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Comparison: 2020 Acura TLX vs 2020 Infiniti Q50

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Auto123 compares two Japanese sedans, the 2020 Acura TLX and the 2020 Infiniti Q50

Here are two models that don't often make headlines in a market largely dominated by German sedans. That doesn’t mean the Acura TLX and the Infiniti Q50 aren’t worth consideration. In both cases, reliability is superior to products from the German automaker, the overall quality is comparable and the price points are thousands of dollars less. The question is: Is that enough, one - and two, which one to go for?

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2020 Acura TLX

Photo: Acura

The TLX arrived in 2015 as a replacement for the TL. The last touch-ups for the TLX date to 2018, when Acura changed the grille for more harmonious styling and included diamond-shaped LED headlights. For 2020, a PMC (Performance Manufacturing Center) kit is added to the range. It gives the car added distinction thanks to a hand-made construction process. Acura technicians manually install mechanical, electronic, interior and exterior components, the same way they do on an NSX.

A 4- or a 6-cylinder
With the 4-cylinder FWD model, the offer is more limited with the A-Spec and Tech A-Spec variants. You can get the V6 engine and AWD in the A-Spec, Tech, A-Spec, Elite and Elite A-Spec models.

The 2.4L 4-cylinder engine delivers 206 hp and 182 lb-ft of torque. The very efficient SH-AWD (Super Handling All Wheel Drive) system can evenly divide the power between the front and rear axles and can also shift torque from left to right for increased grip, but is not delivered with the six-cylinder model. 

Models with a 4-cylinder engine make use of an 8-speed automatic dual-clutch transmission and two-wheel drive. For its part, the 3.5L V6 makes 290 hp and 267 lb-ft of torque with a 9-speed automatic transmission that is gentler than it is sporty. In our view, the right transmission is placed in the wrong vehicle. It would be more fruitful to put the dual-clutch unit in the V6 engine model or offer four-wheel drive with the 4-cylinder version.

Photo: Acura

Well-equipped
All versions of the TLX are delivered with front collision alert and automatic braking, lane change warning with repositioning aid, tire pressure monitor, 19 inch wheels, automatic low beam , a windshield de-icing system, heated mirrors, LED fog lights, a sunroof, LED headlights, adaptive cruise control, as well as an auto dimming mirror. 

You also have automatic climate control, electronic handbrake, backup camera with multiple angles, 7-speaker audio system, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility, heated front seats with 10-way power adjustment for the driver's seat (4-way for the front passenger), as well as extensions for the front seat. With the A-Spec Tech variant, we add blind spot and rear cross traffic alerts, retractable mirrors, rain-sensing wipers, a navigation system, a 10-speaker audio system with hard disc, as well as heated rear seats and a heated steering wheel.

Photo: Acura

The SH-AWD A-Spec model also gets a start/stop function, electronic gear selector and 8-way power adjustable front passenger seat. 

The SH-AWD Tech version reduces the size of the wheels to 18 inches, adds headlights and perforated Milano leather. 

Elite models have auto-dimming exterior mirrors, chrome door sills, front and rear parking sensors, 360-degree camera, wireless charging for smartphones and ventilated front seats.

Photo: Acura

Fuel-efficient, even with the V6
The estimated fuel economy of the TLX is 10.0L/100 km in city driving and 7.1L on the highway for the 4-cylinder engine. These figures increase to 10.2L and 7.4L for the A-Spec variant. Switch to all-wheel drive versions and V6 and the ratings are 11.4L/100 km and 7.7L/100 km (city/highway). Here again, the A-Spec versions are greedier at 12.0L and 8.2L (city/highway).

On the road
The most pleasant model is undoubtedly the A-Spec version with the 4 cylinder engine due to the very responsive 8-speed gearbox coupled with a solid body. If the V6 gets an awesome all-wheel drive system, it has a lazy nine-speed gearbox that interferes with driving pleasure. We have been telling Acura for a long time to put an all-wheel drive in the 4-cylinder version or put the 8-speed double cluth box in the V6, we would have a perfect combination.

2020 Infiniti Q50

Photo: D.Boshouwers

In 2014, the Q50 replaced the G37 as Infiniti's entry-level compact sedan. The hybrid and four-cylinder variants came and went, leaving the Q50 with a V6 engine as its basic engine with 300 or 400 horsepower. After last year's elimination of the four-cylinder engine, Infiniti is adding a new Pure base model to the lineup for 2020.

Available versions
Infiniti sells the Q50 in Pure, Signature Edition, Sport and I-Line Red Sport versions. All use a 3.0L V6 engine with 300 horsepower and 400 horsepower in the Red Sport version. All-wheel drive is standard on all models and a seven-speed automatic transmission is the only gearbox.

