2020 Acura TLX vs. 2019 Subaru WRX

Detailed Review, Specifications & Comparison

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Safety

The TLX V6’s optional pre-crash front seatbelts will tighten automatically in the event the vehicle detects an impending crash, improving protection against injury significantly. The WRX doesn’t offer pre-crash pretensioners.

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 WRX only offers a rear monitor.

Both the TLX and the WRX 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, daytime running lights, rearview cameras, available blind spot warning systems and rear cross-path warning.

Warranty

The TLX comes with a full 4-year/50,000-mile basic warranty, which covers the entire car and includes 24-hour roadside assistance. The WRX’s 3-year/36,000-mile basic warranty expires 1 year and 14,000 miles sooner.

Acura’s powertrain warranty covers the TLX 1 year and 10,000 miles longer than Subaru covers the WRX. Any repair needed on the engine, transmission, axles, joints or driveshafts is fully covered for 6 years or 70,000 miles. Coverage on the WRX ends after only 5 years or 60,000 miles.

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 WRX.

J.D. Power and Associates’ 2019 Initial Quality Study of new car owners surveyed provide the statistics that show that Acura vehicles are better in initial quality than Subaru vehicles. J.D. Power ranks Acura 24th in initial quality. With 3 more problems per 100 vehicles, Subaru is ranked 25th.

Fuel Economy and Range

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

MPG

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

WRX

AWD

Manual

2.0 turbo 4-cyl.

21 city/27 hwy

STI 2.5 turbo 4-cyl.

17 city/22 hwy

Auto

2.0 turbo 4-cyl.

18 city/24 hwy

An engine control system that can shut down half of the engine’s cylinders helps improve the TLX V6’s fuel efficiency. The WRX 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 WRX 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 WRX requires premium, which can cost 20 to 55 cents more per gallon.

The TLX has 1.3 gallons more fuel capacity than the WRX (17.2 vs. 15.9 gallons), for longer range between fill-ups.

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 WRX doesn’t offer a cap-less fueling system.

Environmental Friendliness

In its Green Vehicle Guide, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) rates the Acura TLX higher (3 out of 10) than the Subaru WRX (1). This means the TLX produces up to 22.5 pounds less smog-producing pollutants than the WRX every 15,000 miles.

Transmission

The Acura TLX comes standard with an automatic transmission, for driver comfort, especially in the city. Automatic costs extra on the WRX.

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 WRX doesn’t offer an SMG.

Brakes and Stopping

For better stopping power the TLX’s standard brake rotors are larger than those on the WRX:

TLX

WRX

Front Rotors

12.6 inches

12.4 inches

Rear Rotors

12.2 inches

11.3 inches

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 WRX doesn’t offer vehicle monitored tire inflation.

Suspension and Handling

For a smoother ride and more stable handling, the TLX’s wheelbase is 5 inches longer than on the WRX (109.3 inches vs. 104.3 inches).

For better handling and stability, the track (width between the wheels) on the TLX is 2.3 inches wider in the front and 2.2 inches wider in the rear than the average track on the WRX.

Chassis

The TLX uses computer-generated active noise cancellation to help remove annoying noise and vibration from the passenger compartment, especially at low frequencies. The WRX doesn’t offer active noise cancellation.

As tested by Car and Driver, the interior of the TLX V6 SH-AWD is quieter than the WRX STI:

TLX

WRX

At idle

39 dB

54 dB

Full-Throttle

74 dB

80 dB

70 MPH Cruising

68 dB

75 dB

Passenger Space

The TLX has 3.2 inches more front hip room, 1.9 inches more front shoulder room, 1.8 inches more rear hip room and 1.2 inches more rear shoulder room than the WRX.

Cargo Capacity

The TLX has a much larger trunk than the WRX (14.3 vs. 12 cubic feet).

With its sedan body style, valet key, locking rear seatbacks and remote trunk release lockout, the TLX offers cargo security. The WRX’s non-lockable folding seat and non-lockable remote release defeat cargo security.

Servicing Ease

J.D. Power and Associates surveys of service recipients show that Acura service is better than Subaru. J.D. Power ranks Acura 6th in service department satisfaction (above the industry average). With a 37% lower rating, Subaru is ranked 19th.

Ergonomics

When two different drivers share the TLX, the memory system makes it convenient for both. Each setting activates different, customized memories for the driver’s seat position, outside mirror angle, climate settings and radio stations. The WRX doesn’t offer a memory system.

The TLX’s standard easy entry system glides the driver’s seat back, making it easier for the driver to get in and out. The WRX doesn’t offer an easy entry system.

The TLX’s front and rear power windows all open or close fully with one touch of the switches, making it more convenient at drive-up windows and toll booths, or when talking with someone outside the car. The WRX’s rear power window switches have to be held the entire time to open or close them fully.

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 WRX can only operate 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 WRX’s manually variable intermittent wipers have to be constantly adjusted. The TLX’s optional wipers adjust their speed and turn on and off automatically according to the amount of rainfall on the windshield.

The TLX has a standard automatic headlight on/off feature. When the ignition is on, the headlights automatically turn on at dusk and off after dawn. The WRX has an automatic headlight on/off feature standard only on the STI/Limited.

When the TLX is put in reverse, both rearview mirrors tilt from their original position. This gives the driver a better view of the curb during parallel parking maneuvers. Shifting out of reverse puts the mirrors into their original positions. The WRX’s mirrors don’t automatically adjust for backing.

The TLX V6 offers optional automatic dimming rear and side view mirrors which automatically darken quickly when headlights shine on them, keeping following vehicles from blinding or distracting the driver. The WRX offers an automatic rear view mirror, but its side mirrors don’t dim.

The TLX has standard heated front seats. Heated front seats are only available on the WRX Premium/Limited/STI. 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 WRX.

Standard air-conditioned seats in the TLX Advance/V6 A-Spec keep the driver and front passenger comfortable and take the sting out of hot seats in summer. The WRX doesn’t offer air-conditioned seats.

On extremely cold winter days, the TLX Advance’s standard heated steering wheel provides comfort, allowing the driver to steer safely and comfortably before the car heater warms up. The WRX doesn’t offer a heated steering wheel.

The TLX has a standard dual zone air conditioning allows the driver and front passenger to choose two completely different temperatures so people with different temperature preferences won’t have to compromise. This makes both the driver and front passenger as comfortable as possible. Dual zone air conditioning is only available on the WRX STI.

Both the TLX and the WRX offer rear vents. For greater rear passenger comfort, the TLX has standard rear air conditioning vents to keep rear occupants cool in summer or warm in winter. The WRX doesn’t offer rear air conditioning vents, only heat vents.

Model Availability

The TLX is available in both front-wheel drive and all-wheel drive configurations. The WRX doesn’t offer a two-wheel drive configuration.

Economic Advantages

Insurance will cost less for the TLX owner. The Complete Car Cost Guide estimates that insurance for the TLX will cost $1090 less than the WRX over a five-year period.

Recommendations

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

The Acura TLX outsold the Subaru WRX by 6% during 2018.

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

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