Acura TLX Type S Vs Genesis G70: Life Beyond BMW

By 12 Min Read

The Salton Sea is an 8,360-square-mile accident. In 1905, Colorado River floodwater breached a man-made canal system, dumping millions of gallons of water onto the once-dry lake bed. It emerges from the desert north of Palm Springs like a mirage, stretching further than the eye can see. This place once saw tourism boom, but now the water is toxic, home to just a few hundred determined residents.

Hop onto State Route 86 south from Palm Springs and you’ll reach the sea in about an hour. But approaching from Julian, California to the west, having just consumed an unreasonable amount of pie from its famous, eponymous pie company, there’s more fun to be had on the twisty Montezuma Borrego Highway that connects to the Borrego Salton Sea highway.

Two sporty sedans like the Acura TLX Type S and Genesis G70 3.3T are adept for the job. Yeah, sure, you’d get more power in a full-bore Mercedes-AMG C63 S or better handling in a BMW M3 CS. But the TLX and G70 aren’t unreasonably expensive, and for thrill-seekers with families, these two cars slot nicely into the sporty luxury segment with moderate price tags, loads of comfort, and still enough performance to stir the soul.

Acura TLX Type S Vs Genesis G70 3.3T Comparison

The TLX brought the Type S badge back in 2021, and in the interim, Acura plastered it on everything from the Integra to the MDX. And the specs are comparable across the trim. The TLX’s turbocharged 3.0-liter V-6 makes 355 horsepower and 354 pound-feet of torque, and it pairs to a 10-speed automatic transmission with standard all-wheel-drive and a torque-vectoring rear differential. A minor update for 2024 cleans up the TLX’s exterior design.

The Genesis G70 has been on sale since 2018, with a major overhaul in 2022 that added the “Two Line” exterior design language and more features to the cabin, like a bigger touchscreen. For 2024, the base engine has been upped from a 2.0-liter to a 2.5, but our flagship tester doesn’t get any power upgrades this year; the twin-turbocharged 3.3-liter V-6 engine still makes 365 hp and 376 lb-ft, with an eight-speed automatic and optional all-wheel drive.

Acura TLX Type S Vs Genesis G70 3.3T Comparison

The G70 gets on the board first for its price. Genesis asks $51,245 for the G70 with rear-wheel drive or $53,345 with all-wheel drive. The version tested here is $58,350 after options. The TLX Type S isn’t as affordable at $58,195 to start, and it gets pricey quickly with options. The $600 Urban Gray paint, a $3,440 wheel and tire package, and a few accessories bring the as-tested price to $62,477.

The Genesis looks great, too. That copy+paste design language transfers well from the rest of the lineup onto the small sedan, while the quilted diamond leather with red stitching in the cabin makes it feel more upscale. If only it were insulated from sound enough to keep out some of the droning tire and wind noise out.

But the cabin materials seem secondary to the G70’s twin-turbocharged engine. The 3.3-liter V-6 rips off the line, racing the car to 60 mph in about 4.5 seconds on the rear-wheel-drive model (4.9 seconds with all-wheel drive). This engine is rich with low-end torque and ripe with character when you get the car up to speed.

Acura TLX Type S Vs Genesis G70 3.3T Comparison
Acura TLX Type S Vs Genesis G70 3.3T Comparison
Acura TLX Type S Vs Genesis G70 3.3T Comparison

A Sport+ drive mode, added in 2022, gives the G70 some extra ferocity at the limit. The mode switches traction control off, rev-matches on downshifts, and generally holds gears during cornering. It won’t even automatically upshift for you at redline, as the TLX’s manual shift mode does.

But even at its most aggressive, the eight-speed isn’t rip-roaring quick like a BMW automatic. It’s slow to downshift when you yank the paddles, and even in full automatic mode, it hangs on to gears far too long before firing off into the next ratio.

This engine is rich with low-end torque and ripe with character when you get the car up to speed.

The G70 isn’t a grip monster either, in part due to the questionable standard all-season tires. At least you can option Michelin’s excellent Pilot Sport 4S summer tires. And there’s something left to be desired about the variable-ratio steering, which Genesis added with the update in 2022. It has a vague on-center feel and a relatively slow turn-in, a drawback to an otherwise engaging drive experience.

Send it into a tight corner and the G70 feels playful. Even on this all-wheel-drive car there’s a clear rear bias that swings that back end around more willingly than some of the other all-wheel-drive options. The optional limited-slip differential is worth the extra cost for the way it dolls out power deliberately to each wheel, and the standard 13.8-inch front and 13.4-inch rear Brembo brakes bring the car quickly down to speed without being overly grabby. But even with the electronically controlled dampers at their most-rigid, the G70 has a tinge too much body roll.

