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A PERFECT BLEND

This article is from our archives and has not been updated and integrated with our "new" site yet... Even so, it's still awesome - so keep reading!

Published on Tue, Aug 9, 2005

By: The LACar Editorial Staff

© Photos by Harvey Schwartz

A PERFECT BLEND By HARVEY SCHWARTZ

Acura's best-selling sedan, the TL, is better than ever after its complete overhaul in 2004. All of the reviews have been positive, and no wonder. The fun-to-drive TL is the perfect blend with plenty of power and performance, aggressive good looks, plus enough high-tech and luxury features to keep any enthusiast happy. The new exterior design is both aggressive and stylish, with a muscular stance accented by large, 17-inch wheels and tires, distinct fender blisters and minimal wheel arch-to-tire gaps. The bold character lines and a fusion of edge and organic design portray an image of muscular tension making the TL look fast and lean from any angle. Up front, the TL features a bold hood design and an aggressive front fascia with an angular headlight treatment, featuring Xenon HID headlamps, and a new lower air intake system that accents the styling while ensuring a steady flow of fresh air to the engine and cooling system. Hood lines begin at the front grille and run up along the top surfaces of the TL in one bold, unbroken stroke. Distinct character grooves run below the sleek cabin on each side of the car, stretching from the front side marker across the side of the car to the rear marker. A short deck, with a pronounced lip and a V-shaped break below the trunk, express the car's aggressive nature. Dual exhaust pipes with bumper-integrated exhaust tips further accent the TL's muscular style. The high-tensile strength steel unitized frame is very stiff and torsional - a perfect fit for the high-performance characteristics of the car. All body panels are made of thick, galvanized steel sheets for strength and durability.

The TL's 3.2-liter, 24-valve, all-aluminum VTEC engine utilizes an 11.0:1 compression ratio, a two-stage intake manifold and a cold air intake to help generate 270 hp at 6,200 rpm and 238 lb. ft. of torque at 5,000 rpm. On the street, the TL accelerates from a standstill in just 6.1 seconds with the six-speed manual, and 6.3 seconds when equipped with the five-speed sequential SportShift automatic. A high-flow exhaust system helps exit the hot gases more efficiently. The TL features a drive-by-wire throttle system, which eliminates the need for a mechanical connection between the accelerator pedal and the engine. Evolved from the drive-by-wire system in the NSX, this system is custom tailored to match the unique performance characteristics of the TL. It provides responsive acceleration, modulates the throttle during automatic transmission shifts for improved smoothness and allows throttle control to be incorporated in the TL's Vehicle Stability Assist (VSA) logic. The TL is available with a choice of a five-speed Sequential SportShift automatic transmission, or a close-ratio six-speed manual, both driving the front wheels. The 6-speed manual features a short throw shift linkage, large diameter shift cables and multi-cone synchronizers for optimum shift feel. TL models with the six-speed manual are equipped with a limited slip differential, which proactively distributes torque between the driving wheels to help maintain traction, and creates more neutral handling and extremely responsive steering feel. It also cancels out the dreaded 'torque steer' of FWD vehicles. The TL's state-of-the-art chassis and four-wheel, double-wishbone, independent suspension delivers sporty, precise handling, and a smooth, compliant ride. The front suspension features double wishbones, sport tuned coil springs, a 1.07-inch stabilizer bar and gas-pressurized shocks with progressive valve technology. The multi-link rear features double wishbones, sport- tuned coil springs, a 0.79-inch solid stabilizer bar, and gas-pressurized shocks with progressive valve technology. The standard VSA system works in concert with the drive-by-wire throttle system to provide enhanced control during acceleration, braking and cornering. This four-channel system works the throttle and each of the vehicle's four-disc brakes to seamlessly integrate traction control, ABS and stability enhancement for increased control during spirited driving.

