2020 BMW 4 Series Gran Coupe vs. 2020 Acura TLX

Detailed Review, Specifications & Comparison

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Safety

The 4 Series Gran Coupe has standard Active Headrests, which use a specially designed headrest to protect the driver and front passenger from whiplash. During a rear-end collision, the Active Headrests system moves the headrests forward to prevent neck and spine injuries. The TLX doesn’t offer a whiplash protection system.

Both the 4 Series Gran Coupe and the TLX 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 all wheel drive and around view monitors.

Warranty

The 4 Series Gran Coupe’s corrosion warranty is 7 years longer than the TLX’s (12 vs. 5 years).

BMW pays for scheduled maintenance on the 4 Series Gran Coupe for 3 years and 36,000 miles. BMW will pay for oil changes, lubrication and any other required maintenance. Acura doesn’t pay scheduled maintenance for the TLX.

There are over 27 percent more BMW dealers than there are Acura dealers, which makes it easier should you ever need service under the 4 Series Gran Coupe’s warranty.

Reliability

A hardened steel chain, with no maintenance needs, drives the camshafts in the 4 Series Gran Coupe’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.

The battery on the 4 Series Gran Coupe is in the trunk, which protects it from hot underhood temperatures that can degrade battery life. By keeping the 4 Series Gran Coupe’s battery 20 to 30 degrees cooler, its life is increased by years. The TLX’s battery is in the hot engine compartment.

J.D. Power and Associates rated the 4 Series Gran Coupe first among compact premium cars in their 2018 Initial Quality Study. The TLX isn’t in the top three in its category.

J.D. Power and Associates’ 2018 Initial Quality Study of new car owners surveyed provide the statistics that show that BMW vehicles are better in initial quality than Acura vehicles. J.D. Power ranks BMW 11th in initial quality, above the industry average. With 12 more problems per 100 vehicles, Acura is ranked 20th, below the industry average.

J.D. Power and Associates’ 2019 survey of the owners of three-year-old vehicles provides the long-term dependability statistics that show that BMW vehicles are more reliable than Acura vehicles. J.D. Power ranks BMW 7th in reliability, above the industry average. With 49 more problems per 100 vehicles, Acura is ranked 26th.

From surveys of all its subscribers, Consumer Reports’ December 2018 Auto Issue reports that BMW vehicles are more reliable than Acura vehicles. Consumer Reports ranks BMW 5 places higher in reliability than Acura.

Engine

The 430i Gran Coupe’s standard 2.0 turbo 4 cyl. produces 42 more horsepower (248 vs. 206) and 76 lbs.-ft. more torque (258 vs. 182) than the TLX’s standard 2.4 DOHC 4 cyl. The 440i Gran Coupe’s standard 3.0 turbo 6 cyl. produces 30 more horsepower (320 vs. 290) and 63 lbs.-ft. more torque (330 vs. 267) than the TLX’s optional 3.5 SOHC V6.

As tested in Car and Driver the 430i Gran Coupe is faster than the Acura TLX:

4 Series

TLX 4 cyl.

TLX V6

Zero to 30 MPH

2 sec

2.6 sec

2 sec

Zero to 60 MPH

5.7 sec

6.8 sec

5.8 sec

Zero to 100 MPH

14.9 sec

17.9 sec

14.1 sec

5 to 60 MPH Rolling Start

6.8 sec

7.3 sec

6.2 sec

Passing 30 to 50 MPH

3.6 sec

3.8 sec

3.6 sec

Passing 50 to 70 MPH

4.3 sec

4.5 sec

4 sec

Quarter Mile

14.3 sec

15.4 sec

14.2 sec

Speed in 1/4 Mile

98 MPH

93 MPH

100 MPH

Fuel Economy and Range

On the EPA test cycle the 4 Series Gran Coupe gets better fuel mileage than the TLX:

MPG

4 Series Gran Coupe

RWD

430i 2.0 turbo 4 cyl.

23 city/34 hwy

440i 3.0 turbo 6 cyl.

22 city/30 hwy

AWD

430i 2.0 turbo 4 cyl.

21 city/31 hwy

440i 3.0 turbo 6 cyl.

22 city/30 hwy

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

Regenerative brakes improve the 4 Series Gran Coupe’s fuel efficiency by converting inertia back into energy instead of wasting it. The TLX doesn’t offer a regenerative braking system.

Regardless of its engine, the 4 Series Gran Coupe’s engine automatically turns off when the vehicle is stopped, saving fuel and reducing pollution. (Start/Stop isn’t accounted in present EPA fuel mileage tests.) Acura only offers an automatic engine start/stop system on the TLX SH-AWD.

Brakes and Stopping

For better stopping power the 440i Gran Coupe’s front brake rotors are larger than those on the TLX:

440i

TLX

Front Rotors

13.4 inches

12.6 inches

Rear Rotors

13 inches

12.2 inches

The 4 Series Gran Coupe’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 4 Series Gran Coupe stops much shorter than the TLX:

4 Series

TLX

70 to 0 MPH

162 feet

179 feet

Car and Driver

Tires and Wheels

The 4 Series Gran Coupe’s standard tires provide better handling because they have a lower 45 series profile (height to width ratio) that provides a stiffer sidewall than the TLX’s standard 55 series tires. The 4 Series Gran Coupe’s optional 255/35R19 rear tires have a lower 35 series profile than the TLX A-Spec’s 40 series tires.

