Sacramento, California – Acura’s handsome sports sedan, the TL, gets a new look for 2012, and the changes front and back are special enough to give owners of older TLs a touch of envy.
This freshened TL just looks better, with sweetly sharp angles seemingly borrowed from a Stealth fighter’s spec chart. My tester, the 2012 TL SH with all-wheel drive and an “Advance Package” of perks, is the most expensive of seven trim levels. My car with no listed extra-cost extras and an $860 destination charge came in at $45,945.
That’s right. Sporty luxury does not come cheap these days.
For the record, the tester was positively stuffed with tech goodies (a navigation system, rearview camera, an over-the-top Surround Sound audio system and a hard disk drive to name just a few) and the “Advance Package” consisted of a blind spot information system (the better to avoid those nasty sideways collisions), ventilated front seats, 19-inch alloy wheels and all-season tires.
Inside, the TL SH-AWD was laced with leather and opulence. Interior quietness on the road was exceptional. I’d have preferred a little more information out of the small satellite radio readout when also using the navigation system, but hey, it’s probably best that I do less reading and more paying attention to the road when I’m driving.
My TL was equipped with a drive-by-wire throttle system and a six-speed automatic transmission. The power source was a 3.7-liter VTEC V-6 with 305 horsepower. Given all that, I expected a fair amount of neck-snapping power when I nailed the gas. But I didn’t get that.
Don’t get me wrong; the Acura moved out smartly when asked. And it ate up every road challenge I threw at it. But power is dished out comparatively smoothly and evenly, not with the brute force you expect from a vehicle with a 300-pony V-6.
Fuel mileage was an OK 18 miles per gallon in the city and 26 mpg on the highway.
I wanted to offer special kudos to the producers of the four-wheel disc brakes. They were impressive without being jarring. I was surprised several times how quickly the brakes settled down the tester in nasty stop-and-go freeway traffic, but I was never slammed into the seat belts. Nice, controlled stopping power. Very much race car-like.
Acura has taken heat over the years for lacking a signature car, but I’d have to say this current TL sedan steps right up as a memorable ride with enduring qualities. Would I recommend it to my high-earning friends? In a heartbeat.