The variable-assist rack & pinion power steering system precisely guides you and the TL on your chosen direction whether you are cruising down the highway at speed or when you are challenging the toughest curves on the road. The new TL rides on 17x8 aluminum alloy wheels wrapped by 235.45R17 Bridgestone high-performance radial tires for added grip and ride comfort. Quickly stopping the TL are big, powerful steel disc brakes at all four corners. The six-speed manual model features, up front, 12.2-inch Brembo vented discs clamped by Brembo four-piston calipers, while the five-speed automatic features, up front, 11.4-inch vented discs with Acura dual-piston calipers. Both models feature 11.1-inch solid discs in the rear clamped with a single piston caliper. Braking control is enhanced with ABS, electronic brake force distribution and brake assist. Inside the near-luxury TL is more comfort, luxury and high-tech gizmos that you would expect from a $34,000.00 sedan. The well-appointed interior includes soft, supportive and comfortable 8-way adjustable, leather bucket seats, a T-shaped dashboard with a driver-inspired cockpit including an easy to see and understand instrument cluster with dark blue back lighting and markers, a beefy, leather wrapped and tilting steering wheel, real aluminum trim pieces, gated shifter with a leather top, and easy to use center stack. High-tech features include a multi-channel DVD-Audio system. The Acura/ELS premium 8-speaker Surround Sound System with 6-disc CD, DVD-Audio and DTS changer, AM-FM tuner and Dolby cassette delivers a whole new level in audio fidelity. This DVD-Audio system, developed with Grammy-winning music producer Elliot Scheiner, utilizes six distinct channels, (compared with two on the typical premium sound system) to deliver sound resolution 500 times greater than CD. The premium system plays standard CDs, DVD-A discs, and DTS-enabled CDs and incorporates XM Satellite Radio.

The TL comes equipped with a Bluetooth-based hands-free phone system as standard equipment. The system, called HandsFreeLink, enables a Bluetooth wireless interface with mobile phones allowing calls to be made and received using the TL's voice recognition and audio interfaces. To make a call, you just push the steering wheel mounted HandsFreeLink button, which connects their phone to the system. You then say the number to call or indicate an entry stored in the system's phone book. The voice recognition system responds, confirms the number or phone book entry and dials. The number being dialed as well as other calling information is shown on the multi-information display. The HandsFreeLink system can be programmed to accept up to six different phones, and up to 50 numbers can be stored in the system's phone book. The latest generation of the Acura Navigation System with Voice Recognition is available as a factory-installed option. This easy-to-use navigation system features a menu of 293 voice commands, an 8in. touch screen display, a comprehensive destination guide with more than 7-million points of interest spanning the entire US, 3-D graphics for freeway on and off ramps and turn-by-turn voice guidance. To insure proper maintenance intervals and reduce the number of service visits, the TL features an innovative new Maintenance Minder system that automatically monitors the vehicle's unique operating profile and alerts you when certain types of routine service, including oil/filter replacement and tire rotation, are needed. When the TL is started, Maintenance Minder information is displayed on the multi-information display located on the instrument panel beneath the fuel gauge. Other TL standard features include remote entry with security system and driver recognition memory, immobilizer theft-deterrent system, dual-zone automatic climate control with air filtration system, heated front seats, steering wheel mounted audio, HandsFreeLink, and cruise control, power door locks and windows with front auto up/down, automatic day/night review mirror, power-remote, heated sideview mirrors, power moonroof with tilt feature and auto-open-close, grab-handles above each door, center console with storage bin, thick-pile carpeting with front/rear floor mats, front map lamps/rear reading lamps with theater dimming, storage slots in each front door, and more storage on the center console and locking glove box.

