those on the TLX:

GTI SE/Autobahn

TLX

Front Rotors

13.4 inches

12.6 inches

The GTI SE/Autobahn’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 GTI stops much shorter than the TLX:

GTI

TLX

70 to 0 MPH

159 feet

179 feet

Car and Driver

60 to 0 MPH

100 feet

124 feet

Motor Trend

Tires and Wheels

The GTI’s tires provide better handling because they have a lower 40 series profile (height to width ratio) that provides a stiffer sidewall than the TLX’s standard 55 series tires.

For better ride, handling and brake cooling the GTI has standard 18-inch wheels. Smaller 17-inch wheels are standard on the TLX.

Suspension and Handling

The GTI offers an available 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.

The GTI SE handles at .96 G’s, while the TLX V6 SH-AWD pulls only .82 G’s of cornering force in a Motor Trend skidpad test.

The GTI SE executes Motor Trend’s “Figure Eight” maneuver 1.9 seconds quicker than the TLX (25.1 seconds @ .76 average G’s vs. 27 seconds @ .74 average G’s).

For better maneuverability, the GTI’s turning circle is 3 feet tighter than the TLX V6’s (35.8 feet vs. 38.8 feet). The GTI’s turning circle is 3.7 feet tighter than the TLX SH-AWD’s (35.8 feet vs. 39.5 feet).

Chassis

The Volkswagen GTI may be more efficient, handle and accelerate better because it weighs about 450 to 600 pounds less than the Acura TLX.

The GTI is 1 foot, 10.7 inches shorter than the TLX, making the GTI easier to handle, maneuver and park in tight spaces.

As tested by Car and Driver while at idle, the interior of the GTI SE is quieter than the TLX (39 vs. 42 dB).

Passenger Space

The GTI has 1.2 inches more front headroom, 1.4 inches more rear headroom and 1.1 inches more rear legroom than the TLX.

Ergonomics

The power windows standard on both the GTI and the TLX have locks to prevent small children from operating them. When the lock on the GTI 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 GTI’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 improve rear visibility by keeping the rear window clear, the GTI has a standard rear wiper. The TLX doesn’t offer a rear wiper.

To help drivers see further while navigating curves, the GTI Rabbit/SE/Autobahn has standard adaptive headlights to illuminate around corners automatically by reading vehicle speed and steering wheel angle. The TLX doesn’t offer cornering lights.

The GTI Autobahn’s Park Assist 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.

Recommendations

The GTI was chosen as one of Car and Driver’s “Top Ten” for 13 of the last 13 years. The TLX has never been a Car and Driver “Top Ten” pick.

Motor Trend selected the GTI as their 2015 Car of the Year. The TLX has never been chosen.

The GTI was chosen as one of Automobile Magazine’s “All Stars” for 5 of the last 12 years. The TLX has never been an “All Star.”

The GTI was selected by Automobile Magazine as their 2010 Car of the Year. The TLX has never been chosen.

The Volkswagen Golf/GTI outsold the Acura TLX by 39% during 2018.

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

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