2021 Acura TLX Type S vs. 2021 Cadillac CT5-V, 2022 Genesis G70 3.3T Sport Prestige Comparison Test Review

Mick Jagger said you can’t always get what you want, but when looking at sport sedans, there’s pretty much one for every buyer preference. Looking for a European? You have five options. All-wheel drive or rear-wheel drive? Plenty to choose from. Electric? You betcha.

The BMW 3 Series first defined this segment over three decades ago, and today the competition has grown in size and ferocity. As the sport sedan segment grew, so did these cars’ power and variants; some fresher-to-the-scene automakers have even tried offering their fast four-doors for less than BMW to coax buyers into their folds. That’s how we got here—Acura and Cadillac have established mid-performance sub-brands to distinguish their sport sedans from the base models (Type S and V, respectively), and although Genesis hasn’t gone down that path yet, it has an adequate model to compete in the segment at a hot price. Although Cadillac and other Europeans have sedans with even more power, this midgrade trio focuses on delivering a sporty and engaging driving experience while offering the luxury and versatility sedans are known for.

This comparison would be even more interesting if the Audi S4 and BMW M340i were present, but issues with production and limited press fleets kept us from getting the two Germans. The Mercedes-AMG C43’s replacement will make its debut soon, and the Alfa Romeo Giulia doesn’t offer a six-cylinder mid-performance trim to compete against these players. Turns out Jagger was right—at least some of the time.

The Players

After years of waiting, the 2021 acura tlx Type S marks the return of the Type S performance treatment to Honda’s luxury brand. A twin-turbo 3.0-liter V-6 sends 355 hp and 354 lb-ft of torque through a 10-speed automatic transmission to all four wheels thanks to the standard Super Handling All-Wheel Drive system. (That’s Acura’s signature AWD setup, which includes torque vectoring on the rear axle.) Besides being one of the best-looking sedans out there, the TLX Type S is also longer and wider than its competition. Its wheelbase may be 3.0 inches shorter than the Cadillac CT5-V’s, but the Acura’s proportions are closer to a Porsche Panamera. At $54,645, the Type S takes value to the next level, too.

The 2021 Cadillac CT5-V effectively replaces the old CTS V-Sport, while the V-8-powered CT5-V Blackwing stands in for the CTS-V of yore. Once you get your head around that naming shuffle, look at the numbers: 360 hp and an eye-popping 405 lb-ft for the V, not bad for a midgrade performance trim. That’s all thanks to its twin-turbo 3.0-liter V-6 engine, which comes mated to a 10-speed automatic. Unlike the Acura, the Cadillac sends all its power to the rear wheels, though all-wheel drive is available as an option. The CT5-V can be considered a tweener for the segment. The CT5 is larger than the German competition, but its smaller sibling—the CT4-V—is smaller than the Europeans. Our test car came with a $64,640 price tag—the most expensive vehicle in this group thanks to nearly $15,000 worth of options.

When it launched, the Genesis G70 surprised everyone in the industry with its performance, handling, looks, and value—part of the reason we crowned it our 2019 Car of the Year. Three years after its reveal, the G70 is getting a deep midcycle refresh that could easily be confused for a new generation. Behind its elegant fresh face, the 2022 Genesis G70 Sport Prestige hides this roundup’s highest horsepower rating: 368. Its twin-turbo 3.3-liter V-6 engine sends those ponies (and up to 376 lb-ft of torque) to the rear wheels via an eight-speed automatic. If that’s not impressive enough, look at its price—$51,945 as tested, the cheapest in this test.

TLX Type S vs. CT5-V, G70 Sport: Ride and Handling

When it comes to sport sedans, the driving experience is the entire point. The car must have a sparkling powertrain, deliver sharp responses, and offer a settled ride to justify its station.

On Angeles Crest Highway, one of the best mountain roads in Southern California, the Type S shows decent handling around its tight turns. Its well-tuned chassis feels settled and flat, though its torque-vectoring all-wheel-drive system sometimes intervenes too much. “Rear torque vectoring surely helps a ton, though I wish it were more predictable,” associate road test editor Erick Ayapana said. Its steering also seems too digital compared to the Genesis and Cadillac. “It doesn’t feel like Acura changed a thing in that department over the standard TLX,” online editor Conner Golden said.

Although the G70 feels a bit too wobbly on the corners with Sport mode on, it is more settled in its driver-directed Custom mode. Body roll is more noticeable than in the Caddy or Acura, but the Genesis is excited to rip through the corners. iIts steering is better weighted than the tiller in the TLX Type S, but the transmission lacks pep. The brakes represent a real weak point, with inconsistent pedal feel and less bite than you get in the CT5-V or TLX Type S.

On the Crest’s undulating pavement, the Cadillac CT5-V feels as though it’s taking a walk in the park. Based on the Alpha II chassis, the evolution of the already athletic Alpha architecture, the CT5 is very at home through the corners. With its magical adaptive dampers (GM’s excellent MagneRide tech) and Michelin Pilot Sport 4S tires, the Caddy fairly attacks twisty hill climbs and descents. Its steering and damping notably change from drive mode to drive mode; all of us used the V mode and edited it to our liking. “It approaches Porsche levels of intuitiveness,” Golden said.

TLX Type S vs. CT5-V, G70 Sport: Performance

We like how much car the TLX offers for your money, but all that “more” hurts the Type S’ performance. At 4,179 pounds, it’s the heaviest of the three, with 59 percent of its mass sitting on the front tires. This slows down the TLX Type S’ straight-line acceleration: It takes 5.1 seconds to reach 60 mph and 13.7 seconds at 101.8 mph to complete the quarter mile—the slowest of the three. Those aren’t awful numbers, but the Type S also doesn’t feel quick in the real world, especially on Angeles Crest. There’s plenty to like here, but as a sport sedan, the Acura simply feels tamer than the Cadillac and Genesis.