For better ride, handling and brake cooling the 4 Series Gran Coupe has standard 18-inch wheels. Smaller 17-inch wheels are standard on the TLX.

Changing a flat tire near traffic can be dangerous and inconvenient. The run-flat tires standard on the 4 Series Gran Coupe can be driven up to 50 miles without any air pressure, allowing you to drive to a service station for a repair. The TLX doesn’t offer run-flat tires.

Suspension and Handling

The 4 Series Gran Coupe 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.

For a smoother ride and more stable handling, the 4 Series Gran Coupe’s wheelbase is 1.3 inches longer than on the TLX (110.6 inches vs. 109.3 inches).

The 4 Series Gran Coupe’s front to rear weight distribution is more even (50.1% to 49.9%) than the TLX’s (59.7% to 40.3%). This gives the 4 Series Gran Coupe more stable handling and braking.

The 430i Gran Coupe handles at .89 G’s, while the TLX V6 SH-AWD pulls only .82 G’s of cornering force in a Car and Driver skidpad test.

For better maneuverability, the 4 Series Gran Coupe’s turning circle is 1.7 feet tighter than the TLX V6’s (37.1 feet vs. 38.8 feet). The 4 Series Gran Coupe xDrive’s turning circle is .8 feet tighter than the TLX SH-AWD’s (38.7 feet vs. 39.5 feet).

Chassis

The 4 Series Gran Coupe is 8 inches shorter than the TLX, making the 4 Series Gran Coupe easier to handle, maneuver and park in tight spaces.

As tested by Car and Driver, the interior of the 430i Gran Coupe xDrive is quieter than the TLX:

4 Series

TLX

At idle

40 dB

42 dB

Full-Throttle

73 dB

74 dB

70 MPH Cruising

65 dB

68 dB

Passenger Space

The 4 Series Gran Coupe has 2.7 inches more front headroom and .2 inches more rear headroom than the TLX.

Cargo Capacity

The 4 Series Gran Coupe has a larger trunk with its rear seat up than the TLX (17 vs. 14.3 cubic feet).

To make loading and unloading groceries and cargo easier when your hands are full, the 4 Series Gran Coupe’s power liftgate can be opened or closed just by kicking your foot under the back bumper, leaving your hands completely free. The TLX doesn’t offer a power or hands-free opening trunk.

Servicing Ease

The engine in the 4 Series Gran Coupe is mounted longitudinally (North-South), instead of sideways, as in the TLX. This makes it easier to service and maintain, because there are no rear spark plugs and the accessory belts are in front.

Ergonomics

The 4 Series Gran Coupe offers an optional heads-up display that projects speed and other key instrumentation readouts in front of the driver’s line of sight, allowing drivers to view information without diverting their eyes from the road. The TLX doesn’t offer a heads-up display.

The power windows standard on both the 4 Series Gran Coupe and the TLX have locks to prevent small children from operating them. When the lock on the 4 Series Gran Coupe 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 4 Series Gran Coupe’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.

In poor weather, headlights can lose their effectiveness as grime builds up on their lenses. This can reduce visibility without the driver realizing. The 4 Series Gran Coupe offers available headlight washers to keep headlight output high. The TLX doesn’t offer headlight washers.

To help drivers see further while navigating curves, the 4 Series Gran Coupe offers optional adaptive headlights to illuminate around corners automatically by reading vehicle speed and steering wheel angle. The TLX doesn’t offer cornering lights.

A power rear sunshade is optional in the 4 Series Gran Coupe to help block heat and glare for the rear passengers. The TLX doesn’t offer a rear sunshade.

The 4 Series Gran Coupe’s optional Parking Assistant 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.

Model Availability

The BMW 4 Series comes in coupe, convertible and four-door hatchback bodystyles; the Acura TLX isn’t available as a coupe or convertible.

Economic Advantages

Insurance will cost less for the 4 Series Gran Coupe owner. The Car Book by Jack Gillis rates the 4 Series Gran Coupe with a number “1” insurance rate while the TLX is rated higher at a number “10” rate.

According to The Car Book by Jack Gillis, the 4 Series Gran Coupe is less expensive to operate than the TLX because typical repairs cost much less on the 4 Series Gran Coupe than the TLX, including $198 less for a starter, $154 less for fuel injection, $219 less for a fuel pump and $543 less for a power steering pump.

Recommendations

The 4 Series was chosen as one of Car and Driver’s “Top Ten” in 2014. The TLX has never been a Car and Driver “Top Ten” pick.

The 4 Series was chosen as one of Automobile Magazine’s “All Stars” in 2014. The TLX has never been an “All Star.”

The BMW 4 Series outsold the Acura TLX by 911 units during 2018.

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

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