DOMO ARIGATO, MISTER ROBOTO
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 Sat, Jul 16, 2011
By: The LACar Editorial Staff
When Acura replaced its Alfa Romeo-esque TL with the controversial-looking “Keen Edge Dynamic” fourth generation TL in 2009, we moaned and groaned. The new car looked like Mister Roboto on a bad hair day. Fast forward to model year 2012: Acura has deep-sixed the “Power Plenum” grille, massaged the corners here and there—and transformed the TL into a looker. It’s the best makeover we’ve seen in a blue moon. John-Fredrik reports. By John-Fredrik Wright Year in and year out, the TL has always been one of our favorites of the Acura line-up. It personifies (or maybe autonifies) sophistication. For 2012, it certainly now looks the part, with sharp lines and squinting headlights that ooze strength coupled with a photogenic overall appearance. Even outside of the wind tunnel, an everyday observer can visualize where the wind is channeled over and around the car.
What you can’t quite visualize is how the air gets into the engine compartment. The intake on the nose of the car—i.e., the grill—is small. Small enough that some may confuse it for an all-electric vehicle. Still, it’s quite a visual improvement over the 2009-2011 model, and the lack of a large air intake does not impede the TL to take a big breath and send air through all six cylinders in one big puff. The 3.7L V6 engine will light up, igniting all of the 305 horses and rushing the car forward in a quick, smooth motion. The 6-speed automatic transmission with Sequential SportShift will gracefully shift for you (or you can do it yourself, if you please), keeping the acceleration silky smooth. At your service is Acura’s Super-Handling All Wheel Drive, SH-AWD system, making sure the maximum possible power is distributed to the asphalt. Interestingly, you can see which wheel is getting how much power delivery on the little screen between the tachometer and fuel gauge. We caught ourselves looking down many times, looking to see how it handles certain conditions. Pretty neat stuff there, Acura.
We like the fact that Acura allows passengers to use the navigation system, even when the car is in motion. This way we can make good use of the AcuraLink Communication System with real-time traffic and weather (we don’t want that to go to waste). We also like the audio system, the Elliot Scheiner-designed Acura/ELS Surround-Sound System. Hooked up to the satellite radio system or an iPod, this system should pamper even the most discriminating audiophile. We like the Acura/ELS Surround-Sound System in the TL even better than the ELS system in the ZDX, which we reviewed a short while ago. The TL comes with the usual luxury conveniences, such as heated and cooled seats, easy-to-understand and use systems (including the navigation and audio systems). The interior is luxurious and sporty. The seats are nicely appointed and hug thy butt into place without squeezing. The rear seats are comfortable, and large enough for three adults. This is, after all, a full-size sedan, even if the quick handling is more akin to a smaller car. The rear passengers enjoy a ride on par with that of many luxury cars. The unfortunate thing with the rear seat, however, is that it doesn’t fold down (also on par with many luxury cars). The trunk is separate from the cabin (other than a ski-bag pass-through), which makes for a quieter ride, but quite a dilemma when you want to carry something larger than a golf-bag with you. Careful when garage-sale hunting in the TL, the trunk can’t carry much furniture that has not been disassembled a-la-IKEA.
The TL rides very stable. It never wallows around the curves, nor does it feel too stiff under normal driving conditions. Driving the mountainous roads surrounding LA, the TL will feel secure and confident. The SH-AWD will keep you and the car in sync and moving in the direction you point it. The peppy engine will keep pushing as long as you need it to going up the hills. And using the sport mode with the paddle shifters, you can downshift to keep your speed reasonable on your way down as well. It is actually under these circumstances, downshifted and downhill, that the superb responsiveness of the TL comes to life. Going from behind a slow-moving truck, to out in front of it, is a breeze. The engine is already in a lower gear, and the power can be used immediately. The 2012 Acura TL passes all the aficionado tests. Like the ZDX is to Opera (see ZDX article here), the TL seems to be a classical masterpiece. The Acura TL is a great alternative to the myriad of dime-a-dozen luxury cars that flock the streets of the city. For those with some spending money in the wallet, it’s an excellent choice for something other than the norm.
SUMMARY JUDGMENT Domo arigato, Acura. Now the TL’s beauty is not just inner. For more information on Acura products, go to www.acura.com SPECIFICATIONS Name of vehicle: 2012 TL SH-AWD ADVANCE Price: $45,085 (base) $45,970 (as tested, including dest. and handling fee of $885.) EPA fuel economy rating: 18 mpg (city) 26 mpg (highway)
Engine size and type: Aluminum-alloy 3.7L V-6 Belt drive, SOHC, VTEC® 24-valve Horsepower: 305 @ 6300 rpm Torque: 273 pound-feet @ 5000 rpm Transmission type: 6-speed Automatic Transmission with Sequential SportShift paddle shifters and Grade Logic Control Drive configuration: Super Handling All-Wheel Drive™ (SH-AWD®) Steering (type): Electric variable power-assisted rack-and-pinion (EPS) Suspension (front and rear): Front: Independent double-wishbone with coil springs and stabilizer bar Rear: Independent multi-link with coil springs and stabilizer bar Brakes and tires: 4-wheel anti-lock braking system (ABS), Electronic Brake Distribution (EBD), and Brake Assist P245/40 R19 94V high-performance all-season Dimensions: Length: 194.0 in Width: 74.0 in Height: 57.2 in Curb weight: 3726 lbs