2020 Acura TLX vs. 2019 Lexus IS Series

Detailed Review, Specifications & Comparison

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Safety

The TLX V6 offers an optional Surround View Camera System to allow the driver to see objects all around the vehicle on a screen. The IS Series only offers a rear monitor and front and rear parking sensors that beep. That doesn’t help with obstacles to the sides.

Both the TLX and the IS Series 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, 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 blind spot warning systems 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 Lexus IS Series:

TLX

IS Series

OVERALL STARS

5 Stars

4 Stars

Driver

STARS

5 Stars

4 Stars

Passenger

STARS

5 Stars

4 Stars

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

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 Lexus IS Series:

TLX

IS Series

Front Seat

STARS

5 Stars

5 Stars

Chest Movement

.8 inches

.9 inches

Abdominal Force

179 G’s

193 G’s

Hip Force

276 lbs.

474 lbs.

Rear Seat

STARS

5 Stars

5 Stars

Hip Force

483 lbs.

691 lbs.

Into Pole

STARS

5 Stars

5 Stars

Max Damage Depth

14 inches

15 inches

HIC

249

295

Spine Acceleration

36 G’s

39 G’s

Hip Force

678 lbs.

806 lbs.

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

Warranty

There are over 12 percent more Acura dealers than there are Lexus dealers, which makes it easier should you ever need service under the TLX’s warranty.

Engine

As tested in Motor Trend the Acura TLX V6 is faster than the IS 300 2.0 turbo 4-cyl.:

TLX

IS Series

Zero to 60 MPH

5.9 sec

7 sec

Quarter Mile

14.4 sec

15.4 sec

Speed in 1/4 Mile

98.4 MPH

89.9 MPH

Fuel Economy and Range

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

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

IS Series

RWD

2.0 turbo 4-cyl.

21 city/30 hwy

3.5 DOHC V6

20 city/28 hwy

AWD

3.5 DOHC V6

19 city/26 hwy

An engine control system that can shut down half of the engine’s cylinders helps improve the TLX V6’s fuel efficiency. The IS Series doesn’t offer a system that can shut down part of the engine.

In heavy traffic or at stoplights the TLX SH-AWD’s engine automatically turns off when the vehicle is stopped, saving fuel and reducing pollution. The engine is automatically restarted when the driver gets ready to move again. (Start/Stop isn’t accounted in present EPA fuel mileage tests.) The IS Series doesn’t offer an automatic engine start/stop system.

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

The TLX has a standard cap-less fueling system. The fuel filler is automatically opened when the fuel nozzle is inserted and automatically closed when it’s removed. This eliminates the need to unscrew and replace the cap and it reduces fuel evaporation, which causes pollution. The IS Series doesn’t offer a cap-less fueling system.

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 IS Series.

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 IS Series doesn’t offer an SMG or a conventional manual transmission.

Brakes and Stopping

The TLX stops shorter than the IS Series:

TLX

IS Series

70 to 0 MPH

174 feet

177 feet

Car and Driver

60 to 0 MPH

122 feet

128 feet

Motor Trend

Tires and Wheels

For better traction, the TLX A-Spec’s tires are larger than the largest tires available on the IS Series (245/40R19 vs. 225/40R18).

For better ride, handling and brake cooling the TLX A-Spec has standard 19-inch wheels. The IS Series’ largest wheels are only 18-inches.

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 IS Series doesn’t offer vehicle monitored tire inflation.

Suspension and Handling

For better handling and stability, the track (width between the wheels) on the TLX is 2.4 inches wider in the front and 2.1 inches wider in the rear than on the IS Series.

The TLX handles at .83 G’s, while the IS Series AWD pulls only .81 G’s of cornering force in a Car and Driver skidpad test.

The TLX V6 SH-AWD executes Motor Trend’s “Figure Eight” maneuver quicker than the IS Series (26.7 seconds @ .76 average G’s vs. 27.1 seconds @ .65 average G’s).

Chassis

To almost totally eliminate engine vibration in the passenger area, the TLX has an electronically controlled liquid-filled main engine mount. A computer-controlled electric current in the liquid changes its viscosity, allowing the mount to dampen the engine completely at all RPMs. The IS Series uses conventional solid rubber engine mounts.

As tested by Car and Driver while at idle, the interior of the TLX V6 SH-AWD is quieter than the IS 350 F Sport (39 vs. 42 dB).

Passenger Space

The TLX has 3.1 cubic feet more passenger volume than the IS Series (93.3 vs. 90.2).

The TLX has 1 inch more front hip room, 1.6 inches more front shoulder room, 2.3 inches more rear legroom, .9 inches more rear hip room and 2 inches more rear shoulder room than the IS Series.

Cargo Capacity

The TLX has a much larger trunk than the IS Series (14.3 vs. 10.8 cubic feet).

Ergonomics

The TLX’s standard easy entry system glides the driver’s seat back, making it easier for the driver to get in and out. An easy entry system costs extra on the IS Series.

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 IS Series’ standard manually variable intermittent wipers have to be constantly adjusted.

To shield the driver and front passenger’s vision over a larger portion of the windshield and side windows, the TLX has standard extendable sun visors. The IS Series doesn’t offer extendable visors.

The TLX has standard heated front seats. Heated front seats cost extra on the IS Series. The TLX Advance also has standard heated rear seats to keep those passengers extremely comfortable in the winter. Heated rear seats aren’t available in the IS Series.

Economic Advantages

Insurance will cost less for the TLX owner. The Complete Car Cost Guide estimates that insurance for the TLX will cost $3360 to $7625 less than the IS Series over a five-year period.

According to The Car Book by Jack Gillis, the TLX is less expensive to operate than the IS Series because typical repairs cost much less on the TLX than the IS Series, including $243 less for a water pump, $4 less for front brake pads, $169 less for a starter, $6 less for fuel injection, $16 less for front struts, $921 less for a timing belt/chain and $39 less for a power steering pump.

IntelliChoice estimates that five-year ownership costs (depreciation, financing, insurance, fuel, fees, repairs and maintenance) for the Acura TLX will be $6305 to $7608 less than for the Lexus IS Series.

Recommendations

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

The Acura TLX outsold the Lexus IS Series by 33% during 2018.

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

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