For parents who mean business, the 2012 Acura TL will fit the bill for expedient transportation and polished looks; it zipped me and my family from Point A to Point B in comfort and style.
While the grille may not look as aggressive, the TL's V-6 engines more than make up for it. The base TL with front-wheel drive has a 3.5-liter V-6, and there's a larger engine — 3.7-liter V-6 — in all-wheel-drive TL SH-AWD. Like delving into the secret stash of Lucky Charms, Mom or Dad get to have fun driving the TL when no one is looking.
The 2012 TL has a starting MSRP of $35,605. My test car, a TL SH-AWD, cost $40,015.
The TL's restyled exterior has angular lines that say, "Don't mess with me," causing kids in the carpool pickup lane to cower. Once the TL rolls up, getting the kids in and out will be a breeze, and the doors are easy to open.
If you're putting infants or toddlers in child-safety seats, the TL's low roofline could cause you to hit your head or your child's head on it. The TL isn't alone in this problem. It's a sporty sedan and coupe issue.
The TL's trunk was able to hold all the bags from a large grocery run. However, the trunk narrows toward the back, so fitting a double stroller in it could be a problem.
My all-wheel-drive test car had a 305-horsepower, 3.7-liter V-6 engine and a six-speed automatic transmission that got an EPA-estimated 18/26 mpg city/highway. When equipped with a six-speed manual, the TL gets 17/25 mpg. The smaller engine — 280-hp, 3.5-liter V-6 — in the base TL gets 20/29 mpg. Lay off the gas pedal in this bad boy to make the most of your premium-gas-fueled miles. Be warned, once you get the lead foot out, you'll have a hard time reeling it in.
SENSE AND STYLE
Family Friendly (Not Really, Fair, Great, Excellent): Fair
Fun-Factor (None, Some, Good Times, Groove-On): Good Times
My test car's interior looked stylish, but it felt much too cheap for a luxury sedan. There's a lot of black- and silver-colored plastic on the center stack and center console as well as across the dash.
The center stack's many buttons border on overwhelming at first. Like any nut that's tough to crack, though, once you get to know the systems you're rewarded with ease of use.
The front seats were bolstered and supportive, and I was impressed with the soft, supple leather. The front row's cupholders were hidden by a sliding cover. The cupholders were deep, causing me some angst when grabbing my cup. To get the cup out, I had to lift it by the lid and I constantly feared I'd pull the top off and spill coffee everywhere.
Speaking of cupholders, the TL has a couple in the backseat's armrest. The rear seats are deep and supportive, and there's plenty of legroom for kids.
IT'S THE LITTLE THINGS THAT COUNT
Storage Compartments (Puny, Fair, Ample, Galore): Fair
Cargo/Trunk Space (Puny, Fair, Ample, Galore): Fair-Ample
The 2012 Acura TL has been named a Top Safety Pick by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. To earn this safety award, a car must receive the top score of Good in front, side, rear and roof-strength crash tests. The 2012 TL also received five out of five stars in rollover crash tests by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. It hasn't undergone NHTSA's frontal and side-impact crash tests.
In the backseat, the TL has two sets of lower Latch anchors in the outboard seats. With the driver's seat adjusted to fit me, there was plenty of space for a rear-facing infant-safety seat. However, my kids' booster seats didn't fit well because the seats are sculpted. Find out how the 2012 TL performed in our Car Seat Check.
The 2012 TL has standard front-wheel drive, all-disc antilock brakes with brake assist, an electronic stability system, traction control and six airbags, including side curtains for both rows. Optional safety features include all-wheel drive, a backup camera with rear parking sensors and a blind spot warning system.
Get more safety information about the 2012 Acura TL here.