Weighing in lightest—more than 300 pounds lighter than the Acura—the Genesis G70 is unsurprisingly the quickest sedan here. The Cadillac feels more powerful on Angeles Crest because of its 405 lb-ft of torque and its settled chassis, but the Genesis isn’t too far behind. “This great chassis is begging for more power,” Ayapana said of the G70. The twin-turbo 3.3-liter V-6 delivers plenty of power for a car the size of the G70, though we hope to see even more muscle in the future, as the brand continues to grow.

Ignore the CT5-V’s second-place showing in our acceleration tests—it feels sharp overall. The gearbox likes to hold on to gears as long as possible, and the chassis is always ready to take on the next canyon road. Just be careful with the brakes; at one point, Golden managed to leave the front brake pads smoking after an aggressive run up the mountain.

TLX Type S vs. CT5-V, G70 Sport: Inside Story

Sure performance, handling, and ride are vital in sport sedans, but customers pay luxury money for these rides, so they expect a luxury experience, as well.

Acura effectively distinguishes the Type S from the regular TLX in terms of performance, so it’s a shame it doesn’t pull off the same feat with the former’s cabin. No matter which type of TLX you sit in, it’ll feel the same. Our test car’s wild Tiger Eye Pearl exterior paint matched well with the elegant beige and black interior, but we’re not huge fans of the center stack design. Unlike Cadillac and Genesis, Acura designers opted for a push-button gear selector, making the center stack a cascade of buttons. Complicating things a bit more is the touchpad that controls the infotainment system, which works by mirroring the display (i.e., the lower left corner of the pad correlates with the lower-left section of the screen) unless you have Apple CarPlay connected. Sit in the rear seat, and legroom and headroom are tight, mostly because of the stadium-style rear seating that is elevated slightly relative to the front row.

The Cadillac and Genesis both offer more legroom and headroom in the rear seats and have cleaner surfaces compared to the Acura. Between the American and Korean, it’s the Genesis that stands out for its premium design. With diamond-quilted seats, red contrast stitching, and red seat belts, the G70 Sport Prestige feels like a sporty first-class airplane cabin. Just as surprising? That this interior is much the same as before; unlike the updated G70’s exterior, the cabin wasn’t altered as much.

The Cadillac’s cabin isn’t a bad place to spend your time in, but there’s nothing about it that screams luxury. The CT5-V’s infotainment system is easy to use and is compatible with wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. But the rest of the interior design doesn’t feel as superior as the Acura’s or Genesis’ cabins. Even though our CT5-V had the red carbon-fiber trim, its layout is somewhat bleak.

TLX Type S vs. CT5-V, G70 Sport: Value

Between the Genesis and Acura, it’s the Korean that brings more value to the table. Not only is the G70 a bit cheaper, it’s also better equipped. Our former Car of the Year winner arrived with heated and ventilated front seats plus a heated steering wheel, head-up display, 15-speaker premium audio system, and side cameras that feed live blind-spot action to the digital instrument cluster when the driver activates either turn signal.

The Acura brings midpack pricing but is well equipped from the start, with a 17-speaker ELS premium audio system, wireless phone charger, front and rear parking sensors, and a sport steering wheel. The wheel and tire package is the sole option available in the Type S and adds Pirelli P Zero tires for only $800. Provided you go easy on the available dealer-installed accessories, the Acura maintains excellent value for the segment.

The Caddy looms because of its high price compared to the Asians, but our test car came with a few options you could easily bypass without sacrificing performance. The $5,290 Premium package adds power driver and front passenger seats with lumbar adjustment and massage function; illuminated door sills and door handles; navigation; and a Bose premium audio system. The $2,015 Parking package adds rear camera mirror and automatic parking assist, among other features. Axe those two packages and the security package, and the CT5-V price drops to $56,660—a very competitive value proposition.

TLX Type S vs. CT5-V, G70 Sport: The Verdict

The CT5-V easily takes home the gold. Although its interior could be better appointed, its performance, handling, and ride make a huge difference against its competition. “This is very much one of the finest mid-level sport sedans I’ve ever driven,” Golden said. Cadillac took things seriously with the V, making it a true sport sedan that’s not only fun to drive, but also inspiring, putting up a good fight against the best from Germany.

Choosing between second and third place isn’t as clear cut. While the Acura and Genesis are very different, they both deliver in terms of performance, luxury, and quality. But the Genesis’ performance, handling, and value stand out over the TLX Type S. The G70 is faster, more powerful, and has a nicer cabin, and while the Type S brings back Acura’s performance roots, it doesn’t feel as strong as the Genesis or Cadillac.

All these sport sedans capture the essence of the segment, but the Cadillac goes above and beyond to deliver more than the basics in a thrilling package.

3rd Place: acura tlx Type S

Pros
Dynamic styling
Standard all-wheel drive
Well equipped

Cons
Nose heavy
Cramped interior
Needs more oomph

2nd Place: Genesis G70 3.3T Sport Prestige

Pros
Excellent value
Interior and exterior styling
Dynamic chassis

Cons
Inconsistent brakes
Noticeable body roll
Slow gearbox

1st Place: Cadillac CT5-V

Pros
Settled suspension
Snappy performance
Quick transmission

Cons
High price
Mediocre interior
Fragile brakes

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