Acura TLX Type S Vs Genesis G70 3.3T Comparison

Genesis G70 3.3T
Pros: Torquey Engine, Lovely Cabin, Affordable Starting Price
Cons: Vague Steering, Unrefined Ride, Loud Cabin

The TLX Type S, on the other hand, doesn’t roll. Its unique double-wishbone front suspension hardly scoffs at a 90-degree sweeping incline. This car is set up to attack corners, which is surprising, given that it feels completely anonymous in anything but its performance-dedicated Sport+ driving mode.

My first few miles in the TLX felt downright boring. In Normal mode, there’s barely a burble from the exhaust hinting at the turbocharged V-6 underhood, and beyond a few generous Type S badges stamped into the headrests, you’d be hard-pressed to tell the difference between this version and a base TLX with some options.

And if you long for technology, Acura still uses that clunky True Touchpad interface with a tiny trackpad for on-screen functions. It gets overly fussy when using Apple CarPlay especially. But at least the new 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster looks lovely.

But the two-faced character is part of the TLX’s charm. On the one hand, it’s just a TLX, able to putter around anonymously on a grocery run. But twist the drive mode dial twice and hold it for a second to sharpen the throttle response, stiffen the adaptive dampers, and firm up the steering feel. It feels like a radically different vehicle to the one I was driving just minutes prior.

Acura TLX Type S Vs Genesis G70 3.3T Comparison
Acura TLX Type S Vs Genesis G70 3.3T Comparison
Acura TLX Type S Vs Genesis G70 3.3T Comparison

The 3.0-liter V-6 now doles out power with purpose. There’s some lag off the line, but it’s quickly quashed when the turbo spools up to 15.1 PSI at full boost. A surge of mid-range torque carries the TLX rapidly through the first few turns, and power is always on the ready past that initial lag point; Even the lightest poke at the throttle stirs up a response. And by the way, that J-Series V-6 is buttery smooth at redline.

If only that engine had a better gearbox to go with it. Flick the left paddle on the back of the steering wheel and it takes a second or two for the 10-speed to settle into gear. If you’re in Sport+ mode, there’s enough torque at low revs to keep you from downshifting too often. Otherwise the gearbox isn’t as sharp as the rest of the car.

A surge of mid-range torque carries the TLX rapidly through the first few turns, and power is always on the ready past that initial lag point.

The TLX Type S reaches 60 miles per hour in about 5.1 seconds, which isn’t exactly blistering. To its credit, the engine is working against a 4,201-pound curb weight. Not that the G70 is a featherweight, either (at just over 4,000 pounds), but Acura’s boosted V-6 struggles to move that heft compared to the G70’s more robust mill. And the TLX is atypically wide, too—75.2 inches compared to the G70’s 72.8 inches—which makes it feel like you might scrape the cliffside on some of the narrower portions of the road.

But there’s so much grip from the Pirelli P Zero summer tires, which wrap around gorgeous 20-inch copper wheels in this case. And the tried-and-true Super Handling all-wheel-drive system digs the car out of a corner with just the right amount of power each time. Stopping is made easy, too, by big 14.3-inch Brembo brakes.

Acura TLX Type S Vs Genesis G70 3.3T Comparison

Acura TLX Type S
Pros: Sharp Handling, Smooth Power Delivery, Tons Of Grip
Cons: Lacking Low-End Torque, Heavy, Fussy Infotainment System

For the entire 70-ish miles of the drive, the TLX felt focused. Even on the twistiest portions of the highway the Acura stayed tight, quick, and sharp—the only ding being its lack of low-end torque, and maybe a bit too much heft. The TLX’s aggressive, nose-heavy design even looked good covered in a thin layer of desert dust.

It’s the car I kept going back to.

Sure, I still have lingering feelings for the G70’s torque-rich twin-turbocharged engine, but the Genesis never fully felt up for the task of slicing through 70 miles’ worth of twists. It needed firmer suspension response in corners, and for such a lovely looking cabin, it was loud and harsh.

Ultimately the Type S badge makes the TLX feel more special. Even on something like an MDX, Acura’s born-again performance division is laser-focused on an enjoyable driving experience. It may not have the chops of an M car or the raw power of an AMG, but the TLX Type S puts up a damn good fight—especially for the price.

Acura TLX Type S Vs Genesis G70 3.3T Comparison

Photo Credit: James Lipman For Motor1

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