2020 Acura TLX vs. 2019 Cadillac CTS

Detailed Review, Specifications & Comparison

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Safety

Both the TLX and the CTS have standard driver and passenger frontal airbags, front side-impact airbags, driver knee airbags, side-impact head airbags, front seatbelt pretensioners, 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 blind spot warning systems, around view monitors and rear cross-path warning.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration does 35 MPH front crash tests on new vehicles. In this test, results indicate that the Acura TLX is safer than the Cadillac CTS:

TLX

CTS

Passenger

STARS

5 Stars

4 Stars

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

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 Acura TLX is safer than the CTS:

TLX

CTS

Overall Evaluation

ACCEPTABLE

MARGINAL

Head Neck Evaluation

GOOD

GOOD

Peak Head Forces

0 G’s

0 G’s

Steering Column Movement Rearward

0 cm

1 cm

Chest Evaluation

GOOD

GOOD

Hip & Thigh Evaluation

GOOD

ACCEPTABLE

Femur Force R/L

1.6/2.1 kN

5.9/3.7 kN

Hip & Thigh Injury Risk R/L

0%/0%

14%/1%

Lower Leg Evaluation

MARGINAL

MARGINAL

Tibia forces R/L

4.4/5 kN

5.7/7.8 kN

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration does side impact tests on new vehicles. In this test, which crashes the vehicle into a flat barrier at 38.5 MPH and into a post at 20 MPH, results indicate that the Acura TLX is safer than the Cadillac CTS:

TLX

CTS

Front Seat

STARS

5 Stars

5 Stars

Chest Movement

.8 inches

1.1 inches

Abdominal Force

179 G’s

189 G’s

Hip Force

276 lbs.

287 lbs.

Rear Seat

STARS

5 Stars

5 Stars

Hip Force

483 lbs.

701 lbs.

Into Pole

STARS

5 Stars

5 Stars

Max Damage Depth

14 inches

14 inches

HIC

249

297

Spine Acceleration

36 G’s

53 G’s

Hip Force

678 lbs.

892 lbs.

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

Reliability

A reliable vehicle saves its owner time, money and trouble. Nobody wants to be stranded or have to be without a vehicle while it’s being repaired. Consumer Reports rates the TLX’s reliability 27 points higher than the CTS.

From surveys of all its subscribers, Consumer Reports’ December 2018 Auto Issue reports that Acura vehicles are more reliable than Cadillac vehicles. Consumer Reports ranks Acura 15 places higher in reliability than Cadillac.

Engine

As tested in Motor Trend the Acura TLX V6 is faster than the Cadillac CTS turbo 4-cyl.:

TLX

CTS

Zero to 60 MPH

5.9 sec

6 sec

Quarter Mile

14.4 sec

14.5 sec

Speed in 1/4 Mile

98.4 MPH

93.5 MPH

Fuel Economy and Range

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

MPG

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

CTS

RWD

2.0 turbo 4-cyl.

22 city/30 hwy

3.6 DOHC V6

19 city/29 hwy

3.6 turbo V6

16 city/24 hwy

AWD

3.6 DOHC V6

18 city/26 hwy

To lower fuel costs and make buying fuel easier, the Acura TLX uses regular unleaded gasoline (premium recommended for maximum performance). The CTS V-Sport requires premium, which can cost 20 to 55 cents more per gallon.

Transmission

A nine-speed automatic is standard on the Acura TLX V6, for better acceleration and lower engine speed on the highway. Only an eight-speed automatic is available for the CTS.

The TLX offers a standard sequential manual gearbox (SMG). With no clutch pedal to worry about and a fully automatic mode, an SMG is much more efficient than a conventional automatic but just as easy to drive. The CTS doesn’t offer an SMG or a conventional manual transmission.

Tires and Wheels

The TLX has a standard easy tire fill system. When inflating the tires, the vehicle’s integrated tire pressure sensors keep track of the pressure as the tires fill and tell the driver when the tires are inflated to the proper pressure. The CTS doesn’t offer vehicle monitored tire inflation.

The TLX offers an available space-saver spare tire so you can replace a flat tire and drive to have the flat repaired or replaced. A spare tire isn’t available on the CTS; it requires you to depend on its run-flat tires, which limits mileage and speed before they are repaired. If a run-flat is damaged beyond repair by a road hazard your vehicle will have to be towed.

Suspension and Handling

For better handling and stability, the track (width between the wheels) on the TLX is 1.3 inches wider in the front and 1.1 inches wider in the rear than the average track on the CTS.

The TLX handles at .84 G’s, while the CTS Luxury AWD pulls only .81 G’s of cornering force in a Motor Trend skidpad test.

Chassis

The TLX is 4.8 inches shorter than the CTS, making the TLX easier to handle, maneuver and park in tight spaces.

As tested by Car and Driver, the interior of the TLX V6 SH-AWD is quieter than the CTS V-Sport Premium Luxury:

TLX

CTS

At idle

39 dB

43 dB

Full-Throttle

74 dB

84 dB

Passenger Space

The TLX has 1.5 inches more front hip room, .6 inches more front shoulder room, 1.6 inches more rear hip room and .6 inches more rear shoulder room than the CTS.

Cargo Capacity

The TLX has a larger trunk than the CTS (14.3 vs. 13.7 cubic feet).

A low lift-over trunk design makes loading and unloading the TLX easier. The TLX’s trunk lift-over height is 27.5 inches, while the CTS’ liftover is 29.5 inches.

Ergonomics

If the windows are left open on the TLX the driver can close them all at the outside door handle. On a hot day the driver can lower the windows at the outside door handle or from a distance using the keyless remote. The driver of the CTS can only close the windows from inside the vehicle, with the ignition on.

The TLX’s standard speed-sensitive wipers speed up when the vehicle does, so that the driver doesn’t have to continually adjust the speed of the wipers. The CTS’ standard manually variable intermittent wipers have to be constantly adjusted.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) conducts detailed tests on headlights for their range both straight ahead and in curves and to be certain they don’t exceed acceptable amounts of glare to oncoming drivers. The TLX’s headlights were rated “Acceptable” by the IIHS, while the CTS’ headlights are rated “Poor.”

Economic Advantages

Insurance will cost less for the TLX owner. The Complete Car Cost Guide estimates that insurance for the TLX will cost $85 to $5975 less than the CTS over a five-year period.

The TLX will cost the buyer less in the long run because of its superior resale value. The IntelliChoice estimates that the TLX will retain 48.4% to 50.83% of its original price after five years, while the CTS only retains 39.07% to 55.18%.

According to The Car Book by Jack Gillis, the TLX is less expensive to operate than the CTS because it costs $234 less to do the manufacturer’s suggested maintenance for 50,000 miles. Typical repairs cost much less on the TLX than the CTS, including $92 less for a water pump, $524 less for a muffler, $109 less for front brake pads, $398 less for a fuel pump, $89 less for front struts and $317 less for a timing belt/chain.

IntelliChoice estimates that five-year ownership costs (depreciation, financing, insurance, fuel, fees, repairs and maintenance) for the Acura TLX will be $16457 to $32771 less than for the Cadillac CTS.

Recommendations

The Car Book by Jack Gillis recommends the Acura TLX, based on economy, maintenance, safety and complaint levels. The Cadillac CTS isn't recommended.

The Acura TLX outsold the Cadillac CTS by almost three to one during 2018.

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

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