Since its last major overhaul in 2009, the Acura TL has taken its fare share of criticism due to its polarizing front and rear end design and somewhat unflattering shape. Acura, it seems, has taken the hint and graced the 2012 TL with a number of mid-cycle styling changes designed to breathe new life into Acura’s volume leading sedan. Some of the biggest changes for 2012 can be seen on the outside of the TL, where the previously overworked exterior, with its chunky shape and slightly self-conscious lines, has been replaced with a more conservative design that is likely to appeal to today’s Acura buyer. But like all things, it’s what’s below the sheet metal that really counts, and the TL’s performance qualities - especially those of the SH-AWD trim - make it a truly attractive machine.
What's to Like
Though subtle, the front and rear exterior styling tweaks are a positive step away from the previous armor-like design, and they result in a more understated tone. Two engine choices provide all the get-up-and-go we love about the TL. Acura has kept the positive, responsive handling that was one of the most appreciated aspects of the previous model and, when equipped with the available SH-AWD, it guides the TL around bends at breakneck speeds.
What's Not to Like
While there is a lot to like about the newer, handsomer TL, there are a few little niggles we can’t help but notice. Interior buttons, knobs and switches adorn every inch of the center stack and steering wheel making quick adjustments more difficult and cluttering up the cabin. The navigation system, though better looking and with a higher definition screen, is still as complicated as ever.
Thankfully due to few mechanical changes, the TL drives much like the last generation – a car we enjoyed despite its heft; 4,000 lbs is nothing to scoff at. The tight suspension setup makes the TL feel at home on country roads or tight city streets, especially when equipped with the aptly named Super-Handling all-wheel drive system and the larger, 305 horsepower 3.7-liter V-6. As with other high-revving VTEC engines, most of the power is found on the upper range of the power band, meaning that you’ll occasionally have to go slouching towards redline to get the full amount of power out of the engine, a trait that actually gives an edge to those who opt for the manual transmission.
If you do choose the new SportShift six-speed automatic transmission you won’t be disappointed. The steering wheel-mounted shift paddles give drivers a fair amount of control over the quick shifting transmission. Steering feel still remains a plus on both trims with a positive amount of feedback that’s light at lowe...