Bottom line: The Acura TL is an excellent if techno-centric automobile. That shortcoming, which limited its appeal before its 2012 remake, is likely to hide its many virtues in the upcoming model year. You’ve got to look beneath the skin of this one to truly appreciate it.
Ride, acceleration and handling: All excellent.
Head-turning quotient: A work from the Left-Brained School of Design. Not much right about it.
Body style/layout: The Acura TL is a midsize, front-engine, luxury “sports” sedan — a family car with chutzpah. It is available with front-wheel drive or with Honda/Acura’s patented “special handling all-wheel drive.” It has four side doors and a traditional notchback trunk.
Engines/transmission: There are two engines. The 2012 base TL and TL Advance come with a 3.5-liter, 24-valve V-6 with variable valve timing (280 horsepower, 254 foot-pounds of torque). The top-of-the-line TL SH-AWD gets a 3.7-liter version of that engine (305 horsepower, 273 foot-pounds of torque). Both engines are mated to a six-speed automatic transmission that also can be shifted manually.
Capacities: There are seats for five people. Cargo capacity with all seats in place is 12.5 cubic feet. Rear sets have a pass-through center armrest that can be used for extra storage. The fuel tank holds 18.5 gallons of gasoline. Premium grade is required.
Mileage: We averaged 25 miles per gallon in mostly highway travel.
Safety: Standard equipment includes four-wheel disc brakes (ventilated front, solid rear); four-wheel antilock brake protection; emergency braking assistance; electronic brake force distribution; electronic stability and traction control; driver and passenger head restraint whiplash protection systems; side and head air bags.
Price: Base price for the 2012 Acura TL Advance driven for this column is $41,535, including an estimated $5,930 for the Advance package, which includes voice-activated controls, onboard navigation with backup camera and real-time monitoring of traffic and weather conditions, premium sound system, satellite radio, Bluetooth telephone connectivity and other technological help. Price as tested is $42,395, including an $850 destination charge. Dealer’s price as tested is $39,430.
Compare with Buick LaCrosse, Cadillac CTS Sport sedan, Hyundai Genesis sedan, Infiniti G37 Journey, Lexus ES 350, and Mercedes-Benz C300 Sport.