Tesla Model 3 vs Acura ILX, Acura TLX, & Acura RLX

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To kick off a “Tesla Model 3 Countdown” series we’re running this month (and probably next), we’ve been rolling through some comparisons of the Tesla Model 3 with similarly priced and sized gasmobiles. (If you missed earlier comparisons, see how the Model 3 lines up with the Mercedes 300, 350e, & AMG C43; the BMW 2 Series, 3 Series, 4 Series, 5 Series, & i3; the Audi A3, A4, A5, & S3; and the Lexus ES, ES Hybrid, IS, GS, GS Hybrid, & CT Hybrid.)

With all of these comparisons, I came into the project with an open mind about various objective specs that are important to many car buyers. Naturally, I knew beforehand that one considerable benefit any electric car has over a gasmobile is that it offers zero tailpipe emissions (i.e., we can stop pushing carcinogens into the lungs of neighborhood children and we can protect our precious blue marble instead of turning it into an elf-burning, humanity-destroying fireball that would make Lucifer envious). I also knew the Model 3’s bloody awesome instant torque would be unmatched by any gasmobile. And I knew that national security and energy dependence are very important to me.

But I also knew that these are things many buyers don’t think about — or, perhaps they think about them, but such topics don’t drive their purchasing decisions to any notable degree.

So, I came at this series with the mindset to compare the Tesla Model 3 to “comparable” gasmobiles in order to try to understand how this monumental electric car might affect the car market at its core — in the hearts, minds, and decisions of typical humans/Americans.

Let’s jump into some numbers for the last comparison set in this series. Here are a few key Acura ILX, TLX, and RLX specs:

Acura ILX Acura TLX Acura RLX Tesla Model 3
Base Price $27,990 $33,000 $54,450 $35,000
Base Price After $7500 Tax Credit $27,990 $33,000 $54,450 $27,750
0–60 mph N/A N/A N/A 5.6
Trunk+Frunk Space 12 14 12–15 14
Length 182 191 196 185
Width 71 73 74 74

Acceleration: For some reason, I’m unable to find any official 0–60 mph numbers from Acura, but what I’m finding indicates that the Tesla Model 3 is anywhere from a little quicker to a lot quicker than the base versions of the ILX, TLX, and RLX*. With the impressive instant torque of electric motors, though, expect the Model 3 to feel a lot quicker than all of them (it will be notably quicker from 0–30 mph). [*I will add official numbers if somebody has them, but the unofficial numbers I found started around 6 seconds and went up from there.]

Storage space: The Model 3 comes in close to the ILX, TLX, and RLX in this category, even beating the ILX and RLX Hybrid. However, as noted before, this is trunk + frunk space, which means the Model 3 trunk is something less than 14 cu. ft. We’re curious to test out the practicality of the Model 3 versus these competitors once we have a car or two in hand. Until then, all we can say is that the numbers look satisfactory for the Model 3.

To park or not to park? A lot of people (like me) prefer smaller cars (with a certain level of space/comfort inside, of course). Part of this is the feel of the car when driving, but much of it comes down to parking. As one of our readers noted under the Tesla Model 3 vs Mercedes 300, 350e, and AMG C43 comparison, one factor that might make width and length an unfair comparison when considering this topic is Tesla’s Summon (self-parking) feature. That should allow people to park in tight spaces without struggling from the subsequent need to get out of their vehicles. Even so, width will be an issue in certain cases, and the Model 3’s wider stance could be a downside (compared to the ILX, but probably not the TLX and certainly not the similarly wide but longer RLX).

However, the Tesla Model 3’s substantial girth could also offer some benefit — it could offer passengers extra space, particularly in the back, and a notably more comfortable experience for the humans in the car as a result.

But what about my bank account? Well, price is a clear win for the Tesla Model 3 vs the Acura TLX and RLX. With the US federal tax credit for ZEVs, the Model 3 also wins against the ILX. Add in significantly lower operating costs (no gas! no oil changes! no muffler! no hoses and belts!), and the story gets better.

Overall, this looks like another gasmobile lineup that is set to get slammed by the Model 3, and even more so once the average adult human has heard of the Model 3.

Here are the 2016 sales totals of each of these Acura models:

2016 USA Sales
Acura ILX Series 14,597
Acura TLX Series 37,156
Acura RLX Series 1,478

When I look at numbers like those and consider how the models stack up to the Model 3, I start to wonder how brands like Acura will survive … or if they will survive. It will certainly take Acura/Honda a lot of time and work to catch up.

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Zachary Shahan

Zach is tryin' to help society help itself one word at a time. He spends most of his time here on CleanTechnica as its director, chief editor, and CEO. Zach is recognized globally as an electric vehicle, solar energy, and energy storage expert. He has presented about cleantech at conferences in India, the UAE, Ukraine, Poland, Germany, the Netherlands, the USA, Canada, and Curaçao. Zach has long-term investments in Tesla [TSLA], NIO [NIO], Xpeng [XPEV], Ford [F], ChargePoint [CHPT], Amazon [AMZN], Piedmont Lithium [PLL], Lithium Americas [LAC], Albemarle Corporation [ALB], Nouveau Monde Graphite [NMGRF], Talon Metals [TLOFF], Arclight Clean Transition Corp [ACTC], and Starbucks [SBUX]. But he does not offer (explicitly or implicitly) investment advice of any sort.

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