2020 Acura TLX PMC — Lots of flash…..short on dash

By Jim Prueter

(September 30, 2020) Automotive oddities are actually not that rare. Through the years, we’ve tested numerous odd ball or special edition vehicles that actually aren’t all that special. A few that come to mind are the Nissan Murano Crosscabriolet, Chevrolet SSR, Scion/Toyota iQ, and Cadillac XLR, among others. Vehicles like this come and go all the time, and on paper, most of these seemed like a good idea at the time.

Now — with the current generation TLX in its final year and the redesigned 2021 TLX already unveiled — as a parting shot, Honda’s premium/sport marque Acura brand is serving up just 360 examples of the TLX 3.5L SH-AWD PMG, a hand-built performance sedan I’ll just classify as an automotive curiosity.

The PMC stands for Performance Manufacturing Center, and it’s the same plant that builds Acura’s high-performance NSX hybrid supercar. All 360 of the special-edition TLXs are finished in a spectacularly stunning “no extra cost” metallic Valencia Red Pearl paint that looks a foot deep and simply sparkles in the sun. Stare at it longer than a few seconds and it’ll scorch the corneas in your eyes. Interestingly, this is the exact same color and finish that Acura offers as a $6,000 option on the NSX.

This TLX is the first Acura to get the PMC designation, but was quickly followed by 330 MDX SUVs assembled in the same plant and with the same paint color.

Our test TLX PMC had a lofty window sticker just shy of $51,000, which seems a bit pricey for a brand that’s trying to emphasize its performance cred in hopes to right the ship from its long-struggling luxury car image. That said, the PMC is just $2,600 more than the Acura TLX SH-AWD with the Advance Package with the sporty character of the TLX A-Spec.

In addition to the spectacular red paint, exclusive exterior design elements include a body-colored grille surround, gloss black painted roof and door handles, gloss black 19-inch wheels, body-colored side mirror housings, and dark chrome four-inch dual exhaust finishers.

Inside, the TLX PMC Edition features black Milano leather seats with Alcantara inserts, black piping and red stitching for the seats, door panels, and center armrest. An A-Spec steering wheel includes perforated black leather, red stitching and metal-finished paddle shifters. The individually numbered serial plaque on the lower console of our test car designates the 2020 TLX PMC Edition as number 27 of 360 units.

The TLX PMC is powered by Acura’s 290-horsepower 3.5-liter direct-injected i-VTEC V6 powertrain and torque-vectoring Super-Handling All-Wheel Drive™ (SH-AWD). A unique build, the PMC Edition combines the line-topping premium features of the TLX Advance Package with the sporty character of the TLX A-Spec. I’ve never been a fan of traverse-engine, front-wheel-drive-based cars engineered to mimic rear-drive sports-sedan handling, but I was impressed with Acura’s SH-AWD (Super-Handling All-Wheel Drive) alternative on this vehicle that can send up to 70 percent of the engine’s torque to the rear axle. It handled sharp curves with aggression, however you could feel the understeer if you eased off the accelerator mid turn.

We weren’t impressed with the nine-speed automatic transmission that lacked crisp, quick shifts between gears even when Sport+ drive mode was selected. We also wished it was shod with meatier summer performance tires rather than the less sticky standard all-season tires.

The included Advanced Package, or A-Spec. includes desired features like remote start, power-folding side mirrors, a heated steering wheel, electrically assisted power steering and a tuned suspension with stiffer springs, and a larger rear anti-roll bar.

Given an MSRP that topped $50,000 for vehicle with “performance” in its name, it’s a stretch to say we were excited about a hand-built Acura that took 5.7 seconds to reach 60 mph and more than 14 seconds to reach 100 mph. It seems highly unlikely the TLX PMC Edition will be a highly sought-after vehicle now or in the future. Acura will need to up its game to earn performance creds the likes of BMW M, Mercedes AMG, or Audi RS marque brands if it seeks to be more of the real deal than a mild curiosity.

Vital Stats
Base Price: $50,945
Price as Tested: $50,945
Engine/Transmission: 290-horsepower 3.5-liter V6 engine paired with a nine-speed automatic transmission and all-wheel drive.
Fuel Economy: 20/29/23 mpg – City/Highway/Combined
Seating: 5

Where Built: Marysville, Ohio

Crash Test Results: Highest possible 5-star rating from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration

Competes With:
Audi RS 3
Genesis G70 3.3T
Kia Stinger GT2
Mercedes-Benz AMG C 43

Fab Features
Valencia Red Pearl paint
Milano leather seats