2012 is the model year Acura tones down the distinctive “V” on its front grilles, making the cars no longer "the Cyrano de Bergerac of the automotive world.”
The new grille design is one of the changes made to the 2012 Acrua TL, the midsize sedan between the compact TSX and the flagship RL. The TL also has a new six-speed automatic transmission as well as new headlights, bumper and taillights."This is a solidly built, luxuriously outfitted and above-average performing car thanks to its smooth and eager engine and a suspension that delivers a comfortable ride and responsive handling. "The subtle changes have been noticed," says Brian Shepard, sales manager at Schaller Acura in Manchester. "The car has been very well received.”
The TL comes as two models, a base front-wheel drive with a 3.5-liter V-6 and a six-speed automatic. The more performance-oriented SH-AWD - Super Handling All-Wheel Drive - model that Acura loaned us uses a 3.7-liter V-6, automatic transmission and a sophisticated all-wheel drive system. This model is also offered with a six-speed manual transmission through the optional technology package.
"Sales are about two-to-one, all-wheel drive to front-wheel drive," Shepard said. The technology package with its navigation system is very popular, he added.
The new six-speed automatic not only makes last year's even faster, it also improves fuel economy. We averaged 25 miles per gallon, the same mpg that far slower compact sedans are getting. However, the TL uses more expensive premium gasoline. We averaged 22 mpg when we tried less highway driving.
Performance is brisk. The last TL we tried, a front-wheel-drive model with the smaller V-6, hit 60 miles per hour in 6.7 seconds. This one, with a larger engine and sequential SportShift six-speed automatic transmission, managed 60 mph in 5.7 seconds.
The ride is well controlled. It hides little of the bumps beneath the wheels, but the ride is not harsh.
As for handling, the TL feels nicely balanced with very good grip in corners. Braking is also reassuringly strong.
The front seats are fit for a king. The rear seat is less appealing, not for a lack of comfortable cushions but for a lack of legroom when the front seats are moved back.
Trunk space is good, but the rear seat does not fold. Instead, there is a pass-through in the armrest for skis or kayak paddles.
The TL should continue as Acura's most popular sedan now that it is better-looking and more economical.
Acura TL: $35,605 SH-AWD $39,155
Engines: 3.5 3.7
HP 280 305
Torque (lb-ft) 254 273
EPA 20/29 Automatic 18/26
Next week: Ford Fiesta