A Few Minor and Major Updates

by   Anthony Fongaro

Automakers, like the rest of the world, have to be competitive. Refreshed and all-new vehicles help automakers keep competitive while offering modern products to consumers. Some automakers wait longer than others to change up a vehicle which can hurt them. There are a few vehicles that have lived beyond their lifecycle and simply won’t come back. Thankfully, there are a few vehicles that are coming out in later 2020 or 2021 that will help automakers stay competitive in their markets. Here are a few vehicles I’m looking forward to.

When Acura debuted their Type S concept car in 2019, we knew that a new TLX was on the horizon. Thankfully, May gave us a ray of hope for both sports sedans and Acura. The 2021 TLX is as big a departure from the current TLX as Acura’s new RDX was to its predecessor. Lower and wider, the new 2021 TLX aims to be a sports sedan that can take on anyone that crosses its path. Four- and six-cylinder engines will be at the heart of the TLX. In its regular form, the TLX will have a 2.0-liter inline-four that makes 272-horsepower and 280 lb-ft. Acura resurrected the “Type-S” moniker and trim level, and it sounds like it will be with a 3.0-liter V6 that may produce at least 350-horsepower and all-wheel-drive. Both engines have a 10-speed automatic.

There are a few other things to note about the TLX. First, the interior and the instrument cluster. Instead of going the trendy and high-tech digital dial route, Acura chose to go with old-school analog dials. A 10.5” heads-up display is optional while a 10.2” infotainment system is standard. Thankfully, there seem to be physical buttons for climate control. AcuraWatch is standard and includes adaptive cruise control, blind-spot monitoring, and lane-keep assist. Look for the 2021 Acura TLX in early 2021 with prices starting from around $35,000 to around $60,000 for a loaded Type-S.


Audi’s A3 has aged well, but it’s time for a new one. Thankfully, Audi already has the new A3 out in Europe, but with most things German, we have to wait. In fact, the new A3 will be billed as a 2022 though coming in 2021. This is good because Mercedes-Benz has the A and CLA compact vehicles and BMW has the 2-series. From the exterior, Audi has tried to make the new A3 bolder while staying to the traditional understatement that we expect from Audi’s. While the rest of the world get a hatchback, us Yanks once again only get the sedan. The trim levels may stay the same with Premium, Premium Plus, and Prestige.

Since Americans aren’t fond of diesel in the States, a 2.0-liter turbocharged I4 is probably going to produce at least 220-horsepower to be competitive with the rest of the Germans. Late on in its lifecycle, an S3 and possible RS3 may debut later on with even more power and aggressive styling. The biggest departure is in the interior. Similar to the new for 2022 Volkswagen Golf GTI and the Porsche 911, the automatic transmission utilizes a little toggle switch. Audi’s digital Virtual Cockpit, a 10.1” infotainment screen, physical climate control buttons, and the automated emergency braking are standard. Options should include a 12.3” infotainment screen, adaptive cruise control, and lane-departure warning with lane-keep assist. Pricing should be similar to the existing A3 at an entry point of around $35,000.

Genesis has a special place in my heart. Seeing a luxury brand from Hyundai got me excited to see what they were going to do. Although the original G80 wasn’t anything to brag about, the 2021 G80 is one of the most beautiful cars that will be on sale this year. The styling is shared with Genesis’ first SUV, the GV80 which should also help the brand start to solidify as a luxury brand. What I like is that the swooping roofline and design of both the head and taillights make it look more like a coupe than a regular sedan. The brand wants this to take sales away from other midsize sedans and looks alone, that may happen.

There are two engine choices with rear- or all-wheel-drive. A 2.5-liter turbocharged I4 makes 300-horsepower and 311 lb-ft while the 3.5-liter turbocharged V6 makes 375-horsepower and 391 lb-ft. Inside the G80, there is a 12.3” digital gauge cluster next to a 14.5” infotainment system. Standard features include heated and ventilated seats and a head-up display while some safety options such as adaptive cruise control and blind-spot monitoring may be in a package. Prices will start around $50,000 for a 2.5T and top out at $67,000 before options for a 3.5T Prestige. It shouldn’t be too long to see how this does again the competition.


I did a review of the first-generation Mercedes-Benz GLA 250 a few years ago. Needless to say, I didn’t like it. At all. It just seemed so cheap that I didn’t understand why people needed the three-pointed star so much. As an entry to Mercedes-Benz in the competitive compact SUV segment, almost everything made no sense.  For the 2021 model year, that has completely changed! The GLA no longer looks like a strange A-Class hatchback on stilts. It may be over 4” but with more handsome styling, the GLA seems like it can be an actual competitor.

Since the GLA 250 and CLA 250 share the same interior and drivetrain, it’s no surprise that the biggest improvements are on the inside. The previous interior was so cheap it felt like it wasn’t a Mercedes-Benz. Now, it has one of the best interiors ever made. The GLA comes with Mercedes’ new MBUX infotainment system with optional 10.5’ digital instrument cluster and infotainment system. Front- or optional all-wheel-drive will once again come with the GLA, along with a standard 2.0-liter I4 producing 221-horsepower and 258 lb-ft. Safety-wise, the GLA comes standard with automated emergency braking while adaptive-cruise control and lane-departure warning are optional. Look for the new GLA 250 later in 2020 with prices for the front-wheel-drive SUV around $36,000 and the 4Matic all-wheel-drive around $38,000.

I’m glad that these vehicles have redesigns coming this year or in 2021. Acura is trying to change its brand image, and the TLX is helping to solidify this. Audi’s entry point, the A3, should help it to compete with the other compact sedans. Genesis is building their brand as true luxury and a stylish midsize G80 should help with the biggest departure. Finally, the entry for Mercedes-Benz SUVs, the GLA 250, looks to have upgraded its interior and exterior that was needed. It’s good that these models have such good redesigns. Let’s see how they do in reviews and comparison tests.

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