Acura’s midsize sedan was (controversially) restyled for the 2009 model year, changing what once was a conservatively-styled midsize sedan into one of the most polarizing automotive designs since the Pontiac Aztek. For 2012, the Acura TL gets a bit of rhinoplasty
, making its front end less controversial
, and in our opinion, somewhat better looking than its 2011 counterpart.
Underneath the sheet metal, the 2012 Acura TL has a lot of selling points. It’s available in both front-wheel drive and all-wheel drive, can be had with either a six-speed automatic or a six-speed manual transmission (in AWD models), offers day-long-comfortable seating and comes with an outstanding audio system if you opt for the Tech Package.
That said, the 2012 Acura TL
isn’t perfect, and it can’t seem to decide if it wants to be a sport sedan or an entry-level luxury sedan. Truth be told, front-wheel drive TL models don’t offer a lot of entertainment value for serious drivers. The suspension is tuned more for comfort than for handling, and the 280 horsepower made by the 3.5-liter V-6 engine is best described as “adequate” instead of entertaining.
Those criticisms aside, FWD Acura TL models are well suited to buyers looking for a solidly built, reliable commuter car with predictable handling. Interior styling will likely appeal to those with a taste for the contemporary over the traditional, and Acura’s build quality isn't likely to disappoint.
Buyers shopping for the sportiest of Acura TL variants will want to choose the SH-AWD (short for “Super Handling - All Wheel Drive”) version, which comes with the same 3.7-liter V-6 found in Acura’s RL flagship. The engine produces 305 horsepower, and works best when mated to the six-speed manual gearbox. While paddle shifters are standard equipment on automatic transmission cars, gear changes are best described as leisurely, especially for drivers used to performance-oriented automatic transmissions. Other benefits of opting for the SH-AWD variant include a stiffer suspension, firmer steering, larger wheels (18-inch versus 17-inch on base models), larger brakes and more supportive seating.
In keeping with Acura’s less-is-more philosophy in regards to option packages, only two are available on TL models. Checking the box next to the “Technology Package” will get you perforated leather front seats, an Acura/ELS Surround audio system, a voice-activated navigation system, keyless entry, pushbutton start, GPS-linked climate control, automatic Bluetooth phone book downloads, steering wheel controls for voice recognition and a rear decklid spoiler.
Select the “Advance Package” and you’ll get the contents of the Technology Package plus 18-inch wheels, a blind spot information system and heated and ventilated front seats.
For complete details on the 2012 Acura TL, you’ll find our comprehensive review on The Car Connection