The TL incorporates a wide array of the latest safety technologies including standard side curtain airbags to help protect vehicle occupants from head and neck injuries in the event of a sufficient side impact. To ensure that the airbag covers the front and rear side windows instantaneously, compressed helium inflators deploy the curtain in a mere 0.015 sec. The TL is also equipped with dual-stage, dual-threshold driver's and front passenger airbags, and side airbags for the driver and front passenger. The passenger's side airbag uses seven sensors in the seatback and side bolster to determine the height and position of the occupant. If the sensors detect a child or small-statured adult is leaning into the deployment path of the side airbag, deployment is prevented. New for 2005 is a weight sensor that has been incorporated into the front passenger seat to determine the total weight on the passenger seat. If it is less than 65 pounds, the front airbag will not deploy. On the driver's side, a new position sensor has been added to the seat, which determines how the airbag will be deployed in the event of a collision. If the seat is within ½ inch of the forward most position, the front airbag will only deploy in the dual-stage mode. If the seat is farther than ½ inch from the forward position, the airbag deploys in either single-or dual-stage mode based on the severity of the collision. All seating positions get three-point safety belts with front pretensioners and load limiters. Front and rear crumple zones and side impact beams in each door helps to absorb the energy of the impact. A LATCH system and child door safety locks are also standard. All-in-all, the Acura TL provides a perfect blend of power, performance, style, and high-tech luxury.

© All text and photos supra by Harvey Schwartz For more information on Acura products, go to www.acura.com. More photos from Harvey Schwartz can be found at www.autofotos.com

SIDEBAR COMMENT: ACURA TL A-SPEC

For those that want a TL with more edge, Acura dealers offer the Acura A-SPEC kit - a dealer-installed accessory package designed to deliver enhanced handling and an even more aggressive appearance. The Acura TL A-SPEC kit includes a suspension package, 18-inch alloy wheels, high-performance brake pads for the automatic transmission model, an aero kit and a sport steering wheel. The suspension package features track-tuned shocks and springs that lower the car approximately one inch. The kit also includes 18-inch alloy wheels, which are shod with high performance AVS ES100 235/40VR18 95W Yokohama tires designed specifically for the TL A-SPEC kit. The 2005 TL with 6-speed manual transmission features four-piston Brembo® front brakes, while the A-SPEC kit for automatic transmission-equipped models includes high-performance brake pads. I spent some time behind the wheel of an A-SPEC with the 6-speed manual transmission. The handling is certainly more responsive, and the appearance is definitely edgier. On the debit side, torque steer seemed to be more pronounced under hard acceleration when compared with the standard TL. The qualities that make the TL such a great car remain in the A-SPEC. On the other hand, I couldn't help coming away with the impression that the A-SPEC is messing with a car already regarded as having an outstanding balance between performance, comfort, and luxury. There's no need to guild the lily, IMHO. The standard TL is a perfect blend. - Roy Nakano SPECIFICATIONS Name of vehicle: 2005 Acura TL Price of vehicle: $33,100 base $35,470.00, as tested, including destination Engine type: 3.2 liter, SOHC VTEC, aluminum alloy V6 Horsepower: 270 hp at 6,200 rpm Torque: 238 lb. ft of torque at 5,000 rpm Drive configuration: Front engine/front-wheel-drive Transmission type: 5-speed automatic transmission with sequential sportshift and grade logic control or close-ratio 6-speed manual with helical gear limited slip differential Front suspension: Independent, double-wishbone with coil springs and 1in. stabilizer bar, automatic, 1.07-inch manual, gas-pressurized shocks with progressive valve technology. Rear suspension: Independent, multi-link, double-wishbones with coil springs, 0.67-inch stabilizer bar, automatic, 0.79-inch manual, gas-pressurized shocks with progressive valve technology. Wheels/tires: 17x8 cast-aluminum wheels/235/45R17 Bridgestone Turanza all-season radial 235/45R17 Bridgestone Potenza high-performance tires optional on 6-speed manual Brakes: Front: 11.4 in. vented discs with Acura dual-piston calipers, automatic 12.2 in. Brembo rotors with Brembo 4-piston calipers on 6-speed manual Rear: 11.1 in. solid discs with a single-piston caliper. Braking enhanced with ABS, Electronic Brakeforce Distribution, and Brake Assist. Overall length: 189.3 in. Overall width: 72.2 in. Overall height: 56.7 in. Curb weight: 3,575 lbs. automatic 3,482 lbs. 6-speed manual EPA mileage specs: 20 mpg/city, 29 mpg/highway 0-60 mph: 6.1 sec. 6-speed manual 6.4 sec. 5-speed automatic

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