2020 Acura TLX vs. 2020 BMW 3 Series Sedan

Detailed Review, Specifications & Comparison

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Safety

For enhanced safety, the front seat shoulder belts of the Acura TLX are height-adjustable to accommodate a wide variety of driver and passenger heights. A better fit can prevent injuries and the increased comfort also encourages passengers to buckle up. The BMW 3 Series Sedan doesn’t offer height-adjustable seat belts.

Both the TLX and the 3 Series Sedan 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 blind spot warning systems, around view monitors and rear cross-path warning.

Warranty

Acura’s powertrain warranty covers the TLX 2 years and 20,000 miles longer than BMW covers the 3 Series Sedan. Any repair needed on the engine, transmission, axles, joints or driveshafts is fully covered for 6 years or 70,000 miles. Coverage on the 3 Series Sedan ends after only 4 years or 50,000 miles.

Engine

The TLX’s optional 3.5 SOHC V6 produces 35 more horsepower (290 vs. 255) than the 330i’s standard 2.0 turbo 4-cyl.

Fuel Economy and Range

An engine control system that can shut down half of the engine’s cylinders helps improve the TLX V6’s fuel efficiency. The 3 Series Sedan doesn’t offer a system that can shut down part of the engine.

To lower fuel costs and make buying fuel easier, the Acura TLX uses regular unleaded gasoline (premium recommended for maximum performance). The 3 Series Sedan requires premium, which can cost 20 to 55 cents more per gallon.

The TLX has 1.6 gallons more fuel capacity than the 3 Series Sedan (17.2 vs. 15.6 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 3 Series Sedan 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 3 Series Sedan.

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

Tires and Wheels

For better traction, the TLX A-Spec’s tires are larger than the largest tires available on the 3 Series Sedan (245/40R19 vs. 225/35R20).

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 3 Series Sedan 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 3 Series Sedan; 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.

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 3 Series Sedan doesn’t offer active noise cancellation.

Passenger Space

The TLX has .6 inches more front legroom, 1.5 inches more front shoulder room and .8 inches more rear shoulder room than the 3 Series Sedan.

Cargo Capacity

The TLX has a much larger trunk than the 3 Series Sedan (14.3 vs. 13 cubic feet).

Servicing Ease

J.D. Power and Associates surveys of service recipients show that Acura service is better than BMW. J.D. Power ranks Acura 6th in service department satisfaction (above the industry average). With a 19% lower rating, BMW is ranked 11th.

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. The 3 Series Sedan doesn’t offer an easy entry system.

The TLX has standard heated front seats. Heated front seats cost extra on the 3 Series Sedan. 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 3 Series Sedan.

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 3 Series Sedan doesn’t offer air-conditioned seats.

Recommendations

The Car Book by Jack Gillis recommends the Acura TLX, based on economy, maintenance, safety and complaint levels.

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

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