Standard features
Basic features are 17-inch alloy wheels, automatic LED headlights, LED daytime running lights, welcome lighting, and passive keyless entry. 

Photo: D.Boshouwers

Inside, the Q50 Pure receives a faux leather covering, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, heated front seats with eight-way power adjustment, a push-button start, Bluetooth with voice recognition, cruise control, rain-sensing wipers, auto-dimming rear view mirror, dual-zone automatic air conditioning and heated side mirrors. 

Onwards we go with dual-screen infotainment system, heated / tilt and telescopic steering wheel, 6-speaker audio with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility and two USB ports. The safety functions includes tire pressure monitoring and front collision detection with automatic braking. 

The Signature Edition adds 19-inch wheels and tires, a sunroof, a sport front bumper, chrome front fascia, sport seats with leather padding/thigh extension and lumbar support, aluminum, remote starting of the garage door opener motor, navigation, folding rear seat. 

Photo: D.Boshouwers

The Sport model incorporates electronic direct adaptive steering, dynamic digital suspension, sport brakes with silver calipers, paddle shifters, adaptive self-leveling headlights, 16-speaker audio, exit warning lane departure prevention with blind spot monitoring. 

The Red Sport offers a specific exhaust, a dynamic digital suspension, sport brakes, a spoiler on the trunk, a coating in semi-aniline quilted leather and an exterior trim in dark chrome. Notable options include a ProAssist package with blind spot monitoring, crash response, 360-degree outdoor camera, front and rear parking sensors, exterior ground lighting and exterior body parts specific to the garnish.

Photo: D.Boshouwers

Thirstier than the TLX
Fuel economy for the Q50 is 12.5L/8.7L/100 km (city/highway) for the 300-hp models and 12.5L/9.3L for Red Sport variants with their 400 hp.

Lots of power
The Infiniti has the edge in the muscle department with its 300 hp base engine in a solid chassis. Acceleration is very sharp and 0-100 km/h can be done in under 5 seconds in the Red Sport version. Road handling is solid with the standard all-wheel drive. There’s just the issue of the transmission that’s not quite as responsive as the engine deserves.

Advantage Acura TLX

In terms of pricing and fuel economy, we give the thumbs-up to the more fuel-efficient TLX. The Acura also offers superior value, i.e. equipment for the price. 

Advantage Infiniti Q50

If you’re looking for a more muscular experience, the Q50 is the right choice. The styling is also more attractive and the driving more inspired, even if the electronic steering needs perfecting.

Similarities

Both offer similar warranty coverage. You get Apple CarPlay and Android Auto in both models and all-wheel drive with V6 engines. And in both cases, you still don’t have the special flair that makes German models so popular.
 
Verdict

Beyond the individual performance of each vehicle, it’s important to look at the segment they’re competing in. The Acura TLX lacks the resources to keep its head high in this niche. Its 4-cylinder is capable, but not powerful enough. Its V6 is quite powerful, but it’s saddled with a lazy transmission. 

We therefore give the nod to the Infiniti Q50, which offers power, refinement and driving dynamics that are closer to the leaders of this segment, at a lower price. Note that in both cases, you will have a vehicle more reliable than any German sedan.

2020 Acura TLX

We like

Road handling
Reliability
Dual-clutch transmission

We like less

9-speed automatic
Underpowered 4 cylinder engine
Lack of styling

2020 Infiniti Q50

We like

General silhouette
Powerful engines
Construction quality

We like less

Cramped rear row of seats
Artificial feeling from the steering wheel
Lazy transmission

...Specifications  
  2020 Acura TLX 2020 Infiniti Q50 
 Transmission

Dual-clutch 8-sp

9-sp auto 9 (V6)   

7-sp auto
    
 DrivetrainFWD (4-cyl)AWD
  AWD (V6) 
  4 cyl300 hp
 Fuel consumption (city)10.1L/100 km12.4L/100 km
 Fuel consumption (route)7.4L/100 km8. L/100 km
  V6400 hp
 Fuel consumption (city)11.4L/100 km12.5L/100 km
 Fuel consumption (route)7.7L/100 km9.3L/100 km
 Engine  
 Type4 cylV6 3.0 T
 Output206 hp300 hp
 Torque182 lb-ft295 lb-ft
 Type 6 cylV6 3.0 T
 Output290 hp400 hp
 Torque267 lb-ft350 lb-ft
 Capacities  
 Cargo Space405 L382 L
 Fuel Tank      65 L76 L
 Dimensions  
 Length4844 mm4816 mm
 Width1853 mm1824 mm
 Height1447 mm1453 mm
 Wheelbase2875 mm2850 mm
    
 Warranty4 yrs/80,000 km4 yrs/80,000 km
 Pricing$36,990 to $49,290 $43,995 to $61,999